The Proof of God's Love
A sermon by G.H. Morrison in Glasgow, Scotland, 1920
(edited for length)
"God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8.
What is it to “commend?” It is to exhibit, to demonstrate, to prove. This, then, must be our theme to-day, the Cross of Calvary viewed as the unanswerable proof of the love of God.
There are some attributes of God that need no proof. Some features of the Divine character are so universally conspicuous as to be self-evidencing. Think, for example, of God's power. If we believe in God at all we need no argument to convince us of His power. The mighty forces that engirdle us all cry aloud of that. The chambers of the deep, the chariot of the sun, are stamped with it. The devastating march of winter's storm, and, none the less, the timely calling of all the summer's beauty out of the bare earth, these things, and a thousand other things like these, teach us the power of God. We would not need the Cross if all that had to be proved was the Divine omnipotence.
Or take the wisdom of God. Is any argument needed to assure us in general of that? None. "Day unto day uttereth speech of it, and night unto night showeth forth its glory" (Psa. 19:2). Our bodies, so fearfully and so wonderfully made; our senses, linking us so strangely to the world without; our thought, so swift, so incomprehensible; and all the constancy of Nature, and all the harmony of part with part, and all the obedience of the starry worlds, and all the perfections of the wayside weed; these things, and a multitude of things like these, speak to the thinking mind of the wisdom of God. That wisdom needs no formal proof. We would not need the Cross if all that had to be proved was the wisdom of God.
The love of God is not self-evident. It is not stamped upon creation like His power. It is not written on the nightly heavens like His wisdom. Nay, on the contrary, if it be a fact, it is a fact against which a thousand other facts are fighting.
Let me mention one or two of these things that have made it hard for men to believe in the love of God. One is the tremendous struggle for existence that is ceaselessly waged among all living things. Man fights with man, and beast with beast. To the seeing eye the world is all a battlefield, and every living creature in it is in arms, and fighting for its life.
Sir, can you wonder that men who have known all that, and nothing more than that, have ceased to believe in the love of God? Can you marvel that he who has no other argument for God's love than what Nature gives him, rejects as mockery the thought of the Divine compassion?
Or think again. There are the problems of human pain and sorrow and bereavement. Is it not very hard to reconcile these darker shadows with the light of heavenly love? Can God be love, and never move a finger to ease your little child when he is screaming day and night in fearful agony? Ah! sir, you have had such thoughts as that. Confess them. When from your arms your dearest joy is torn away; when those who would not harm a living creature are bowed for years under intolerable pain, and when the wicked or the coarse seem to get all they wish, who has not cried, "Can God be love if He permits all this? How can God say He loves me, and yet deal with me as I could never have the heart to deal with one I loved?"
Brethren, it is such facts as these that call for some unanswerable proof if we are to believe that God is love. And it is that proof which is afforded us in the Crucifixion of Christ Jesus. "God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
The story of Nature may seem to tell against this truth that every heart hungers to believe. And the experiences of life may often seem to fight against it too. But as we read the story of that atoning death, all doubts are overborne. Nothing but love, love wonderful, love matchless, will explain the Cross.
When we have gazed in faith upon the Cross of Christ, we never can seriously doubt the love of God again. I do not mean that difficulties vanish. I do not say that problems disappear. Much that was dark before remains dark still; but now we bow the head and say we know in part, and with patience wait to be satisfied in the morning. We can be ignorant and dark and even fretful still, but we can never doubt the love of God again.
Love must be proved by deeds and not by words. No mere profession of the lip will ever satisfy the heart that longs to know another's love. Love's argument is service. Love's commendation lies in sacrifice. If you or I by any act suspect that we are hated, it is not any word, however warm, will ever blot that suspicion out. It is only some deed of love, clear, unmistakable, that will have power to do that.
See, then, the wisdom of our God. It is the facts of nature and of life, of history and of experience, that make it so hard to believe His love. He knows it all, and so the proof He offers of His love is a fact too. Facts must be met by facts. And all the dark facts in the world's story, God overwhelms by the great fact of Calvary. Yes, God so loved the world…not that He said or thought, but that He gave. Thanks be to Him for that.
Here is no word. Here is no empty protestation. Here is a deed tremendous, matchless, irresistible, and every opposing argument is silenced.
One other word before I leave this aspect of the case. The Bible does not say, “God commended,” it does not say, “God has commended;” it uses the perpetual present and says, God commendeth. There are some proofs for the being and attributes of God that serve their purpose, and then pass away. There are arguments that appeal to us in childhood, but lose their power in our maturer years. And there are proofs that may convince one generation, and yet be of little value to the next. Not a few evidences, such as that from design, which were very helpful to you, believer of an older school, are well-nigh worthless to your thinking son, imbued with the teaching of the present day.
But there is one argument that stands unshaken through every age and every generation. It is the triumphant argument of the Cross of Christ. Knowledge may widen, thought may deepen, theories may come and go; yet in the very center, unshaken and unshakable, stands Calvary, the lasting commendation of the love of God. To all the sorrowing and to all the doubting, to all the bitter and to all the eager, to every youthful heart, noble and generous, to every weary heart, burdened and dark, to-day and here, as 1900 years ago to all like hearts in Rome, "God commendeth His love, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."