Behold Christ’s Love: Only by love is love awakened

Illustration - Title - Behold Christ's Love - text - Bible verse - background - field - logo

We behold the love of God to humans in the divine plan for our redemption. It is revealed in the gift of God’s beloved Son to the world.

He was infinitely rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9.

Furthermore, He took upon Him the nature of mankind, and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh and became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Romans 8:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. 1 John 3:1.

Here is love that no language can express.

By transgression of God’s Law we separated ourselves from Him who alone is truth and love – alienated from the life of God and dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 4:18; Ephesians 2:1.

Christ revealed that God is love in carrying out the plan of salvation.

God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16.

Christ was the medium through which He could pour out his infinite love upon a fallen world. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself. 2 Corinthians 5:19

By faith we behold God here and now. In our daily experience we discern His goodness and compassion in the manifestation of His providence.

We recognize God in the character of His Son. The Holy Spirit takes the truth concerning God and Him whom He hath sent, John 6:29, and set it home in our hearts.

Contemplating the love of Christ

The one who beholds this love will be:

  • elevated in thought
  • purified in heart
  • transformed in character
  • going forth to be a light to the world, reflecting this mysterious love.

We endeavor to tell of this love, and language fails us. We consider His:

  • life on earth
  • sacrifice for us
  • work in Heaven as our advocate
  • mansions which He is preparing for those who love Him.

Herein 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.

In every true disciple this love like sacred fire burns on the altar of the heart.

It was on the earth that the love of God was revealed through Christ. Moreover, it is on the earth that His children are to reflect this love through blameless lives.

Thus sinners will be led to the cross to behold the Lamb of God.

The more we contemplate the cross of Christ, the more we shall adopt the language of the apostle when he said: I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2.

God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14.

As we meditate upon His humiliation and sufferings, the same spirit of self-denial and sacrifice for the good of others will be kindled in our hearts.

Moreover, as we behold Jesus by faith, we shall be changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Illustration - Behold Christ's Love in Isaiah 42 verse 1 - text - Bible verse - background - mountain

 

Discerning the glory that Jesus had with the Father

God gave Himself in His Son that He might have the joy of receiving back the sheep that was lost.

By the lost sheep Christ represents not only the individual sinner. Furthermore, He represents one world that has apostatized and has been ruined by sin.

This world is but an atom in the vast dominions over which God presides. Yet this little fallen world – the one lost sheep is more precious in His sight than are the ninety nine that went not astray from the fold.

Christ stooped from His high estate and laid aside the glory that He had with the Father in order to save the one lost world.

For this He left the sinless worlds on high, the ninety nine that loved Him, and came to this earth to be wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Isaiah 53:5.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6.

We cannot find out God by searching after Him. He has revealed Himself in His Son. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

From the days of eternity the Lord Jesus Christ was one with the Father. It was to manifest this glory that He came to our world.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Psalms 90:2.

Thus the pre-existence of Christ and His worldly mission are presented as living beams of light from the eternal throne.

The mystery of God in the flesh

It is God in Christ and divinity in humanity. Christ bowed down in unparalleled humility, that in His exaltation to the throne of God, He might also exalt those who believe in Him, and to be with Him upon His throne.

Thus all who look upon Jesus in faith will be healed in Him. Moreover, they will be made whole without wounds and bruises that sin has made. 

It is our safety, life and joy to dwell upon the truths of the plan of salvation. Faith and prayer are necessary in order that we may behold the deep things of God.

Our minds are bound with narrow ideas. Thus we catch but limited views of the experience that is our privilege to have. We comprehend little of what is meant by the prayer of the apostle:

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Ephesians 3:16-21.

We behold God in Jesus

Looking unto Jesus we see that it is the glory of our God to give. I do nothing of Myself, Christ said. The living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father. I seek not Mine own glory, but the glory of Him that sent Me. John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18.

In these words is set forth the great principle which is the law of life for the universe.

All things Christ received from God, but He took to give. Likewise in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, the Father’s life flows out to all.

Moreover, through the Son it returns in praise, joyous service and love to the great Source of all. Thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete, representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life.

In Heaven itself this law was broken. Sin originated in self-seeking. Lucifer, the covering cherub, desired to be first in Heaven. He desired to:

  • gain control of heavenly beings
  • draw them away from their Creator
  • win their homage to himself.

Therefore he misrepresented God, attributing to Him the desire for self-exaltation. With his own evil characteristics he pursued to charge the loving Creator.

Thus he deceived angels and humans. He led them to doubt the Word of God and to distrust His goodness.

Because God is a God of justice and terrible majesty, Satan caused them to look upon Him as severe and unforgiving. Thus he drew men to join him in rebellion against God.

The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. Satan’s deceptive power was to be broken that the world might be brought back to God.

Only by love is love awakened

This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government.

He desires only the service of love. Love cannot be commanded. Moreover, it cannot be won by force or authority.

To know God is to love Him. His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do.

Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world’s dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, with healing in His wings. Malachi 4:2.

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. Isaiah 42:1.

In Christ’s life was no self-assertion. The homage which the world gives to position, wealth, and talent was to be foreign to the Son of God.

Messiah was not to use none of the means that people employ to win allegiance or command homage. His utter renunciation of self was foreshadowed in the words:

He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench. Isaiah 42:2, 3.

Behold the Lamb of God

Than Christ, there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12.

Through faith we receive the grace of God. But faith is not our Savior. It earns nothing. It is the hand by which we lay hold upon Christ and appropriate His merits – the remedy for sin.

Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. Acts 5:31.

Repentance comes from Christ as truly as does pardon.

How are we to be saved?

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live.

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29.

The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist it, we will be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Savior.

Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul. The thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the Will of God.

The heart and mind, are created anew in the image of Him who works in us to subdue all things to Himself.

Then the law of God is written in the mind and heart, and we can say with Christ: I delight to do Thy will, O my God. Psalm 40:8.

The Son of man must be lifted up

Jesus unfolded the plan of salvation and His mission to the world in the interview with Nicodemus. He explained step by step the work necessary to be done in the hearts of all who would inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Nicodemus hid the truth in his heart and for three years there was little apparent fruit. He didn’t publicly acknowledge Christ. Nevertheless, he watched His life and pondered His teachings.

When Jesus was lifted up on the cross Nicodemus remembered the teaching upon Olivet.

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:14.

Thus the light from that secret interview illumined the cross upon Calvary, and Nicodemus saw in Jesus the world’s Redeemer.

Illustration - Behold Christ's Love in Jeremiah 7 verse 8 - text - Bible verse - background - flowers

 

By beholding Christ we learn to hate sin

When we contemplate the humiliation of Christ, beholding His self-denial and self-sacrifice, we are filled with amazement at the manifestation of divine love for guilty humanity.

Thus by beholding we become changed:

  • fear is turned to joy and doubts to hope
  • gratitude springs up
  • the stony heart is broken
  • love springs into the soul.

When we see Jesus as:

  • a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief
  • working to save the lost, scorned, ridiculed, driven from city to city
  • sweating great drops of blood in Gethsemane
  • dying in agony on the cross of Calvary,

self will no longer scream to be recognized. Moreover, we shall be ashamed of our coldness, lethargy, and self-seeking.

We can receive of heaven’s light only if we are willing to be emptied of self.

Furthermore we cannot discern the character of God, or accept Christ by faith, unless we consent to be obedient to Christ.

In Christ dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him. Colossians 2:9, 10.

He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all…For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him. John 3:31, 34.

By beholding Christ we will learn to hate sin which has brought to our Redeemer suffering and death. Thus our faith becomes strong and we come to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. John 17:3.

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life. John 3:36.

Christ glorified

The cross of Christ will be the science and the song of the redeemed through all eternity. In Christ glorified they will behold Christ crucified.

It will never be forgotten that He whose power created and upheld the unnumbered worlds humbled Himself to uplift fallen mankind.

Moreover, the Beloved of God and the Majesty of Heaven bore the guilt and shame of sin and crushed out His life on Calvary’s cross.

The Maker of all worlds and the Arbiter of all destinies put aside His glory, and humiliate Himself from love to humanity. This will ever excite the wonder and adoration of the universe.

As the saved multitude:

  • look upon their Redeemer
  • behold the eternal glory of the Father shining in His countenance
  • seeing His throne, which is from everlasting to everlasting
  • knowing that His kingdom is to have no end,

they break forth in joyous song:

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain and hath redeemed us to God by his own most precious blood! Revelation 5:12; 1 Peter 1:19.

The truth of the cross explains all other truths. The attributes of God appear beautiful and attractive in the light of Calvary. They fill us with fear and awe.

Thus, mercy, tenderness, and parental love are seen to blend with holiness, justice, and power of God.

While we behold the majesty of His throne, we see gracious manifestations of His character. Furthermore, we comprehend the significance of the title – Our Father.

In addition, we see that He who is infinite in wisdom could devise no plan for our salvation except the sacrifice of his Son.

The compensation for this sacrifice is the ransomed mankind – holy, happy, and immortal. Their joy come back to the glory of God throughout eternity.

Illustration - Behold Christ's Love in Mark 13 verse 23 - text - Bible verse - background - tree

 

Set your eyes upon Jesus

As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, . . . for His body’s sake, which is the church. John 17:18; Colossians 1:24.

In other words every soul whom Christ has rescued is called to work in His name for the saving of the lost. Our convincing arguments are the character of Christ and the cross of Calvary.

All who would be saved must keep their eyes on Jesus. Thus the sinners see Jesus as He is, full of compassion and tender love. Furthermore, by beholding the manifestation of His love and sufferings on Calvary they are transformed in character.

In order to be partakers with Christ in His sufferings, we must behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.

We need the mind of Christ when for His sake we are called to pass through humiliating trials. Thus we shall suffer them with meekness, not resenting injury or resisting evil.

Christian cannot hope to live without trials. Difficulties will arise and unexpected sorrows will come.

If in the midst of them those who, through faith in Christ are united to Him as the branch is united to the living vine, will become partakers with Him in His self-denial.

Moreover, they will go forth to shed the light of His love to those in darkness.

Look and live

We have to understand Christ’s healing, teaching, sacrifice, and suffering, in order that we may co-operate with Him in working out the great plan of redemption.

By the moving of the Spirit of God we would point others to the cross of Calvary. Furthermore, we would bid them:

The soul that sinneth it shall die. Ezekiel 18:4. Nevertheless, on the cross the sinner sees the only begotten of the Father dying in his or her stead, and giving the transgressor life.

Thus, all are called upon to behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.

Every sinner may look and live. Do not examine the scene of Calvary with careless, thoughtless mind.

Angels in amazement look upon those for whom such great salvation has been provided. They marvel that the love of God does not awaken and lead them to expressed gratitude and adoration.

Sadly, the result which all heaven looks to behold is not seen among those who profess to be followers of Christ.

How readily do we speak in endearing words of our friends and relatives, and yet how slow we are to speak of Him whose love has no parallel, set forth in Christ crucified among you.

Christ’s intersession for mortals

Christ’s intercession is of a broken body, and of a spotless life. His wounded hands, pierced side and marred feet plead for the fallen humanity.

Jesus is a living Savior. He is the Anointed One of God, seeking to transform our characters to His own. Christ has brought in everlasting righteousness and made reconciliation for sin.

Thus He is our only hope. He is the Anointed Priest who has ascended on high. Moreover, He is the One that ever lives to make intercession for every individual soul.

Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:17.

The love of the Father, no less than of the Son is the fountain of salvation for the lost humanity.

For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. John 16:27.

For Christ ascended up on high to make an atonement for our transgressions.

If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1, 2.

When the light of Christ’s righteousness is fully understood and accepted, love, joy, peace, and inexpressible gratitude will pervade the soul. Thus the language of one who is blessed will be:

Thy gentleness hath made me great. Psalm 18:35.

When Christ shall come

When Christ will appear in His glory, the wicked will not endure to behold Him. The light of His presence, which is life to those who love Him, is death to the ungodly.

His coming is to them a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation. Hebrews 10:27.

Thus they will plead to be hidden from the face of Him who died to redeem them.

And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? Revelation 6:16, 17.

On the other hand, all hearts that have become purified through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can know God. They will say:

Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. Isaiah 25:9.

Moses was hid in the cleft of the rock when the glory of the Lord was revealed to him. In the same manner, it is when we are hid in Christ that we behold the love of God.

He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the King shall be his friend. Proverbs 22:11.

The pure in heart see God in a new and adorable relation – as their Redeemer. Moreover, while they discern the purity and loveliness of His character, they long to reflect His image.

They see Him as a Father longing to embrace a repenting son, and their hearts are filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Conclusion

As the inspired apostle John beheld the Father’s love toward the perishing race, he was filled with adoration and reverence.

Failing to find suitable language in which to express the greatness and tenderness of this love, he called upon the world to behold it.

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. 1 John 3:1.

What a value this places upon mankind!

Through transgression humans become subjects of Satan. Through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ the sons of Adam may become the sons of God.

By assuming human nature, Christ elevates humanity. Fallen people are placed where, through connection with Christ, they may indeed become worthy of the name sons of God.

As we behold the Lamb of God upon the cross of Calvary, the mystery of redemption begins to unfold to our minds and the goodness of God leads us to repentance.

In dying for sinners, Christ manifested a love that is incomprehensible; and as the sinner beholds this love, it softens the heart, impresses the mind, and inspires contrition in the soul.

I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me. John 12:32.

Christ is ready to set us free from sin, but He does not force our will. If by persistent transgression we:

  • wholly bent our will on evil
  • do not desire to be set free
  • will not accept His grace,

what more can He do?

We have destroyed ourselves by our determined rejection of His love.

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2.

Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. Hebrews 3:7, 8.

References

 

  1. LHU 185; 5T 467; BE, Sep 1892; AA 333, COL 190; DA 21, 175-181, 439; CE 77, 95; RH, Nov 1891; GC88 651; BE, Nov 1893; SK 15, 26, 34 – The Ellen G. White Estate
  2. King James Bible Version 

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