The Manner of Love.

1 John 3:1-3.

P. A. H.

Christian Friend, vol. 13, 1886, p. 57.

I suppose we all know that in the gospel of John we have the manifestation of the divine life here on earth in the person of the blessed Lord, while in the epistle it is the manifestation of the same life in us. It is easy enough for us to see and understand that the life is manifested in Him; but when we come to the same life in ourselves, we turn in upon ourselves to see what is the effect produced in us; and such is the human heart that we judge of the thing by the effect produced in us. Now God puts before us the thing itself in all its reality. It is most wonderful to think of the divine life in us when we look at ourselves. People are almost afraid nowadays to speak of it; yet if we are born of God, what life have we? We are converted, saved from wrath, it is true, but we are in possession of something that has been imparted to us by God Himself in His own sovereign grace and power. He has given us that life - "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us."

Most wonderful and blessed when by the grace of God we can think of what God has done and is doing, and learn from God Himself how He handles the soul. We make such mistakes, and are so short-sighted and clumsy too, as we always are in our ways; but the way God handles us is a way that produces in the soul what answers to Himself and to the glory of Christ. He always gives us the thing, makes it good to us, before He speaks of the responsibility connected with it. It is a great thing when we learn this; it is the beginning of really learning God, to learn the principle on which He is acting toward us. We having nothing, possessing nothing, He in His own sovereignty, grace, and love begins with what He is, and He ends with what He is. Everything of the old man begins to cry out when grace comes to the soul, and the soul apprehends that grace. When Aaron's rod blossomed and bore fruit - priestly intercession in grace - God had said He would thus make the people's murmurings to cease, they begin to cry out, "We die, we perish, we all perish. There is an end of us now." We at once discover that the old man, the flesh begins to discover, that everything in us has to go because of grace. God is for us, "working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure."

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us." That is the sovereign act of God in His sovereignty. It comes in wonderfully in connection with that. It is not the amount of our sins forgiven, not what the style of His love is, what sort of love He has bestowed upon us. Is it to blot out all that is against us? No! The character of His love is, that He brings us into relationship with Himself. Nothing will satisfy, nothing does satisfy, the heart of God, as to me individually, but bringing me into relationship with Himself. Apply that to yourself, and you will see how it searches you out. If by the grace of God I have got hold of it, I say, "Marvellous love." I cannot find any reason in myself for it, but I find the cause in God Himself. One verse we so often pass over so quickly and carelessly is this, in John 4, "The Father seeketh such to worship Him." All the activities of the divine nature are here in this word seeking to satisfy itself. Has it ever occurred to you that this is what is going on now? Divine love has satisfied itself in bringing us to Himself, making us His children, honouring the work of the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, and so placing us in that blessed relationship with Himself that He may have His love satisfied in such things as you and me. It is of great importance in this day, when people try to satisfy their minds with all sorts of things, to see how God deals with the heart and conscience.

"That we should be called the children of God." What is the consequence? Why, the world does not know us, does not know us any more than it knows the Father - "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee." I do not ask how much you know of the world - it would not be very edifying for any of us to give his experience about that - but how much does the world know about you and me? How much are you and I living in the power and reality of that of which the world knows nothing? We have something beyond the understanding of the world; that is the first statement made as to it. "It does not yet appear what we shall be," because Jesus has not yet been manifested in glory. If you read that over and over again you can find no argument in it; it is a statement of the greatest blessedness and the most complete sovereignty - "We shall be like Him; we shall see Him as He is." We shall not see Him as the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, but as the Man of glory, and yet the One who for our sakes was the Man of sorrows and grief. We shall be like Him then - inwardly and outwardly like Him. Do you think we have the bare idea of that in our hearts, in our souls now? We are going to see Jesus there in the glory, and when we see Him we shall find ourselves inwardly and outwardly like Himself. Now all we can discover, I think, is unlikeness to Him, and the Spirit of God will occupy us with plenty of that, so that by His grace we can judge and get rid of it; but we shall see Him as He is, there in the centre of all that heavenly glory, and when we see Him we shall be like Him. What is so important in both these verses is the soul's possession of the truth, and the practical expression of it in this world. Why are the people of God worldly, so familiar with the world, and the world with them - why? Because we have not really got this hope in Christ as a practical living reality in our souls; that we are going to be with Jesus in the glory, to be like Him and with Him. We have the truth without the power of it; it has passed away as to the power, and the reason of this is in ourselves. P. A. H.

*   *   *

"With respect to myself: in many conflicts and troubles of soul I have consulted many masters of the spiritual life; but divine mercy did not, does not, suffer me to rest on the word of a fellow-creature. The best advices have often increased my perplexities, and the end was to make me cease from human dependence, and to wait upon God. To Him therefore I desire to point you and myself, in the person of Jesus Christ. HE receives weary, perplexed souls still, and gives them solid rest. He teaches as no man ever taught; His words are spirit and life; nor can He possibly mistake our case."