[This Words of Grace was originally posted on December 22, 2016.]
“Those who suppose that the doctrine of God’s grace tends to encourage moral laxity…are simply showing that, in the most literal sense, they do not know what they are talking about. For love awakens love in return.” J.I. Packer (Knowing God)
That phrase, “love awakens love in return,” is a major theme in the book of Ephesians.
The apostle Paul is writing about the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8). He prays that Christians will know the riches of Christ’s love and how wide, and long, and high, and deep it is (Ephesians 3:18). Then he calls Christians to walk in love (Ephesians 5:1-2).
The flow of Paul’s thought and of the Christian teaching of love is not hard to follow in Ephesians and the rest of the New Testament. God’s love for us in Christ is immeasurable and unsearchable. As we come to know this love by grace through faith, our love is awakened. We come to love God with our whole selves and our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). We love because he first loved us (I John 4:19). Knowing the riches of God’s love for us in Christ is necessary to truly love God and others. Paul knew this, so he prayed for it (Ephesians 3:14-19).
Love awakens love. So shouldn’t knowing the love of God for us in Christ be our morning prayer (Psalm 143:8)? Our Bible study, preaching, and teaching should be to know this love. We should be reminding each other as fellow Christians of God’s love for us. Our message to the world should be that, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.”
This weekend, think over and rejoice in the great love the Father has for us in Jesus his Son. We will be praying that the Holy Spirit will give us the eyes to see and the faith to embrace the rich love of God.
Will you pray with me that the love of God in Christ will be known around the world? Pray for our missionary friends who are serving abroad. Pray for the church in parts of the world currently experiencing war, natural disasters, and persecution. Let’s pray that the gospel will go to all the nations of the earth, that those who walk in darkness will see a great light.