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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

His Great Love # 4

His Great Love # 4

God's Beloved

"...but God, being rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us..."

In our previous meditation, we were seeking to point out that, although this whole vast universe has behind it a mind, a reason, a design, a plan, a will, a fiat, yet back of all that there is a heart, and that means love. We sought first to see that the very creation of man was dedicated by the heart of God for purposes of His own love, and then that the whole Bible is a progressive and growing unveiling of that fact. It is God's love for man that lies behind all His dealings with man. We traced that fact from Adam, through the chosen seed, particularly citing the case of Abraham, and then of the chosen nation, Israel. How full, wonderful, altogether inexplicable, was the love of God! We went on into the New Testament and pointed out how that eternal, mighty, mysterious love of God became fully embodied in the person of His Son, Who lived His life, did His work, gave Himself, all on the basis of love for the Father and that the Father might have in man that upon which His heart has ever been set. We dwelt at some length upon His love for God His Father, and we marked it also in connection with His disciples, whom, having loved, He loved unto the end; and we saw at what infinite cost to Himself all was at length accomplished, all in the strength of that love.

God's Love For the Church In the Beloved

Passing from the days of His flesh over into the next part of the Bible, beginning with the Book of the Acts and running on to the Book of the Revelation, we have the love of God from eternity as now seen to be centered, in the first instance, in something called "the Church." "the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28). "Christ...loved the church, and gave Himself up for it" (Eph. 5:25). It is quite impossible for us in a brief time to go right through all that section of the New Testament, but I think we shall be agreed that this unveiling is brought to us, not exclusively but in its fullest and richest form, in the ministry of the Apostle Paul, who himself was a wonderful embodiment of God's love. It was the one note deepest in his own heart, breaking out from time to time in nothing short of utter amazement. He "loved me, and gave Himself up for me!" (Gal. 2:20). "O the depth of the riches..." (Rom. 11:33); they are the riches not only of wisdom and knowledge but also of His love. And this man, who could never understand why that eternal love should light upon him and single him out, has given us such a marvelously full, deep, rich revelation of that love. We are just helpless and hopeless when we try to cope with this revelation through and in Paul. We can only do the best the Lord enables us to do in thinking about it and bringing it to the notice of others.

We remember, as we pointed out in our previous mediation, that, when the Son of God's love stepped out into His great public ministry at Jordan, the Father's word from heaven was - "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). "My beloved Son." You will recall what we said about that little prefix - 'he loved"; not just "My loved Son," but "My beloved Son," that is, one to whom I am utterly given. Now this Apostle of the eternal love of God - with what would be frightful audacity were it not the whole doctrine of the love of God - dares to use that same phrase of the believer, "hath made us accepted in the beloved" (Eph. 1:6). "Us in the beloved"; God giving Himself to us in the same way as He gave Himself to His Son. Oh, I do hope you do not just take that as a kind of play upon words, a little touch of interest, when I stay to underline the beginning of the word "beloved." I pointed out that it is the beginning of many words and every one of them has to do with a complete thing. If it is "betrothed," that is the complete giving. If it is "beseech," that is something more than asking. When I come to you concerning something with which my life is wrapped up, something which is of very great importance, I do not just simply and casually ask you about that matter; my whole being goes out to you; I beseech. God is very particular about that, and He very often heads us up to something more than easy asking - to beseeching; not because He is reluctant or unwilling, but because He wants us to get right into the matter. It is of paramount importance. "I beseech," said Paul - that was how he approached men. "We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20). It is a life and death matter. Or take "besiege." If you are going to besiege anyone or anything or any place, you do not just walk up to them or it. You give yourself to that thing,you are all in on that matter. That is where God is over His Christ - the Beloved; and that is transferred to us.

Chosen In The Beloved

Here, in this letter to the Ephesians, right at the beginning everything is put on that basis. "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before Him in love" (1:4). An alternative rendering to that is, "He chose us in love before the foundation of the world that we should be holy." "Having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: in Whom we have our redemption." It is all in the Beloved, in the Be-loved. Do you catch the emphasis? It is not just that He chose us, or that He chose us for this or that. It is where He chose us. Nor is it just that He chose us in Jesus Christ: He chose us in the Beloved, giving the character and the quality of the basis of our relationship to God. That being so, our very existence in relation to God is a love existence, a love relationship. It is what Christ's relationship was to the Father that is ours; and you know how in the New Testament this very word "beloved" is frequently used concerning believers. [Note: Let it be clearly understood that nothing said here or elsewhere means that the unique and exclusive nature of Christ as "the only begotten of the Father," the eternal Son, is infringed or overlooked. The peculiar nature of the Person of Christ is preserved and jealously preserved. We are here dealing with our calling in Christ.] Paul was tremendously fond of using it. Here he says it inclusively - "In the Beloved," but again and again he will say to the saints, "beloved of God." That is not just a pleasant thing said. We can use that language to one another, we can address people in those  terms; but Paul was not just saying a nice thing, calling them beloved of God to make them feel comfortable.

For him, the whole doctrine of grace was wrapped up in that. He comprehended the eternities past and future in that; "in the Beloved," "beloved of God." If you think that is just language and words, do remember that Paul's horizon, his whole world, beyond which for him there was nothing, was what he so frequently called "in Christ." You have little need that I remind you of the way in which Paul used that phrase. I have managed to find 128 occasions in Paul's writings alone in which he uses that phrase, or what corresponds to it. "He chose us in Him." "In Whom we have our redemption." Now you go on and see all that he has to say about "in Christ." It is the Beloved.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - Union With God In The Beloved

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