“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
The love of Christ is the believer’s greatest treasure. We read in our Bibles that God loved the world (John 3:16), but the Christian knows not only God’s love for the world in general but for him in particular. “Jesus loved me,” Paul says. Every Christian should be persuaded of Christ’s love for him in particular.
Christ's love is a personal love. Paul says, “who loved me.” Paul knew in his heart that Christ had a personal and individual love for him. This does not refer to God’s general compassion for all his creatures, but this speaks of God’s redemptive love for his own. It refers to Christ's love for his Bride and all the individual members of it. Christians believe in God’s love for sinners in general, but this is a deeper assurance of God’s love in the heart. It comes with the full persuasion that Jesus loved me, even me!
Christ's love is a sacrificial love. Paul goes on: “and gave himself for me.” Christ gave himself for sinners on the cross--do we know that he gave himself for this sinner? Am I able to say with confidence that Jesus Christ loved and gave himself up for Logan Patrick Almy? We may know this, and if we are Christians, it is our business to know this. The Spirit will testify with our spirit that we belong to Christ and that he has purchased us with his precious blood. We sing, “And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior’s blood?” And when we are sure that we have an interest in his blood, we will go on to sing, “Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”
Knowing Christ’s personal and sacrificial love for us is often misunderstood to be the warrant of faith, but we need to understand that it is rather the fruit of faith. For example, evangelists sometimes tell sinners, “God loves you. Christ died for you. Receive him into your life.” Such invitations make Christ’s love the warrant or grounds for faith. But the biblical presentation of the gospel differs from this. In the Bible we see God’s preachers telling sinners something like this: “God loves the world. God sent his Son to die for sinners and make full atonement. Whoever believes in Jesus shall be saved.” The warrant of faith in this presentation is God’s love for sinners in general and his promise to save those sinners who believe in Jesus. And it is only after the sinner believes in Jesus that he is persuaded that Christ died for him personally and sacrificially. This may seem like splitting theological hairs, but it makes a great difference in our experience of Christ’s love. In one approach, Christ’s personal love is a given, but in the other approach Christ’s love is the reward of having believed the gospel promise. There is a world of difference between these two and we ought to meditate on it.
So what about you? Are you able to proclaim that Christ died for you? Are you able to say that he loved you with an everlasting love? Do you know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge? Are you able to say that he shed the blood of the everlasting covenant for your weak, ungodly, and sinful soul? Are you able to sing,
“O the deep, deep love of Jesus! Vast, unmeasured,
boundless, free; rolling as a mighty ocean
in its fullness over me” ?