Unscrewing The Inscrutable…
I bow my knees unto the Father… that He would grant you… to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge (Eph. 3:14, 16, 19).
Two exercises of greatest importance to a person’s spiritual growth are to listen to God and to speak to God. We listen to God when He speaks through His Word, the Holy Bible. We speak to God in prayer. Sometimes God speaks to us through prayer also, when He takes us up to a mountain-top spiritual experience by means of the prayer of an Ezra (Ezra 9:5-15) or a Daniel (Dan. 9:3-19) or a Paul (Eph. 3:14-19). In this particular prayer of Paul, the apostle asks God to perform a miracle for all His people by enabling them to know something that is totally beyond knowledge.
Having fallen on his knees before the Almighty One, Paul petitions that all believers might be strengthened spiritually in accordance with God’s riches, and that the Lord Jesus might find Himself at home within their hearts. Furthermore, because they have their roots and foundation within God’s love, that they might be empowered to comprehend four dimensions of the love of Christ.
1.The breadth of Christ’s love. Visualize, if you can, the dying Saviour nailed to the cross, His arms outstretched in such a way that the weight of His body tears the joints out of their sockets. Behold the agony on His blessed countenance. Here is shown something of the breadth of His love for sinners, for you and me. The sinless Son of God gave Himself freely for our sins, bearing them on the cross.
2.The length of Christ’s love. His love for mankind did not begin at Calvary, nor in Bethlehem either. It began before Adam was formed, before the heavens and the earth were created. It commenced far back in past eternity when, in the determinate counsel and fore-knowledge of the Godhead, it was ordained that God should offer Himself in the person of His Son for the very creatures that He would create. He knew the need, for He knows the end from the beginning.
3. The depth of Christ’s love. This dimension has not to do, I think, with the descent of Jesus’ body into the grave, but with the spiritual depth He experienced when, for the only time in all the ages, the Father and the Son were separated. “My God, My God,” Jesus cried out from the cross, “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Because of sin, because of your sins and mine, the Father turned away His eyes from His Son. To endure that abandonment even for a few hours was indeed the depth of Christ’s love for us.
4.The height of Christ’s love. Christ is risen! He is exaulted on high! He is seated at the Father’s right hand! Still His ministry of love for His believing people has not ceased. This very day He is acting as our intercessor to keep us from sinning and our advocate if we do sin. He is preparing a dwelling place for us. He will come again to take us into His presence and to make us like Himself. His is a never-ending love.
5.The miracle. It is impossible to know this kind of love, Christ’s love; yet a person may have intellectual comprehension of His love—how broad it is, that it began before time was and will endure forever, that it brought Him to the lowest depth of humiliation and desertion, and that it is active also in His place of highest exaltation. But that is not to know it experientially. To know Christ’s love in such a way is far different. It is beyond knowledge unless, in the power of the Spirit, a believer becomes so filled, so saturated with it that it spills over and is shed abroad to others. Unredeemed men and women cannot possibly have that intimate knowledge of the love of Christ. Only the reborn individual can know and feel and experience it, entirely apart from his own volition or strength. “We love because He first loved us.” If we love in this way, it is given to us to know that which surpasses knowledge—the love of Christ.
—E. Schuyler English
in The Pilgrim