Willie Jamieson - The Love of God - Tokyo, Japan - August 13, 1972

Ephesians 3:14-21, from the 14th verse of this chapter, we have one of the most wonderful prayers Paul prayed for God's people.  “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, etc.”  In these verses, we have a picture of God, of our Elder Brother, and all our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Part of this family is already in Heaven; the other part is still living upon the face of the earth and being fitted to join their brethren who have already entered.  It is very important that we are told here that this whole family is named after Christ.  Every member in this family has been given what was given to Jesus.  The name of a person in the Bible is the same as his character.  We could say here that there is nothing on the face of this earth that ever could enable us to follow Jesus apart from, first of all, being partakers of His nature.  There is no name that suits God's people so well as Christian.  One of our older brothers long ago used to tell us something about that word Christian.  By just taking one letter out of that word, we have a true picture of what a Christian should be.  If we take the letter “a” out of that word, we have two words, “Christ in.”  There is a verse in Paul's writings that says “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  It is not enough to have Christ as our example just in our mind, nor is it enough to know that Christ died for our sins; but if we have allowed this spirit of Christ to come within us, that will make us true Christians.

 

Paul had something wonderful to pray for those people - that God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, would grant different things.  The first thing of all was that we might be “strengthened with might by His spirit in the inner man.”  This work of God is always done in the hearts of men and women.  You cannot make a Christian by putting certain things into his life, but when Christ is reigning supreme in your heart and mine, we are then living to the honour and glory of God.  Paul said that God, according to the riches of His glory would work in them what we are talking about.  He asked God to strengthen them with might by His spirit in their inner man that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith. When Christ is living in the heart of a person, that person has a pure heart.  Of such people Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”  We may understand from that that the only people that God can or does reveal Himself to are the pure in heart.  A pure heart is a heart that has only one objective in life. That objective is to live a clean, pure, holy life in the presence of God.  When you and I read such wonderful things as these, we have a desire to live them out in our lives.

 

Then Paul prayed that they might be rooted and grounded in the love of God.  Perhaps you are like me this morning: when you think of being rooted in love, you think of a tree.  First of all, that tree has to take root and as it takes root, it grows stronger and stronger and becomes grounded.  No matter how severe a storm blows over that tree, it cannot be blown down.  When a man plants a tree, he is careful about the soil he plants it in.  He does not plant that tree in soil that will shorten the growth and life of that tree. Did you notice the kind of soil these people of God had their roots planted in?  “Being rooted and grounded in love,” etc.  That was not limited to human love; it was pointing to the pure, divine love of God. When we are planted in this soil, there is a wonderful change in our lives.  No experience can hinder the growth of that tree, the tree that has its roots planted in the divine love of our Father. It is not hard for us to understand that this was the kind of soil Jesus had His roots planted in.  Over and over again we read of Jesus saying, “I came not to do My own will but the will of Him that sent Me.”  In other places we read that Jesus said, “I delight to do Thy will.”  Paul must have felt that it was very important that these people have their roots taking root and being grounded in that kind of soil.  The result of this was that with all other saints we may be able to comprehend “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ...”  If one's roots are not planted in such soil, they will not be able to understand the other things.

 

I felt this morning that it might be good for me and for all of us to look into what was the breadth of the love of God.  It might speak to us that we could go to the left or right but that love of God would still be there to teach us to do and enable us to do the will of God.   Paul wrote in Hebrews 13:5, “for He hath said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.'”  We could well say that the Lord is with us, and “I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”  This could speak of the breadth of the love of God in our own lives.  But there is a wider meaning than this.

 

Just about 40 days after Jesus rose from the dead, He met with His disciples.  It took all of those 40 days to teach the disciples the lesson of the resurrection.  Before Jesus was crucified, He appointed a meeting with His disciples and when the right time came, He appeared on that mountain and His disciples were there.  It tells us that they were very glad when they saw Him.  But some of them doubted and He said these wonderful words to those men, “all power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.”  Forty days before that, He had hung on the cross, appearing to the world as the weakest man that ever lived, but God raised Him from the dead and He set Him at His right hand.  God gave Him all the power that He had both over things in Heaven and in earth.  Then you see that He expressed the wonderful love He had for all the world.   Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”  That was a wonderful fellowship into which baptism brought them.  Before those men had met with Jesus, they were living for the world and their own flesh and devil.  When the Spirit of Christ entered into those men, it separated them from the old way of living.  That old fellowship gave them no promise of eternal life.  When the servants of God appeared to them and spoke to them about God's eternal plan, their minds were completely changed.  They were baptized into the fellowship of God. They were then sent into all the world.  He wanted every man, woman, and child to understand something about the wonderful love of God.  He was not satisfied with merely spreading His doctrine over that little country of Palestine.  Before the foundation of the world He and His Father had planned that this wonderful love would be given to men of all nations.

 

Jesus told those men to teach only what He himself had taught them.  When they went from one place to another, they gave men to hear something they had never heard before.  This gives you and me to understand that God's message will always be the same.  “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”  He gave them no authority to speak about anything He had not taught them.  When you and I get that truth firmly fixed in our minds, we then understand how false all the religions in the world are.  As we travel from place to place, we come into contact with false prophets everywhere.  They all have the same opinion, almost without exception.  They tell us that what Jesus taught was only for men in that age.  They tell us that everything has changed and that Jesus' teaching must also be changed.  The disciples of Jesus went forth preaching only Jesus as the way and truth and life.  Everywhere they went, up to the present moment, they preached that Jesus Christ is the same:  yesterday, today, and forever.  If we are not living the Christ life, all that we preach about it is giving a false impression.  They are given only authority to preach what He had preached.  He said, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”  The most shameful thing we could ever do in Japan would be to bring a different gospel from that which He taught.  But as we live and preach Christ, the great name of God is honoured and glorified.  It is indeed a comforting promise that Jesus will be with us unto the very end of the world.  Jesus in heaven on one occasion promised that He would be with a preacher who did not yet live and preach what He preached and taught.  (Note:  Referring possible to Paul in Acts 9; Acts 22:7-21; Acts 26:13-20?)  Now this gives you and me to understand that the breadth of the love of God covers the whole face of the earth.  Paul prayed that those people would understand that.  He did not want them to believe that this that he taught them was narrow and restricted.  It was not a teaching that was given to the Jews alone as some people tell us.  It was the same as was lived and taught on the whole face of the earth.

 

It is something very sweet and wonderful to me that this gospel has come to Japan.  One time when preaching in China, we were speaking about God having sent His Son to the world.  At the close of that meeting, a Chinese came up to me and asked this question, “When God sent His Son to this world, did He send Him to China?”  We said, “No, He did not.  He sent Him to that little country of Palestine.”  That Chinese shook his head and said he could not believe that if God sent His Son to the world, He would not send Him to China.  I said to that man that thousands of years after Jesus had gone back to Heaven He had sent my companion and me to China to preach the same gospel.  So in one sense, we were able to prove that God had sent His Son to China.  When Jesus sent His twelve disciples out at first, He said, “He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me.”  So we can say that though Jesus is not in Japan in person, He is represented in the lives of His true servants.  All the contact and fellowship I have had with these servants in Japan convinces me that they are teaching the same gospel that Jesus taught.  So this love of God was wide enough that it covered the whole earth.

 

Paul also spoke about the length of the love of Christ.  That makes me turn my mind to John 13.  That chapter tells us that Jesus knew He had come from God, the Father, and was now going back to God, the Father.  Then we read these wonderful words, “…having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.”  Jesus' love for His disciples never wavered.  There were things they did and said that must have provoked His anger but He kept loving them to the end.  And the greatest of all proof of this was the fact that He died.  Sometimes you might be tempted to wonder whether or not Christ still loves you.  Just think of His relationship with His twelve disciples on that last night.  There was not one of them 100% what he should have been.  He had told them He was going to be crucified and was leaving them and on that very night they were disputing among themselves about who was to be the greatest.  Don't you think that was enough to provoke Jesus to stop loving them? “…having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.”  That shows us something about the length of the love of Christ.

 

Paul talked about the depth of that love.  That speaks of how far down it would go to help men and women.  One of the most amazing things about the ministry of Jesus was the fact that He gathered about Him some of the most notorious characters of that time.  One of His truest followers was Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus met that woman first of all, she was possessed with seven devils.  Can you think of the torment and torture that woman must have undergone!  When she met with Jesus, He cast them all out.  Mary Magdalene was the one who brought from Jesus to the disciples His resurrection message when He was raised from the dead.  The love of Jesus was deep enough to help a woman like that.

 

Then you read of another woman whom the Pharisees brought to the temple.  She was caught in a sin that Moses said she should be stoned to death for.  The night before that, Jesus slept on the Mt. of Olives.  It was at the end of one of the yearly feasts of the Jews, the Feast of Tabernacles.  God told His people that during that time they were to leave their homes and dwell in tents or booths.  God told them that to remind them that this world was not their home.  At the end of every harvest year this feast was observed.  The last day of that feast was called the great day of the feast.  That day, Jesus went and stood in the midst of the people and said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.”  That feast ended that night and every man went back to his own house.  Jesus, the Son of God, went to the Mt. of Olives.  Of all the religious crowd, not one believed it was worth his while to invite Jesus to his home.  Jesus, Himself, was observing that feast in greater truthfulness and faithfulness than anyone else.  That night He proved the truth of His statement, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.”  He came down from the Mt. of Olives in the morning, went into the temple and began teaching the people.  The Pharisees brought that sinful woman and set her in the midst.  They tempted Jesus by saying this woman should be stoned to death.  But Jesus stooped down and began to write on the ground.  The Pharisees kept on accusing the woman.  Jesus stood up and said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”  He stooped down and began again to write.  Those Pharisees began to understand.  They dared not believe that there were any of them without sin.  From the eldest to the youngest they left that place.  Jesus stood up and said, “Woman, where are those thine accusers?  Hath no man condemned thee?”  She said, “No man, Lord.”  Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.”  It is a wonderful expression of the depth of the love of God.  She should have been stoned to death but Jesus brought from Heaven something better than the law.  He brought to the world and expressed everywhere the wonderful love of God.  Perhaps you may have noticed that right after that, Jesus used those wonderful words, “I am the light of the world:  he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  Jesus spoke those words after His love had gone down to the deepest and lifted that poor woman out of her sin.  In the face of all this that was true for that poor sinner woman, it is true of me.  Jesus died on Calvary's cross for men and women who are unworthy of that sacrifice.  If He had waited until He found only one who had not sinned, He would still be waiting.  This all makes me think of a wonderful verse that Moses spoke to people in his day.  It is about the last thing Moses said to the people before he died, “There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun (Israel), who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and His excellency on the sky.  The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

 

We have not been able to say anything about the height of that love.  I will say that every time I think of Lazarus and the rich man who lived in the same period, I think of the height of the love of God.  Lazarus was a beggar and he begged for the pity of God to the end.  The outcome is that he died and was carried into the bosom of Abraham.  When I read of these angels, this makes me think of Jacob.  God was at the top of that ladder.  Lazarus was climbing this same ladder.  God was at the top.  Every step Lazarus took was the result of asking God for grace.  That is the only sense in which he was a beggar.  He saw and felt his own need of the angelic ministry.  I can believe that Lazarus felt weaker and weaker the further he went up that ladder.  If I were compelled to climb a ladder to the top, I would be hanging on for my life.  How easy it is for me to see Lazarus begging for the grace and mercy of God.   Those angels God sent carried Lazarus gently and laid him in Abraham's bosom.  Wasn't that a glorious way to leave the earth!  But there was not one vestige of glory due to Lazarus; that glory was given to God and it was God alone who could give grace and mercy and power.  The height of the love of God in that man's life took him to the very bosom of Abraham.  When he died, Jesus was still calling him a beggar.  Every day of my life I have to beg for God's mercy.  I have to also beg for God's grace.  I could not possibly take one more step up that ladder if God refused to help me.  And that gives me to feel that a man's eternity with God will be spent largely praising Him for His grace and mercy.  What a wonderful privilege to be upon that ladder and to be convinced that God is at the top of that ladder.  It is the angels going up and down that ladder that make it possible for anyone to get to the top.

 

So today we have seen a little of the breadth, length, depth, and height of the Love of God.  The result of that prayer, Ephesians 3, was that they might be filled with all the fullness of God, and all that wonderful blessing is for you and me.  We are all so unworthy of God's mercy and that magnificent love of God.  The breadth, length, depth, and height of it make it possible for any man to find himself in the Family of God here and with Him in the countless ages of eternity.  Let us pray for one another that God, out of the riches of His glory, will fill us with the Love of God.