1 John 4:16:
We have come to know and have believed the love
which God has for us.
Faith in Christ is central to the believer’s existence. We are justified by faith in Christ (Romans 5:1), and the object of our faith is the Lord Himself who loved us with a love that transcends the experience and understanding of the natural man. Now the natural man defines love from the vantage point of his autonomous selfishness, but the Father revealed His love in view of His eternal union with His Son – a union in which the Christian now abides in the risen Savior. We have come to know this Lord, and by grace alone, we have come to know the nature of His precious and unique love. Such love is not the product of the lusts of the flesh, but it is that which comes from the One whom John describes as follows: God is love. If we could know this God from our flesh alone - from our base and sinful nature – then we would have to question the nature of such a deity. But by God’s work of regeneration, we have “come to know and have believed the love which God has for us.” Without His spiritual transformation, such love is a love unknown.
Samuel Crossman, in his work entitled, “The Young Man’s Meditation” (1623-1683) echoes this sentiment quite well in this hymn:
My Song is Love Unknown
My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?
He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.
Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.
Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
Themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.
They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they saved,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.
In life, no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say? Heav’n was His home;
But mine the tomb wherein He lay.
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.
The central message of the Gospel is the message of God’s transcendent person, nature, glory, power, wisdom, holiness, justice and love. Thus, when we point men to the cross, we must remind them that the love expressed through the death of Christ is a love that cannot be known by mankind’s sinful nature. Such a love as this came from Heaven above and can only be known by those who have been born again (anothen - from above). But until the scales are removed from his eyes, the natural man can only admit that such love is a love unknown.
See also, ataul.thearmoury.org