The Holy Love of God

Our most fundamental inclination as fallen human creatures is to exchange the truth that God reveals about Himself for a lie, and to serve and worship the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1:18-32). We commit idolatry every time we substitute a lesser concept for His glory, whether that substitution takes the crass form of stone gods or the more sophisticated form of redefining God’s character to suit our tastes. A god stripped of justice, of holiness, of sovereignty, and the rest is as much an idol as a statue of wood or stone. We must be careful not to substitute for the biblical God a god who is exhausted in his character by the one attribute of love, especially as popular culture defines it.

As Christians we believe in a God who is simple and not made up of parts. God is not one part sovereign, one part just, one part immutable, one part omniscient, one part eternal, and one part loving. Rather, He is all of His attributes at all times. To understand any single attribute, we must understand it in relation to all His other attributes. The love of God is eternal and sovereign. The love of God is immutable and holy. We treat all of His other attributes in the same way. God’s justice is loving and eternal. His holiness is loving and omniscient. Our concept of the love of God will stay on track only as we understand His love in relationship to His other attributes.

Whatever else God’s love is, it is holy. His love is therefore characterized by the qualities that define holiness—transcendence and purity. First, God’s love is transcendent. It is set apart and different from everything we experience in creation. Second, God’s love is pure. His love is absolutely flawless, having no selfishness, wickedness, or sin mixed in with it. God’s love is not ordinary or profane. It is a majestic, sacred love that goes far beyond anything creatures can manifest. No shadow of evil covers the brightness of the pure glory of the love of God.

The love of God is in a class by itself. It transcends our experience. Nevertheless, it is a love that He shares in part with us and expects us to manifest to each other. He grants to His people—insofar as is possible given the Creator-creature distinction—His holy love (Romans 5:5).

—R.C. Sproul
TableTalk Magazine

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

The King of love my shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never.
I nothing lack if I am his,
and he is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow,
my ransomed soul he leadeth;
and where the verdant pastures grow,
with food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed,
but yet in love he sought me;
and on his shoulder gently laid,
and home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill,
with thee, dear Lord, beside me;
thy rod and staff my comfort still,
thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spreadst a table in my sight;
thy unction grace bestoweth;
and oh, what transport of delight
from thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days,
thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
within thy house forever.

—Henry W. Baker, 1868

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

—Words at­trib­ut­ed to Dal­lan For­gaill, 8th Cen­tu­ry

Beautiful, Scandalous Night

I’ve had this hauntingly, beautiful song on my mind ever since we sang it last week during our Good Friday service at Kenwood Baptist Church. There are several versions available, but my favorite one is by Smalltown Poets.

Beautiful, Scandalous Night
by Derald Daugherty and Steve Hindalong

Verse 1
Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

Verse 2
Follow Christ to the holy mountain
Sinner sorry and wrecked by the fall
Cleanse your heart and your soul
In the fountain that flowed
For you and for me and for all

Chorus
At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night

Verse 3
On the hillside, you will be delivered
At the foot of the cross justified
And your spirit restored
By the river that poured
From our blessed Savior’s side

Chorus
At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night

Verse 4
Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide
Kneel down on the shore
Be thirsty no more
Go under and be purified

Chorus
At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night

No Grave Could Keep

We sang this beautiful song yesterday during the Easter worship service at Kenwood Baptist Church. It was written by our Associate Pastor of Worship, Matt Damico.

No Grave Could Keep
by Matt Damico

Verse 1
The Maker of all, in a young virgin’s womb,
the Word, now a baby, cries.
In humility robed, in the form a slave,
the Lord of life come to die.

Verse 2
The Judge of mankind, now placed on a trial,
the guilt of His people now His.
The righteous one bears these thorns for a crown,
that sinners found in Him might live.

Refrain:
Mighty Savior!
Death could not hold Him, no grave could keep.
Hallelujah!
He reigns forever, the risen King!

Verse 3
Lifted and nailed to a cross where He died,
the record of sin, now paid.
But look for Him not, for the Man is not there,
the King is alive, as He said.

Verse 4
The bride now awaits for her King to appear,
when she will in purity rise.
And on that fair day, His praises we’ll sing,
our heart’s trust beheld with our eyes.