The greatest weight and encumbrance to a revived Church displaying the glorious character of her all absorbing Bridegroom is the abject poverty of knowing and experiencing the perfect love of God.
When speaking of perfect love, one speaks of love as distinctly heavenly and set apart from earthly sentiment. Perfect love emanates from Christ alone and is to be shed abroad in our hearts. Perfect love demands a heavenly response to Him who first loved us. It is this all encompassing romance which promotes the permeating fragrance of Christ’s supremacy throughout the earth.
“Mary took a pound of very costly, genuine spikenard ointment, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment” (John 12:3).
Perfect love moves far beyond the reach of human understanding – “the love of Christ which passes knowledge …” (Ephesians 3:19). It is the highest sphere of love so often claimed and esteemed by the Church which in reality is the least obtained, misunderstood and abused attribute of God in our present age. For if perfect love were indeed manifest in all the splendor of Christ, there would be experientially within the Church a complete eradication of carelessness, prayerlessness, fearfulness, sloth and ease, backslidings, unholy affections, vanity, spiritual blindness, traditions of men, abasement of divine justice, lawlessness, and every vile rebellious thought which exalts itself against God.
Perfect love infused in our hearts is not the broad way of non-discerning human sentiment and unstable emotion which excuses and winks at ungodliness leading thousands down a comfortable, blinding path to eternal damnation.
Perfect love is the narrow way which leads to the straight gate of holiness where we are in union with our Lord and are changed from glory to glory into the image of Christ. Perfect love mingled with Christ’s manifest character is the divine nourishment which animates the Church in glorious liberty to subdue iniquity and obtain full mastery over the power of sin.
It is in the state of perfect love that we may know unbroken fellowship with Christ exalted at the right hand of God and testify of that union upon the earth eclipsing fully the religious order and all that is in connection with it. Perfect love and the testimonies of holiness are eternally inseparable.
“And we have come to know and believe the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:16,17).
Perfect love does not originate with our affections. Indeed, our affections – even when raised to a religious fervor – are always slanted and biased toward the justification of man and his ways rather than the exalted character of God. Perfect love flows from our enthroned sovereign Lord. The very lofty thought of our heavenly Father’s perfect loving of Adam’s helpless race stems from His unchanging nature which is, above all, holy!
Only a supremely holy God could love us in such a way so not to merely forgive us of our sins, but to judge and purge our earthly, sinful image that we may be brought into the blessed state of partaking of His holiness.
“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 2:6).
The way of perfect love is the way of holiness. It is the passionate affection of God Himself constraining those who are born of His Spirit, His sons, toward glorification and perfection (Hebrews 2:10-11). Perfect love romances and bears up into Christ’s rich wounds in beauty glorified. Perfect love not only brings the saints to the place of His supremacy at the right hand of God, but pours down within our spirits the supremacy of His place, the upper world, His glorified, endless, perfect life whereby we may cry, ABBA, FATHER!
Beloved, do you know Him in this way? Do you know the love of God to bear you up into His presence and witness of that presence within your heart? Beloved, renounce the slothful, fearful, humanistic love which has hardened and calloused your heart against the perfectings of Christ. Release now the sentimental, deceptive denial of your sinfulness which treads underfoot the Son of God and counts the blood of the covenant to be an unholy thing. Yield your heart to be turned toward the irresistible flood tide of perfect love that you may behold your God and be transformed into His image.
“Whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:16-18).
When this divine romance is realized within the Church, the sweet fragrance of revival will demonstrate the superiority of the Lord’s testimony on the earth. There will be no more room for the religious man! His testimony will be fully abased by those who emanate the ministry of righteousness in the power of Christ’s glorified life. To some the fragrance of revival is a savour of life unto life, to others a savour of death unto death.
God Himself will preserve those made perfect in love. The Lord shall release the same perfect love from our inner man toward all the same divinely inflamed brethren, and together one joint supplying the other we shall grow unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
As for the religious man – the one who is bound in the instability of humanistic and religious traditions – he will forever resist and seek to destroy the path of perfect love and its superior testimony of Christ’s holiness. His way is the way of fearfulness.
The fearful, hypocritical, religious man always in a cowardly, darkened way resists revival. They are not made perfect in love! They cringe at perfect love’s superior witness for all the power of natural man lies exposed and rotting in the face of His glory and grace.
But beloved, we are not of them who shrink back to destruction. Rather, the Spirit of adoption even now wishes to unfold in our hearts the way of perfect love that we may testify of the life of Christ which has been revealed to us.
Jeff Ziegler is president of Christian Evangelistic Endeavors, a ministry dedicated to bringing a great and mighty revival to the Church and spiritual awakening throughout the nations. C.E.E. sponsors Intensive Revival School, a two year discipleship training program designed to prepare students for the ministry. Revival Flame, a bi-monthly newsletter published by C.E.E., contains articles written by staff members and revivalists of old concerning revivals past and present.
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