Hearts Filled With Love
3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. NKJV
Paul continues to list the benefits of FAITH. We are justified before God. We have peace with God. We have access to God. We stand in grace and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And we glory in our trials and tribulations. Our perseverance continues to grow. Our Character becomes stronger while our hope does not disappoint. We are not disappointed because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Wow, what a list! Remember we said that faith not only produces those things in us but those things give a clear testimony to our faith as well. Now Paul wants to give us an even greater proof of our position as a child of God.
That proof is the love of God. Not merely that God loves us as the Scripture says. We accept that by faith. We believe that because we have heard it and we have accepted it as truth. This love is a love that fills our hearts. It is an emotional experience that can be felt and appreciated.
Paul here goes into it a little. He says that the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. I pray that we might better understand and experience that today.
I. God’s Love.
A. This is not speaking of our love for God.
1. John tells us that we love God only because He first loved us.
2. Now it is true that we love God but that is not what is under consideration here.
3. Our relationship with God is a love relationship. He loved us and displayed that love to us. We in turn have come to love Him. But it is God’s love that is in view in this verse.
B. It is speaking of God’s love that is given to us.
1. As Paul will show later, this love is seen in that even though we were sinners, Christ died for us.
a. Remember Jesus said , Greater love has no one than this than that a man lay down his life for his friends.
b. The sacrificial love of Jesus for us is seen in His actions.
c. But this is more than that.
2. This is an internal working out of the love of God in our very hearts.
a. It is something we experience rather than just hear about.
b. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
c. “As if that were not enough, God even graciously imparts His love to us. For those who accept His offer of salvation, God takes His indescribable and undeserved love and pours it out within the hearts of those who believe, through His own Holy Spirit who he gives to them. Taking the truth of eternal security out of the objective area of the mind, Paul now reveals that, in Christ, we are also given subjective evidence of permanent salvation, evidence that God Himself implants within our deepest being, in that we love the One who first loved us (1 John 4:7-10; cf. 1 Cor. 16:22).” MacArthur
d. 1 John 4:7-10 (NKJV)7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
3. It is agapa love, a love that loves even when not loved in return.
a. Notice what follows this verse
b. Romans 5:6-8 (NKJV)6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
II. Is Poured Out.
A. Poured out refers to lavish outpouring to the point of overflowing. MacArthur
B. “The love of God,” says Philippi, “does not descend upon us as dew in drops, but as a stream which spreads itself abroad through the whole soul, filling it with the consciousness of his presence and favor. And this inward persuasion that we are the objects of the love of God, is not the mere result of the examination of evidence, nor is it a vain delusion, but it is produced by the Holy Ghost:” Hodge
C. I think the idea is that there is such an abundance that the experience is without doubt.
1. It is God’s testimony to us that we are His children.
2. Rom 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
3. 1 John 5:9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself;
III. In Our Hearts.
A. This show that it is not a mental, a knowledge we have acquired.
1. Many people have a head faith, they have made a decision but their heart was never involved.
2. John 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. 24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, 25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
3. You see it is possible to believe but not truly believe.
B. This work of God is done in our hearts, the very seat of our affections.
1. The work of God in regeneration not only affects the mind, it affects the heart.
2. We no longer love the things we did.
3. We now love the things we once thought were foolish.
4. God really changes our love life, for now we are in love with Him because of this pouring out of God’s love in our hearts.
IV. By the Holy Spirit.
A. This is not something that we work up in ourselves.
B. Neither is it a natural aspect of human behavior.
C. It is the very work of God the Holy Spirit.
1. John 7:37-38 (NKJV)37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."
2. Gal 5:22-26 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. NKJV
3. John 4:13-14 "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." NKJV
V. Therefore we can never be disappointed
A. There was a song popular in the 70's
1. God Is Real
If I were to tell you what someone told me.
Well, I might miss a detail or two.
For when you describe something you didn't see.
Then you'll never quiet sure that is real.
But/Well! what we have seen with the eyes of our soul.
And with fingers of faith,
We can feel, we can feel!
Well, you just have to listen and know that it's true!
There's no doubt we believe God is real.
If all of creation persuasive enough to prove Him creator to be.
And maybe if somewhere a God does exist;
Why should He be bothered with me.
Makes it clear that He's living and loves us today.
There's no doubt we believe (3x);
God is real, yes God is real, yes God is real.
B. If our confidence is based on knowledge that is second hand then doubts can always arise, but if we are speaking about something that we have experienced then we can have confidence.
C. That is what Paul is telling us.
1. The apostles had experienced the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
2. The next generation of believers took what the apostles said as truth.
3. But with every generation we fall farther from the events.
4. To the unbeliever it is incredible that anyone could still believe something testified to almost 2000 years ago.
5. And if that was all that there is, then they might have a point.
6. But for us, we have not only accepted the testimony of the apostles as we have received it in the N.T. but have received the poured out love of God in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
7. It is the internal work of the Holy Spirit that gives an unshakeable faith.
God does not intend that you and I should go through life not knowing that we are His children. What a heartless, insidious, person God would be to keep us guessing all our life through.
But He does not. He want us to know. He gives His Spirit to His children. What a wonderful blessing of God.