“‘We love him, because he first loved us.’” – 1 John 4:19
For Charles Spurgeon, the free offer of Salvation in Jesus Christ was his constant theme. This gospel of grace was especially sweet because sinners “need no good works, or good dispositions…they may come, just as they are.” But, this was only because of the “pardoning blood” and “all-sufficient merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Spurgeon was concerned that some of his hearers might be “ignorant of the gospel.” He knew that some would ask “Is this,” the free grace found in Jesus Christ, “likely to promote morality?” Spurgeon believed it would, and so declared that the “gospel of God” offered to those who were “utterly destitute of any good” in order to save also “led these men to the noblest heights of virtue,” indeed “to holiness.”
Simply, “the effect of the gospel received in the heart is, that it compels and constrains such a heart to love God. ‘We love him because he first loved us.’”
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon addressed “The parentage of true love to God.” Here Spurgeon noted that all true love was grounded in God because “God is love.” He said, “From [the] overflowing fountain of the infinite love of God, all our love to God must spring.”
In Spurgeon’s view it was essential that God is the source of love because other substitutes could not produce holy love. At the time Spurgeon preached, there were some who believed that “God might be loved by simple contemplation of his works.” But Spurgeon refuted this claim, saying, “we never saw such an instance, that the mere contemplation of God’s works could ever raise any man to the height of love.”
Indeed, Spurgeon also noted that “Where God is most resplendent in his works…there man has been the vilest and God the most forgotten.” Truly the majesty of mountains testified to God’s glory, but the beauty of creation itself could never lead to true love of God and holiness. And so, Spurgeon asserted that, “This must ever be a great and certain truth, that we love him, for no other reason than because he first loved us.” True love to God had to be rooted and ground in the grateful response to salvation in Jesus Christ.
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon noted that the “love of God…must be divinely nourished.” Using the image of a plant, Spurgeon noted that “Love is an exotic; it is not a plant that will flourish naturally in human soil.”
Spurgeon believed that “Love to God is a rich and rare thing; it would die if it were to be left frost-bitten by the chilly blasts of our selfishness.” Rather, just as “love comes from heaven, so it must feed on heavenly bread.”
But here Spurgeon asked, “On what does love feed?” The answer was simple, “Why, it feeds on love....The constant motive and sustaining power of our love to God is his love to us.” For the Christian’s love to God to flourish, they had to feed on the love of God displayed in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the third section of his sermon, Spurgeon reached the culmination of his argument, “the Walk of Love.” Here Spurgeon simply asked “Children of God, if Christ were here on earth, what would you do for him?”
Spurgeon believed that “there would be a tumult of delighted hearts – a superabundance of liberal hands” offered up to serve Jesus. “Do for him! Did he hunger I would give him [food]; though it were my last crust. Did he thirst, I would give him drink, though my own lips were parched with fire.”
However, Spurgeon noted that while “we think we love him so much that we should do all that,” he asked “Do you not know that Christ’s wife and family are here?” Specifically, his Church. Indeed, Spurgeon concluded that “if we love Christ, as we think we do, as we pretend we do, we shall love his church and people.”
Furthermore, this conviction was magnified by the fact that Christ never faltered in his love to his people. Truly “He owed us nothing; we could do nothing for him,” but “our Master, even when the blood-sweat covered him as with a mantle of gore, never thought of disowning us – Never.” And so, for Spurgeon the response was simple, to love Christ and his Church “because he first loved us.”
Why you should take up and read:
For Charles Spurgeon, the free offer of Salvation in Jesus Christ was his constant theme. The “pardoning blood” and “all-sufficient merits of the Lord Jesus Christ” filled his heart with delighted gratitude. In this sermon, Surgeon demonstrated that the gospel of grace was a gospel which produced holiness, a holiness arising out of gratitude and love. For those wanting to meditate on the love of Christ, and respond accordingly, please take up and read.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/love#flipbook/
Phillip Ort serves at the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City where he is also pursuing a Master of Divinity degree.