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Knowing the Love of Christ

DAVID W. ROTH PASTOR-TEACHER
EPHESIANS 3:18-19a
8/16/98

 

There is a heretical movement today that has gained some popularity which denies the future physical bodily resurrection of the believer. This movement is known by terms such as "full-preterism" or "consistent preterism" i.e. "heretical preterism" or "hyper-preterism."

The physical bodily resurrection of both Jesus Christ as well as the believer has been the corner-stone of Christian orthodoxy since the early church. The church of Jesus Christ has always embraced this truth.

 

EPHESIANS
"KNOWING THE LOVE OF CHRIST"

(PART I)


We continue this morning with our exposition of the second prayer offered by the Apostle Paul on behalf of the believers at Ephesus. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

As with each lesson connected to this prayer I feel myself greatly inadequate to present such a grand experience as the one we have been entertaining in this passage. I feel much like the first year student in piano trying to teach you the works of Beethoven. Or like the owner of an erector set trying to show you how to build the Empire State Building.

The truths revealed in this prayer bring the Christian to the very pinnacle of Christian experience. There is nothing about the Christian life that is more exciting than what we have been studying here in the book of Ephesians.

We have seen thus far, that if the Christian is to experience the abiding presence of Christ and the fullness of God he must be strengthened by the Spirit in the inner man. Without the strengthening of the inner man the Christian would crumble under such an experience as the manifestation of the fullness God's presence in their life.

May I remind you that this strengthening is progressive. As we grow in our understanding and knowledge of Christ we grow in our capacity to respond to that knowledge. So don't expect to enter into this experience all at once. It may come little by little.

We have seen that this strengthening is by the Spirit as He applies the riches of God's glory to our lives. This in turn leads to a deeper understanding and experience of Jesus Christ dwelling or abiding in the heart by faith. It is a Christian experience which enjoys the presence of Christ in life. They do not enjoy Him as an occasional visitor, rather they enjoy Him as a welcomed member of the family.

According to 3:17, when Christ dwells in the heart it leads to a life which is characterized by a deeply rooted and grounded love for others. We saw last time that this love is both God-ward as well as toward others. Everything we do in the Christian life is to be motivated by love.

I would encourage you if you missed any of the messages relating to this prayer thus far that you secure the tapes. The reason is that all those lessons are preparatory to what we will be introducing today. In fact, I would encourage everyone to order the complete set of tapes on this prayer and listen to them often.

This leads us to the real motive of Paul praying for these Christians.

(Eph 3:18-19 KJV) "May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; {19} And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

All that Paul has said thus far is but preliminary petitions to prepare for and to lead up to what he says here.

Here, we come face to face with the very pinnacle of Christian truth. Here we climb to the very mountain top of Christian experience. On this side of glory there is nothing higher, nothing more grand than the possibility of what we have facing us here.

We come today to consider the vastness of God's love for us which when properly understood leads to a life that is filled with the fullness of God.

Quoting Dr. Martin LLoyd-Jones, "Have you been feeling sorry for yourself, and somewhat lethargic in a spiritual sense? Have you been regarding worship and prayer as a task? Have you allowed the world, the flesh, or the devil to defeat you and depress you? The one antidote to that is to meditate upon and to contemplate this love of Christ."

In today's study I would like to introduce you to the subject of the vastness of God's love for us. As with all these studies the difficulty lies in teaching about a subject that very few Christian's ever come to the place of experience.

Or as another has put it, "How do you dissect a fragrance? "

In very much the same way when we speak of the vastness and greatness of God's love for us, it is very much like a fragrance which is to be enjoyed but is sometimes difficult to give a full analysis.

With that said let us look at the vastness of love that God has for those whom belong to the family of God.

(Eph 3:18-19 KJV) "May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; {19} And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

Let it first be noted that Paul is not here dealing with our love for others, but with God's love for us. We have already seen our responsibility to walk in love in verse seventeen. He now directs our attention to God's love towards us.

The key to living a life which enjoys the fullness of Christ is seen in one's capacity to understand or to comprehend the love of God for them.

Now every believer has come to understand, in part, the love that God has for them when they came to trust Him for salvation. But not every believer has come to comprehend or to grasp the vastness of God's love for them.

For example I love my children and my children know that I love them. But I guarantee you that they have no comprehension of the vastness of my love for them. In very much the same way we may know God loves us but we may have not come to grips with how vast or how much God loves us.

We see in this prayer that there remains for us as believers a capacity to grow in our awareness of the greatness of God's love for us which will lead the believer to heights of unspeakable joy.

To quote again Dr. Martin LLoyd-Jones, "We must never fall into the error of imagining that because we are Christians we therefore know all about the love of God. Most of us are but as little children paddling at the edge of an ocean: there are abysmal depths in this love of God of which we know nothing."

If this is true (I for one believe that it is), then gaining this knowledge of God's love for us should be the goal of all Christian labor. Everything else related to the Christian life flows out of this.

We see in our passage that this understanding of the vastness of God's love is not intended for the select few, but it is to be enjoyed by all the saints.

(Eph 3:18 KJV) "May be able to comprehend with all saints...;"

Saints here is not a reference to some clerical hierarchy, but rather in the New Testament it is a title given to all believers.

Perhaps nothing is more dishonoring to God than for His children to be in such a state of self-satisfaction and such contentment as to remain but babes in Christ, and to refuse to scale to the mountain peak of God's love. All the body of Christ is to seek these heights.

I will remind you again that the enjoyment of what is being offered here, will not be enjoyed by the spiritually lazy or by those who are so preoccupied by self that they are unwilling to make the necessary adjustments in their life in order to scale to this mountain top experience. It will only be enjoyed by the diligent, the faithful, and those who desire to please Christ no matter the cost.

According to our text this love of God for us is something that can be comprehended. It is something which can be understood and embraced. We can comprehend the vastness of God's love for us.

Now it will be admitted here that we will never comprehend everything about God's love for us. In fact, throughout all eternity we will ever be learning of His love for His church.

In order for us to better understand the vastness of God's love for us the apostle describes it in a four-dimensional manner.

(Eph 3:18 KJV) "May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;"

"BREADTH"

Have you ever considered the breadth of God's love? To aide you in your understanding of God's love I would like you to envision a circle, and within that circle place the letter "w." The letter "w" represents the world while the circle represents the all-encompassing love of God.

The most famous of Biblical text which emphasize this aspect of God's love is John 3:16.

(John 3:16 KJV) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Keeping in mind the all-encompassing love of God, I would like to direct your attention to the heavenly state as seen in the book of Revelation. In the book of Revelation it is revealed that God has redeemed out of fallen mankind a people from every kindred, tribe, and tongue.

(Rev 5:9 KJV) "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;"

God did not redeem only a few out of fallen humanity, but in His love He redeemed an innumerable host.

(Rev 5:11 KJV) "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;"
(Rev 7:9 KJV) "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;"

Meditate upon this truth for a moment, there will be in heaven those who worship God from all around the world.

I met several men from India last week who are brothers in Christ. This past fall I had the opportunity to work with a group of believers in Jamaica and we witnessed several who came to faith in Christ.

It was not long ago that Tim Drylie served with a mission team in Russia.

I have heard the testimony from missionaries around the world of people of different nationalities, different skin colors, different languages who have come to faith in Christ.

Why? Because of the breadth of God's love. You see God does not just love the Jews, He loves the Gentiles alike. He loves the red, yellow, black and white.

Think about the breadth of God's love in eternity past. Before the world was ever created, before man fell into the state of sin, God determined to set His love upon men and women of all races and to redeem out of them a people unto Himself.

Jesus said in John 10:16, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold (reference to Israel): them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."

Paul wrote about this all-encompassing love of God in Colossians 3:11, "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."

For all eternity we will worship the Lord Jesus Christ with saints from around the world!
Oh, the breadth of God's love!

"LENGTH"

Let us now attempt to gaze at the length of God's love. To help you in your understanding of the length of God's love I would like you to think of a single line with arrows going in opposite directions, on that line place a heart encompassing the letter "e."

In this picture we have illustrated the eternal character of God's love for us. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ there has never been a time that God did not love you. The prophet Jeremiah calls God's love an everlasting love.

(Jer 31:3 KJV) "The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."

According to Ephesians 1:4, we have been chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world. Before there ever was a Genesis 1:1," In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." God loved us. And He loves us with an everlasting love.

Every believer in Christ had his name written in the Lamb's book of life from before the foundation of the world. We see this in Revelation 17:8.

(Rev 17:8 KJV) "The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world,..."

The length of God's love for us is an eternal unbroken line.

The length of God's love for us began before time and it continues to work itself out in time, and will continue to be known throughout all eternity.

One of the greatest illustrations in the Bible regarding this dimension of God's love is seen in the parable of the prodigal son. ( Luke 15:11-32)

Most of us who are familiar with the details of this parable know that the younger son rejected his father's love, and wasted his substance on wicked pleasures. When the rebellious son had spent all that his father had given him, he became so hungry that he craved the corn husk that was given for feed to the animals.

Realizing his fathers servants were better off then he was, he determined to go home.

When the son was yet afar off his father recognized him and ran to him and embraced him and wept over him.

(Luke 15:20-22 KJV) "And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. {21} And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. {22} But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:"

In spite of all that had happened his father still loved him. Nothing is more wonderful than to realize that when we sin against God His love remains constant. He never stops loving us.

Be careful that you do not presume upon God's love and go on sinning as though there are no consequences to your actions.

(Heb 12:6 KJV) "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."

Nothing can separate us from the love that God has for us.

(Rom 8:38-39 KJV) "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, {39} Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

What great love. He has loved us from before the foundation of the world and He will continue to love us into all eternity.

Oh, that we might know the length of God's love for us.

"Depth"

Moving along let us consider the depth of God's love. As an object-lesson of the depth of God's love draw a downward arrow.

Perhaps no greater example of the depth of God is found than what we have in the book of Philippians when it describes the purpose of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. When we speak of the incarnation of Christ, we are referring to the time Jesus Christ left His glorious state with His Father and took upon Himself the form and likeness of man and entered into this world through the womb of a virgin. Having done this He lived a perfect sinless life which demonstrated His worthiness to take away mans sin on the cross.

(Phil 2:6-9 KJV) "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: {7} But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: {8} And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. {9} Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:"

According to this passage Jesus Christ was equal to God yet He willingly took upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of man.

The gospel of John teaches us that Jesus is God.

(John 1:1 KJV) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
(John 1:14 KJV) "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

Because of His great love for us, Jesus Christ divested Himself of the signs of His eternal glory and came into this world in the likeness of man. The purpose of which is seen in Phillipians 2:8, "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

Would you meditate for a moment of what Jesus suffered at the hands of sinners.

(Acts 2:23 KJV) "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"

He who lived a perfect holy life was unjustly condemned to death. He was beaten, mocked and then as He lay naked they nailed Him to the cross. He who knew no sin became sin for us.

And for the first and only time ever when the sin of His people was laid upon Him He lost sight of His Father and gave up the ghost and died.

They then took His beaten mangled body and pierced it through with a spear and then it was laid in a borrowed tomb. Jesus Christ the Author and Creator of life lay dead in a grave.

Why did he endure such a contradiction of sinners? Why would He allow this to happen? The answer is because of the depth of His love for you. His love for you is deeper than the deepest sea.

The depth of God's love is further manifested when we realize that there was nothing in us to call forth such love.

We were vile, wicked, wretched sinners. But He loved us.

(Rom 5:6-8 KJV) "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. {7} For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. {8} But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
(Rom 5:10 KJV) "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."

The more you come to realize the depravity of your heart before your salvation, the more you will begin to understand the vastness of God's love for you.

Oh, the depth of God's love!

Next week we will begin by looking at the height of God's love for us.

 

DAVID W. ROTH PASTOR-TEACHER
EPHESIANS 3:18-19a


(Eph 3:18-19 KJV) "May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; {19} And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

We are currently studying the subject of God's love for us. It has been my testimony that while preparing for these studies on the vastness of God's love for us that every time I reflect and meditate upon this subject, my spirit becomes uplifted. And the troubles that I may be facing at the time, suddenly seem to me of little importance in light of this awesome truth.

It is my prayer that as we study Ephesians together that we would grow in our knowledge and understanding of how great God's love is for us. For it is when we begin to comprehend this truth that we will see how great redemptions plan really is and we will be better suited to face all the outworkings of this life.

In our last study I introduced the four-dimensional way in which the apostle Paul sought to illustrate the vastness of God's love for the redeemed. We looked last time at the breadth and the length of God's love for us and in today's study we will look at the depth and the height of this love.

By way of a brief review I would like to set the main principles of the first two dimensions.

We saw that the breadth of God's love illustrated the all-encompassing love of God. By all-encompassing we mean that God's love is all-embracing. There will be redeemed out of fallen mankind peoples from every kindred, tongue, and tribe. God's love is not reserved for a special nation Israel alone. Rather it extends into all the nations of the world.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have been affected by God's all-encompassing love.

Not only is God's love all-embracing, but it is also eternal. The length of God's love for you began before time began and will continue in an unbroken line into all eternity. The prophet Jeremiah stated that God loves His people with an everlasting love.

Consider the length of God's love for us, there was never be a time that God did not love us. What an awesome truth!

Lesson, "KNOWING THE LOVE OF CHRIST," (PART II)

Having reviewed the breadth and the length of God's love for us I would like to now direct your attention toward the depth and the height of God's love for us.

DEPTH

In keeping with the two previous expressions of God's love for us, I would like to give you a simple aid to set before your eyes the truth regarding the depth of God's love. I would like you to draw two circles in a vertical position connected by a down-ward arrow. In the upper circle I would like you to place the letter "H" to represent heaven, and in the lower circle place the letter "W" to represent the world. The downward arrow represents the incarnation of Christ.

The term incarnation when used in a theological sense refers to the act of Jesus Christ whereby He left the glory which He shared with His Father and took upon Himself the likeness of man, and entered into this world through the womb of a virgin. And in so doing He became the spotless Lamb of God who was to take away the sin of the world.

If there had been no incarnation, there would have been no salvation.

The reason there would be no salvation is because the wages of man's sin is death and God demanded a perfect sacrifice to make atonement for man's sin.

We see this truth in symbolical or in picture form under the Old Testament economy by the sacrificial lamb. This lamb was to be spotless and without blemish. The high priest would lay his hands upon the sacrificial lamb which pictured the transfer of the peoples sins to the lamb. Then with one quick cut of the knife the lamb would be slain, and then blood of the lamb would then be placed upon the altar testifying of the lamb's death

(Lev 17:11 KJV) "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul."

(Heb 9:22 KJV) "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."

But the truth of scripture is that the thousands upon thousands of Old Testament sacrifices never atoned for one single sin.

(Heb 10:1-4 KJV) "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. {2} For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. {3} But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. {4} For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins."

What the Old Testament sacrifices did do was to point to the one and only true sacrifice which can truly take away the sin of the world. That sacrifice being the very Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Heb 10:10 KJV) "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

(Heb 10:14 KJV) "For by one offering (the offering of Christ) he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."

Perhaps the greatest chapter in the Bible which portrays the depth of God's love for us in seen in the second chapter of the book of Philippians. In particular verses six through eleven.

(Phil 2:6-11 KJV) "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: {7} But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: {8} And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. {9} Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: {10} That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; {11} And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

In this passage the apostle Paul describes the details regarding the incarnation of Christ. We see in this text that at a point in time Jesus Christ, who is equal with God, set aside the glory that He shared with His Father and took upon Himself the form and likeness of man.

Having done this He lived approximately thirty-three and a half years and without sin. Having lived a sinless life He demonstrated His worthiness to take upon Himself the sins of the world and to offer by His own volition or will Himself, in the place of death-deserving sinners.

(2 Cor 5:21 KJV) "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

What depth of love!

We see in the book of Acts that the offering of Christ for the sins of His people began in the eternal purposes and counsel of God.

(Acts 2:23 KJV) "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"

For the first and only time ever, when the sins of the people were laid upon Jesus, He lost sight of His Father. God turned His back on His Son. We see the horror of this action when Jesus cried before giving up the ghost,"...My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)

(Mat 27:50 KJV) "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost."

(Heb 12:3 KJV) "For consider him (Jesus Christ) that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."

Why did Jesus endure such a contradiction of sinners? Why would God allow this to happen to His Son?

The answer is found when one considers the depth of God's love for them.

The depth of God's love for us is further manifested when we consider the fact that there was nothing meritoriously good in us to call forth such love.

(Eph 2:4-5 KJV) "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, {5} Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)"

The scriptures declare that we were born into this world wicked and depraved sinners. But God loved us in spite of our great wickedness.

(Rom 5:6-8 KJV) "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. {7} For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. {8} But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

(1 Pet 3:18 KJV) "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:"

The more we come to understand the depravity of our own heart before salvation, the more we will come to understand the vastness of God's love for us.

Think about this for a moment, because of mankind's high treason against the God of the universe He could have sent the entire human race to hell and would have been perfectly righteous and just to do so. Yet, because of His great love for us God's righteous and just demands fell upon Christ. And rather then being recipients of God's wrath, we have become the recipients of God's mercy and grace.

Mercy and grace by definition describe the fact that we do so not deserve or merit this salvation which is freely bestowed upon us in Christ.

What depth of love that Jesus Christ has for us that He would descend from the height of glory He shared with His Father, and to take upon Himself the likeness of man and to suffer and die in man's place. What love!

HEIGHT

The final dimension that the apostles used to illustrate the vastness of God's love for us is that of height. As with the previous three dimensions I would like to give you a simple object-lesson that I believe will be helpful in our understanding of this wonderful concept.

What I would like you to do is again place two circles in a vertical position but this time place an arrow going from the lower circle upward toward the upper circle. In the upper circle place the "H" again representing heaven and in the lower circle place the letter "w" representing the world.

The upward arrow represents God's ultimate and final purpose for us. It represents the final resurrection when we will in both body and spirit enjoy the presence of Christ for all eternity.

You see, the purpose of Jesus Christ's incarnation and the leaving of the glory He shared with the Father was in order to bring us to the Father that we might enjoy the glory that He had enjoyed.

We see this concept in our Lord's High-Priestly prayer which is recorded in John's gospel.

(John 17:24 KJV) "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."

That we will be brought into the eternal presence of both the Father and the Son is the culmination of God's love for us. That through the offering of His Son, man who was by nature in a state of radical depravity will one day be brought into the very presence of God's holiness and majesty. That is testimony to the unfathomable height of God's love for us.

The scripture is emphatically clear that we will one day enjoy the full presence and manifestation of Christ in both body and spirit.

There is a heretical movement today that has gained some popularity which denies the future physical bodily resurrection of the believer. This movement is known by terms such as "full-preterism" or "consistent preterism" i.e. "heretical preterism" or "hyper-preterism."

The physical bodily resurrection of both Jesus Christ as well as the believer has been the corner-stone of Christian orthodoxy since the early church. The church of Jesus Christ has always embraced this truth.

To deny the physical bodily resurrection of both Christ or the believer is a departure from the faith. It is not a doctrine of unimportance as the proponents of this heresy would have you to believe. The resurrection of both Jesus Christ as well as the believer goes to the very heart of the gospel.

(1 Cor 15:13-14 KJV) "But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: {14} And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain."

(1 Cor 15:17 KJV) "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins."

The physical bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as that of the believer is not a doctrine where the church can allow for compromise.

It is not within the scope of this message to go into all the dangers of heretical preterism. Rather it is my purpose that we would see the importance of the believers physical bodily resurrection as it is related to the vastness of God's love for us.

Throughout scripture we see the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a paradigm or pattern of the believers future resurrection.

It is important to understand that the resurrection of Jesus Christ involved His body of flesh. His was not simply a spiritual resurrection, but also a bodily resurection.

We see this evidenced in all four of the gospel records.

(Mat 28:5-6 KJV) "And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. {6} He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay."

(Mark 16:6 KJV) "And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him."

(Luke 24:12 KJV) "Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass."

(John 20:6-9 KJV) "Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, {7} And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. {8} Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. {9} For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead."

That Jesus experienced a physical bodily resurrection is also seen in His witness to doubting Thomas.

(John 20:24-27 KJV) "But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. {25} The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. {26} And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. {27} Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing."

In His resurrection body Jesus ate food with His disciples.

(Luke 24:42-43 KJV) "And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. {43} And he took it, and did eat before them."

We see in the book of Romans that our physical bodies will experience a physical resurrection.

(Rom 8:11 KJV) "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."

(Phil 3:20-21 KJV) "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: {21} Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."

Did you notice our resurrection bodies will be fashioned like Jesus' resurrection body?

(1 John 3:1-2 KJV) "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. {2} Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."

(1 Th 4:16-17 KJV) "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: {17} Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

We see in Romans chapter eight that redemption is in a sense incomplete until the redemption of the body.

(Rom 8:22-23 KJV) "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. {23} And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption
of our body."

That this body will be completely controlled by the Spirit of God is seen in I Corinthians 15:44.

(1 Cor 15:44 KJV) "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."

The description "spiritual body" does not indicate or imply a non-physical body. Rather it is a body that is completely controlled by the Spirit of God.

The same word for spiritual, pneumatikos, is used of the Christians in...

(1 Cor 2:14-15 KJV) "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. {15} But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man."

It has been clearly noted that Jesus Christ was resurrected in a physical tangible body, the very body in which He died, even though in His resurrection body He is controlled by heightened spiritual power.

What height of love that God has for us that one day we will be able to worship Him completely in body and spirit.

What a blessed day it will be when we shall see Jesus face to face and will be able to worship Him without even the slightest inclination toward sin. Oh, that we would grow in our understanding and comprehension of the height of God's love for us.

Before we close let us in one brief glance look again at this four-dimensional illustration of God's love for us.

BREADTH -"ALL-ENCOMPASSING"

LENGTH - "ETERNAL"

DEPTH - Jesus Christ descended to this world and died a horrible death in order to bring this love of God to us.

HEIGHT - Jesus has ascended unto the Father though the power of His resurrection making the way possible that we too will ascend unto the Father, enabling us by the power of the resurrection to enjoy His love for all eternity.

All of this and more because of the vastness of His love for us!

What love! May we never forget to meditate on a daily basis upon this vast love that God has for us.

As we conclude today's study I would like to close with a quote that I gave you last week by the late Dr. Martin LLoyd-Jones, "Have you been feeling sorry for yourself, and somewhat lethargic in a spiritual sense? Have you been regarding worship and prayer as a task? Have you allowed the world, the flesh or the devil to defeat you and to depress you? The one antidote to that is to meditate upon and to contemplate this love of Christ."

 

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