By Fred Carpenter
The Mars Hill staff has started a new Devotional Series on experiencing divine love. The incentive to go down this path began last year when I attended the memorial service of a very beloved and godly woman. Her granddaughter shared that the greatest lesson she learned from her grandmother was simply, “How to let Jesus love on me.” Her words went straight to my heart of hearts as I thought to myself, “Do I even know how to do that?”
Apparently, I am not the only one who struggles with that question. I recently read about a seminary professor who asked 120 of her students the question: “Do you believe that God loves you?” Out of 120 Christian students preparing for ministry, only two said, “yes.” The rest gave answers like this: “I know I’m supposed to say, ‘Yes’ . . . “I know the Bible says he loves me . . . but I don’t feel it,” or “I’m not sure I can really say I believe it.” (Link to quote source article, TGC)
Is it a Realistic, Biblical Expectation to Actually Experience the Love of God?
Citing Romans 5:5, John Piper affirms that the actual experience of God’s love is indeed a realistic, Biblical expectation . . . “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Piper goes on to explain, “This is a Spirit-given experience of God’s love, not a logical inference from an argument. It is something poured out. It is something felt in the heart. Known in the way the heart knows.”
Consider the nature, character, and quality of God’s love
- It is more than sufficient to continually fill our hearts to overflowing
The verb tense of “God’s love has been poured (ekkecutai – Gr.) into our hearts. . .” is perfect passive indicative. This tense of “poured out” indicates a past action with continuing results
“Poured out” in this tense indicates an abundant, continual supply of His perfect love
Note: The Weymouth translation of the New Testament translates this word as “floods”. . . God’s love for us floods our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
- It is more than sufficient to propel us in our life’s mission
In our first devotional of this series we considered 2 Cor. 5:14, “For the love of Christ controls (compels) us . . .” – The word for “controls” in this verse is synechō which is to channel or direct. Just as a deep reservoir of water is channeled and powerfully directed from its high mountain source to the cities below, so also God’s love is channeled to us and also through us to each other and also back to God Himself. His love propels and directs us in our life mission.
- Consider this image of our Triune God
Brazilian theologian, Leonardo Boff, describes the Trinity, as “an eternal explosion of life and love from one to the other”. Dwell on that thought for a moment. Wow! And then consider, through Christ, you and I are invited to be partakers of this explosive triune fellowship of life and love forever! Wow! Wow! Wow!
John 17:21 – “. . . that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us . . . ”
2 Peter 1:4 – “. . . He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature . . .”
If divine love is all of this and more (and I believe it is), then why don’t we experience this love more fully and consistently. Why are we not overwhelmed by it all the time? And how can that change? These are the questions we’ll be exploring together over the next several weeks. We hope you’ll join us!