Tonight Jerry Bridges provided his second address, this one look to 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15 which says “For the love of Christ controls us [that we] live might no longer live for [our]selves but for him who for [our] sake died and was raised.” He continued to speak on the theme of preaching the gospel to ourselves. And in this case he taught that we need to preach the gospel to ourselves because it reminds us of the love of God. This is the biggest motivating factor in the passage. The love of Christ for us should be the compelling motive for living the Christian life. We can often be motivated in life and ministry by a sense of duty rather than the love of Christ. Duty is not wrong, but it will not get you out of bed in the morning. This is not the way to live the Christian life. We need to be motivated by something more.
Bridges expressed again his indebtedness to John Owen’s Communion with the Triune God. Owen teaches that we enjoy communion with God in His love. The focus of the book is the love of the members of the Trinity to us and how we are to respond to that love. At the basis of this communion is love for us.
Owen speaks of the infinite ocean of love which is in the bosom of the Father. He speaks of the love of God’s purpose to do good for us which prompts Him to send His Son. This is true but it does not go far enough. God also has a love of friendship and approval and this is a level of God’s love we may not think much about. God loves with a love of affection. He quoted a paraphrase of Owen – “The greatest burden and sorrow you can lay on the Father, the greatest unkindness you can do to Him is ___.” What would you say? To commit a scandalous sin? To have a moral failure in the ministry? No, it is not to believe that He loves you. But how often do we doubt the love of God? There are two main causes for doubt: the first is our sin as we ask “How can God love me, the sinner that I am?” But God’s love is not conditional; it is self-generated. The second reason we might doubt God’s love is when we go through adversity. The thought comes into our mind that if God really loved us He wouldn’t allow this to happen. Yet when we go back to the Scripture we find that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God.
He turned to Zephaniah 3 and again pointed to God’s love. Love is the lover’s delight in the beloved. His love will not allow Him to complain about anything He sees in the beloved. What a mind-boggling statement because we know there is plenty in each of us to complain about and we know how often we complain even about those we love. God could look down and wonder when we’ll finally get our act together, but He doesn’t. He loves us without complaint or hesitation.
The love of Christ also has two components. The first is the love to do us good which is what we see when Christ died in our place. Most of us are aware of this aspect of the love. But there is also the love of affection in Christ. Owen uses Isaiah 62:5 and points to the marital image. As the bridegroom rejoices in the bride, Christ rejoices in the beloved. He paused here to read several portions of the Song of Solomon (acknowledging that this book is primarily a poem celebrating marital love but also acknowledging that it works as an allegory of Christ’s love for the church). We are beautiful to Christ because He has made us beautiful. When He looks to us He sees His own impeccable righteousness with which He has covered us.
And finally he turned to the Holy Spirit. There is no text that says explicitly “The Holy Spirit loves you” but it is inferred. The main ministry of the Holy Spirit is to be a comforter and this is an expression of love. All of the blessings that come to us have been provided by the Father. The blessings are purchased through Jesus Christ and they come to us through the distribution of the Holy Spirit as the one who dispenses and applies them. All of these blessings come to us through the merit of Christ and through the administration of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to us even though He knows that we will be unthankful and unwilling. But in His love and tenderness He continues to do us good.
Bridges closed with this exhortation: “May God help us to learn to bask in His love and to have fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in their expressions of love to us.” Learn about how God loves us and allow that to transform your faith.