In this 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
Are you feeling unloved? Has your love been broken? Are you broken? Are you going through some form of rejection? Feel unwanted? Feel ignored and maybe worthless? Are you hated? Do you feel as though you’re drowning? Are you swamped in a sea of sin and consequence? Are you looking for love, true love? I want to share with you a love like no other love, a “love vast as the ocean.”
In the early 1900s there was a mighty Welch revival in Wales, a country in the United Kingdom. It was a revival where the Spirit moved upon people through song. Evan Roberts was the spearhead of this revival. He was moved upon by the Holy Spirit in response to his prayerful call to “bend me, oh Lord!” The Lord bent his will to His will and He did so to many others as well. What was interesting about this move of God was that it was characterized by a spontaneity of prayer and worship. As many people came to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord they would join in the singing with spontaneous expressions of thankfulness and worship in song.
Out of this mighty move of the Spirit came a mighty and blessed hymn. The name of the hymn was Here is Love Vast as the Ocean. This precious hymn flowed from the overflowing love of the Spirit on people’s hearts. Its human author was Willian Rees and its glorious lyrics were as follows:
Here is Love Vast as the Ocean
Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Loving-kindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
Throughout heav’n’s eternal days.
On the mount of crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of Gods’ mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.
In Thy truth Thou dost direct me
By Thy Spirit through Thy Word;
And Thy grace my need is meeting
As I trust in Thee, my Lord.
Of Thy fullness Thou art pouring
Thy great love and pow’r on me,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to Thee
Wow! That is an incredible song. The lyrics paint a glorious picture of the love of God. I hope you can appreciate the message. Can you appreciate how much God loves you? In more recent times the song has been revisited by the Christian artist Robin Mark. I encourage you to press this link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8YOPj5TnUM and give it a listen. Turn the volume up and be ready to be blessed.
Do you feel the Lord tugging at your heart? Do you feel, “Of Thy fullness Thou are pouring, Thy great love and pow’r on me, without measure, full and boundless, drawing out my heart to Thee”? Feeling it? No? Read on. You should know God loves you very much. He loves you immensely. He loves you stupendously. He loves you so much He wants you to know Him personally. He loves you so much He wants you to spend eternity with Him. He loves you incredibly and has a plan for your life. He has truth for you to live by; fulfillment; meaning; purpose. He wants to bless you with an abundant life. He’s calling you to Himself. God loves you.
But there’s a problem – sin. Sin is breaking God’s life giving laws. Sin is living outside the parameters of His life-giving word. Sin is rebellion against God. Sin separates us from God. Sin is the cause of all pain and suffering in this world. Sin breaks love. Sin breaks our heart. Sin breaks God’s heart.
God is a Just Judge who cannot and will not leave the injustice of sin unpunished. It would be unloving to do so. Sin is the antithesis of love. Sin corrupts true love. Sin warps our views of love. Sin drains love. Sin pollutes love. That’s why sin deserves death. The penalty for sin is death. We all have sinned. We are all guilty. We all have corrupted love in some way. We all deserve eternal death. We deserve eternal separation from the God of love. God will not allow the sin that corrupts love to enter in to His eternal abode of love. God will not permit sin to infiltrate and pollute His place of eternal love, heaven.
We are born in sin. Sin is a part of us. But we also choose sin. We are culpable. We excuse sin. We are without excuse. Sin is the human infection. Sin is a cancer. One sin cell left unattended will spread and kill. It is always malignant. It is never benign. Sin is terminal. Sin dooms us legally, morally, and physically. Sin extinguishes love. But there is hope.
The Gospel is where the One Holy God of Love and the Holy God of Justice meet. There is a way to be justified; to be brought to a standing before God just as if I’d never sinned. God has provided a solution for the sin problem. There is a way to be forgiven for our sins. There is a way to be healed; to have our sins washed away. The solution to sin is Jesus. Jesus is “the way” (John 14:6), a cross-bridge to get over the chasm separating us from God caused by sin. That way is the cross where God reveals His justice and His love.
Jesus is the way, the truth, the life. He is the way over the sin chasm. He is the truth to counter all the falsehoods of sin. And He is the One in Whom we can experience eternal life. But how, how can this happen for me? The lyric says, “On the mount of crucifixion fountains opened deep and wide; Through the floodgates of God’s mercy, flowed a vast and gracious tide. Grace and love, like mighty rivers, poured incessant from above, and heav’n’s peace and perfect justice, kissed a guilty world in love.” Beautiful. But what does that mean?
There’s verse in the New Testament that is rich in grace and sheds light on the stanza from the hymn. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Let me rightly divide this for you into spiritually bite size pieces. “In Him” speaks of having a relationship with Jesus. “We have redemption” means the price owed for committing sin has been paid. “Through His blood” speaks of His love, His sacrifice to save the world from their sins. “The Forgiveness of sins” speaks of being reconciled to God. “According to the riches” speaks of the wealth we eternal life we have through faith in Jesus. And “of His grace” speaks of the incredible offer God gives us to freely receive by faith all the benefit of Jesus loving costly sacrifice.
Sin is not eliminated by our good works. Our works are not good enough. Some teach falsely that salvation comes through our efforts to love. The idea is that we grow into salvation as we learn to love and love others. But this is impossible! Indwelling sin corrupts our view and experience of “love.” To attempt to earn or work our way into right standing with God is to reduce “love” to a work of the flesh. And it is impossible because it contradicts God’s word.
The Bible states, “In this 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). Clearly the Apostle John is inspired to explain that its “not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” God loves us first. God manifested His love to us when He “sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Propitiation (Greek hilasmos) means Jesus satisfied all of God’s holy requirements to justly deal with sin. Jesus paid whatever legal debt or sentencing requirements there were for humanities’ sinful offenses. John is inspired to introduce this glorious truth with the words, “In this is love.” What follows “In this is love,” is the crux of what love is all about.
Even an earthly judge won’t accept good works to offset the penalty for a crime. The next time you go before an earthly judge for a traffic ticket or some other offense try telling him what a good person you are or that you’re really, really sorry. See how far that gets you. Been there; done that. Take it from me, it doesn’t affect justice; it doesn’t get you very far.
God’s law and rule of justice are far higher and fairer than ours. God must and will administer perfect justice. In God’s system of justice, we are guilty as charged. But God has made a way for us to be set free from the penalty of sin. The sentence can be lifted; commuted. Jesus satisfied God’s just requirements on the cross. He is the propitiation for our sins. He fulfilled our sentence. That’s love. That’s mercy. That’s grace; God’s righteousness at Christ’s expense. That’s true love.
The Apostle Paul in another verse states, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It’s not about us, it’s about Him. It’s about “His own love” not our minimal understanding of what love is, not our mediocre efforts to love. We can’t truly know love without knowing God. There may be brands or types of love. Our levels of love only reach “like” compared with God’s love. The Biblical “love” translated from the Greek term agape cannot be known apart from God’s intervention in our lives and particularly in our heart.
“In Thy truth Thou dost direct me, by Thy Spirit through Thy Word; And Thy grace my need is meeting, as I trust in Thee, my Lord.” We can only love, truly love, when we have been born again of the Holy Spirit (John 3). When we admit our sin and ask God to forgive us based on Jesus paying our sin debt on the cross, God will forgive us and the Holy Spirit will indwell us giving us spiritual life (cf. Titus 3:4-7). That’s called “regeneration.” It is only then, with the Holy Spirit indwelling us, that He produces the fruit of the Spirit in us which is love (Galatians 5:22). When we admit our sin and ask God’s forgiveness for our sin, only based on the work of Jesus Christ, then it can be said of us, “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).
To bring us to Himself God sent His only Son Jesus, the Perfect representative Man, to pay our penalty for sin on the cross. He paid a debt He didn’t owe for those who owed a debt they couldn’t pay. That’s justice. That’s grace; God’s redemption at Christ’s expense. That’s love. “Here is love, vast as the ocean, loving-kindness as the flood, when the Prince of Life, our Ransom, shed for us His precious blood.” The cross represents a life line from those drowning in a sea of sin. The cross, when coupled with faith, becomes our life raft to bring us into God’s love that is “vast as an ocean.”
The wages of sin is death. Cancer needs to be surgically removed. It needs treatment. Jesus came to die for you and for me. The blood of Jesus washes away our sin. Jesus’ blood kills sin cells. The blood of Jesus is the perfect treatment for sin. That’s love. That’s healing. That’s grace; God’s remission at Christ’s expense. With Jesus our sin goes into remission; forever!
What does all this cost? The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. He has paid the price. He offers salvation from sin as a free gift to be received by faith. Salvation from sin is free, but it wasn’t cheap. It cost Jesus His life. That’s love. That’s expensive. That’s grace; God’s riches at Christ’s expense.
Jesus has justly paid our penalty for sin. But how can that apply to us? Trust in Jesus’ completed work on the cross. Turn from your sin and ask God’s forgiveness based on trusting in Jesus as your Savior from sin. How do I know this is true? Jesus rose from the dead. The wages of sin have been paid. Death is defeated. Eternal life is proclaimed in His name. That’s love. That’s regeneration. That’s grace; God’s resurrection at Christ’s expense.
When you give your heart and life to Jesus He gives you rich blessings. First and foremost is He gives us His love. But that’s not all. God is always doing “exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). That’s true of His love. But that’s true of additional blessings too. He gives us a fresh start in life. He removes the guilt connected with sin. He gives us a new heart that is sensitive to His voice. He makes us a part of His eternal family. He gives us His word the Bible to nourish us spiritually. And He gives us spiritual life and understanding by the Holy Spirit who comes to dwell in us. But best of all He gives us Himself. He brings us into an eternal life with Him.
When you accept Jesus as Savior and Lord your entire outlook on life’s meaning and purpose will change. You will be so blessed by His love you’ll want to tell the world about it. That’s love. That’s life. That’s grace; God’s reconciliation at Christ’s expense. That’s love vast as the ocean!
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” “Who His love will not remember? Who can cease to sing His praise? He can never be forgotten, throughout heav’n’s eternal days.” What Jesus did for us on the cross will never be forgotten. The cross and resurrection fo Jesus is the great punctuation mark in history. Everything revolves around Jesus, His cross and resurrection. Don’t forget that. And don’t wait to receive Him. Don’t put Him off. Don’t put off your decision. Come as you are. Come now. He’s waiting for you with open arms. That’s love. That’s opportunity. That’s grace; God’s relationship at Christ’s expense. Listen to that song one more time. “Grace and love, like mighty rivers, poured incessant from above, and heav’n’s peace and perfect justice, kissed a guilty world in love.” God offers us an ocean of love. Take the plunge by faith in Jesus. You’ll never be the same.