by Mike Ratliff
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8 ESV)
As most of you reading this know, I took about 8 days off from both work, writing, and blogging. My wife and I traveled to the Oklahoma City area to visit our daughter and son-in-law. We celebrated her birthday on Saturday then on Tuesday we went with them to observe her Ultra Sound. They estimate that our first grand child will be born in the middle of September. I am not sure what I expected while watching the Ultra Sound, but I came away from it with much joy.
The time off enabled me to finish R.C. Sproul’s Faith Alone and start John Owen’s Communion with the Triune God. I also picked up a book by F.F. Bruce in a second hand book store. It is his commentary on the Epistles of John. I began reading Faith Alone on the way down to Oklahoma as my wife drove her half of the trip on Wednesday. I finished it Monday afternoon. I devoured it. I came away from that study with a more rounded understanding of the doctrine of Sola Fide. As I neared the end of the book I began asking God how He was going to use that study in my ministry. I am awaiting His direction there. Then I began reading Communion with the Triune God.
I studied the outline at the beginning of the book. I read the introduction then dived into Owen. It takes some effort to read 17th Century English, especially that of John Owen, however, to my great surprise, I found myself in a study of the love of God, joy in our worship and serving Him, and how unfathomably deep God’s love, care and affection is for His children. I found it very difficult to put this book down. I took it with me when we went to the clinic Tuesday morning. We had to wait about 20 minutes before going into the Ultra Sound room so I read. God is very good to those who love Him my brethren. I read the first several pages of Chapter 3 as we waited. I read through the beginning of the section titled: Believer’s Must Receive The Love of The Father where I read –
Communion consists in giving and receiving. Until the love of the Father be received, we have no communion with him therein. How, then, is this love of the Father to be received, so as to hold fellowship with him? I answer: By faith. The receiving of it is the believing of it. God has so fully, so eminently revealed his love, that it may be received by faith. “You believe God” (John 14:1); that is, the Father, And what is to be believe in him? His love; for he is “love” (1 John 4:8).
It is true, there is not an immediate acting of faith upon the Father, but by the Son. “He is the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father but by him” (John 14:6). He is the merciful High Priest over the house of God, by whom we have access to the throne of grace (Ephesians 2:18); by him is our manuduction (guidance ‘by the hand’) unto the Father, we then behold his glory also, and see his love that he peculiarly bears unto us, and act faith theron. We are then, I say, to eye it, to believe it, to receive it, as in him; the issues and fruits thereof being made out unto us through Christ alone. Though there be no light for us but in the beams, yet we may by beams see the sun, which is the fountain of it. Though all our refreshment actually lie in the streams, yet by them we are led up unto the fountain. Jesus Christ, in respect of the love of the Father, is but the beam, the stream; wherein though actually all our light, our refreshment lies, yet by him we are led to the fountain, the sun of eternal love itself. Would believers exercise themselves herein, they would find it a matter of no small spiritual improvement in their walking with God. – John Owen from Communion with The Triune God pp111-112.
Then we were called into the Ultra Sound room. We crowded in. The lights were dimmed. Some gel was applied to my daughters belly and as the wand was applied there the screen came alive with the image of my grand child. The technician showed us how the baby was lying. She used the instrument to show us the heart. It was beating about 140 beats a minute. We could see the tiny little valves opening and closing and the walls of the heart moving with each beat. Then she drew a circle around the face. The eyes, nose, and mouth were clearly visible. We could see into the tiny little body at the bones of the spine, legs and arms. We saw the Aorta, the kidneys and stomach. We could see those tiny little hands and feet.
It was as I saw this tiny little Human baby knit together in my daughter’s womb, the heart beating the limbs moving the head turning, that God revealed that I was receiving His love through the gift of this child. My brethren, I worshiped my Lord right there. I had a hard time seeing the screen for awhile because I was too busy wiping away the tears. God is so good to His children. Then the technician moved the wand around in a circle in one spot as she told us that she was trying to get the baby to move so we could get a better view of the “leg” and “hip” area. Then she smiled as she moved the wand to one side. She said, “well, it looks like we have a baby boy.” I rejoiced, not because my first grand child is to be a boy, but because of my daughter’s reaction. I could see her “bonding” with the child even more at that point. My son-in-law did as well.
Even though I am 100% committed to the sanctity of Human life and protection of the unborn, I was very surprised at my reaction to “seeing” this living Human being in my daughter’s womb. There is a legislation pending in Oklahoma that will require expectant mothers considering an abortion to see the Ultra Sound of their babies before they can go through with it. After seeing that for myself, I agree completely. Seeing that face and the heart beating is a truly amazing thing. Abortion is murder, it stops a beating heart. Oh, I would not like to be those purveyors of death when our Lord returns.
My brethren, I pray that we will return to our study of 1 John this weekend. I knew as I stood in that darkened room with my family that I was going to write about this first. I love the study of doctrine because it reveals the truth of God to us and helps us love and enjoy Him all the more, however, there are times when we must simply love Him and receive His love in return. I pray that all reading this will take some time to examine the goodness in their lives that would not be there without God putting it there, especially our salvation, then turn your affection to Him. Delight in Him. Praise Him. Glorify Him.
Soli Deo Gloria!