THE LOVE OF CHRIST, WHICH SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING

BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO

In his epistles, the apostle Paul describes two things as surpassing all understanding or knowledge. The first is the peace of God. He wrote to the Philippian Christians, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 NKJV).

The second is the love of Christ. In Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul prayed this powerful prayer for the Ephesian Christians: “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (NKJV).

The Twentieth Century New Testament renders verse 19 thus: “And to understand–though it surpasses all understanding–the love of the Christ; and so be filled to the full with God himself.”

Paul prayed that the Ephesians would be rooted and grounded in love so that they would be able to comprehend or understand with all the saints the different dimensions (width, length, depth, and height) of the love of Christ. He adds in verse 19 that this love of Christ surpasses all understanding. In other words, the love of Christ is too wide, too long, too deep, and too high for humans to understand.

The New Living Translation puts verses 18-19 this way: “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.” From this translation, we understand that we can only understand or experience in a measure the love of Christ; we cannot understand it fully or completely. It’s very wide, very long, very deep, and very high. It surpasses all understanding.

However, The Amplified Bible gives another meaning of this passage, different from other translations. It talks about knowing “[practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience].”

Ephesians 3:19b tells us the result of understanding or experiencing the love of Christ which surpasses understanding: “Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” (NLT). The New King James Version talks about being filled with all the fullness of God. The Twentieth Century New Testament says you will be filled to the full with God Himself. What a great thing to be filled to the full with God Himself? Is there anything more wonderful than this? Paul tells us this is possible when we understand all the dimensions of the love of Christ, which is too great to understand or surpasses all understanding or mere knowledge. I want to understand this love even if I don’t understand it fully.

The love of Christ is the greatest love ever

The love of Christ which surpasses all understanding! The love of Christ is the greatest love. The Bible says there is no greater love. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13 NKJV). Jesus laid down His life for humanity. There is no greater love for someone than to die for sinners.  If a righteous person runs into trouble, people can offer to bail him out, but most people will tell a serial offender to bear his punishment himself.

Romans 5:6-8 puts it this way: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NKJV).

Christ didn’t die for the righteous. He died for the sinner.  It is very important to understand this love of Christ even if not fully, because unless we understand it as believers, we cannot be filled to the full with God Himself.

The Bible tells us that God is love. Love is the defining character of God. If anyone does not understand the love of Christ, he cannot love. You must appreciate how much Christ loves you to be able to love others. Christ loves you unconditionally. He didn’t wait for you to be righteous before He loved you. He loved you when you were still a sinner and died for you. Understanding that helps you to love people, even when they appear unlovable. 1 John 4:8 says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NKJV). The apostle John also says in 1 John 4:16, “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (NKJV). Ephesians 5:2 says, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (NKJV). 

Jesus gave Himself for the church because of love

Jesus Christ says He and His Father are one (John 10:30).  God so much loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Also, Jesus so much loved the world that He gave Himself. Speaking to husbands to love their wives, Paul qualified this love by referring to the love of Christ. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25 NKJV). Did you see that? He gave Himself. How?

The Living Bible translation of Ephesians 5:25 answers that: “And you husbands, show the same kind of love to your wives as Christ showed to the church when he died for her.” Christ gave Himself by dying on the cross for the church. This is the love of Christ which surpasses all understanding.

The beginning of understanding the love of Christ

Do you appreciate the death of Christ for you? Have you responded to His death by giving your life to Him, accepting Him as Your Lord and Saviour? Have you invited Him into Your heart? I believe this is the beginning of understanding the love of Christ.

Do you know that Christ loves you the same way the Father loved Him? He says in John 15:9, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love” (NKJV). Take note of the end of this verse: abide in My love. Jesus loves you. You must first have a reasonable measure of understanding of His love to remain in it. “According as the Father did love me, I also loved you, remain in my love” (John 15:9 Young’s Literal Translation). Those who don’t understand the love of Christ cannot love others. I tend to think that the degree of love you have for others is proportional to the measure of your understanding of the love of Christ. This may also determine the measure of the fullness of God in you. But Paul’s prayer is that you will be filled with all the fullness of God.

The love of Christ is real love

The understanding of the love of Christ must be viewed from the perspective of His sacrificial death on the cross. The death of Christ at Cavalry in place of sinners is the real definition of love. It is the benchmark for the measurement of love. 1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (NKJV). If you are looking for an example of true love to emulate, it is the love of Christ. “We know what real love is from Christ’s example in dying for us. And so we also ought to lay down our lives for our Christian brothers” (1 John 3:16 TLB).

The love of Christ cleanses us from our sins 

Revelation1:5-6 says, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (NKJV). The love of Christ delivers us from the reproach of sin and brings us into dignity and royalty. Those who accept Him as their Lord and Saviour are freed from their sins by His blood. “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22 NKJV). In Christ, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians1:14).  Whoever responds to His love and comes to Him He will not cast out (John 6:37).

Your understanding of the love of Christ that forgives you your sins determines how forgiving you are. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV). Mark 11:25-26 says a similar thing. Jesus says there should be no end to forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-22). The love of Christ surpasses all understanding.

The love that corrects

The love of Christ corrects the followers of Christ. Christ corrects them, not to condemn them, but to make them repent and do the right thing. Jesus says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19 NKJV).  Proverbs 3:12 says, “For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (NKJV).

Hebrews 12:6 speaks about the LORD chastening or disciplining those He loves. 1 Corinthians 11:32 says when Christians are judged, they are chastened by the LORD, that they may not be condemned with the world.

Show the love of Christ to others

Jesus wants you to show His love to others, though His love is too great to understand fully. Don’t forget that God is love and anyone who does not love does not know God. Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 NKJV).  If you understand how much Jesus loves you, then you should love others. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NKJV). Love is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-31).  Love is greater than faith and hope. Love is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13).  Love is the fulfillment of the law; it satisfies all of God’s requirements (Romans 13:10).

The love Jesus demands from His disciples is not the natural love but divine love, agape love, God’s kind of love. It is unconditional love. It is also the love of the will instead of the emotions. This is love that the Holy Spirit produces in the life of a believer (Galatians 5:22). This is the love that works in a child of God to be able to obey Jesus’ command to love not only his neighbours but also his enemies (Matthew 5:43-47; Luke 6:27, 28, 32-36). This is the love of Christ and it surpasses all understanding.

What to do

1.Be born again. In order to understand the love of Christ that surpasses understanding, you must be born again. Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again (John 3:3, 7). He says the same to you.

2. Receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and cooperate with the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of love in you. The Bible says the fruit of the Spirit is love and other character traits listed (Galatians 5:22). Romans 5:5b says, “For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (NLT).

3. Learn from the Word of God about the love of Christ. The Bible is the primary source to understand the love of Christ.

4. Love your neighbours as yourself including your enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35).

5. Talk to people about the love of Christ. The more you talk about it, the more understanding you gain. He who waters will also be watered himself (Proverbs 11:25b).

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.

T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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Email: cedarministryintl@yahoo.com,
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Website: www.cedarministry.org