After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)
Paul is writing to Christian believers in Rome and he is saying to them: “Here are two things that are true of you in Christ: 1. The Holy Spirit lives in you and 2. God’s love has been poured out into your hearts.”
These things are true of everyone who is in Christ. Every Christian has tasted something of the love of God. But there’s so much more than any of us have tasted. The love of God is greater by far than tongue or pen can ever tell.
Think about the vastness of that love being poured into the restricted capacity of our human hearts! We talk about trying to pour a quart into a pint pot. This is like trying to pour the ocean into a thimble!
Surely the question that rises in the heart of every Christian is, “How can I receive more?”
How We Can Enjoy More of What Is Promised
One question to ask is this: “Who are the people into whose hearts this love of God is poured?” The more we reflect the marks of these people, the more we will experience what is promised to them.
So, who are the people being described here? Who are the “we”? Who are the “our” into whose hearts the love of God is poured?
People into Whose Hearts the Love of God Is Poured Are:
a. People who exercise faith
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
Who are the “we” that Paul is referring to here? It is the people who exercise faith. We have been justified by faith.
The more I exercise faith, the more I will experience God’s love. The less that I exercise faith, the more restricted my heart will become.
Faith is more than saying you believe. It is actually believing. The Christian life is lived by faith: “Christ… lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20).
No one can believe God’s truth and Satan’s lies at the same time. When you are in Christ, God says that you are justified. But Satan says, “How can that possibly be? Look at you. You’re a mess! You’re full of contradictions! How can God possibly be at peace with you?”
Who are you going to believe? Living by faith is about believing God over all the other voices around you.
b. People who persevere through suffering
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:3-4)
The “we” described in the verse above are people who know what it is to suffer. This is very significant because the promises of God are often hammered out on the anvil of painful experience.
This does not mean that we should seek suffering. Enough of it will come into our lives without our doing that. But it does mean that we should use it.
Here is the principle: When a rose is crushed, a beautiful perfume is released. We find joy in our sufferings because we know that this is the place where we may hope to taste more of the love of God poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
c. People who own their need for Jesus
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6, 8)
People are normally chosen based on ability, but here the apostles describe what we were by nature, and he uses three words:
While we were still weak (Romans 5:6)
When employers make hiring decisions, they conduct interviews to discern a person’s abilities. Generally, people with the greatest abilities get chosen. But here God’s love is poured out on people who know that they do not have, in themselves, the ability to do what he has called them to do.
Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6)
A godly person is a person who is for God. That wasn’t us! We were for ourselves. We were ungodly. If we had an appearance of godliness, it was driven by self-interest rather than love (2 Timothy 3:5), “I can get something out of this.” God was for us long before we were ever for him.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)
“Sinners” means that we are rebels; we fall short, we are off the mark, and we are guilty and without excuse before God. If you were to take away Jesus Christ, and all that has come to us through him, all that would be left would be a weak, ungodly sinner.
Here’s the amazing thing: God saw us as we were! God had compassion on us. He sent his Son for us. God demonstrates his love for us in this, that when we were in this wretched condition, Christ died for us.
Therefore, the ones who own their sinful condition, the ones who recognize their ongoing need of Christ, those are the ones who receive the outpouring of God’s love.
d. People who embrace Jesus Christ
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10)
What a marvelous statement about the Lord Jesus Christ! Here we read about the death of God’s Son (on the cross) for our reconciliation, and the life of God’s Son (through the resurrection) for our salvation.
Notice what Paul is saying. We are reconciled by the death of his Son. But it doesn’t end there. Now that we are reconciled, how much more shall we be saved by his life. Reconciled by his death! Saved by his life!
We have a risen Savior. By his power we will be saved, not only from sin’s condemnation, but also from sin itself. When Christ brings you home there will not be a trace of sin in you or around you. He will not let you go. He will bring you all the way home.
Lost in Worship
So, the love of God was poured out at the cross by the Son of God, and it is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I want to enjoy as much of this love as I possibly can this side of heaven.
However, I will not be able to know all of it on earth. The love of God is beyond our ability to fully grasp, which is why we will be lost in worship, wonder, love and praise, when the full extent of his love is unfolded to us in heaven.