February 1, 2002 - Orators whose words flow like a rippling brook have been unable to describe it. Artists whose brushes spread untold beauty have been unable to portray it on canvas. Writers whose words drip from their pens like dewdrops from a rose petal have been unable to write God's love. We are too carnal to understand the all-consuming, over-shadowing love of God. We cannot understand how the Holy One could love a sin-blotched, sin-stained, besmirched person.
A Message by Billy Graham
Look at the Apostle Peter, the fisherman whose whole being reeked of human filthiness. His mouth was unclean, his heart was desperately wicked, he was rejected by the better class of society. No doubt he dwelt in a home that was little more than a hovel. No self-respecting Pharisee would have considered him good company. But the love of God came into his heart, the power of God changed his life, the mercy of God enveloped him, and Peter became a great evangelist and a great writer, and it was on Peter that Christ built His Church.
Look at the Apostle Paul—Saul of Tarsus, the bloody-handed murderer, the archenemy of the Church. What does Paul say? Listen: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall principalities and powers, shall nakedness and peril and sword, shall the angels in heaven or the demons of hell, shall things present or things to come?"(1) "No," said Paul. "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."(2)
Do you want to know the height and depth and length and breadth of God's love? If so, roll back the pages of time and stand with Him on Golgotha's brow. There, suspended between the heavens and the earth, Jesus, the Son of God, is substituting Himself for you: "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."(3)
Stand on top of the cross and write the height of God's love. Stoop down, beneath the nail-pierced feet, and write the depth of God's love.
Walk around to the left of the cross, the side where the heart of God beats, and at the fingertips of that bruised and bleeding hand write the length of God's love.
Walk around to the right side and at His everlasting hand, the hand that cradled the universe, the hand that blessed the little children, the hand that lifted up the woman taken in adultery, write the breadth of God's love.
That love was for you and for me. The cross exemplified the love of God. All of God's pardoning mercy was invested in the cross. All of God's love toward us appeared in the cross. The condemnation of God that was borne by Christ was ours. The judgment of God upon sin was ours. The shame of the cross should have been ours. The suffering of the cross was rightfully ours. But God loved, and God gave His Son.
Oh, how I love the text: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."(4) We have life when we deserve death. We have peace when we deserve trouble. We have joy when we should have sorrow. We have righteousness when we should have had unrighteousness. We have forgiveness of sins when we should have condemnation. Oh, how impossible it is to proclaim the love of God!
The Bible says that God is from everlasting to everlasting(5) and that God is love.(6) His love has descended into the vilest hovels of sin and shame. His love has penetrated dens of vice so that we might be rescued from sin. "I was in a horrible pit,"(7) David wrote. "He brought me up and set my feet on a rock."(7) There never was a depth that God's love could not reach, and God's love is enough for us too.
Do you want to know the extent of the love of God? Look at Adam, who was created in the image and likeness of God. It was through sin that he became conscious of his nakedness. From his high estate, clothed with the glory of God, Adam fell to the plains of shame. Adam heard God walking in the garden, and he was terrified. God asked Adam, "Where art thou?"(8)
This is not the cry of an angry God. Rather, it is the agonized cry of a broken-hearted Father. Adam did not seek God. God sought Adam and provided a way for Adam to be restored in fellowship to Him, through the slaying of an animal, typifying the Lamb of God who would come to take away the sin of the world: "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."(9) It is man who is lost. It is man who has lost his fellowship with God. It is man who has lost his God-given inheritance. It is man who has lost his right title and deed to the glories of heaven.
It is God who is seeking to restore man to his rightful position. It is God who is pleading with sinful hearts. It is God who is moving heaven and earth to save man from a terrible doom.
A lot of foolish people try to rule hell out of existence. How little they understand the purpose of God. How little they know of the sin question.
Hell did not originate with Adam's sin. Hell began before the first rose bloomed in Eden, before the first ray of light penetrated the mist of earth. Hell began with Satan's fall and with the angels' rebellion. God's doom was pronounced upon those who sin long before the existence of man. God spared not the angels that sinned but cast them down to hell, which He had prepared for them.
Some states have laws that allow the death penalty for murder. If I commit murder, putting myself in the way of that law, I come under its condemnation. The government would be unjust if it were to overlook my act of premeditated murder. And God could not be a just God and let us escape the penalty pronounced against sin after He had invoked that penalty upon celestial beings.
God said, "The wages of sin is death,"(10) and, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die."(11) And today the entire human race is under the condemnation of God unless we repent of our sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
God says that He loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die for us and to bear our sins as a Substitute.(12) The Scripture says that "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."(13) And today you too, whoever you are and wherever you are, you too can say "yes" to Christ.