Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I've sought God's love but not found it?

As Sibbes approaches the end of his first sermon on The Matchless Love & In-being he addresses objections and questions. This is a helpful style used by the Puritans to stop us wriggling out of what has been said.

To those who say, I've sought God's love and not found it, Sibbes says - wait. Not everyone is called when they're young. Sibbes cites examples of Josiah and Timothy who came to God young, but Paul and many in the crowd at Pentecost were older. So, wait and "in time God will speak to you, and will say to your soul that he is your salvation..." Wait and pray:
"Lord, I do not ask of you riches, I ask not glory, I ask not preferment in the world, I ask none of these: I ask your love, in which all is which is good."
And find this love:
"For the love of God it is a rich love, as that love that he bears to his Son. If he loves me once, he loves me as he loves his Son. Now, he loves him freely, and richly, and unchangeably, and with an incomparable love. God's love both to him and us, it is an incomparable love."
In suffering and afflictions particularly we know the love of God:
"We shall not care for any affliction whatsoever. Paul in the dungeon.. Daniel in the lions' den, the den shall be a kind of paradise... where God is, there is paradise... where God's love is, there is heaven itself... If God has kindled love in us, there is no such sweet estate. If it comes from God, it will make us digest anything. Love will put such life in us that we shall want or suffer anything quietly. When we feel the love of God in us, that he loves us to immortality, that he loves us to life everlasting, to an inheritance immortal and undefiled, that he loves us in things that accompany salvation, peculiar blessings, this will swallow up all discouragements whatsoever, it will make us be in heaven before our time."
We long for this because of how good He is:
The sense of the love of God, when it is shed into our hearts, as it is Rom. 5:5, what will it do? It will make all tribulations, afflictions, crosses, and wants sweet unto us. "
But we might ask, when does Christ show his Father's love most to us by the Spirit?
"It is with a Christian's soul as it is with the days of the year, or the seasons of the day. There is foul and fair, there is darkness and light, there is an intercourse, not always an even apprehension to us of God's love in Christ at all times. God has his reasons why..."
When most of all?
God's love is in us most when we stand most in need of it, in extremities. When no creature can help us, when we stand most in need of the manifestation of God's love, we have it.
Nothing can match the love of God
What makes heaven “heaven” but the sense of his love, of his sweet fatherly face in Christ shining upon us in his Son, and persuading of us that we are his sons? Why, this divine comfort that comes from the favour of God, it is that that makes all nothing, commands all the creatures, rebukes all, Satan and all. The beams of such a rich and gracious God is above all discouragements"
And so Sibbes says - desire God's love. Christ prays that we might.
"Would you have more than God himself, and his love? What if you want a beam? You have the sun itself, God's love. You want perhaps riches or friends; Yes, but you have God's love, which is a wise love. If he saw it was for your good, you should not want them. If you want a stream, you have the spring itself."
And so strive to find this love of God, and root out all other things. Seek the work of the Spirit and ask God to show his love. Make this your prayer:
"'Lord, let me feel your love in Christ; I cannot love holy duties without the manifestation of your love; and therefore manifest your love to my soul. Lord, show yourself, show your love; your pardoning love first, and then your curing love; your forgiving love and giving love. I am in a sinful state, forgive that which is amiss, and give me that which I want; show your large love every way, both in giving and forgiving; heal me and cure me; let me feel this your love in the sweetest peculiar fruits of it;' "
In closing "let it be our prayer that God would show his love and mercy, that he would show his love to us in Christ, which is better than life itself." In the second sermon he goes on to unpack how we know the love of God in the gospel. I recommend that you go, read and digest The Matchless Love & In-being (pdf).

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