Christ's Consecration to the Believer
"The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." -Gal. 2:20
In the preceding chapter we directed the reader to the subject of self-consecration to Christ, enforcing this duty by the example of the early Christians, who "first gave their own selves to the Lord." We pass, in the present chapter, to a higher contemplation than this- the consecration of Christ to the believer. "The Son, of God, who loved me, and GAVE HIMSELF for me." The first thought is, the love of the Son of God: "who loved me."
The love of any being, human or angelic, possesses a value which those who feel its magic power cannot resist. In proportion to the station of the individual, is our estimate of the condescension and greatness of his love. We are now to consider the affection, not of a mere created heart, but of the heart of a Divine Being, flowing in all its redundancy into our finite, sinful heart. The Being here represented to us is "the Son of God." He loved us. He could have no motive for loving us but what He found within Himself, seeing nothing in man but wretchedness and guilt. If, therefore, the Lord set His heart upon man, He must find the motive, not in the creature, but in Himself. Such, then; is the love of God. He loved man because He set His heart upon man.
But how shall we adequately describe this love? The love of Christ is a divine affection. It is the love of Him who is essential love- of Him who is the infinite Fountain of all love, the love that dwells in every heart. From this one fact we may infer, that it is an everlasting love. We must travel back to the beginning for this love of Christ to His Church, if, indeed, a beginning it had. It is an everlasting love: "I have loved you with an everlasting love." It is also a free, unpurchased love; a love flowing spontaneously from the heart of God- spontaneous in its act, and unconditional in its bestowment. Oh, how will this truth lighten and cheer the believer's dying hour! Then will the everlasting love of God, and the free grace of Christ, neutralize every doubt, quell every fear, and float the spirit on a sea of sunshine to glory.
If the Son of God loves us, it follows that the Father loves us. There are some who look so exclusively at the love of the Son as to overlook the love of the Father. Precious as is the love of our Savior, we must not rest in that, but pass on to the equal love of the Father. Oh, how it expands, how it exalts, how it ennobles our conception of this love to behold in every action that the Savior performed but the reflection of the love of the Father who gave His Son to die for us. The love of God to the Church is a love worthy of Himself. Beloved, when God metes out His love to His people, He metes out an affection which has no bound. Man is a dependent and limited being. No creature can give out of itself without expending and soon exhausting itself. The very love with which we love has a limit. But not so the love of God.
Consider, now, the evidence of the love of Christ to His Church. The evidence is, "He gave Himself." What greater proof of His love could He give than this? "Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." Also, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." "Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us." A climax to this, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it."
"Gave Himself!" Look for a moment at the immensity of the gift. What did our Lord give? Rather, what did He not give? He gave the merit of His obedience; and on the broad basis of that merit, the vilest sinner, believing in Christ, may draw near to God with boldness. Why is it that so many, whose Christianity we cannot question, are yet ever living in the region of doubt and fear? It is because they do not see that the Son of God has given His merit for their sins. Here is that which just meets our case, and which answers every objection. The righteousness that He wrought was not for His, but for our justification- a righteousness for our guilty soul. He gave, then, His merit. He gave His life. He gave His death.
That death was not for Himself. He gave His LIFE for you, and His DEATH for you. "He was bruised for our iniquities." He died that agonizing, that ignominious death, for you, O believing soul! Child of God, there is a place in heaven for you- a vacant seat- a mansion, which will remain until you rise to glory, and occupy it forever. That crown of glory none shall wear- that palm of victory none shall wave- that mansion of repose none shall occupy but you! Oh, was ever love like this! Herein, beloved, is love, and only here, that the Son of God gave Himself for us- to cancel our curse, to bear our sins.
But not only this, He gave Himself as our Brother born for adversity, as a Counselor, as a Guide, yes, as all that a poor, tried, tempted, needy saint requires on his way to heaven.
Then follows the believer's personal assurance of this great and blessed truth: "The Son of God, who loved ME, and gave Himself for ME." Here the apostle seems to forget the Church of God, and to think only for the moment of himself. "The Son of God, who loved ME, and gave Himself for ME." Saving faith converts a general, into a personal and particular truth. It firmly believes the general fact, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; and that belief imparts the assurance of a personal interest in the fact. I do not say that assurance is essential to our Salvation. But I do say that it is essential to a holy life and a happy death. If you earnestly desire both these, seek this assurance, and seek until you find it.
And now, in view of this most blessed theme, ought there not to be a renewed consecration of ourselves to Him who gave Himself for us? Shall we not, beloved, at the foot of the cross, yield ourselves afresh, to God? Saints! Priests of Christ! Are you so consecrating yourselves to the Lord? Are you writing "holiness to the Lord " on all you are and on all you have? I repeat the question, "To whom have you surrendered yourself?" If to Christ, then to Christ be your life devoted- living or dying, let it be Christ's. With the noble, magnanimous apostle let us exclaim, "FOR ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND TO DIE IS GAIN."