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Loving Jesus More: Love's Channel

An excerpt from “Loving Jesus More" by Philip Graham Ryken

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Rom. 5:1–5)

Here Paul simply is spelling out the implications of our justification. By faith in Christ we stand righteous before God and have confidence to face the coming judgment. Part of the proof for this justifying grace is our present experience of the love of God. The apostle then proceeds to explain that the love of God is the love of Calvary—the love Christ showed to us when we were still sinners by dying for us on the cross (Rom. 5:8).

But notice the channel of that love. The love we have within us—the love that is poured into our hearts—comes through the third person of the Trinity: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5; cf. Rom. 15:30). Whatever love we have was put there by the Spirit of God. God has placed his love into our hearts specifically through the delivery of the Holy Spirit.

When Paul tells us that the Spirit gives us the Father’s love, he is not drawing a sharp distinction between the love of these two divine persons. The love of the Father and the love of the Spirit are one and the same love, for there is no division of affection within the Godhead. Yet this verse does highlight the distinctive role of the Holy Spirit in communicating the love of God.

People sometimes wonder exactly what the Holy Spirit does. We know who the Father is because most of us have fathers of our own, or know other fathers. We know the Son because we read his story in the Gospels. But who is the Holy Spirit? What does the Spirit do? This is part of the answer: the Holy Spirit puts God’s love into our hearts. The great American theologian Jonathan Edwards said that the Spirit’s office is “to communicate divine love to the Creature.” When the Spirit does this, Edwards went on to say, “God’s love doth but communicate of itself.”6 In other words, in giving us the Holy Spirit, God gives us his own love.

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6. Jonathan Edwards, Jonathan Edwards: Representative Selections, with Introduction, Bibliography, and Notes, rev. ed., ed. C. H. Faust and T. H. Johnson, American Century series (New York: Hill and Wang, 1962), 378.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.