WONDERFUL WORDS OF LIFE RADIO SERMON July 18, 1976
A HEART FULL OF LOVE
What part does experience play in assurance? Some would contend that experience is the whole thing. They
would build their whole Christian life on "feelings". They are very confident when they “feel” a certain way, but
at other times they are "down'' because of their feelings. Others would just as strongly deny that feelings have
any place. They would base all of their confidence on the objective facts of the Gospel.
Which of these two differing approaches is right? Actually, neither of them! The truth would combine both of
them. While the primary basis of confidence is the objective reality of the redemption in Christ Jesus our Lord,
there is an experiential side. Paul has dealt carefully with the objective side of assurance in the first verses of
this chapter, but now he touches on the experiential. The "peace with God", "standing in grace", and "hope of
glory" are basically objective facts. Based on them the justi¬fied man has confident expectation and
assurance. They are rooted in the historical, sacrificial work of our Lord on the cross. But there is more.
There is the blessed ministry of the Holy Spirit who gives to us a heart full of God's love. This too is a blessed
ground for assurance.
THE HEART FULL OF LOVE IS AN INNER SENSE OF GOD'S LOVE
It is "the love of God" that is shed abroad in the heart. Does this mean our love for God? Surely it is true that
the justified respond to God with love. However, here it is God's love for us. There is not a lot of assurance to
be found in our love for God, if we will be honest. There is much to be found in God's love for us. Beginning
with the very next verse Paul will expand this theme by expounding the nature of God's love for us. Here he is
writing of the inner, subjective awareness that we may have of God's love.
This inner sense of His love involves more than an intellectual comprehension of His love. A person may know
all of the facts relating to God's love for us as sinners, and still not know this. "To shed abroad" means that it
is poured out fully and lavishly. It is as though the sense of His love were a liquid and the heart of the believer
were a vessel. The heart of the believer, which includes his emotions and inmost being, is filled to the
overflow with the inner knowledge of the Divine love. The tense of the verb would point to a moment when the
heart was filled with the love, and to the con¬tinuing fact of the filling. The inner sense of His love abides in
Do all Christians know this? I could wish they did, but they do not. While it is true that all have known some
measure of it, the kind of fullness of knowledge sug¬gested by Paul is never known by many to their spiritual
hurt. That it is not known by all explains Paul making it a matter of petition for the Ephesian Christians. For
them he prayed, "that ye may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and
depth, and hei ht; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." (Ephesians 3:18 191 Paul wants
his friends to know this inner sense of God's love.
THE HEART FULL OF LOVE IS A WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
This "shedding abroad" is done by the Holy Spirit. This is the first reference to the work of the Holy Spirit in
this letter. The whole theme of this verse will be expanded greatly in the eighth chapter of the letter. This Holy
Spirit is the One given to each believer. The historical aorist of the verb "given" points to the moment of
conversion. At the moment of justification, God graciously gives to the believer the gift of the Holy Spirit to
take up residence in the heart of the believer.
This is one of the basic ministries of the Holy Spirit. He is the Spirit of illumination. He imparts to us the inner
sense of God and of His love. He witnesses to our sonship. In the eight chapter Paul writes of this, "for as
many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of
bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit
himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of
God, and joint heirs with Christ." (Romans 8:14 17b) Paul writes to the Galatians of the same inner sense of
sonship: "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba,
Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
(Galatians 4:5 6)
While the witness of the Spirit is a basic part of His ministry in the believer,
in our text Paul seems to have an extra witness in mind. There are some great moments of spiritual
illumination in which one is almost overcome with an inner sense of God's love. Have you ever read of the
experience of D. L. Moody? The great Christian leader had been going through a time of spiritual searching
and longing. He had been seeking a deeper knowledge of God and His will. While walking down the streets of
New York praying, it happened. God just began to flood the heart of Moody with His love. It was such an
outpouring that Moody was almost overcome. He had to rush to the home of a friend, find a secret place, and
pray to God to stay His Spirit lest he die for joy. Many, yea even most Christians may never know such an
experience. But the Holy Spirit
does so shed abroad a sense of God's love. While preparing this message, I was made to remember some
great moments in my own life. Just to recall them is to renew the inner sense of God's love. One such moment
came to me in the midst of a worship service in my early ministry. I had been walking under a burden and
cloud for days. Prayer had not brought release from the burden or light through the cloud. As a friend was
speaking from the third chapter of John it happened. It was as though a soft breeze from heaven had blown
the cloud away, and as though a compassionate Lord had lifted the heaviness from my spirit. I was made to
feel myself loved of God as never before in all of my life. It was the kind of sense that comes to a young child
when he is held close to the warm bosom of its mother. It was like the warmth a young bride senses when her
strong, young husband holds her close and whispers of his love to her. The Holy Spirit poured my heart full to
the overflow with a sense of God's love.
Let us be clear! This is not some physical phenomenon. It is not a vision. It is just the inner illumination of the
Holy Spirit, the filling of our hearts with a sense of His love.
THE HEART FULL OF LOVE IS A SOURCE OF THE ASSURANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN
"Hope maketh not ashamed because". Assurance is the context of this verse and the theme of this chapter.
The "hope" of the Christian will never be disappointed. God will be faithful. One of the roots for this sense of
confident expectation that marks the Christian is this inner sense of God's love. Interestingly the New
Testament is constantly pointing to the inner witness of the Holy Spirit as the basis of assurance. While one
does not have to have some great experience to have assurance, such an outpouring of the sense of God's
love does provide the highest form of Christian assurance.
Let me be careful, lest you be misled. Salvation is by faith. A person is justified before God at the exact
moment that he begins to place his full faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. However, there can be a
feeling, a sense of God, in the Christian life. There is a heart felt dimension to the Christian experience. While
it must never be over emphasized, we must always keep a place for it. While not all Christians are taken to the
Mount of Transfiguration, some are. Their testimony and sanity are not to be doubted when they share with
us this flooding with Divine love. It is a blessed source of blessed assurance to such a Christian. It will help
keep the Christian in the time of trouble.
Do you understand this verse? Has the Holy Spirit ever filled you with such a knowledge of God's love? If He
has not, it does not mean that you have not been justified. We are justified because we have believed God. If
you have been privileged to know such a witness from the Holy Spirit, render unto God thanksgiving.
All of us should be constantly seeking to surrender our lives to the Holy Spirit. He is the heavenly Friend,
Encourager, Teacher and Guide as we walk through this dark and dangerous world.