LOVE DIVINE, ALL LOVES EXCELLING
Charles Wesley, 1707–1788
This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. (1 John 4:9)
We must never underestimate the power of love in our human relationships—whether marriages, family, business associations, or friendships. The divine love of God for man far excels all other forms of love.
“Love Divine …” is another of the more than 6500 hymns by Charles Wesley, the “sweet bard of Methodism.” This fine text —written in 1747—touches various elements of Christian doctrine. It extols the love of God as expressed in the incarnation of Christ. Then it refers to the Wesleyan concept of entire sanctification—that any believer might live without consciously sinning and thereby find the promised “rest” mentioned in Hebrews 4:9. The “Alpha and Omega” of verse two (first and last letters of the Greek alphabet) also reflect this Wesleyan teaching, that the experiences of conversion and sanctification are thought of as the “beginning of faith” and the “end or object of faith.” The third stanza emphasizes the truth that the Spirit of God indwells the temple or body of each believer, while the fourth stanza anticipates the glorious culmination of our faith when “we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder, love and praise.”
Although Christians may have differences of interpretation regarding the doctrine of sanctification, we can agree on this basic truth: It ought to be a normal desire for each believer to grow in the grace of our Lord.
Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heav’n, to earth come down; fix in us Thy humble dwelling; all Thy faithful mercies crown. Jesus, Thou art all compassion; pure, unbounded love Thou art; visit us with Thy salvation; enter ev’ry trembling heart.
Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit into ev’ry troubled breast! Let us all in Thee inherit; let us find that second rest. Take away our bent to sinning, Alpha and Omega be; end of faith, as its beginning, set our hearts at liberty.
Come, almighty to deliver, let us all Thy life receive; suddenly return, and never, nevermore Thy temples leave. Thee we would be always blessing, serve Thee as Thy hosts above, pray and praise Thee without ceasing, glory in Thy perfect love.
Finish then Thy new creation; pure and spotless let us be; let us see Thy great salvation perfectly restored in Thee. Changed from glory into glory, till in heav’n we take our place, till we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder, love and praise.
For Today: John 3:14–21; Philippians 1:6; Colossians 1:28; 1 John 3:11–24
God’s love must dominate our hearts, minds, and wills. Pray that this will become increasingly true in your life. Carry this portion of the hymn with you—
Osbeck, K. W.
- And as Moses lifte dup the serpent in the wilderness, so must that Son of man be lifted up. That whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loveth the world, that he hath given his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world, that he should condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth in him, is not condemned: but he that believeth not, is condemned alread because he hath not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condenation, that the light came into the world, and men loved darkness rather than that light, because their deeds were evil. For every man that evil doeth, hateth the light, neither cometh to light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds might be made manifest, that they are wrought according to God. John 3:14–21
- And I am persuaded of this same thing, that he that hath begun this good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:6
- Whom we preach, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Colossians 1:28
- For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, Not as Cain which was of that wicked one, and slew his brother: and wherefore slew he him? because his own works were evil, a nd his brother’s good. Marvel not my brethren, though this world hate you. We know that we are translated from death unto life, because we love the brethren: he that loveth not his brother, abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother, is a manslayer: and ye know that no manslayer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby have we perceived love, that he laid down his life for us: therefore we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren. And whosoever hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue only, but in deed and in truth. For thereby we know that we are tof the truth, and shall before him assure our hearts. For if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we boldness toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things which are pleasing in his sight. This is then his commandment, that we believe in t he Name of his Son Jesus Chirst, and love one another, as he gave commandment. for he that keepeth his commandments, dwelleth in him, and he in him: and hereby we know that he abideth in us, even by that Spirit which he hath given us. 1 John 3:11–24