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Like News from a Far Country

This morning I stumbled across the first few pages of Alexander Strauch’s Leading with Love. He begins this book by telling a story from the life of Dwight L. Moody. He tells of a time that the evangelist Henry Moorhouse was asked to preach at Moody’s church every night for a week. To everyone’s surprise, Moorhouse preached seven consecutive sermons on John 3:16, preaching on God’s love from Genesis to Revelation. Moody’s son recorded the impact of this preaching in the life of his father:

For six nights he had preached on this one text. The seventh night came and he went into the pulpit. Every eye was upon him. He said, “Beloved friends, I have been hunting all day for a new text, but I cannot find anything so good as the old one; so we will go back to the third chapter of John and the sixteenth verse,” and he preached the seventh chapter from those wonderful words, “God so loved the world.” I remember the end of that sermon: “My friends,” he said, “for a whole week I have been trying to tell you how much God loves you, but I cannot do it with this poor stammering tongue. If I could borrow Jacob’s ladder and climb up into heaven and ask Gabriel, who stands in the presence of the Almighty, to tell me how much love the Father has for the world, all he could say would be: ‘God so loveth the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’”

Unable to hold back the tears as Moorhouse preached on the love of God in sending His only Son to die for sinners, Moody confessed:

I never knew up to that time that God loved us so much. This heart of mine began to thaw out; I could not keep back the tears. It was like news from a far country: I just drank it in. So did the crowded congregation. I tell you there is one thing that draws above everything else in the world, and that is love.

As a result of Moorhouse’s influence, Moody began to study the doctrine of love. This changed his life and preaching. He later said:

I took up that word “Love,” and I do not know how many weeks I spent in studying the passages in which it occurs, till at last I could not help loving people! I had been feeding on Love so long that I was anxious to do everybody good I came in contact with.

I got full of it. It ran out my fingers. You take up the subject of love in the Bible! You will get so full of it that all you have got to do is to open your lips, and a flood of the Love of God flows out upon the meeting. There is no use in trying to do church work without love. A doctor, a lawyer, may do good work without love, but God’s work cannot be done without love.