How Deep the Father’s Love, Part II – December 17, 2023

Romans 5:1-11

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Last week, we were introduced to the love of God from Romans 5:1-11. There is much talk about the love of God and it is the “favorite” attribute of God in Christian circles. Even liberal and progressive Christians love to talk about the love of God, though they may radically misunderstand it. What is God’s love? First, God’s love that is demonstrated in what He has done and in who He is. Second, God’s love is eternal. Even before He made all things there was love within the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Third, God’s love is holy. It is a love that is a pure and perfect love. It is a love that hates sin, yet shows grace to sinners.

A.W. Tozer once rightly wrote, “The love of God is the hardest of all His attributes to speak about. You may not understand God’s love for us. I don’t know that I do myself. We are trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. It is like trying to take the ocean in your arms, or embrace the atmosphere, or rise to the stars. No one can do it, so I suppose I must do the best I can and trust the Holy Spirit to make up for human lack.”

In verses 1-5 of Romans 5, we find that in His love God has brought peace. Believers “have peace with God” through what Jesus Christ has done. When we were at war with God and enemies of God, God did not wait for us to take the initiative to make our way back to Him because we never would have. Instead, because He is a God of love, God took the initiative for our reconciliation to Him. By receiving the free gift of salvation and placing our faith in Christ, we are “justified by faith” and have “peace with God.” Additionally, God’s love gives the believer hope. How? The answer is that while the Christian life will be full of trouble, the believer can rest assured that God, as a God of love, has good purposes for those things that we consider unpleasant. God uses the difficulties of our lives to produce godly character in us. He loves us too much to leave us to ourselves. Instead, He conforms us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29) and thus “works all things together for good” (Romans 8:28) for the believer. Through knowing this, the believer has “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Having introduced the peace and hope that the love of God brings to the Christian, we now turn our focus to verses 6-11 and how God’s love brings salvation.

The love of God is demonstrated in the most ultimate way in the cross of Jesus Christ. Here, the Son of God willingly came and laid down His life for the sin of the world (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2). One of our favorite verses of Scripture is John 3:16 which begins with “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” The word “so” in that verse is to be understood in the sense of the way in which God loved the world. The meaning then would be “For God loved the world in this way…” God’s love is defined in action. Paul says in verse 8 of Romans 5 that “God commendeth His love…” That means He showed it or demonstrated it. He did so in the reality that “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” This comes on the heels of him highlighting such love from the perspective of how rarely men will lay down their lives for each other. We won’t die for “good” people or “righteous” people (people that may deserve it), but Jesus died for those who could never deserve or earn it. He died for those who were at war with Him.

God’s love is perfect. It is sacrificial. We have to remember that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, while playing distinct roles in God’s salvation plan and it being carried out on the cross, are not at odds with each other. Sometimes we get the picture of the angry Father ready to lash out in wrath against mankind and the Son stepping in for humanity. That could not be farther from the truth of the matter. Instead, it is the Father’s love that is on display in sending the Son. The Father planned this. The Son carried it out as the obedient servant who died on the cross. Further, Hebrews 9:14 tells us that the Son did this “through the eternal Spirit.” The Spirit empowered Him in obedience to the Father to carry it out. At the cross, God wholistically demonstrates His perfect love and saves us from the wrath due us for our sin. “O the love that drew salvations plan. O the grace that brought it down to man. O the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary!”

At Christmas time we celebrate the fact that the Son of God, our Savior, came to take away our sin and save us. There is no greater demonstration of love that has ever nor will ever be given. Eternity will bear out that God is a God of love. His love is not distant or hidden. It has been demonstrated in real history in the cross of Jesus Christ. We don’t have to wonder if God loves us. He has shown that He has. Today, I may have woken up and not felt His love. I may not feel very loved. It is not about what I feel, but about what I know. Today, I know that God loves me because He has shown it once for all. We find assurance from God’s Word that He loves us and as we consider this amazing love, the words of the song by Stuart Townsend can help us in expressing what it means to us: “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure. How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turns His face away, as wounds which mar the Chosen One, bring many sons to glory. Behold the man upon a cross, My sin upon His shoulders. Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers. It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life I know that it is finished.”