Tag Archives: Love of God

“Athanasius announced the singing of Psalm 136” by James Montgomery Boice

“The word that is used for ‘love’ in this refrain is the powerful Hebrew term hesed, which means ‘covenant love’ or the favor God shows to those with whom He has entered into a covenant relationship. Sometimes it is translated ‘steadfast (or ‘enduring’) love.’ It is enduring because God is a God of His word. He is forever good, and He does not break His covenant.

One night in February 358 A.D. the church father Athanasius held an all-night service at his church in Alexandria, Egypt. He had been leading the fight for the eternal sonship and deity of Jesus Christ, knowing that the survival of Christianity depended on it. He had many enemies—for political even more than theological reasons—and they moved the power of the Roman government against him. That night the church was surrounded by soldiers with drawn swords. People were frightened.

With calm presence of mind Athanasius announced the singing of Psalm 136. The vast congregation responded, thundering forth twenty-six times, ‘His love endures forever.’ When the soldiers burst through the doors they were staggered by the singing. Athanasius kept his place until the congregation was dispersed. Then he too disappeared in the darkness and found refuge with his friends.

Many citizens of Alexandria were killed that night, but the people of Athanasius’s congregation never forgot that although man is evil, God is good. He is superlatively good, and ‘His love endures forever.'”

–James Montgomery Boice, Psalms: An Expositional Commentary, Vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), 3: 1185. Boice is commenting on Psalm 136.

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“He is the sun of their souls” by John Newton

“The Lord, by His Spirit, manifests and confirms His love to His people. For this purpose He meets them at His throne of grace, and in His ordinances.

There He makes Himself known unto them, as He does not unto the world. There He causes His goodness to pass before them, and opens, applies, and seals to them, His exceeding great and precious promises, and He gives them the Spirit of adoption, whereby, unworthy as they are, they are enabled to cry ‘Abba, Father.’

He causes them to understand that great love wherewith He has loved them, in redeeming them by price and by power, washing them from their sins in the blood of the Lamb, recovering them from the dominion of Satan, and preparing for them an everlasting kingdom, where they shall see His face, and rejoice in His glory.

The knowledge of this, His love to them, produces a return of love from them to Him. They adore Him, and admire Him. They make an unreserved surrender of their hearts to Him. They view Him and delight in Him, as their God, their Saviour, and their portion.

They account His favour better than life. He is the sun of their souls: if He is pleased to shine upon them, all is well, and they are not greatly careful about other things.

But if He hides His face, the smiles of the whole creation can afford them no solid comfort.

They esteem one day or hour spent in the delightful contemplation of His glorious excellencies, and in the expression of their desires towards Him, better than a thousand. And when their love is most fervent, they are ashamed that it is so faint, and chide and bemoan themselves that they can love Him no more.

This often makes them long to depart, willing to leave their dearest earthly comforts, that they may see Him as He is, without a veil or cloud.

For they know that then, and not till then, they shall love Him as they ought.”

–John Newton, The Works of the John Newton, Ed. Richard Cecil (vol. 1; London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 309–310.

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“He kindled it, and He keeps it alive” by John Newton

“Let us be thankful for the beginnings of grace, and wait upon our Saviour patiently for the increase. And as we have chosen Him for our physician, let us commit ourselves to His management, and not prescribe to Him what He shall prescribe for us.

He knows us and He loves us better than we do ourselves, and will do all things well.

You say, ‘It never came with power and life to my soul that He died for me.’ If you mean, you never had any extraordinary sudden manifestation, something like a vision or a voice from heaven, confirming it to you, I can say the same.

But I know He died for sinners; I know I am a sinner.

I know He invites them that are ready to perish; I am such a one.

I know, upon His own invitation, I have committed myself to Him.

And I know, by the effects, that He has been with me hitherto, otherwise I should have been an apostate long ago.

And therefore I know that He died for me; for had He been pleased to kill me (as He justly might have done), He would not have shewn me such things as these.

I know that I am a child, because He teaches me to say, ‘Abba, Father.’

I know that I am His, because He has enabled me to choose Him for mine. For such a choice and desire could never have taken place in my heart, if He had not placed it there Himself.

By nature I was too blind to know Him, too proud to trust Him, too obstinate to serve Him, too base-minded to love Him. The enmity I was filled with against His government, righteousness, and grace, was too strong to be subdued by any power but His own.

The love I bear Him is but a faint and feeble spark, but it is an emanation from Himself.

He kindled it, and He keeps it alive.

And because it is His work, I trust many waters shall not quench it.”

–John Newton, The Works of the John Newton, Volume 1 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 643–644.

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“Dearer to Him than His own life” by John Calvin

“But as He was made man on our account, and as the Father delighted in Him, in order that He might reconcile us to Himself, we need not wonder if He declares it to be the reason why the Father loveth Him, that our salvation is dearer to Him than His own life.

This is a wonderful commendation of the goodness of God to us, and ought justly to arouse our whole souls into rapturous admiration, that not only does God extend to us the love which is due to the only-begotten Son, but He refers it to us as the final cause.

And indeed there was no necessity that Christ should take upon Him our flesh, in which He was beloved, but that it might be the pledge of the mercy of His Father in redeeming us.”

–John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel According to John, Volume XVII in Calvin’s Commentaries (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 409. Calvin is commenting on John 10:17.

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“Like a good shepherd” by J.C. Ryle

“Like a good shepherd, Christ knows all His believing people. Their names, their families, their dwelling-places, their circumstances, their private history, their experience, their trials,—with all these things Jesus is perfectly acquainted.

There is not a thing about the least and lowest of them with which He is not familiar. The children of this world may not know Christians, and may count their lives folly; but the Good Shepherd knows them thoroughly, and, wonderful to say, though He knows them, does not despise them.

Like a Good Shepherd, Christ cares tenderly for all His believing people. He provides for all their wants in the wilderness of this world, and leads them by the right way to a city of habitation.

He bears patiently with their many weaknesses and infirmities, and does not cast them off because they are wayward, erring, sick, footsore, or lame.

He guards and protects them against all their enemies, as Jacob did the flock of Laban; and of those that the Father has given Him He will be found at last to have lost none.

Like a Good Shepherd, Christ lays down His life for the sheep. He did it once for all, when He was crucified for them. When He saw that nothing could deliver them from hell and the devil, but His blood, He willingly made His soul an offering for their sins.

The merit of that death He is now presenting before the Father’s throne. The sheep are saved for evermore, because the Good Shepherd died for them. This is indeed a love that passeth knowledge!

‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'” (John 15:13)

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1878), 2:189–190. Ryle is commenting on John 10:10-18.

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“Tenderness of heart” by Richard Sibbes

“Tenderness of heart is wrought by an apprehension of tenderness and love in Christ. A soft heart is made soft by the blood of Christ.

Many say, that an adamant cannot be melted with fire, but by blood. I cannot tell whether this be true or no; but I am sure nothing will melt the hard heart of man but the blood of Christ, the passion of our blessed Saviour.

When a man considers of the love that God hath shewed him in sending of His Son, and doing such great things as He hath done, in giving of Christ to satisfy His justice, in setting us free from hell, Satan and death: the consideration of this, with the persuasion that we have interest in the same, melts the heart, and makes it become tender.

And this must needs be so, because that with the preaching of the gospel unto broken-hearted sinners cast down, there always goes the Spirit of God, which works an application of the gospel.

Christ is the first gift to the Church. When God hath given Christ, then comes the Spirit, and works in the heart a gracious acceptance of mercy offered.

The Spirit works an assurance of the love and mercy of God. Now love and mercy felt, work upon the tender heart a reflective love to God again.

What, hath the great God of heaven and earth sent Christ into the world for me?

Humbled Himself to the death of the cross for me?

And hath He let angels alone, and left many thousands in the world, to choose me?

And hath He sent His ministers to reveal unto me this assurance of the love and mercy of God?

This consideration cannot but work love to God again. For love is a kind of fire which melts the heart.

So that when our souls are persuaded that God loves us from everlasting, then we reflect our love to Him again. And then our heart says to God, ‘Speak, Lord; what wilt Thou have me to do?’

The soul is pliable for doing, for suffering, for anything God will have it. Then, ‘Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth,’ 1 Sam. 3:9.

And when the heart is thus wrought upon, and made tender by the Spirit, then afterward in the proceeding of our lives, many things will work tenderness: as the works of God, His judgments, the word and sacraments, when they are made effectual by the Spirit of God, work tenderness.

The promises of God also make the heart tender, as Rom. 12:1, ‘I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, offer up your souls and bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.’

There is no such like argument to persuade men to tenderness of heart, as to propound the love and mercy of God.”

–Richard Sibbes, “Josiah’s Reformation,” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; vol. 7; Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1863), 6: 33-34.

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“He loves her with all His infinite heart” by Charles Spurgeon

“God loves the church with a love too deep for human imagination: He loves her with all His infinite heart…

You may fear that the Lord has passed you by, but it is not so: He who counts the stars, and calls them by their names, is in no danger of forgetting His own children.

He knows your case as thoroughly as if you were the only creature He ever made, or the only saint He ever loved. Approach Him and be at peace.”

–Charles Spurgeon, “February 24 — Evening” in Morning and Evening (Geanies House, Fearn, Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 1994),  121.

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