All Loves Excelling PDF Print E-mail
In the Library

As we celebrate February 14th with Valentines and gifts for our loved ones, it is fitting to be reminded of Christ’s love for us, for greater love hath no one than Christ who laid down His life for sinners while they were still at enmity with Him. How commonplace it has become in our minds, that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, yet how singularly incomparable as described by John Bunyan: “That the eternal word, for the salvation of sinners, should come down from heaven and be made flesh, is an act of such condensation, and discovery of such love that can never be completely found out.” Yet it can become more comprehensible through studying John Bunyan’s classic treatise on Ephesians 3:18,19.

altAppropriately titled, All Loves Excelling, Bunyan labors to impart a deeper understanding of God’s infinite love for His saints, so that we “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Oh, how glorious it is that we may concur with David’s gratefulness for our own deliverance in Psalm 86 and 40: “For great is thy mercy towards me, and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock, and established my going. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God.”

Let us not be as Bunyan describes, “little-spirited Christians that are but in a small measure acquainted with this God, with the breadths, and lengths, and depths, and heights that are in him, taken but little with the glory and blessedness that they are to go to when they die: wherefore they are neither so mortified to this world, so dead to sin, so self-denying, so delighted in the book of God, nor so earnest in desires to be acquainted with the heights, and depths that are therein. No, this is reserved only for those who are devoted thereto; who have been acquainted with God in a measure beyond that which your narrow-spirited Christians understand.”

Or remain in a perpetual state of indifference to the magnitude of this gift of love, as those who knew Him well, for “it is worth your noting, that all the while that he was in the world, putting himself upon those other preparations which were to be antecedent to his being made a sacrifice for us, no man, though he told what he came about to many, had, as we read of, an heart once to thank him for what he came about.”

For although they “railed on him, they degraded him, they called him devil, they said he was mad, and a deceiver, a blasphemer of God, and a rebel against the state: they accused him to the governor; yea, one of his disciples sold him, another denied him, and they all forsook him, and left him to shift for himself in the hands of his horrible enemies; who beat him with their fists, spat on him, mocked him, crowned him with thorns, scourged him, made a gazing stock of him, and finally, hanged him up by the hands and the feet alive, and gave him vinegar to increase his affliction, when he complained that his anguish had made him thirsty. And yet all this could not take his heart off the work of our redemption.”

Yet in light of this magnificent love of God, Bunyan cautions us to regard our sin as “the rape of His mercy, the slight of His power, and the contempt of His love. For sin is the opposite of God and is worse than the devil…(manifest in) our ignorance of the vileness of our actions, our slight thoughts of our doings, our slovenly doing of duties… (for) the least sin deserveth hell. The tendencies of thy sins are to kill others...As how many good men and good women do unawares, through their uncircumspectness, drive their own children down in the deep? We will easily count them very hard hearted sinners, that used to offer their children in sacrifice to devils; when ‘tis easy to do worse ourselves; they did but kill the body, but we body and soul in hell, if we have not a care.”

“Do we know how our sins provoke God? How they grieve the Holy Ghost? How they weaken our grace? How they spoil our prayers? And if we know not every one of all these things to the full, how shall we know to the full the love of Christ, which saveth us from them all? Alas! How short are we of the knowledge of ourselves, and of what is in us.”

“For thou canst not know the love of Christ, before thou knowest the badness of thy nature, ‘O wretched man that I am.’ He that sees most of what an abominable wretch he is, he is like to see most of what is the love of Christ. If a man would be kept sure and steadfast, let him labour before all things to know his own wretchedness…it is the first step to salvation…Labour to see the emptiness, shortness, and the pollution that cleaveth to a man’s own righteousness…the loathsomeness of man’s best things…nothing less but sound conviction of the vileness of man’s righteousness, that will enable men to see that the love of Christ is of that nature, as to save a man with it; as to see that it is; of that nature as to justify him without it.”

“He would not have needed to stoop so low to save angels as humans.”… “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God.” 1 John 3:1

Yet even after we are saved, how prone we are to wander from Him. For if He left us to ourselves, we would go right back to satisfying the lusts of our flesh. That is why “He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4) but watches for them, and over them every moment for He knows else they will be hurt (Isa 27:3).” He preserves us from ourselves!

May we bring glory to our Redeemer by being filled with the knowledge of the fullness of His love for us and the magnificent “riches of the glory of his inheritance to (us) His saints.” “Christ has occupied heaven for His own! Of this heaven…we are possessed already…and partake already of the benefits thereof…and ‘tis fit that we should…rejoice in this, talk of this, tell one another of this, and live in the expectation of our own personal enjoyment of it.”

This book makes a great devotional for families, and at this time of year, the perfect Valentine’s gift for children. In fact, we purchased one for each of our children so that they will be able to follow along as Jon reads it aloud to them.