Many Christians live at a great distance from a felt experience of the love of God. So much Christianity in the West is shallow and satisfied. It affirms a creed but it so often lacks spiritual life.
Across the country there are millions of people who have a faith, who’ve been brought up to believe Jesus died and rose, they’ve gone to church, but they have no living experience of God’s love.
We need this prayer from 2 Thessalonians 3:5, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s patience.”
This is a prayer for Christians. Paul is writing to the church. It’s a prayer that God will do something in us who believe, but do not always feel that God loves us.
I don’t want to be there! And neither do you. People who are not Christians endure great pain and carry great sorrows. They do it by gritting their teeth. They do it in Britain with a stiff upper lip.
Paul is saying to these believers in this verse, “I want something better for you. I want your soul to be filled with the love of God.”
Let me give you some real life examples of the love of God flooding a person’s soul, so that you will be encouraged to pray for more of this yourself.
1. John Wesley
Wesley was a pastor. He had preached on two continents—in England and in Georgia, here in the States. Something happened to him on the 24th of May, 1738, while he was listening to a man read the preface to Luther’s work on Romans in Aldersgate Street in London. Here is Wesley’s description of what happened to him…“About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given to me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
What is so amazing about this is that this man had been preaching in church for years, but now he tasted the love of God. He had a new sense of its sweetness. His life and ministry were transformed.
2. Jonathan Edwards
In 1737 Edwards rode out into the woods for time of prayer…“I had a view, that was for me extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God… and His wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love.”
He went out into the woods, tied up his horse and saw the love of Christ in a way that he had not seen it before. He had a “view” of it. He got a glimpse of it. Its sweetness came home to His soul.
3. Dwight L. Moody
In 1871 Moody’s church building was destroyed in the Chicago fire. He went to New York to seek financial help…“I began to cry as never before for a greater blessing from God. The hunger increased… I kept on crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit.” “Well, one day in the city of New York – oh! What a day, I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it. It is almost too sacred an experience to name… I can only say, God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.”
His soul was so overwhelmed by the love of God that he said, “I can’t take it anymore.”
4. Blaise Pascal
One of the most intense descriptions of this kind of experience comes from Blaise Pascal. Pascal is especially interesting because he was a mathematician and a scientist.
It would be easy for some of us to dismiss the message today by saying that there are certain more emotional types of people who have these experiences.
Pascal had an extraordinary experience of the love of God that lasted for about two hours. He wrote some scribbled notes of what happened to him, and then he sewed them into the inside of his coat, where they were found after his death…“This day of grace 1654 From about half past ten at night, to about half after midnight Fire! God of Abraham, God of Isaac God of Jacob Not of the philosophers and scholars. Security, feeling, joy, peace God of Jesus Christ… Greatness of the human soul… Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy… Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ May I never be separated from Him.”
What happened to Him? His heart was “directed into the love of God and the patience of Christ.”
These testimonies show an amazing work of God in their hearts, causing them to experience God’s love and Christ’s patience in a new way.
*References cited from Martyn Lloyd Jones’ Joy Unspeakable.
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