So today, I believe we are wrapping up our series entitled “God Loves You!” where we have been endeavoring to truly know the greatness of God’s love for us.
We have learned a lot of things through this series of teachings—things that have ranged from how God so loved the world—that is, those who are ungodly and His enemies—to how faithful His love is towards us especially now that we are His children. We’ve seen how His love mirrors both a father’s and mother’s love. Therefore, we should not let that religious view of God and His sovereignty skew our view of the fact that God is love. We’ve also learned that just because one might think they know these things about God’s love for them, that doesn’t mean that they know it the way they can and ought to. Likewise, just because one thinks they believe that He loves them, that doesn’t mean that they truly believe it in their hearts.
This is why we have been looking at all of these truths about God’s love throughout this series of teachings—because we know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. So if we want to grow in both our knowledge & faith of His love, then we need to hear it with our ears and hearts.
Yes, church, there is another dimension to God’s love that we need to see, know, and believe and that’s exactly what I would like to conclude with today—the four dimensions of God’s love.
You see, with most of us, we are seeing God’s love the way we watch a television show, a movie, or even how we look at pictures of any kind. It’s like make-believe or a fictional story that we don’t believe in our hearts is true.
But do you remember what it was like when they started releasing movies in 3D? We had those plastic or cardboard glasses that we wore to make the movie picture “three-dimensional”, didn’t we? Well, this brought the movie more to life to us and caused us to watch it in more of the way that we viewed the “real” things of this world— in the three spatial dimensions of width, height, and depth. You see, the physical world and everything that is observed in it are seen three dimensionally, unlike other things we view like pictures, movies, etc. that do not include depth perception.
Well, it would be a big step forward for most of us to move from viewing God’s love two-dimensionally to seeing it in 3D. But did you know God’s love can be seen & known in even a greater way than that? According to the apostle Paul, it can be experienced four-dimensionally.
So, while I believe that we will be moving into another aspect of God’s love next week, I always like to end teachings with some of the “how to’s” of that particular subject. In other words, I want us to look at some practical ways that we can grow in our revelation of God’s love for us and go from seeing it in two dimensions to seeing it four dimensionally.
You see, it’s important that we understand that we do not come to know a truth simply by hearing about it. It will require us pressing into the revelation of that subject on our own. This is why James told us not to just be hearers of the Word but to be doers thereof.
IN PRAISE, LOVE IS KNOWN
Well, I’m going to give you two very simple and practical ways that we can apply the Word on God’s love for us to our lives—and it is found in two words: PRAYER and PRAISE. Yes, I believe that by being doers of these two things, we can have our eyes opened to the single greatest revelation that we can ever have and seeing it in all the dimensions that it’s available to be seen in!
So let’s begin with “praise” as the Lord likes to put it on the front lines …
I am one that wholeheartedly believes that living a life of praise introduces us more to our God. In other words, the more we praise Him, the more we come to know Him. Now I think that a lot of people look at the exact opposite: They see it like the more we know Him, the more we will praise Him –and that’s also true— but I believe it works both ways. We can actually come to know God better through praising Him.
Our evidence of this is King David: It is obvious that David knew Jehovah in a unique way. In fact, one might say that David knew His God in a way that the average Old Testament saint didn’t. While most of the Jews knew God by the things He did and what Judaism taught them, David saw the true nature of God, seeing Him as good, gracious, faithful, loving, etc. We see this in the Psalms he wrote, where He obviously saw attributes of God unbeknownst to the majority of God’s chosen people.
So a good question to ask is— Why did David see and know things about God’s true nature that very few Old Testament saints saw? Was it because God just chose to reveal these things to him but not to others? No, God is no respecter of persons, so He didn’t arbitrarily select David to know things that others could not know. There was obviously something different about David or things David did that enabled him to see the things that he did. So what do you think that is?
Well, let’s look at what we know about David: David was called a man after God’s own heart, right? That means he shared God’s heart on things. And church, one thing we need to know about the kingdom of God is that it’s all about the heart. Yes, the condition of heart that we have will determine so many things.
But I can guarantee you that I know exactly why David knew his God so well: It was because he was a praiser! Yes, early on in his life, David was well known for the fact that he played his harp and sang praises unto the Lord. And the Bible says in Psalm 76:1 that in Judah (The Hebrew word for “praised or celebrated”), God is known. So, God is known in the arena where He is praised and celebrated. So we could say that “in Praise, Love is known.” Amen!
Now this does not mean that you have to have some special gifting or musical ability either. Anyone and everyone has the ability to worship God in spirit and in truth whether they have a great singing voice or instrumental abilities. Again, it’s the heart that counts. So if you have a heart after God’s, you can praise God in this way that unlocks so many of His wonderful characteristics.
And the good news, church, is that beholding the Lord through thanksgiving, praise, and worship changes us! It causes us to see more and more of who He is, and when it does, we begin to reflect those same attributes.
We see this in the life of Moses—when he was on Mount Sinai, he saw God’s glory, and this changed him. So much so, that the Bible teaches us that his very face began to shine. So what his flesh was putting off was the same glory that he was beholding on the Mount. Likewise, the apostle Paul taught us that we too can reflect the glory of God’s goodness when he said in Second Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
By saying, “But we all”, Paul is differentiating between “just Moses” who had this experience and “we all” under this new and better covenant who can have a similar experience. Then he said we all “with unveiled face” describing how we are no longer veiled but have the opportunity to clearly see His true glory. And how does this happen? As we are “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord …”!
Now that phrase “as in a mirror” is important because it shows us that like a mirror reflects the image of the thing beholding it, we reflect the image of the One we are beholding through praise. In other words, we become like what we praise. Glory!
So if I constantly behold God’s goodness, I become more good. If I constantly behold God’s faithfulness, I will become more faithful. And if I behold His love, then I will be filled with more of that love! Yes, just like the Scriptures tell us that the mountain melted like wax in the presence of the Lord (See Psalm 97:5), the mountains of carnality and hardness of heart will melt away in the Lord’s presence as well.
PRESSING INTO LOVE THROUGH PRAYER
Here shortly, I want us to look at a few of these things that the Psalmists had revealed to them in praise and that David’s praise life unlocked for him personally, but before I do let’s look now at the other way that we can unlock the revelation of God’s love—prayer.
Let’s go back over to a passage of Scripture that we looked at in part one of this series—a prayer that the apostle Paul prayed for the church of Ephesus to know Christ’s love for them—Ephesians 3:14-20. We went through this prayer then and I encouraged you to start praying this prayer over yourself because in it, we have a Scripturally, God-inspired prayer that works.
You see, I am a big proponent of praying these Pauline prayers over ourselves. I had learned that the best prayers one could ever pray over themselves and the ones they loved were Scriptural prayers.
You see, one of the most important things we can learn about prayer is the importance of praying the will of God. If we are praying against the will of God our prayers will go nowhere. It’s important for us to sometimes include “Nevertheless, not what I will but your will be done” to our prayers but God doesn’t want us to use that as an excuse for ignorance. That is why the apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:17- “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” You see, God’s will is for us to fully understand His will!
Someone might ask, “Then how do I know the will of God?” The Word of God is the will of God! Yes, the Bible contains within it a perfect expression of what the Lord desires for our lives. Therefore, if I want to pray God’s will, the best way to do so is to pray Scripturally God-inspired prayers.
And, in my opinion, some of the best Bible based prayers are the ones that the apostle Paul prayed for his churches. Yes, these are New Testament based prayers that reveal to us God’s perfect will for His church.
So once I learned this, I started praying these prayers over myself. And specifically, when I prayed this one in Ephesians chapter 3, the Lord started revealing His love to me in four-dimensions. Let me explain …
In Ephesians 3:14-19, the apostle Paul prayed this prayer over the church of Ephesus, saying, “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.”
Notice in this prayer, in verse 17, that Paul prayed that they “may be able to comprehend”: Now Paul had just prayed that they would be rooted and grounded in love. So the phrase “may be able” means building our lives on His love is what “enables” us to comprehend all the dimensions of that love.
We’ve looked at this before, but the translation “comprehend” here is not the best. The Greek word Paul used here literally describes “taking” something or “laying hold” of it. A better translation of this word might be “apprehend,” which is exactly what we have been talking about in this series—that it’s not good enough to “comprehend” His love; we need to “apprehend” it. In other words, we don’t just need to know it in our heads, but we need to capture it in our hearts. Amen!
But the thing we need to understand about Christ’s love is that we will never be able to fully apprehend it! And the reason for this is because of its height, width, length, and depth! In other words, it is so vast that it is going to take us all eternity to grasp it! It’s awesome and incomprehensible!
SEEING HIS LOVE IN 4D
However, what we can do is come to “take” or “lay hold” of it here a little and there a little. Yes, we can do what the Message Bible says when translating verses 17-19— “You’ll be able to take in with all the Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”
So as I began to pray this prayer over myself, something started happening. I began having the Lord teach me about the various attributes of His love. He started showing me things about His mercy, His faithfulness, His righteousness, etc.—the same things that the psalmists had revealed to them. So in learning about His love, I found that the various dimensions of it are all the rest of the virtues that Love possesses.
Let’s end today by looking at some of these verses that talk about all the dimensions of God’s love …
Let’s start with the “width” of God’s love …
How wide is Christ’s love, you ask? John 3:16 gives us that answer: “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God so loves everyone in the world, even the worse sinner. His love is wide enough for anyone and everyone—no matter our sex, race, color, etc. No, there are no number of sinners that His wide wingspan is not both able and willing to embrace. This means it doesn’t matter who we are, in Christ Jesus, we are all accepted in the Beloved.
We see this in the life of Jesus, who was said to be the express image of God’s person (See Hebrews 1:3). This means that Jesus showed us the heart of God’s love for His creation because He only did what He saw the Father doing and said what He heard the Father saying. Yes, His arms were wide open! Yes, there was no one that Jesus Christ wouldn’t accept and embrace. He loved the saint. He loved the sinner. He loved the Pharisee. He loved the tax collector. He loved Peter. He loved Pilate. Heck, He even loved Judas.
The King James version uses the term “breadth” here for “width,” breadth being the distance or measurement from the side to side of something. So not only does this “width” describe how wide His arms are spread for His creation, but “breadth” also describes something that is accommodating, where there is ample space and room to breathe. It describes how encompassing it is. So God’s accommodating love encompasses all—the lovely and the unlovely, the likeable and the unlikeable, etc. His love does not discriminate. It is broad and open to all—whosoever will come.
So I see the “breadth” of God’s love as describing the “broad place” that His love desires to place us: Psalm 118:5 says, “I called on the Lord in distress; The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.” Psalm 18:19 says, “He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.”
Now let’s look at the “length” of God’s love …
This describes how far His love reaches. God’s love is longsuffering and He is able to save to the uttermost (See Hebrews 7:25) This speaks of how His love is willing to endure. His love truly does endure forever (See Psalm 136)!
So when I look at length, I see how far His love will go. And let me assure you, church, His love will endure and bear with us much longer than we would ever imagine. When we are ready to give up on people; His love is just getting started.
Now the “depth” of His love describes how deep His love would go for us. And let me tell you, for Jesus to first of all, come down from heaven to the earth to become a man is FAR more than we ever deserved. Love lowered Himself to the depths of the earth.
But love didn’t stop there: Even when dwelt among us, He lowered Himself to unimaginable depths by making Himself like a bondservant to His creation. No, He did not come to be served, but to serve. We see this fulfilled in the Gospel of John when Jesus girded Himself like a slave and washed His disciple’s feet.
But then He went to even greater depths by dying on the Cross and descending to the lower parts of the earth for us! Thank You, Jesus! Yes, He made His bed in hell for you and me to fully complete our redemption!
Jesus went to these “depths” all because of God’s great love for us! If I go to the pit of hell, He will be there. Yea though I walk through the shadow of death, He is there with me!
Well did Paul say in Romans 11:33 – “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out.”
And finally, we have the “height” of His love …
This gives us such a graphic illustration of how vast His love is. In fact this was an example that the psalmists used time and time again to show how great His love is. Let’s look at a couple of them.
I love what David said in Psalm 36:5-7 when he said, “Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep; O Lord, You preserve man and beast. How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.”
Notice how David describes the various attributes of God from the highest dimension that mankind knows to the lowest: He begins in the “heavens”, which is obviously talking about the universe around where we see the sun, moon, and stars. Then he moves down to the “clouds” which describe the atmospheric heavens around us on the earth. Then he refers to the mountains which reach from this earth’s surface to the clouds. And finally, he refers to the “great deep” which is obviously well below “sea level.”
Therefore, David is describing how God’s glorious attributes of love such as His mercy, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice fill all in all. There is nothing too high and nothing too low that can separate us from God’s loving characteristics. Glory to God!
Another Psalm that describes the four-dimensional description of God’s love is Psalm 103:11–12. It says, "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His mercy for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
Verse eleven is very near and dear to me because I remember a time when I was being plagued with condemnation for things I was struggling with in my flesh, and the Lord gave me this verse, showing me the height of His mercy for me. He said to me— “Trey, do you desire to live free from these sins of the flesh.” Yes sir, I do, I answered. He then gave me this verse to show me how much mercy He has for those who fear Him, or those who desire to live for Him. Wow! That’s a lot of mercy.
Then David goes on to say, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Now I don’t know if this is more referring to the “length” of His love or the “width” of it, but regardless, this is some unlimited and immeasurable forgiveness, amen?
Then in verses 13-14, we see what God’s mentality is that enables Him to be so merciful and forgiving of His creation. It’s because He has compassion on us His children, understanding our fleshly nature.
Church, if we will press into the Lord through praying Scriptural prayers like this to know & see all of the dimensions of God’s love and if we will praise Him for His glorious attributes, we will begin to have His love revealed to us.
Yes, to get to the place of Ephesians 3:19 that talks about being filled with all the fullness of God, we have to apprehend the dimensions of God’s love: the width, length, depth, and height of the Father’s love.
Do you want to be filled with the fullness of God? Then, you must function by the dimensions of God’s love. Stay at the high level of love that thinks and talks differently; you’ll be amazed at the workings of God in your life.
There is absolutely nothing at all that can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:38–39), and that’s because His love covers all dimensions. So no matter where we are at in our walk, God’s love is there. Amen.