The Banner Of Truth 2014
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. (Psalm 60:4 )

"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
Familiarity with God’s Love
By Al Stoner
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us” (I Jn. 3:16). “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us” (4:16).

The love of God is truly comprehendible; it is not something that is ethereal or out of reach. It is hidden only from the unbelieving. God’s love has now been brought well within the range of human experience and human comprehending by the entrance of Christ into the world to take away our sins. As the above texts make abundantly clear, God’s love is now definitely perceivable, knowable, and believable by those whose hearts are perfect towards Him.
The Focal Point of this Love. The point of perception and knowledge of God’s love is in the consideration of God sending His Son into the world that we might live through Him. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I Jn. 4:10). If men and women would know more of God’s love, then their hearts and minds must be regularly challenged by the preaching of the Word to earnestly and carefully consider the specific involvements of their redemption in Christ.
God’s love cannot and will not be known or perceived by men from within the confines of nature, or by the creation. The creation can persuade men that God is all powerful and that He is a God of eternal power (cf. Rom. 1:20). But it is completely impotent to declare and make known His love. The heavens and the earth are capable of speaking to men, and they are eloquently declaring to Adam’s offspring God’s power and glory (Ps. 19:1-4). They have no eloquence, however, yea they are speechless when it comes to the matter of communicating God’s love.
God’s Love Now Manifested. But now the love of God has been manifested (I Jn. 4:9), and for this reason alone, it is perceivable and knowable. This love was manifested at the Cross, and in particular, in the piercing and bruising of our Lord’s body, and consequently, in the effectual propitiation (covering) of sins, and in the purging and taking away of iniquity and transgressions. “Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29). “And He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world” (I Jn. 2:2).
The Perceiving of God’s Love. “Hereby perceive we the love of God . . .” (I Jn. 3:16). It is here that we are to continually look, and gaze, and earnestly consider if we would perceive and know God’s love, and it is here, by faith, that the comprehension of God’s love is first made to register upon the renewed heart and understanding. It is in the crucifixion of God’s only begotten Son (along with all the involvements of that crucifixion spoken of in Scripture) that God’s love is first perceived and where it continues to be perceived by believing men and women.
There is a vital equation that we must incorporate into our thought and understanding processes. We must come to equate such things as the death of Christ, the laying down of His life for us, and the Father’s bruising of the Son (cf. Isa. 53:10), with God’s love for the world (Jn. 3:14-17), and in particular, with His love for us (Rom. 5:8; Gal. 1:4; Tit. 2:14).
Good health, long life, good jobs, wonderful families, etc., cannot be considered to be conclusive evidence of God’s love, for there are multitudes of ungodly people that enjoy such benefits as these (cf. Ps. 73:3-12). These kinds of earthly benefits are properly attributable to “the goodness of God” which is Divinely intended to lead men unto repentance (cf. Rom. 2:4). And by being brought to repentance men will come to know the love of God.
The Knowledge of and Trust in God’s Love. “We have known and believed the love that God hath to us” (I Jn. 4:16). Once the love of God is genuinely perceived by believing men and women, the continued perception of it will translate into knowledge and trust. In the new covenant age it is the norm for those who are living and walking by faith to know firsthandedly, and to have confidence in, God’s love.
It is both a tragedy and an anomaly that the majority of “Christian” people in our day, at best, only know that the Scriptures speak of the love of God. There does not appear to be much first hand knowledge of it. We know this because wherever God’s love is known and trusted in by men, such ones cannot help but joyfully speak of it and declare it to fellow mortals.
Let us conclude by exhorting one another to be good stewards of the perception and knowledge of, and trust in God’s love. This is an heritage that belongs to us who are in the Lord Jesus Christ. And let us resolve not to permit the cares and afflictions of this life to erode from our hearts the blessed knowledge and trust in God’s love for us. --Editor

"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).