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Sermon #57 — Romans Series


      Title:                                 Love’s Commendation


      Text:                                  Romans 5:8

      Subject:         The Glorious Display of God’s Love

                        At Calvary

      Date:                                Sunday Morning — June 28, 2015

      Reading: Daniel 9:1-27



I can’t tell you how very heavy my heart has been since Friday morning. On Friday morning the Supreme Court of the United Sates ruled that Sodomites must be protected by law in the practice and promotion of their vile perversity, not only with impunity but under the protection of the law! — June 26, 2015 shall forever mark in my mind the most infamous day in American history. No evil day in the history of this nation we love is more infamous. The evil consequences upon our nation and the world shall be such as none of us can imagine.

  • The Assault of Muslim Terrorists on 911 (September 1, 2001) — 3000 People Slaughtered!
  • Japanese Assault on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) — 2400 Killed!
  • Roe-v-Wade, The Supreme Court’s Legalization of Abortion (January 22, 1973) — Almost 60,000,000 Babies Butcherously Ripped from the Womb!


But January 26, 2015 will bring far more evil consequences upon our nation and the world than all those previous days of infamy. There is no crime against humanity so great, so vile, so evil, so destructive as Sodomy. — This act by black robed reprobates is the just judgment of God upon a people who have, with willful determination, cast off the fear of God. These things are works of Divine judgment upon a people who have shut their eyes against the light God has given them and stopped their ears against his voice, determined not to bow to him as God.


My Contentment


Two things content my soul in the face of this sad, dark day of Divine judgment upon the nation we love: (1.) the fact that our God is on his throne, he always does right and he “only doeth wondrous things,” and (2.) the marvellous lovingkindness and tender mercy of our God. — Blessed be his name, in wrath he will remember mercy! I know because I’ve experienced it (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).


(1 Corinthians 6:9) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.


Heavy my heart has been; but, oh, what a message God has given me for this dark day! Open your Bibles with me to the 5th chapter of the Book of Romans. — I have nothing new or novel to preach. My subject is as old as the everlasting hills. It is a subject so simple that any child can understand it. Yet, it is a message new to my heart every day. And this is the deepest mystery that a man ever considered, the most profound subject that human tongue ever attempted to declare. You have my text in the 8th verse of Romans 5 — Romans 5:8.


(Romans 5:8) God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.


I hope, by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit, to preach to you about the glorious display of God’s great love in the sacrifice of his dear Son at Calvary. The title of my message is —– LOVE’S COMMENDATION.


(Romans 5:8) God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.


Every time I read and study those words I stand amazed. I marvel at the wonders here declared and revealed to sinners who deserve God’s everlasting wrath.

  • God, the Triune Jehovah, here lays naked his tender heart!
  • God, in giving his Son to die in the place of sinners, gave all his love at once!
  • Behold, the crucified Christ, and behold all the love of God! — The crucified Son of God is the embodiment of God’s infinite love for poor, lost sinners who despise him and his love!


’Behold how he loved him,’ said those Jews, when they saw Christ weep (John 11:37). What shall we say of this love of his beyond compare, in bleeding for us?...Herein, God lays naked to us the tenderest bowels of his fatherly compassions…Oh love that love of his, and never leave meditating on it, till he be wholly fixed in your hearts, who was wholly fastened to the tree for your sakes.”

— Bernard of Clairvaux


Known Love


To know the love of God is heaven on earth. And the New Testament sets forth this knowledge, not as the privilege of a favored few, but as a normal part of the everyday life of God’s children. Blessed is the man who can say with John, — “We have known and believed the love that God hath to us” (1 John 4:16). The Apostle Paul had no greater desire for the saints of Ephesus than that which he expressed in this prayer. — “That God would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).


In this fifth chapter of Romans, the Apostle has told us of the believer’s confidence of hope, showing us that our confidence arises from the knowledge of God’s love.“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (v. 5). When Paul speaks of the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts, he is not talking about our love for God, as some have suggested. He is rather talking about our knowledge of God’s love for us. And, though he had never met these Roman believers to whom he was writing, he took it for granted that, in as much as they were believers, the statement would be as true of them as it was of him. Here is the fulness of our joy and the confidence of our hope.“The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts.”


Paul is not talking about faint and passionate impressions of God’s love, but a deep and overwhelming knowledge. God’s love has flooded our inmost being! It has been poured out, flowing freely, and without limitation, into our souls. This knowledge of God’s love for us, having flooded our hearts, fills them now. Like a valley, having been flooded with water, remains full, Paul assumed that the saints of God to whom he wrote this Epistle would be living in the enjoyment of a strong sense of God’s love for them. This is the ministry of the Divine Comforter, God the Holy Spirit: He makes us to know the love of God.


In verses 6-11, the Apostle is showing us how we know the love of God. We know the love of God for us, above all else, because of what he has done for us by the sacrifice of his Son. We see God’s love toward us in providence. We read of God’s love toward us in his Word. We hear of God’s love toward us by the gospel. But God’s own commendation of his love is this.


(Romans 5:8) God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.


Proposition: The greatest possible display of the love of God for poor, lost sinners is the sacrifice of his darling Son in our place upon the cursed tree.


“God is Love.”


Before I come to my text, I think that it is important for me to comment on the statement, “God is love.” That statement is made twice by the Apostle John in the fourth chapter of his first epistle. But what does it mean? “God is love.” It is necessary that we recognize that this is not all the truth about God. In the Bible we read that God is holy, just, and righteous as well. It is true, “God is love.” But it is equally true that, “God is angry with the wicked every day.” God hates sin. God must punish sin. So when you read that “God is love,” do not think that is the whole truth about God. However, I am quick to add that “God is love” is the complete truth about God for those who are in Christ. The love of God expresses itself in everything he is, everything he does, and everything he says to those who are in Christ Jesus. And so, I would say at the very outset that if you would know the love of God, you must get to Christ. Without Christ, God is all anger, wrath, and justice. But in Christ, “God is love.” Here is all my hope, all my joy, and all my assurance – “The Son of God…loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).


Divisions: Oh, may God be pleased this hour to again flood our hearts with his love. I pray that he will open the hearts of saints and sinners alike to receive the riches of this deep mine. — “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Let me give you three statements about the love of God.

  1. God has a people whom he loves.
  2. The greatest possible display and commendation of God’s love is the substitutionary sacrifice of his Son.
  3. God graciously accomplishes the eternal salvation of those whom he loves.


Loved People


Look now at the text, “God commendeth his love toward us,” and learn this first: — God has a people whom he loves. I am not talking about God’s benevolence and kindness. I am not talking about some kind of imaginary “common grace.” I am talking about God’s special, peculiar, and distinguishing love toward his own.


God’s love for his elect is altogether free, sovereign, and independent. This is “his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:4-5). I want you to see something of the greatness of God’s love for us.


This is a love in which the world has no part. — There are those who do not enjoy this love. This is the love of Jehovah for his people, the love of Christ for his Church. — “I have loved you, saith the Lord, yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? Saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob” (Malachi 1:2). — “The children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:11-13).


Children of God, we should never cease to be amazed that God should love any of Adam’s race. And our hearts should be humbled, in deep adoration, that he should love us.


I stand amazed in the presence,

Of Jesus the Nazarene,

And wonder how He could love me,

A sinner condemned, unclean!

O how marvelous, O how wonderful,

Is my Savior’s love for me!


Before the world began, God loved us. — When Paul says, “Whom he did foreknow, them he also did predestinate” (Romans 8:29), the word that he uses for foreknowledge implies much more than a mere knowledge beforehand. This is a word implying an active, experimental, loving acquaintance. This same root word is used in the Septuagint translation of Genesis 4:1, where it is written, “Adam knew his wife.” And in the Day of Judgment, our Lord will say to the wicked, “I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Does that mean that he never knew who they were, what they did, or where they came from? Certainly not! He means that he never loved them.


This is a special family love that God has only for his own. This love of God for his people is not a passion, such as men have for one another. — “But,” as Charles Buck observes, “it implies his absolute purpose and will to deliver, bless, and save his people.”


God’s love for us is absolutely free and sovereign. — The cause of God’s love lies altogether in himself. He did not love us because of anything good which he saw in us. In fact, the cause of Christ’s death was the love of God for us. The death of Christ is not the cause, but the result of God’s love. He loved us simply because he would love us.


“Twas not to make Jehovah’s love

Toward His people flame,

That Jesus from the throne above,

A suffering man became.


Twas not the death which He endured,

Nor all the pangs He bore,

That God’s eternal love procured,

For God was love before.


He loved the world of His elect,

With love surpassing thought;

Nor will His mercy e’er neglect

The souls so dearly bought!


The warm affections of His breast

Towards His chosen burn;

And in His love He’ll ever rest,

Nor from His oath return.”

— John Kent


God’s love for us is eternal and everlasting. — Jeremiah wrote, “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3).


How my soul rejoices to know that God’s love for his people is immutable! — It changes not! Like God himself, his love is ‘the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” God’s love never changes to wrath, and his wrath never changes to love. Before we were converted, we were under the wrath of God and children of wrath even as others. That is to say, we were rebels against the Almighty, with a heart of enmity against him; and experimentally, we were made to feel the justice of God’s wrath. But there never was a time when God looked upon his elect in wrath. — Our conversion didn’t change God. It changed us! Yes, thanks be unto our God forever, it changed us; but it didn’t change God!


His love never changes. He loves us eternally. He loved us before we were created. He loved us in the creation. He loved us when we fell in our father Adam. Though we came forth from the womb speaking lies, he loved us still. He loved us when he sent his Son to die in our place. When we were called and regenerated by his Spirit, God loved us. And though we yet sin against him a thousand times a day, his love is still the same. — “Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.”


As God’s love for us is unchanging, it is also perfect. The love of God changes not in its objects, nor in its degree. The love of God toward us is great unspeakable love. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). — “How excellent is thy loving-kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings” (Psalm 36:7).


Love Displayed


In the second place, I want you to see that — the greatest possible display and highest commendation of God’s love is the substitutionary sacrifice of his dear Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. — “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Like a merchant would set forth his goods to recommend them to the buyer, God condescends to display his love to poor sinners and commend it to us by the sacrifice of his own dear Son.


Illustration: A Diamond Ring on Black Velvet —

God’s Love against the Backdrop of Man’s Sin


Man must have a motive for loving. God has none but that which he finds in himself, and “God commendeth his love to us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!The best thing in heaven that could be given God gave for the vilest, most defiled things in the world, — guilty sinners!


Love cannot be dormant. Like fire, it must be active. Like water, it must break out. Love must be shown by its deeds. Oh, my friends, let me commend God’s love to you by showing you some of its marvelous acts.


Would you see the love of God? Trace all the great blessings of grace that you have received from him to their original source, and you will find God’s infinite love (Ephesians 1:3-14).


(Psalm 66:16) Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.


Before the world began, God chose us as the objects of his grace. — In love, he predestinated us unto the adoption of children. — In his great love, God quickened us when we were yet dead in trespasses and sins. — God has made known unto us the revelation of his will, and declared to us all his promises, because he loved us. — Because of his great love for us, God supports us in life, hears us when we pray, blesses us in death, and will bring us to eternal glory.


All of these blessings of grace are tokens of God’s great love and goodness toward us. But, excellent as they are, these blessings of grace fade into the background when compared with this: —– “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!”


Would you know the love of God? Go with me to Golgotha’s brow, just outside the gates of Jerusalem. I say that, the greatest possible display of God’s love, in time or eternity, was made at Mount Calvary when Christ died for us! Here is love at its utmost height. Here is love in all its fulness. Here is love outdoing itself. — “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” — “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” — “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” — “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.”


It would never have been possible for us to know the love of God, if his Son had not died at Calvary. It was for this reason that our holy Father ordained the fall of our father Adam, that he might make known unto us his love. In this manner, God commends his love to us.


The cause of Christ’s death was the love of God for our souls! — Imagine that! Christ did not come and die in order to obtain God’s love for us, but because God loved us.

  • He did not have to die.
  • We had no claims upon him.
  • We made no appeal for him to die.
  • He knew that if he laid down his life for sinners, he would get no love in return from those for whom he died, except he create it.
  • He died by the hands of men, as well as for the sake of men.
  • He died for men who wished that he should be made to die!
  • In dying for us, he was taking upon himself the awful mass of shame, dishonor, and the infinite, intimate relation to sin, required for him to be our Substitute.

Why, then, did he die? There can only be one answer given. — Because he loved us!


Here is God’s commendation of his love to us. The one who died for us is Christ, God the eternal Son. —— When sinful man rebelled against his Creator, it was necessary for God to punish sin. God had sworn by himself, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” And in holy justice, God could not, and would not, swerve from his decree. A holy God must punish sin. He declared at Mt. Sinai that he would by no means clear the guilty.


Yet, the Lord God had an elect remnant in Adam’s fallen seed, who must be saved. — God, whose very name is mercy, desired to pardon the offender, cleanse the guilty, and justify the ungodly. Therefore, it was necessary, if God would save sinners, that a suitable Substitute come and die in the place of sinners.


Therefore, in the covenant of everlasting grace, God set up Christ as the Substitute of his people. — The Lord God said, concerning his fallen people, “Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom.” He said, “I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people…My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.”

  • No mighty angel could save us.
  • No mere man could save us.
  • God himself could not just speak the word and blot out our sins.
  • No, our Redeemer must be none other than God incarnate!


The very man who sinned had to have a perfect righteousness. So Christ agreed to become a man. As a man, he lived in perfect obedience to God, as our Representative. Yet, the man who sinned must die. So, as a man, our Lord Jesus died, as our Substitute. Yet, only as God was he able to fully satisfy infinite justice.


Mark the words of our text, children of God, — “Christ died for us!” ——— Here is love’s highest commendation. Roll this thought over in your hearts. Meditate upon it. Bow down and worship because of it. That One who died in your place was himself none other than Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the blessed Trinity! He was the holy and perfect man. But he is more. Our Redeemer is the blessed God! He who groaned upon the tree was God Almighty. With reverence, we sing Watts’ great hymn…


“Well might the sun in darkness hide

And shut his gloried in,

When God, the mighty Maker, died,

For man the creature’s sin!”


It was a great act of love for Christ to become a man for us. It was a great mercy that Christ should live for us. But here is love’s commendation, “Christ died for us!” I wonder if any of us have ever understood the meaning of those words.

  • It was no common death that our Lord endured. His was a death of dreadful shame.
  • Our Lord was put to death by a legal slaughter.
  • The death of our Substitute was unutterably painful.
  • The death of Christ was a long, protracted, violent ordeal. Picture him, if you can.


“See from his head, his hands, his feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down;

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?”


Listen to the cries of our Immanuel, as he died under the wrath of God.

·      He cries out, in exquisite pain, “I thirst.”

·      He cries out, under the sense of inflexible justice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

·      He cries out, in tender mercy, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

·      He cries out in glorious satisfaction, “It is finished!”


Now, here is another thought that causes my soul to be ravished with God’s love. —— Christ died for us while we were yet sinners! Just for a moment, consider what sort of sinners we have been, and then marvel at this – “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Without reservation, I tell the vilest men in the world that God loves sinners! Christ died for men who were ungodly, enemies to God, and sinners.


“What renders the love of God so peculiarly conspicuous is his sending his Son to die, not for the good, nor even for the righteous, but for sinners, for those who were deserving of wrath instead of love. The word ‘sinners’ expresses the idea of moral turpitude, and consequent exposure to divine displeasure.”

Charles Hodge


We are sinners by nature.

  • We sinned in the fall of our father Adam.
  • We lived all our days under the power and dominion of sin.
  • We are continual sinners.

Concerning all the words of God’s holy law, we are guilty from our youth up. Our lives have been one great parade of sin.


Our sins were committed with great aggravation. We sinned against relentless warnings from those who cared for our souls. We sinned against the tender pleas of faithful preachers. We sinned against the terrible terrors of God’s law, the gentle wooings of the gospel, the violent warnings of providence, and the gracious invitations of God’s Word.


What is more, we sinned against the very Person who loved us and gave himself for us. We mocked him. We blasphemed him. We made his holy name a by-word for our oaths. In our very mouths, he became the song of the drunkard. — Here is the highest possible proof of human depravity. Men despise the very Christ who died that men might live. O child of God, O perishing sinner, roll this sweet thought over in your heart: — Christ died for sinners!


Christ died for us simply because he loved us.

  • God did not send his Son to die for us because of man’s goodness, but because of man’s sin.
  • God had nothing to gain for himself by giving up his Son to die in our place.
  • God is perfectly happy in himself.
  • He could have destroyed us and created a holy race of men in our place to serve him.
  • He had angels enough to serve him.
  • But he loved us! — The Lord Jesus Christ died for us freely, voluntarily, unsought, unwanted, unasked, simply because of his great love.


My hateful sins, my cruel sins,

His chief tormenters were;

Each of my crimes became a nail,

And unbelief the spear.


My sins made His pulled vengeance down,

Upon my Savior’s head! —

Break my heart! O burst my eyes,

And let my sorrows bleed!


Love Satisfied


Now, I must briefly show you this one other thing. — The God of Glory, the God of all grace, our God, graciously accomplishes the eternal salvation of those whom he loves by the merits of Christ’s shed blood. Is it possible, as many insist, for God’s love not to be perfectly satisfied? Is it possible for God’s grace to be frustrated? Is it possible for one drop of the Savior’s precious blood to be shed in vain? Perish the thought! My very soul trembles to even think of such things. Yet, they are commonly preached in pulpits across this country and around the world. Mark my words. — There are certain, inevitable consequences of Christ’s death. The first certain result of Christ’s death is this: —– We shall not die. Our text tells us that Christ died “for us.” He died in our place, under the sentence of divine wrath, to satisfy infinite justice. And it is not possible for one soul for whom Christ died to die.

  • Our sins are washed away.
  • We have been made the very righteousness of God in Christ!
  • We are justified through his blood.
  • We are reconciled to God by the death of his Son.
  • We are saved from wrath through him.


Here is another certain result of Christ’s death. —– Every soul for whom Jesus Christ died shall surely be brought to a living union of faith with him. “All that the Father qiveth me shall come to me.” — “And this is the will of him that hath sent me; that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:37, 39). Mark it down as a sure fact, my friends, God will graciously, tenderly, and effectually bring all of those for whom Christ shed his precious blood to a saving faith in him.


Again, every sinner who comes to Christ in faith shall be saved by his blood! “This is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

  • Do you know your need of Christ?
  • Do you know the weight of your sins and the terror of God’s law?
  • Can you, by faith, see Christ dying in your stead?
  • Cast your soul on him, trusting his merits alone, and you shall be saved.

Here again, we behold God’s unspeakable love, for Christ’s sake, he receives the returning prodigal.


Once more, I say, every soul for whom Christ died shall be with him in glory. — This is an inevitable result of Christ’s death. It is written, “He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied.”

  • This is our security. – Christ died for us!
  • This is our only claim to eternal glory. – Christ died for us!




Now, I will simply commend the love of God to you, and I am done. But I trust that the Holy Spirit will not be done with you until he has effectually brought you to Christ.


O sinner, why will you die?

  • Christ has opened wide the gates of heaven for sinners.
  • Poor souls, I wish I could make you know your need of Christ. Without Christ, there will be no standing before God.
  • Soon you will know and feel your need of him.
  • Flee to the Savior now, plunge into that fountain that is opened for cleansing from sin, and be saved this very moment.


(1 Corinthians 6:9) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.


O children of God, love this Savior! Meditate often upon the love of God in sacrificing his dear Son for us. Worship him. Hope in him. — “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” — I can say no more.





Don Fortner








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