January 15 I Saturday
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” —Romans 5:5
As Christians, we recognize that in the cross of Christ we have the supreme demonstration of God’s love for us, but this alone is merely objective knowledge of His love. We can be deeply grateful for it, but there is something more Paul talks about in Romans 5, which is a subjective experience of God’s love. This is related to the work of the Holy Spirit who sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts. It is an experiential knowledge, and if we do not know this inner sense and consciousness of God’s love poured into our hearts, His love may be an article in our creed, but it will not be a power in our lives.
There are two grounds for assurance that Paul gives us to know we are loved by God. The first ground is that we believe and acknowledge Scripture to be true, as Paul tells us: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The second ground is, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16). This does not come from pastors or counsellors or from anywhere outside of ourselves, but from the Holy Spirit within us.
The love of God in us is a means of loving others and sharing the immense power of His love. At the heart of the Christian life is a love relationship, and if we lose that, we lose the joy, the power and the very essence of Christian living. The gospel first has to satisfy our minds, penetrate our hearts and excite us, as the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God. DL. Moody, a great evangelist, once said, “I had such an experience of [God’s] love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.” Charles Finney, also a great evangelist, could only express the Holy Spirit coming upon him in “waves of liquid love” until he, too, could not bear anymore. In Oswald J. Smith’s book, The Enduement of Power, he wrote, “I was melted, broken, awed and my head filled with unutterable love.” Thomas Chalmer, a Scottish minister, described God’s love poured into our hearts as “an expulsive power of a new affection.” Experiences, such as these, reveal to us what God is like and we are given a glimpse of heaven that permeates every ounce of our being.
Without the inner experience of God’s love, we are in danger of our Christian lives becoming dull and dry. But when God gets hold of us, we know it with certainty.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for a deep inner experience of Your love. I ask for Your Spirit to fill my heart with Your all-consuming love and remain with me forever. Thank You, Lord.