"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto US." Romans 5:5.
Reservoir of Love
"The indwelling of the Spirit will be shown by the outflowing of heavenly love. The divine fullness will flow through the consecrated human agent, to be given forth to others."—Christ’s Object Lessons, page 419.
The baptism of love has too long been waiting for the church to receive its blessings. Love alone is the unmistakable trademark of God’s true church, the only characteristic which Satan cannot counterfeit, the sole impulse untainted with self. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, R.S.V.
The gifts of the Spirit may be counterfeited by Satan. Tongues and prophecies may be simulated so cleverly that all but the wholly consecrated are deceived thereby. Fanaticism may prompt to deeds that will exalt self even while they seem to deny it. Only the pure Spirit of God can impress faulty humanity to open the heart to the inflowing love of God until it flows back to Him in ever-increasing intensity, and then out to encompass the unloved and the unloving.
Through the Third Person of the Trinity man has access to this one characteristic which sums up the nature of his Creator-love. Hence, the first evidence of the developing of God’s nature in His child is love, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love." Galatians 5:22. The world has been told that this mark identifies Christ’s followers. Small wonder then that the world has lost its way when it sees so little of this heavenly spirit as a beacon to point it to the truth. And how can the world expect the church to bestow love upon it when the church has so little to use among its own members? Yet Christ plainly taught: "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35.
This divine principle was understood and practiced in the early church. The love which Christians bore for one another was noted and commented upon by pagan observers in the early centuries. John, the beloved apostle, taught his charges: "For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that ye should love one another. … We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. … My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him." 1 John 3:11-19.
The evidence of such love in everyday living has been spelled out for us by the apostle Paul in one of the grandest yet simplest of Bible passages: "Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, R.S.V.
Perhaps our most encouraging evidence of the power of the Spirit in this respect lies in the fact that neither Paul nor John was an outstanding exponent of this heavenly characteristic in his early life. The unlovely qualities that made the Pharisee Saul the scourge of the early church speak for themselves in the early chapters of the book of Acts. John, and his brother, James, were early nicknamed "Boanerges" by Christ. These "sons of thunder" exhibited such an unloving spirit toward a certain Samaritan village which had denied Him shelter on a journey to Jerusalem that they sought permission from Christ to call down fire from heaven to consume the people. Luke 9:51-56; Mark 3:17. That these two firebrands could be so changed by the softening, subduing influences of the Spirit is encouraging to us who have so little natural aptitude for loving.
These evidences of divine love were most perfectly demonstrated for us in the life of Jesus. We are plainly told in Scripture that the Second Person of the Trinity "emptied Himself" (Philippians 2:7, R.S.V.) before leaving heaven to enter the human family. Though He entered the human race with no taint of sin, yet "in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren." Hebrews 2:17. In this sense He as a man called to His aid in overcoming sin no power not available to His human companions. In the process of our sanctification Christ’s overwhelming love for the unlovely humanity that surrounded Him must also be available to us through the ministration of the Spirit.
This is no arbitrary education which God seeks to force upon us. Rather, love is a fundamental principle of the universe which He has created, needful for its harmony and growth. Ours is the one planet out of step in the orderly procession of creation. On our world alone is self-interest dominant. Elsewhere love for God and one’s fellow creature is the ruling spirit. Without it none can fit into the plans which our Creator has for our reinstatement in the heavenly family. Lacking this love, none could appreciate His plans for our eternal happiness throughout eternity.
"Love is power. Intellectual and moral strength are involved in this principle, and cannot be separated from it. … The excellence and value of pure love consist in its efficiency to do good, and to do nothing else than good. Whatsoever is done out of pure love, be it ever so little or contemptible in the sight of men, is wholly fruitful; for God regards more with how much love one worketh than the amount he doeth"— Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 135.
The effects of the reception of the love of God into an individual life will demonstrate beyond the shadow of doubt the relationship between that individual and God. No protestations need be made to convince those about him that he belongs to the family of heaven.
"To all who have accepted Christ as a personal Saviour, the Holy Spirit has come as a counselor, sanctifier, guide, and witness. The more closely believers have walked with God, the more clearly and powerfully have they testified of their Redeemer’s love and of His saving grace. The men and women who through the long centuries of persecution and trial enjoyed a large measure of the presence of the Spirit in their lives, have stood as signs and wonders in the world. Before angels and men they have revealed the transforming power of redeeming love."
"Holiness is not rapture: it is an entire surrender of the will to God; it is living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; it is doing the will of our heavenly Father; it is trusting God in trial, in darkness as well as in the light; it is walking by faith and not by sight; it is relying on God with unquestioning confidence, and resting in His love."—The Acts of the Apostles, pages 49, 51.
"Whenever one renounces sin, which is the transgression of the law, his life will be brought into conformity to the law, into perfect obedience. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. The light of the word carefully studied, the voice of conscience, the strivings of the Spirit, produce in the heart genuine love for Christ, who gave Himself a whole sacrifice to redeem the whole person, body, soul, and spirit. And love is manifested in obedience."—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 92.
The cumulative effect upon the individual heart and life of this daily reception of the love of God is a growing love for God, but it does not stop there. The love which has God as its Fountainhead must flow in two directions. When Jesus was asked by the lawyer to identify the greatest commandment in the law, He replied, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 22:37-40.
Here we have the assurance of Christ Himself that one who has received the love of God in his life, will just as naturally respond with a similar love for his fellow men. So it was with Christians in the apostolic church.
"Every Christian saw in his brother the divine similitude of love and benevolence. One interest prevailed. … The only ambition of the believers was to reveal the likeness of Christ’s character and to labor for the enlargement of His kingdom. … So mightily can God work when men give themselves up to the control of His Spirit. … Notice that it was after the disciples had come into perfect unity, when they were no longer striving for the highest place, that the Spirit was poured out."—Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 20.
And so it was in the early days of this advent movement. ‘We were indeed a peculiar people. We were few in numbers, without wealth, without worldly wisdom or worldly honors; and yet we believed God and were strong and successful, a terror to evildoers. Our love for one another was steadfast; it was not easily shaken. Then the power of God was manifested among us, the sick were healed, and there was much calm, sweet, holy joy."—Ibid., vol. 5, p. 534.
When God’s people begin to lose their first love, when self begins to stop up the flow of the divine fountain, not at its source but at the point of its reception into the human heart, one of the first evidences of this loss is to be seen in human relations. The sweet, gentle influence of the Spirit of God on the heart is best manifested in the field of human relations, and its lack is soonest demonstrated there.
"The power of the Lord is magnified when the human heart is tender, sensitive to another’s woe, and pitiful for his suffering. Angels of God are ready to co-operate with human instrumentalities in ministering to souls. When the Holy Spirit works upon our hearts and minds, we shall not shun duty and responsibility, and pass by on the other side, leaving the wounded, helpless soul to its misery."
"Everyone who is a partaker of Christ’s pardoning love, everyone who has been enlightened by the Spirit of God and converted to the truth, will feel that for these precious blessings he owes a debt to every soul with whom he comes in contact."—Ibid., vol. 6, pp. 303, 43.
How imperfectly Christians have represented this characteristic of the divine nature is evidenced in the reluctance of heathen nations to receive the gospel. The crimes committed against mankind under the cloak of so-called Christianity speak so loudly that often men and women cannot hear the words of gospel truth spoken by the messenger.
"The inhumanity of man toward man is our greatest sin."—The Ministry of Healing, page 163.
"Said the angel: ‘Lack of love and faith are the great sins of which God’s people are now guilty. …
"I lift my voice of warning to all who name the name of Christ to depart from all iniquity. Purify your souls by obeying the truth. Cleanse yourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. …
"Simplicity of character and lowliness of heart will give happiness, while self-conceit will bring discontent, repining, and continual disappointment. It is learning to think less of ourselves and more of making others happy that will bring to us divine strength. …
"Our Saviour’s power was not in a strong array of sharp words that would pierce through the very soul; it was His gentleness and His plain, unassuming manners that made Him a conqueror of hearts."—Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 475-477.
| Articles Index | Golden
Bible Studies | Ten Gospel Truths