Comprehending God’s Love

Comprehending God’s Love

Carl Pollard

Ephesians 3:17–19 says, “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” What do we comprehend? The Love of Christ! 

Through the power of the Spirit, and because of the indwelling of Christ, we are to become established in love and being established in love, we have power to comprehend the love of Christ. But how do you describe such a love? 

Paul says, “comprehend what is the breadth, and length and height and depth.” 

But he purposefully left off what it is that he was describing. So what does he mean? 

It takes in the eternity of God. God is Love; and in that, an infinity of breadth, length, depth, and height, is included; or rather all breadth, length, depth, and height, are lost in this vastness. It comprehends all that is above, all that is below, all that is past, and all that is to come. All of this is said in reference to us, His creation! The love of God, in its breadth, is a net that encompasses the globe; its length reaches from the eternal purpose of the mission of Christ, to the eternity which is to be spent in his presence. It’s depth reaches to the lowest sinner, and to the very center of the heart; and its height to the eternal glory of the throne of Christ.

How do you describe the love of Christ? We can’t. No one has ever shown this amount of love for this many sinful people. 

And yet we still act like we have power, like we are above God. Man on his own has no power. 

But God, God has given us the opportunity to have the power to comprehend His Son’s love. 

Comprehension is “to process information, understand, grasp.” A kid growing up hears from their parents that they love him. He hears it every day, but he never fully comprehends that love until he has kids of his own. A person will go through something traumatic, and the first couple of hours they are in shock. They know what happened, but they haven’t comprehended it yet. Sadly, we can hear about the love of Christ, we can hear God’s Word. But this isn’t the same as comprehension. 

Growing up I hated literature. I can remember reading the Iliad, eyes glazed over, and just seeing words on a page. I couldn’t tell you a thing about what I was reading. I wasn’t comprehending. Ephesians 3:19 puts “and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” And to GNOSKO the love of Christ. A working knowledge as opposed to book knowledge. This is comprehension, a useful knowledge of Christ’s love. 

As a faithful Christian, you can comprehend the love of Christ. And knowing his love is power. There’s a devotional song we sing that says, “amazing love! How can it be? That you, my God would die for me.” To be powerful is to comprehend the love of Christ. And in comprehending we live out His love. That is our purpose as Christians. 

Singing With The Understanding–Miscellany* 

Singing With The Understanding–Miscellany* 

Neal Pollard

We are a diverse group who gather to sing for worship. We vary in age, education, religious background and literacy, race, and doubtless other factors. Some of us have been singing the same hymns for decades, while others may be seeing those hymns for the first time.  There is a mutual responsibility, one for the song leader and one for the participant. Yet, I would argue that the leader has the greater obligation to assist the participants in offering better worship. Mindless participation is the fault of the participant, but being led to speak and teach words they don’t understand is not.  What can the song leader do to increase the effectiveness of “singing with the understanding.”

Engage In Thoughtful Preparation. When picking out songs to lead, opt for simplicity. Archaic or technical words can hang up and distract the worshipper. It is fruitful to ask the question, “How will this be comprehended by the average participant?” Does the song read like we speak today? If we’re not careful, we can tend to speak through song in mystical terms that help disconnect the mind and the mouth. Do we know what it means to “vanquish all the hosts of night”? Do we know what “cassia-dipped” garments are? Do we know what’s referenced “where Eden’s bowers bloom”? How do I “launch my bark”? These are lyrics from songs that are sung every week in congregations across the land, but words I’d venture to say that many, if not most, do not comprehend. We must give thought in preparation.

Engage In Adequate Explanation. Something that can help in song leading is to point out words or expressions we’re about to sing, defining and explaining them. This does not necessitate a second sermon, but as part of preparation we should be ready to clarify obscure or difficult words. For example, from songs we often sing, we find:

  • “Repining”–To feel or express discontent; to fret
  • “Guerdon”–A reward
  • “Warble”–To sing (especially used of birds)
  • “Fain”–Gladly
  • “Trysting”–Meeting 
  • “Essay” (as used in I’ll Never Forsake My Lord)– To attempt
  • “Cloven”–Divided
  • “Garish”–Bright and gaudy
  • “Fen”–A swamp

While some songbooks, like Praise For The Lord, have footnoted some of these difficult words, many worshippers don’t pay attention to them. So many of us project our hymns in worship. The onus (i.e., duty) is on the leader to explain.

Engage In Balanced Variation. Everyone has their favorite type and genre of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Song leaders are no different than worshippers. How important it is to balance out old and new hymns, considering the typical “audience” present to participate. 

Engage In Heavenly Petition. Anyone who leads in worship should season their preparation and participation with petition to God. Pray about doing what you’re tasked with doing as effectively as possible. 

What a blessing to have willing, talented worship leaders. We have a powerful opportunity to show God’s wisdom in singing according to the authority of the New Testament (cf. Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19). Let’s capitalize on that by putting everyone in the optimal position to sing with proper spirit and understanding!

*–Miscellany–A group or collection of different items; a mixture

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