Called To Tell The World Of God’s Love
By Andrew Murray
[Editor’s Note: Andrew Murray (1828-1917) wrote the following material many years ago. Therefore, the statistics he uses are dated, and are even more dramatic and sobering in our day.]
"God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
The word whosoever has generally been considered the key to this wonderful text. To thousands, that word has given the courage to say, "Whosoever. That includes me – the love, and the Son, and the life – they are all for me." And many an earnest worker has, in pleading with or for the most helpless case, found his strength in the confidence that whosoever cannot mean anything but everyone. There is not a person excluded; to each one I dare to say that the love, and the Son, and the life are for you.
This is the individual aspect of the word, but it also includes a wider one – the universal. It says of every child in this world that the love and the life are for him. Therefore, we who say we believe that truth must not only have faith to use it with every needy person we meet, but to allow it to exert its full force on us in all its divine largeness as it proclaims the right of every creature to the love and life of God’s Son. Not until every thought of that love is inseparably linked in our heart with the blessed truth that love belongs to all do we really begin to understand it.
As we wait for the Holy Spirit to reveal in us how that love longs to get possession of all – for whom it was meant – we shall find in that "whosoever" a mighty plea for a life wholly giving itself to be filled with that love, and to find its only joy and glory in living in accordance with God’s heart to love and save the world.
In its application to individuals, we have used this word too exclusively as a plea for them to come and accept Christ and eternal life. God meant that, in its fullness of meaning, it should be a plea with His redeemed ones – who do indeed see its meaning and believe its truth – to look upon every fellow creature as one of this "whosoever" multitude. And we are not to rest until each one knows the love in which he has a share.
The Church’s Failure
This thought leads us to some of the great mysteries of redemption. In the revelation of God’s love, there is the partnership into which Christ has taken His people; His having made Himself dependent upon them for the continuation and completion of His work; and – greatest mystery of all – their terrible unfaithfulness to this, their holy calling.
Over twenty centuries have elapsed since He spoke the glorious word combining precept and privilege: the Gospel to every creature. Yet, multitudes of the human race have never heard of Him. And many who have heard His name live in ignorance of the wonderful love and life He revealed to us that we might impart it to others, might bring it to all.
From God’s heaven that "whosoever," like the sun in its unlimited and unstinted glory, shines down on every soul dying in darkness. To us is given the honor – as those to whom the love has been committed, who live in the enjoyment of its power and blessing – of having fellowship with Him who spoke the great "whosoever," and, like Him, of living and dying to make it known.
Most of us have been content to accept the word for ourselves, and to confine the love to our own selfish hearts. But the best of us have yearned and pleaded and sacrificed that we might know nothing but this love, that our heart and life might ever be overflowing with it for others to drink.
If Revival Is to Come
If a revival is to come – greater, deeper, broader than any that has yet been – one great part of its power will be in the conviction it will bring. Many of us will be convicted of the sin and shame of all the carnal ease, and comfort, and self-indulgence in which we have been living – while the dying, perishing world that has been given into our charge was waiting for us, and the infinite love that had entrusted itself to us was mourning that we were so slow to go and tell of it.
The conviction of sin must be greater, deeper, broader than we have known it. Judgment will have to begin at the house of God. The great deep will have to be broken up. The formality and worldliness, the selfishness and self-confidence and self-complacency of much of our Christianity will have to be revealed in the light of the actual life, worship, devotion, and self-sacrifice in the power of the Spirit to which God has called us.
Above all, the sin of having had the love of God to the world given into our heart for the one purpose of communicating it, and then having congratulated ourselves on the small gifts of silver or gold for which we sought to commute our personal service, will become to us such a burning thing that our penitent confession and our cry for pardon and deliverance will work an entire revolution. We shall indeed yield ourselves and wait for the Holy Spirit to work the life of Christ Jesus in us that, even as He, each of us in our measure may live exclusively for the glory of God in the salvation of the lost.
The sin of this neglect in the church of God – in not accepting and proclaiming this great "whosoever" of God’s love, in not living to make God’s love known – has had and is having such appalling consequences that even Christians fail to realize what is meant. We are told that every year there are thirty million unbelievers passing away into utter darkness. We count up the years and think how this has been going on through the ages since Christ gave the great command to His church as its watchword. The mind refuses to comprehend.
It is as if this wonderful love of God might have interfered, might have done more. It looks as if it is too awful to put upon the church, upon us the Christians of today too, the burden and the guilt of these perishing multitudes. And yet it is so.
The eternal love gave the Son to reveal it on earth. The Son committed it to His disciples, to His body, the church with a charge as plain as words can make it: Carry that love to every creature, to all nations, to the ends of the earth. That was the one thing the church was sent into the world to do – even as He had been sent, and for nothing else.
Playing at Missions
It is due to nothing but selfishness, unfaithfulness, and neglect on the part of the church that this holy mission has not been accomplished. More than one person has said: "We have been playing at missions."
And yet how we congratulate ourselves on all the wakened missionary interest! And all the while the number of believers who really follow in the footsteps of Christ – counting it their joy to give their whole heart and strength, to live and die, whether it be in prayer or work, for the glory of God in the salvation of others – is so small.
The Kind of Revival Needed!
Nothing can effect a change in this but a revival of a type we have not yet known. A revival that will, by the divine power of the Holy Spirit, open the eyes of believers to see how very wrong and low their conceptions have been of the life that God actually wants them to live. A revival that will make the last command of Christ live in the heart of every true disciple. A revival that will shake and lift our churches, and separate to an unselfish and unworldly life all who are willing to live wholly for God. A revival that will bind together the whole church in an enthusiasm for Christ and His kingdom. A revival in which the true following and imitation of Christ, in His living exclusively to bring the love of God to perishing men, will be the mark of the normal Christian life.
The question will be asked, and it is most needful and natural that it should be asked: How is it, if God really meant His children thus to bring His love to their fellowmen in the way Christ brought it – by living and dying for it – how is it that the church has failed so terribly? Does God’s Word actually teach and claim such entire devotion? Is it indeed an attainable degree of grace, a state that can actually be realized?
Or must we not take into account the weakness of human nature, and consider the present state of the church as all that could really be expected? We must indeed take into account the weakness of human nature, but only in a much greater degree than is usually done.
It must be seen that human weakness is such utter impotence that it makes the life of God on earth an utter impossibility except as the supernatural power of the working of God’s Spirit is waited on and experienced.
And if the question be again asked how it is, if the declarations of God’s Word are so plain, that this power of God’s Spirit is not more sought and known, the answer leads us again to what we have called the root evil of the low state of the church. It is because God’s wonderful commands and promises are all understood and accepted in a certain human sense, not in their divine quickening meaning and power.
Let us turn to our text again and see the difference it would make if God’s Spirit really revealed to us its divine meaning. Look at the three great mysteries the words speak of: a perishing world, a loving God, a life-giving Christ.
Just pause and ask God earnestly, perseveringly, believingly, to open your eyes and give you a vision of the perishing world, and then set yourself, in the light of God and eternity, to seek a right impression of its state. You might begin with numbers. It is known that at least 100,000 people pass out of the darkness of the unevangelized into the darker eternity every day. That means more than one every second. While we are enjoying ourselves, they drop, moment by moment, over the precipice in utter ignorance of God and His love.
And there are a thousand million such in the world, all living and dying in this darkness. Our text says "that whosoever believeth might not perish"! Without Christ they will perish.
Spend time thinking of all the inconceivable sin and wretchedness the life on earth implies and then of all the hopelessness for the world to come. Read some missionary book, giving an account of some special mission field, with definite statements as to the need, and say to God you really want to know the world in which you are placed, of which you are part, for which you are to live. Unless we study the world and realize its condition, we cannot possibly know God’s love for it, or our calling.
Or think of what Scripture says of the god of this world, of the terrible power that absolutely possesses and rules these people and holds them in darkness and misery. Find out wherein the power and awfulness of the lost on the mission field consists. Or look nearer home, to the ungodly masses in every Christian country. Take time to consider the state of the unconverted whom you know, the friends you love, the people you deal with, the thousand faces that are familiar, and regard them all as making up the perishing world – in the midst of which you are to be a shining light, a streaming fountain of life.
Then you will begin to see that it needs time, and trouble, and heart and prayer to take in the divine meaning of this word world, and that other word whosoever, which is its only hope.
Then think of the loving God and this world He made for Himself, to be His joy and His glory. Its sin is to Him such a grief that He almost repented having made it. The suffering and the wretchedness of His creatures are to Him such a sorrow that there is nothing He can do, consistent with leaving to them the free will and the power of self-determination with which He had endowed them as part of His own image, which He would not do. He proved it by giving His own Son.
In a love that passes knowledge, a love of which our conception is so utterly inadequate, His heart flows out in unceasing compassion and yearning to save and bless. On every one of these perishing millions the love of God is resting. The mind cannot take it in, but the Holy Spirit could enable the heart to know if we would only give ourselves to wait on God for this love to fill us.
The love of God has proved itself in the gift of the Son, of Himself. In sending Christ to become man, God proved that He longed to have man one with Himself, that all His life and love as God was for man that he might be made partaker of the divine nature. And the wonderful, the blessed "whosoever" of our text says that love is for every creature. The lowest, the most degraded and rejected and utterly hopeless – the love is for him, the love longs for him and is able to triumph over him.
Jesus Christ came into the world for the one sole purpose of revealing this love. He spoke of it, He lived for it, He died to bring it to us. It was His one aim, His one glory, the passion and strength of His life. It was His very life; it possessed Him, and He knew no other joy. And when He prayed that "the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them" (John 17:26), He meant His disciples just as much as Himself. He wanted them to have it in them, to live for it, to find their glory and blessedness in carrying it and making it known.
And now think of this life-giving Christ. God gave Him that "whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life." The "whosoever" and "believeth" are inseparably connected. But "how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?" (Rom. 10:14). Did Christ fail here? After revealing the love and winning the life, did He make no provision for the message being made known?
Verily, no. He made provision. He arranged that every believer, every member of His body, should share with Him the glory and the blessedness of communicating the divine life and love. The self-propagating power, which is the mark of all life and all love, was to find its highest manifestation in His church. The life of each believer was to be a seed bringing forth fruit after its kind.
Alas, how little the church understands or teaches this – that every believer, just like every branch on a tree, exists only to bring fruit and blessing for the glory of the husbandman and the life of men. Christ gave God’s love in charge to His people, entrusted Himself and the eternal life to them, that everyone whom the great "whosoever" includes might hear and live.
And Christians profess to believe that the hundreds of millions are committed to their care, and must, as the most urgent and important work in the world, have the Gospel preached to them, and yet rest content in giving, out of their abundance, a few pounds a year. And their mind and heart and strength they give to the interests of time. They have no conception of the true Christian life, of the calling and the glory and the blessedness of, like Christ, living as the channels of God’s love to a perishing world.
We Need a Mighty Revival!
We do indeed need a great, a mighty revival. Let us plead with God that it may begin with ourselves in secret. It will reveal to us the force of the three great words: the perishing world, God’s saving love, and the Christ who through His members carries life to that world.
However ignorant we may be of what we ought to do, or impotent to do what we see of this great work, let us offer ourselves unceasingly to God, to live for nothing less than what He lives for. He will inspire and guide and make us bold.
When the great revival begins in our own heart, it has begun and it will spread. We shall have new confidence in prayer and new power in work. And our work will have a new joy as we realize how it is the devotion to a great cause, which has its beginning in the love of God, its law in the life of Christ, its strength in the power of that Holy Spirit who makes us one with Him in the work of conquering the world for God.
– Taken from Revival by Andrew Murray.