Billy Graham on Experiencing God's Love
On Valentine's Day, Give Your Heart to Christ
February 13, 2012 - God’s love cannot be understood until you experience it, until you actually possess it.
By Billy Graham
As I read the Bible, I find love to be the supreme and dominant attribute of God. Because of His holiness, God cannot condone or countenance sin, but He loves the sinner.
Because He is just, He cannot excuse sin. But since His love goes hand in hand with His justice, He has made provision to forgive sin through the atonement of His Son. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The promises of God’s love and forgiveness are as real, as sure, as positive as human words can make them.
But just as the total beauty of the ocean cannot be understood until it is seen, God’s love cannot be understood until you experience it, until you actually possess it. No one can fully describe the wonders of God’s love.
Some of our modern “experts” in theology have made attempts to rob God of His warmth, His personal affection for mankind and His sympathy for His creatures.
Never question God’s great love, for it is as unchangeable as His holiness. Were it not for the love of God, none of us would ever have a chance in the future life. But God is love! And His love for us is everlasting!
Ours is the God of law who, loving the earth’s people, and realizing that we had offended in every point, sent His only Son to redeem us to Himself and to instill the law of the Spirit of life within us. His eyes of compassion have been following men and women as we have stumbled through history under the burden of our own wretchedness.
Jeremiah the prophet wrote, “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you’” (Jeremiah 31:3). Calvary should prove even to the most skeptical person that God is not blind to our plight, but that He was willing to suffer with us.
Compassion comes from two Latin words meaning “to suffer with.” God’s all-consuming love for mankind was best demonstrated at the cross, where His compassion was embodied in Jesus Christ. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Paul speaks of God as one “who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4). It was the love of God that sent Jesus Christ to the cross.
But God’s love did not begin at Calvary. Before the morning stars of the pre-Edenic world sang together, before the world was baptized with the first light, before the first blades of tender grass peeped out, God was love.
Turn back, if you will, to the unwritten pages of countless aeons and centuries before God spoke this present earth into existence, when the earth was “without form and void,” and the deep, silent darkness of outer space formed a vast gulf between the brilliance of God’s throne and the dark vacuum where our present solar system now is.
See God’s dazzling, scintillating glory as cherubim and seraphim cover their faces with their wings in awe and reverence toward Him who is high and holy!
Yet, as lofty as the vaults of Heaven may be, and as pure as God’s holiness glistens, there comes to our ears the word that the majesty of His love was moved for us, and the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.
It was love that enabled Jesus Christ to become poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. It was love, divine love, that made Him endure the cross, despising its shame. It was love that made Him endure the contradicting accusations of sinners against Himself, that restrained Him when He was falsely accused of blasphemy and was led to Golgotha to die with common thieves.
It was nothing but love that kept Him from calling 12 legions of angels to come to His defense. It was love that caused Him, after every known torture devised by degenerate man had been heaped upon Him, to lift His voice and pray: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).
From Genesis to Revelation, from Earth’s greatest tragedy to Earth’s greatest triumph, the dramatic story of men and women’s lowest depths and God’s highest heights can be couched in 25 beautiful words: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Many people misunderstand God’s love. “God is love” does not mean that everything is sweet, beautiful and happy, and that God’s love could not possibly allow punishment for sin.
God’s holiness demands that all sin be punished, but God’s love provided a plan of redemption and salvation for sinful men and women. God’s love provided the cross of Jesus Christ by which we can have forgiveness and cleansing.
Who can describe or measure the love of God? The Bible is a revelation of the fact that God is love. When we preach justice, it is justice tempered with love. When we preach righteousness, it is righteousness founded on love.
When we preach atonement, it is atonement planned by love, provided by love, given by love, finished by love, necessitated because of love. When we preach the resurrection of Christ, we are preaching the miracle of love. When we preach the return of Christ, we are preaching the fulfillment of love.
No matter what sin you have committed, or how dirty, shameful or terrible it may be, God loves you. You may be at the very gate of hell itself. But God loves you with eternal love.
Because He is a holy God, our sins have separated us from Him. But thanks be to God; because of His love there is a way of salvation, a way back to Him through Jesus Christ, His Son.
This love of God is immeasurable, unmistakable and unending. It reaches to wherever a person is. But it can be rejected. God will not force Himself upon any person against his or her will.
You can hear a message about the love of God and say: “No, I will not have it,” and God will let you go on without His love. But if you really want it, you must believe—you must receive the love of God, you must take it. You must be forgiven of your sins.
There must be a definite, positive act of commitment and surrender to the love of God. Nobody else can do it for you. You can sit all the days of your life under the preaching of the love of God and still die without Christ.
Or you can open your heart today and say: “Yes, I receive Christ.”
Now, as in the first dawn of creation, God beckons you to fellowship with Him, and His heart yearns for companionship with those for whom His Son died. You, too, can join in this glad song of the redeemed. You, too, can sing:
“The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day,
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away.”
Respond to the love of God, and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, Master and Lord. And become transformed by surrendering your life to Him.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James version.
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