"Them That Love God"

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deuteronomy 6:5).

"And we know That all things work together for good to THEM THAT LOVE GOD, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

"As it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for THEM THAT LOVE HIM. But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

There are no contradictions between God's words in the Old Testament and in the New. His critics and those who hate His Holy Book say there are, but they are wrong, and are as blind as bats in the summer sunshine as far as these things go: they do not understand the things of God. But there are others who are not enemies who are puzzled when they consider the contrast between law and grace, and they ask, Can it be the same God who gave the law in the Old Testament who has revealed His grace in the New? Yes, the very same.

God is the Creator, and Revelation 4:11 tells us that He made all things for His own pleasure, and Man is amongst these things, the chiefest and the best of His work in this lower creation. Great pains did God take with this creation when He made him in His own image and likeness, and He made him for His own pleasure, for "His delights were with the sons of men." But how could He find pleasure in anyone who did not love Him? That were impossible, and when man listened to the devil's lie, he ceased to love God, whatever he may have done before, and he hid away from God for fear of Him. We do not hide from those we love, neither do we love those whose presence fills us with fear.

What was God to do? It was right that He should tell man what was right. And nothing else than this could be right, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart." Every reasonable person will acknowledge that if God be God, and our Creator, we owe this at least to Him that we love Him and honour Him as God. Then for His own glory and for the good of man it was right that God should give to man this command.

But does not the command reveal a stern and uncompromising Judge, hence One from whom we must shrink? No, we think not; on the contrary it reveals surely that there was a yearning in the heart of God that was not satisfied. Would He have commanded men to love Him if He had not loved them?

If He had hated men and found pleasure in their misery and destruction as the devil does, would He have talked of love at all? No, He would not. From the darkness and clouds of Sinai there breaks forth light, and a yearning note of love is heard amid the thunderings there. God wants the love of the people; He commands them to love Him because nothing else could be right, but He wants their love because nothing else can satisfy Him.

But the law produced no response in the hearts of men; they loved themselves and hated God, and so do all to this very day who have not been born again. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). Then what was God to do? Having given a command, He must see to it that the command is fulfilled, or the devil would laugh Him to scorn and gloat over His defeat. Further, if no men ever do love God His nature in regard to them will remain unsatisfied, and that must not be. What then must He do? Can He find a way? Yes. He can and He has, and the New Testament reveals to us His way.

We cannot love a person whom we do not know and men did not know God, hence it was necessary that He should take steps to make Himself known to them. He has done it and that in the only possible way. He has sent His Son. No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him" (John 1:18). "God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8), for "God is love."

How wonderful is God's way. The Son, co-equal with the Father in eternal Deity, has become a Man to reveal to us what God is, and so dispel our darkness and ignorance as to Him — and He could not have done this if He were not God — and to redeem us from Satan's power and death and all iniquity — and He could not have done it if He had not become a Man. It is a wonderful story! The advance has been from God's own side. His love has broken through all the barriers. Our suspicion and hatred of Him has not prevented Him from pouring forth His love in a stream of light through His beloved Son. We have much to marvel at. We do not marvel that we must be born again, when we realize our own sinfulness, but we do marvel when we behold the Son of God lifted up upon a cross that we might have a new life which is eternal life.

Yes, there are two great necessities. The first is that we must be born again, the second is that the Son of Man must be lifted up. He MUST! for otherwise the love of God would have remained unsatisfied for ever, for the only way in which it could find expression to sinful men was by the lifting up of His beloved Son — the Son of Man: only in this way could it be effectual in winning the hearts of men. If there were to be those who could be called "them that love God," then His love had first to reach them and this was the only way. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10), and "In this was manifested the love of God toward us because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (1 John 4:9).

God has triumphed, His great love has gained the victory and now He can speak in His word of "them that love God." Happy indeed are all these. The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in them. The law that God gave at Sinai has not fallen to the ground as a useless thing, but God is vindicated in having given it. What a wonderful change has been accomplished in us! Once we were enmity against God and alienated from His life, now we are brought nigh to Him and rejoice in Him through our Lord Jesus Christ; and it is our persuasion and boast that nothing can separate us from His love.

But we love God, in this is His triumph and the devil's defeat, and what will God do for us? We may be assured that no weapon forged against us by the devil, who has lost us and who hates us, can prosper, for all things work together for good to them that love God. His eye watches us and all our circumstances with the keenness of love, and come weal or woe, good or ill, as we speak, tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword, God will make them all bend to His will and blend for our blessing. What confidence this gives! God surrounds us, North, South, East, West. Above, Below, wherever we turn, God is for us,

"God is round about me,
  And can I be dismayed"

Oh! that we understood it better, then would we greet every new circumstance as a friend, and wait keenly interested to discover how God in His minute and personal care for us will turn it to our good.

"Working together, " it is a wonderful thought. Here are a thousand threads, but see, they are working together into a beautiful fabric. How is that accomplished? Every thread is part of the designer's scheme, every thread is controlled by the weaver and they work together to one end. So every thing, all things, have their part in God's bright design for them that love Him. Here we rest in our present trials and though we groan we do not grumble, nay, "we glory in tribulation" and give thanks and in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.

So much for the present. What of the future? "It is written, Eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for them that love Him." Well, that is just what we should expect from God. His is a love that knows no limit, and it can act without restraint for His resources are as limitless as His love. Oh, it is wonderful to be loved by Him, but see how He appreciates those who respond to His love and love Him in return.

The highest imaginations of man fail here, his range is limited and he cannot soar beyond the desires of His own heart, but here we are brought to the lavishment of God's heart, and we learn that He will satisfy His love in beholding us, enjoy what He has prepared for us. He reveals these things to us now by His Spirit: We have entered into a community of life with God, a life of love, and that life is eternal life and as we rejoice in it, in the knowledge of the only true God and Jesus Christ, His sent One, by His Spirit that is given to us, we realize that God had nothing but blessing in His heart for man when He commanded, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart."