John 3: 16, 17; 17: 1-3
The thought came to me during the celebration of the Lord’s supper on Lord’s day -
For Thou our hearts hast won
I did not feel it appropriate at the time to refer to the state that our hearts were once in, for on that occasion when we were spiritually in a privileged realm, the Father’s realm, our hearts had been won and past history, in one sense, did not come into it. The Lord was rejoicing in what He had in all our hearts because those hearts were linked up with Himself in a spiritual realm, the Father’s world. It was inappropriate to bring in past history then.
However, tonight we are back in the realm of responsibility and we can take account of the question, ’How did He win our hearts?’ -
For Thou our hearts hast won.
My thoughts turned to this scripture: “For God so loved the world...”. That is the world as it was at the time when Christ was here, the same world as today, but as another has said, it is not the love of complacency; it is the love of infinite compassion. God had compassion on that world, and He has compassion on this world, the world in which we are. He takes account of everyone. Job says, “thou Observer of men”, Job 7: 20. That includes you and me - God observes men. He observed them in the antediluvian world, where some awful conditions existed with angels entering into humanity; then in His consideration and mercy for mankind as a race He took them all away, except Noah and his family. That is what He did. Then He continued with man, watched him, set him up, saw failure, but also found pleasure in those whom He could call out of this world. God has called you, dear believer, called you into His world. But your heart must have been touched - what touched your heart, what made you turn to Christ? What made me turn to Christ? Initially it was for my sins to be forgiven; that is what made me turn to Christ. I suppose, if someone had quoted to me this scripture, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal”, I would have thought it meant that I was going to go to heaven when I die, and I would have a bright future when the Lord raises the dead and changes the living, I would have a body of glory and I would be enjoying that eternal life. God had more in mind than that; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son”. “Only-begotten” refers to time, it happened in time: as it says, "I this day have begotten thee", Ps 2: 7. Not too many believers understand that; those of us who have come under teaching which we are convicted is according to the truth as in the Scriptures understand that Christ was not eternally begotten before all ages by the Father Quite a number of believers think that, and others think that He was in a relationship of sonship in the Father’s bosom in the past eternity, but we have been instructed in teaching which, as I said, is according to Scripture that divine Persons existed in Trinity, three Persons in the Godhead, related to one another, co-equal and co-eternal. They are there beyond us; they are infinite Persons, and we worship in the sense of that. But, they came into another relationship, a relationship in which One of them came into manhood because God had thoughts in mind in regard to man, which were greater than what was in the hearts of men. One divine Person came into this world as a Man and He came in so that, from this scripture, God could give Him, “he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish”. The man Christ Jesus "gave himself a ransom for all", 1 Tim 2: 6. Propitiation would be included; that is why the gospel goes forth. Propitiation is that God was satisfied with the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross, and God is able to come out and offer salvation to all. That touches your heart - that God has come out in the glad tidings to offer salvation for all. There is not one person in this world who cannot come to Christ if they accept Him as their Saviour. That is the greatness of the glad tidings; propitiation involves that “he is the propitiation for our sins; but not for ours alone”, that is the sins of the Jews, “but also for the whole world”, 1 John 2: 2. God gave His Son so that He could preach the glad tidings to this world that He so loved. What a thing to get that into your heart, dear younger friend, that God gave His Son, “his only-begotten”. The scripture uses language that the human heart can understand; what a God He is! He says, “his only-begotten Son”; we understand what “only-begotten” means because we have families. Persons sometimes have only one child, a son, then he is the only-begotten son. God had only one Son coming into Manhood and He gave that blessed Person, One in whom He found delight. He gave that Person, He gave Him up so that, “whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal”.
It touched my heart as I considered the scripture that God gave His Son, His only Son; if I believe on Him, I am not going to perish. That is not just future: it is now. It may include the future, but it refers to perishing now, loss of true life now. Life eternal is to be enjoyed now. God saw the condition of man under the pressure of death in this world, poor puny man, frail as he is; God knows what we are, and He says, ’I will bring forward my thoughts of life eternal into the present time’. He says, “may not perish, but have life eternal”, that is now. What is life eternal? In an eternity to come believers will have life, but it would not be necessary to call it life eternal; it might be a similar character of life, but you would not call it that when time ceases to be. It says, “For God has not sent his Son into the world that he may judge the world, but that the world may be saved through him” - what is the world? The world is a sphere of life in which man lives at the present time, the habitable world, and God has in mind that that world will be saved through Him, that there will be a sphere of life for believers that is suitable. The finality of it is, “who takes away the sin of the world”, John 1: 29. So the whole sphere is cleansed by judgment, but at the moment God is working through the glad tidings to draw your heart into this wonderful offer of His, that if you believe in Christ you will not perish but have life eternal
John 17 tells you what eternal life is, “as thou hast given him authority over all flesh”, that is the place the Son has, “that as to all that thou hast given to him”, that is those who have come to Christ, those who believe in Him, “he should give them life eternal”. If you have come to Christ, the Father has been active in your life; He has brought you to Christ. It says, “as to all that thou hast given to him, he should give them life eternal”. He has in mind that that sphere of life should be yours now. It says, “And this is the eternal life, that they should know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent”. When you come to Christ, when God touches your heart, when you give your heart to Jesus, it is the beginning of another highway for you; it is a highway of life, and you will come into the knowledge of the only true God. What a blessing that is for a believer over against an unbeliever, who has no satisfaction, "having no hope, and without God in this world" (Eph 2: 12), as we were, once aliens from the promises. Now, “this is the eternal life, that they should know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” - we come into the knowledge of God as the true God; He brings you into that. He brings you into it in a sphere of life. Eternal life is a sphere of life, it is a world of life, and that life is found amongst the circle of believers. What a privilege to be amongst believers and to be in the understanding and knowledge of “the only true God”. The whole of scripture contains the knowledge of God that we come into through the gift that God gives us in the Holy Spirit; we come into an understanding of the Scriptures, the Scriptures become a living page to the believer. I ask you, ’Is the Bible a living page to you?’. Does it illuminate itself in your heart? Now I know what God is to me: He is “the only true God”, I know Him as Father, “and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent”, I know that blessed Man. He is in heaven now, but I know that Man, and so you begin to understand the atmosphere of heaven which is found in the sphere of eternal life and it is to be found on the earth, but not in the world; it is found amongst Christian believers and you will find it there, as your heart is drawn after this blessed God who “gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal”. You are drawn into an atmosphere of appreciation of that God who has entered into your life and mine, an appreciation of the One whom He sent, “Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent”. He sent Him for the purpose of bringing you and me into the blessedness of a sphere of life where we can enjoy what is eternal now, with the pressure of death lifted from the spirit in that sphere. What a satisfaction comes from that, your knowledge of God, the blessed One who has considered for humanity in a way no other can consider for them, to bring them into blessing - poor, sin-sick, downtrodden, violent, corrupt man with a corrupt heart. God has touched all our hearts that have come to Christ and cleansed them and sanctified them and filled them full of his love, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us”, Rom 5: 5. The love of God is a wonderful thing, entering into the heart of the believer and giving him a sense of eternal life. Eternal life is a sphere of affection, affection for the Father, affection for Christ, and stimulated by the Holy Spirit. What a blessing is yours, dear young friend, and dear brethren, that hearts have been won, won over completely, so that He fills the heart that no other can fill. The world cannot satisfy your heart, no other relationship can satisfy the heart in the way God satisfies the heart, because He brings you into touch with relationships which are eternal and blessed.
I hope that these few words give an impression - work it out for yourself - how God has won your heart. You may have the pressure of business problems, the pressure of day to day life problems; they are lifted from your spirit in the Christian circle because you are in an atmosphere which is holy, undefiled; and there is the presence of a blessed God through the presence of the Holy Spirit, to fill and satisfy the heart. May it be your portion.
For His Name’s sake.
3rd July 2012