The Love Of God – Sermon – Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
The Love Of God by Bro.Leon Stewart Sr. of Christ’s Sanctified Holy Church.
1990 Annual Campmeeting in Perry, GA.
Brother Leon Stewart: Thank God for the Spirit of God., the old campground , the sanctified people and the gospel of holiness and the spirit of love that we have. And the fervency we have to be here. And the good feeling we have in our hearts. Thank the Lord for all that. We’re bound for that kingdom of the free. We’re in that kingdom but we’re also on a journey. We’re going to our heavenly home. And we can enjoy our journey as we go. I tell you, a sip of that new wine just kind of settles you right down, doesn’t it.? Raises you a little bit. I thank God for being here. I don’t feel very well qualified for this tonight. But I can consider it an honor and a privilege to stand on the platform of the Christ Sanctified Holy Church. It’s meant so much to me for so many years, attracted my attention when I was very young. I saw the sanctified people and how they loved each other and they supported each other. Times were kind of hard when I was growing up, at least compared to today’s standards. You older ones wouldn’t agree with that. You’d think I don’t know what hard times are. And you’re right. But it was kind of hard back then and there were people that couldn’t make a living or had a hard time making a living.
And I as a little boy watched the sanctified people minister to those people. I saw them loan them money and I saw them be helpers one of another. And I saw the love and the bond and the fellowship that was found in serving the Lord. And they worked hard and they went to church, they had the spirit of God in their hearts. They didn’t realize it was hard. They didn’t think it was hard. They sang his yoke is easy and his burden is light. They served the Lord in gladness with humility of spirit and God blessed them. And he’s brought us all here today.
So many people from so many walks of life with so many conditions, complex situations that, I don’t know the answers to all of them. But I serve a God that does. I know everybody wants to greet your friends and loved one’s and family. I’ll try not to be long, but I do feel like there’s a few things been on my heart lately as I prayed for the camp meeting and prayed for our church. Think about what potential we have with our young people. When I think about that it just makes me wonder are we up to the challenge of setting the examples and doing the things that would cause them to go in the right way? And to cause them to be inspired to read the word of God when they go home and not be doing other things and find out what God’s will for them is in this life and we can go on and do great things. I’ve been thinking for a couple of weeks I guess or maybe a little longer, about the love of God. We sing about it and we talk about it and perhaps even with all of that, it’s somewhat difficult for us, for me to fully grasp, to fully understand how great, how wonderfully great is this love of God. It is the source. It is the bedrock. It is the beginning. It is the storehouse. It is from this love of God that all of this has come to pass. It is because of the love of God.
And I began to think about, some people more or less want to love me if I do just right. Some folks have that inclination. But when I read about the love of God, I read about an unqualified love. I read about an unconditional love. A love that when we were yet lost in sin with nothing to offer, no great deeds of goodness, nothing to offer. Nothing. . Absolutely poor, depraved, lost, undone in the miry pits of sin. And God in his infinite wisdom looked down on that poor wretched state of man and he could have snubbed at it. He could have turned his nose up at
it. He could have made a new creation. He could have done so many things, but he looked down with merciful eyes and pitiful eyes. He reached down and miraculously brought the love of God to us in our fallen condition. I thank God for that.
We’ve had a lot of earthquakes in last year or so. Highways collapsed in California and buildings collapsed in Iran and various places. And I see sometimes in the newspapers these survivors that last many, many days beyond what they give them hope for, but they’re trapped. They have nothing. No food, no water. Perhaps air and that’s it. And somebody keeps searching. And when the search is off, when they called it off, sent everybody home and there’s no use, somebody kept searching. Somebody heard a cry. Somebody was listening, somebody was working. Somebody was listening for a cry and they heard it. And they began to dig and they began to work and they began to pry. And they began to bring in other reinforcements or whatever. And they saved them. And I think about these are actual things that’s happened to us. And we read about them and that sort of thing, in the physical world we live in, but in the spiritual world how much greater that rescue operation was on us. When carnality had collapsed all around us and we were entrapped, and we were ensnared and we had no hope, and that our God in the world, that long arm of God, that long finger of God and I mean long. I mean very long, kept reaching around and searching and listening and seeking for that that was lost. And that’s where you and I found the Lord.
Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. Can you think of a greater love than that? Stretch your imagination. Can you think of anything beyond that that you could do for someone that you love? But I believe God had a greater love than that. He gave in a sense himself but when he gave his son. When God gave his son to redeem sinful, carnal minded, unworthy mankind. That’s love. That’s love. In our human dimensions we have inches and feet and yards and miles. A mile basically takes care of everything we have to measure in this earth. All the way around the world can be measured in miles, to the moon to the sun. To the other planets can all be measured in miles.
And that seems like long distances, doesn’t it? But then through things that we learn from our astronomers or very intelligent people in our land, we find out that beyond that and I mean way on beyond that, there are galaxies and stars and many other things in which miles is not a measure that’s any good. If you put the zeros on that, you wouldn’t know how to say it. And so somebody came up with an idea of a longer unit of measurement. And this is really a long one. It’s based on the distance that light travels in a second. But that multiplied not by an hour or a week or a month, but a year. The number of seconds in a year times about 186,000. It’s just almost beyond human thinking. It’s just almost beyond human thinking. And they bring that to a unit and call it a light year. And then when they qualify that, they talk about hundreds and thousands and millions of light years away. You may think what in the world is he talking about now.
Now as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways. And when I consider the God that made and all the physical things in this universe ( however far they are beyond my understanding) I believe that God’s holiness, God’s pure perfection, that great white throne, the sanctified spirit of God, is that far removed from fallen man. And further. And how did it all come together? How in the world, how was that gap spanned? How could God, from his height of holiness and from his lofty righteousness, transcend that distance and come into the lower parts of the earth? Born of a virgin and made in the likeness of men. He didn’t take on himself the form of angels, but he took on the seed of
Abraham and was made in the likeness of man. He was at all points tempted like as we are yet without sin. From that high estate all the way down, God sent his son. God built a bridge. God spanned the gulf. Oh the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.
And that’s the love of God that stretches my imagination. I can hardly conceive the greatness of God’s love. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for righteous man will one die yet peradventure for a good man, some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.- Romans 5:8
These young people getting out of high school many times are awarded scholarships. They don’t award scholarships just to anybody. You got to do something. You’ve got to prove yourself in some way. You’ve got to show them in some way that you have some ability, you have some potential. You’ve got to prove to them that you’re going do something. But God’s love didn’t come to us in a scholarship form. We could not prove to him that we had anything. We were poor, we were hopeless. We were undone. We were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. We were strangers from the covenants of promise. We were lost in sin. We had no righteousness. We had nothing to offer God. And in that fallen state, God loved us. I believe that the most profound, what shall I say, discovery that has ever been made and probably the most overlooked and least understood, is God’s love for mankind. Is God’s love for mankind.
When I think about that son of God, when he prayed over there in Saint John about the glory that he and his father had from the beginning, when he willingly stepped down from that throne. He didn’t have to do it. When he willingly stepped down from that throne. It wasn’t a step like I might step down there, not a couple of steps. When he came down, I mean way down in the miry pits of sin, when he searched you out, when he searched me out, not for works of righteousness, not for anything that I had done but simply, God loved me. There’s only one song I could sing when in his beauty I see the great King. This would my song through eternity be. Oh what a wonder that Jesus loved me. I realized that there’re standards to uphold. I know the scripture says that if a man walks in disobedience to mark that man and have no fellowship. I understand all that. I know the scripture. I know those scriptures and I understand that there’s a reward to righteousness. That God doesn’t just reward us for drifting along and not doing anything.
We must try. We must strive to enter in. There are sacrifices to make. There are things for us to do. There’s time we must spend in the word of God. There’s times we must spend on our knees. We must bring ourselves to conformity to the word of God. It does take striving. If you think it’s just a sleepy time fairy tale, you hadn’t got it yet. It does take striving. It takes serious, diligent searching the word of God and in doing what we can. God rewards his people for that. But I want to say in the consequence of all that still in the beginning, in God’s original love for mankind he loved us without qualification.
We sometimes in our… Well, I have to give you my experience. In our efforts to do what we feel like is right, we make rules and these rules sometimes are not quite adequate to address every single individual situation that may arise. And so we had to have exceptions. That’s the way it’s always been I suppose. And that certainly is the way it is in the English language. That’s one reason I never could do very well in it, because about time I thought I learned something, I found so many exceptions to the rule I got confused about what I had learned.. But bear with me. Sometimes I get confused now, trying to administer things fairly, equitably, justly. And there are just times I have to go back to this unqualified love of God. And say, “Lord, help me to love everybody. Whether I understand their condition or I don’t understand it, help me to love them like you love me.” Unconditional, unqualified, not by reason of virtue. Wasn’t a scholarship, God just simply loved us.
When we were yet sinners, He loved us. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath though him. For if, when we were enemies (beyond sinners, enemies), we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Romans 5:6-10
I think it’s a risky love. I think when you love people that way it could very well be that they may not love you back. Certainly God has experienced that. Has he not? Are there not millions of people that God has loved that don’t love him in return? So it’s not qualified, it’s a risky love.
When my children were small we enrolled them in a Montessori school. Montessori was a method of teaching that was developed in France by some woman, a lady. And she was working with mentally disabled children. And she believed that if you would not try to force the education but just find out which direction the child’s interest lay in and then create something interesting in that direction, that they would of their own follow in that. And then you pick up with some manner of teaching. And I remember, this has been a long time ago, but I remember talking to one of the counselors there and I said,” I really question this thing of not making them sit at a desk and not requiring them to read and not requiring them to do nothing.” I said, “I believe that there were boys that I went to school with, if you would have given that freedom they’d have sit there every day and not ever do nothing but play. That’s the way it seemed to me and that’s what I thought.
And she said, “Well, Mr. Stewart, you’re wrong.” She said, “They may do it for a day or perhaps two. But when they finally realize that they didn’t have to do anything, they would be attracted to something, something of all this material that we’ve got for them in their little desks and their little scaled down things. They would be attracted to something and we’ll watch for that. And then we’ll follow through with that.” It sounded to me like it was a risky way of teaching. But lo and behold it really worked. And you shouldn’t brag on your own, but I think my children done well in that environment. What I’m trying to say is that if you love somebody, I mean really love, with a Godly love, chances are high that they will respond. They will respond. Somehow when you feed a dog, he will respond. He may still be a dog, but he’ll love you.
In the second chapter of Ephesians it says,
“But God who is rich in mercy for his great love, wherewith he loved us even when we were dead in sins has quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:4-6
All of this was done by a great love. Now faith is important, good works are important, gifts of healing are important. Many things in this pathway of life, from here to eternity are very important. We can’t get by without them. We must have faith. God doesn’t have to have faith. But we got to have faith. But nothing is more important than God’s love. In fact there’s one verse that says faith which worketh by love. I’m not even sure faith would work without love. I don’t know what I’d have faith in if it were not for love. For the love of God.
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Jesus Christ. For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:7-10
And every good gift and every perfect gift cometh from above from the Father of lights, with whom there’s no variableness neither shadow of turning. – James 1:17
It all comes from God.
Every attribute that you have, every good thing that you make claim to, came from God and from God’s storehouse of love. Without the love of God, no matter how vast it was or how far away it was, if there was not a bridge made. if there was not a conduit made, if there was not some way that God could bring it down to us, we’d still be lost and undone today struggling under the collapsed structure of sin that was all around us. But God made a plan. I think about Jacob when he fled from the wrath of his brother Esau and he took a few stones and made a pillow that night and feigned, would have rested himself. And he dreamed a dream. And he dreamed a dream.
And he saw a ladder stretching from earth to heaven. And up and down this ladder were the angels ascending, going up and down. Something happened to unite heaven and earth. Jacob saw a vision of it. That ladder was Christ. That telecommunication system that linked us up with heaven, with the throne of God. Signal is never busy. Always on the line. You may hear from heaven anytime. Before you call I will answer, while you’re yet speaking I will hear. It’s not depending on satellites and radio transfers from here and there. It’s a straight line from here to heaven and without that connection, without that ladder, it was a long ladder, because it reached from the height of God’s love to the depths of man’s sinfulness. But it was made. The bridge was made. The connection was made. Not of works lest any man should boast.
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened. – Ephesians 1:18
We need some of that, don’t we?
That you may know what is the hope of his calling and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.- Ephesians 1:18
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe according to the working of his mighty power.- Ephesians 1:19
That’s the love of God. I do desire that we might know that.
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lust and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.- Titus 3:3
You know, if we had a group of this kind of people living down the street from us, you know, most of us would shun them. Foolish people, disobedient people, deceived, serving diver’s lust, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. And there are those kind of people in the world today. We usually like to space ourselves from them. And get a little far away from them, and if the love of God had been just like we were, this thing would never have been brought to pass.
That after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward men appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us and washed us. He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the holy ghost which he shared on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord. That being justified by His grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.- Titus 3:4-7
Behold what manner of love the Father had bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. 1 John 3:1
He could have dealt with us at arm’s length. He could have extended himself to help us up kind of like somebody who wants to borrow money from you sometime. You want to find out the least they can get by with. I’m saying too much, ain’t I? You don’t want to entertain that too much because they might get too deep into you. So you hold them at arm’s length and find out what’s the least they can get by with.
I’ve had laborers work for me and I’ve done this. They wanted $100 and I’d see if they could get by with $75. No, God didn’t do that. He didn’t barely give us enough to lift our head above water. He brought us into adoption, he took us in to his own. He brought us in to his family. He made us joint heirs with Christ. We are heirs of God. We are joint heirs with Christ. We have everything at our disposal. Everything is at our call. Everything in God’s storehouse of love is ours if we ask, if we call. And he would that we would ask boldly at the throne of grace. If God is love, then by equation, love is God. Is that right? You would do that in math, would you not?
Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you but an old command which you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 1 John 2:7
The first commandment God gave was of love. The second commandment God gave was of love. The new commandment that Jesus gave when he came here was of love. Is there anything greater that I can strive to do than to love you? Not because you sing my songs and speak my words and think my thoughts, but just simply love you as God loved me? Again, a new commandment I write unto you which thing is true in Him and in you because the darkness is passed and true light now shineth.
He that sayeth he is in the light and hateth his brother is in darkness even until now. 1 John 2:9
You know, sometimes in a court case, you have attorneys of the defense and the plaintiff, and they both talk. And they both word their words well. And they theorize and they make things sound just right. Very effective. One would lead you in one direction, one would lead you to another. By and by during that procedure, they call out the evidence. The evidence.
Can I read you the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians?
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become a sounding brass or a ticking symbol. A newly revised version substitutes the word here for love and we don’t like to revise the word of God. But I don’t find anything seriously wrong with that. When I get down to the evidence. Though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and have all faith and I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing. Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, though I give my body to be burned and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long. We’re talking about evidence now, not theory. this Charity envieth not. Charity vaunteth not of itself, it is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly. Seeketh not her own, not selfish. Not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. Bareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If any man can live up to this 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, and I believe that he can, he does it through the storehouse of God’s love.
There is nothing, nothing, nothing within you. You have no resources to draw on that can cause you to live up to this word of God other than the spirit of God. Charity never faileth. Whether there be prophecies they shall fail. Whether there be tongues they shall cease. Whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away. We know in part. We prophecy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things and now we see through a glass darkly but then face to face, now I know in part but then shall I know even as also I am known, and now abideth faith, very important, hope, extremely important, and charity. These three but the greatest of these is charity.
If the love of God span that vast tide, reached from heaven unto earth, bridge the gap, made a communication system for you and I, if it works so well to unite and to resolve and to bring heaven and earth in conformity with each other, to bring man into a savable state, will it not work for us? Will it not work church wide throughout? Can we not strive for a united church by striving to love our brothers and our sisters with the love of God? With faith unfeigned? Not in word but in deed and in truth? Well, did it not work for our old people when they lived in houses together and cooked on stoves together? When they were poor people traveling through the land.
When they had hardships to bear, the love of God, through them, through each other, working as Jesus said, “Thou in me and I in you, that they may be one in us.” It worked for them then, it’ll work for us now. I’m ready to quit trying to being a judge. I’m ready to quit trying to examine everybody. I’m asking God to help me love you with the love that God had for me. Help me be a little bit more blind to your faults and just love you for the sake of love. Because God did you that way and he did me that way. It wasn’t works of righteousness, it wasn’t something that we done that merited his love. He just looked down on sinful man. He stepped down from the throne of glory. He guarded himself with a mantel like you and I wear with this form of flesh and of clay. He became one of us. He went through all the things that you and I go through, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest to offer up sacrifices to God.
That’s the love of God. I’ve got to honor that. I got to praise the love of God or my life would be ruined. Our whole church would be wrecked without the love of God. And I believe that today we stand in the place that we need to call on. We need to go back to the unqualified love of God. It may be that it will draw us together. It may be that it will cause souls to be born in the kingdom of God. It may be that there are people that don’t measure up and they’re expecting our stones and our frowns. And maybe if we would show them unqualified love, they would want to shape up and want to do what’s right and they do it by desire, and not by restraints, and I believe that’s what God is calling us for.
Sorry I’ve taken so much time. The poet that wrote the song, “Could we with ink, the ocean fill”, struggling to find some kind of comparison to the love of God. And that’s so hard to do. “Could we with ink, the ocean fill, and were the sky of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade. To write God’s love would drain the ocean dry.” I believe that. I believe it would drain the ocean dry. One of the writers said if all the books that should be written of Him the world itself could not contain them . And when the Apostle Paul writes about the great love of God, it stretches your imagination to realize how great this love is. And how miraculously it can come down and deal and work with and govern and correct and direct and under God and give you peace. The love of God can do that.
We built a church since last camp meeting. And without solicitation, we receive many contributions and I want to thank each and every one of you today for that. And there were some that came and drove a few nails with us. And if you did nothing but pray a prayer for us, we appreciate it. I’m telling you now publicly and if I get a chance l going to tell you privately, because it’s true. I think about the man that fell among thieves. When that Samaritan came to minister to him, he didn’t care what the Samaritan believed. He didn’t ask. He didn’t know. It didn’t matter. He needed help. And we needed help and we thank you for it. So I love you. I stand before you here today with the spirit of love. And I’m striving. I’m striving to let the love of God be perfected in us. It is a commandment, it’s not an option. It’s not a nice little thing to have in your sanctified experience. Jesus said it was a commandment, a commandment that you love one another. That you love one another. So you all pray for me that I’ll love you like God has loved me.