Our Anchorage - The Love of God in Christ Jesus (continued)
A man, or a Christian, meeting things like that, needs an anchorage. When things beat on you, and sorrow overwhelms you, you need an anchorage.Your anchorage will not be self-vindication - or self-justification - you will not get anywhere along that line; your anchorage will not even be your own sense of rightness. The only anchor that will hold in all this is God's love for you. You may make mistakes - and we are always wrong when we think of Paul or any other apostle as being faultless. I used to feel, in younger days, that it was a terrible thing to allow myself to think that Paul could be wrong, or that any other apostle could be wrong, or make a mistake. I thought these men must be infallible. Oh, no, it is we who are wrong when we take that attitude. Paul made mistakes; but what he came out with was this. The love of God is not changed when I make mistakes; the love of God does not let me go when I make mistakes. When I default, make wrong decisions, take wrong directions, perhaps say wrong things - that does not break the cable between my soul and the anchor of His love; it holds! "I am persuaded ,,, persuaded that none of these things - anything in the creation that you can mention" - "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
That is what Paul saw in the face of Jesus Christ. John's word for it was: "full of grace and truth." Paul would have endorsed that; indeed, this is his great endorsement. Sin - yes, horrible, awful, despicable, wicked, cruel; unfaithfulness, on the part of Israel; departure from Divine intention - yes (for you know he throws in a section immediately after chapter 8; the next two or three chapters are a section by themselves to illustrate his point). But it does not make any difference to the Divine love. Let us think about that just for a moment - this section that he puts in to illustrate his point. Israel: "Hath God cast off His people? God forbid!" (11:1) - it is one of his nine "God forbids" in this letter. Yes, but look what Israel has done! Look at Calvary - look at their work; look at Stephen - look at their wok; look at what they are doing everywhere - Israel!
Yes, they may be under judgment; they may be suffering for their sin, their wickedness, their iniquity; they may have been set aside for the dispensation as God's instrument because of their unfaithfulness. "But," says the apostle, "that has not ended God's love for them." Judgment in this world, and in this life, is never a proof that God's love is at an end; it may be the very proof of His love. It is better for us to suffer when we do wrong, in order to discover something new of His love through suffering. I venture to say that many of us have come to what little we do apprehend of the Divine love, through the realization of our own faultiness, and what it leads to. But Israel is a great illustration; and even yet, a spiritual company from the natural Israel will be found in the Kingdom, and in the Church. God has not washed His hands of them eternally as a people, and said, No Jew, no Israelite, will ever again have a chance. Not at all! Bad as they have been, and done what they have done, He has set His love upon them, and His love will keep the door open.
But you see the message. "Who shall separate us from the love of God" "What shall we say to these things? If God is for us" - and this is how He is for us, and where He is for us, and when He is for us, and through everything His love - what shall we say? Well, after making this tremendous sweep of Divine love, and then illustrating it with Israel in this most impressive way, he answers his question, his interrogation, by saying: "I beseech you therefore ... by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (12:1). What shall we say? The answer must be not in words, but in an act - "present your bodies, by the mercies of God." That "love so amazing, so Divine, demands our souls, our life, our all."
"Sirs, we would see Jesus."
What are you looking for? This is what you ought to see when you see Jesus - the Love of God in the Face of Jesus Christ.
(continued with # 20 - "Beholding, Changed, Transformed")