“For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus:
that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”
God loves you. The reality is that the truth of that sentence is, in itself, a miracle.
The transition out of sin and into Christ is not just from bad to good. Not just from evil to holy. Not just from turmoil to peace.
It’s the story of a change from death into life. And that is the miracle.
I was dead in my trespasses and sins. You don’t need to read very far in the Old Testament to see the unfaithfulness of our race. We were dead in our sins, chained to death by shackles we formed with our own hands.
We had rebelled against the Most High God, and there was no earthly reason why He should have any compassion for us. None at all. Our chances weren’t just slim, they were non-existent. One had only to open the book of the handwriting of requirements that was against us and see the first page to know that our guilt was sure and our sentence was just and our death was by our own doing.
We were dust, and we return to dust. Who loves mere dust?
There is a Hebrew word in the Old Testament that translators can’t really fully translate. It takes paragraphs to try to explain the fullness of this word. The word is chesed, and it’s translated most often as lovingkindness or mercy or grace. I like the way Michael Card has defined it: “when someone from whom we have the right to expect nothing gives us everything.”
Think about that for a minute. We’re dead. We deserve the eternal flames of hell in separation from God. What right have we to expect anything from God?
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” – Ephesians 2:4-9
There is no greater love than this. “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy [chesed] toward those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:11
We’re dust, we’re rebels, we’re prodigals. We’re nothing. Yet He loves us.
Let me tell you something – you can search the earth far and wide, you can travel to the corners of the world, you can sail every ocean and climb every mountain and speak to every king and never ever will you find any kind of love that is in any way measurable to His love. And that’s one reason why heaven lasts for eternity – because that’s how long it will take us to fully comprehend the immense love He has for us.
The love He has for us is so vast that He can’t love us any more than He does. And in His mercy, His chesed, He will not love us any less than He does.
You’re not going to get any better than that. Ever.
If you travel east, it doesn’t matter how long you travel and how far east you go because you’ll never reach the west. East always continues. If you travel west, it doesn’t matter how long you travel and how far west you go because you’ll never reach the east. West always continues. It’s different for north and south – if you begin traveling north, the furthest you can go is the North pole. After that, you are heading south! But there is no greater distance than between east and west; and look at what Psalm 103:12 says: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” That handwriting of requirements is gone and with it has gone the guilt and the penalty and the death and it is only because of His great love! His chesed.
Because the One from whom we have the right to expect nothing has given us everything.
He gave us Jesus.
His beloved Son carried our sorrows. He was despised and rejected by the ones He came to save. The very dust He made disdained Him. And He did it because He loves us. He died so that we could live. Our life is only because of His death.
And greater love has no man than this. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
I’m overwhelmed! Have you ever seen a love like this, the love of God? It is greater than the mind and the understanding and even the language of men. Greater love has no man than this!
I deserve to still be in bondage to decay. I deserve to be a slave to death. I deserve to perish forever in flames. What I don’t deserve is His chesed, His great love, His kindness, the everything He gives me when I deserve nothing and less than nothing. When I consider the vastness of all He has done for me and the grace He so freely poured out on me like rain, I cannot live for myself. I am compelled by His love.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us,
that we should be called children of God!”