Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
A Song to the Lord

God Is Love - "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:16 NRSV)

God’s love is a thread that weaves throughout the entire Bible.

In the commandment not to make or worship idols, God declared that he shows “. . . steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:6 NRSV). Psalm 136 recounts Israel’s history of God’s faithfulness to them, and with each event reminds the reader that “. . . his steadfast love endures forever.”  God reminds rebellious Israel that “. . . he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing” (Joel 2:13 NRSV). Throughout the Old Testament, the foundation of genuine worship was to give praise to God because of his steadfast love shown to Israel.

The New Testament picks up the theme of God’s love. Christ dying on the cross proves God’s love. “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NRSV). Nothing in all of creation can separate us from God’s love, the apostle Paul writes,“for I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NRSV). Christians are called to be people who love others because “whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8 NRSV).

God is love. Three simple words, but words with eternal import. Charles Wesley, in his hymn Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, took the storyline of God’s love in the Scriptures and gave us a wonderful summary of what the love of God means for us both now and forever.

First, Jesus Christ came to show us, in word and deed, the unfathomable love of God for us.

Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven, to earth come down!
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling; all Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion; pure, unbounded love Thou art.
Visit us with Thy salvation; enter every trembling heart. 

Because of God’s love, we can be saved from the penalty of sin. God’s love expressed in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus reveals to us that God is “all compassion” and “unbounded love.” We need not tremble before a holy God as Isaiah did in his vision of God’s throne (Isaiah 6). Our sin that makes us deserve eternal death was placed on Jesus at the cross. He took God’s justice on himself for us.

Second, because of God’s love for us, we can also be delivered from the power of sin.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit; let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning; Alpha and Omega be.
End of faith, as its Beginning, set our hearts at liberty. 

In the Bible, to be sanctified is to be brought into a condition of usefulness for a special purpose. Sanctification for the Christian is to be more and more delivered from our “bent to sinning.” The love of God that provided our salvation continues in the life of the Christian as the Holy Spirit “breathes life” into the follower of Jesus, affirming the lordship of Christ in the person’s life, and delivering us from the power of sin, restoring the relationship with God that our first parents forfeited in the Garden of Eden.

God, because of his great love for us, gives us new life that is abundant in its fullness and joy now through the presence of his Holy Spirit living within us.

Come, Almighty to deliver; let us all Thy life receive.
Suddenly return, and never, never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing, serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing, glory in Thy perfect love. 

This new and abundant life that God gives is also eternal in scope. Our life in Christ will never end. Our life now is just preparation for living eternally with God, a life not only delivered from the penalty and power of sin, but finally delivered from the presence of sin. And so, with Charles Wesley, we pray:

Finish then Thy new creation; pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory ‘till in heaven we take our place,
‘Till we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder, love, and praise. 

Join with the congregation of Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California in singing this hymn

Here is another arrangement of the hymn using a different tune and sung by a duet.

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Music from SmallChurchMusic.com.

Rusty Rabon

Rusty Rabon has served in vocational Christian ministry in local churches since 1981. He also served as a Christian radio announcer for 15 years. He married his wife Terri in 1978 and they have 3 grown children and 6 grandchildren. You can find books by Rusty Rabon here.

Rusty also hosts a book reading program called READING GREAT BOOKS on his Facebook page. You can follow Rusty at www.rustyrabon.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

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