"...God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).

It is impossible to receive the love of God without an awareness of sin and Christ's death. It's much like the human inability to grasp goodness without the knowledge of evil. God's love can only be understood in light of His wrath, which burns against every man until he is saved from it. God's love cannot be conceived by a human any other way.

A few mornings ago, a friend of mine was leading worship in beautiful Estes Park for a worship leaders retreat. In roughly six songs, he told the story of our need for God's mercy, His love and beauty culminating in His death on the cross and victory over sin and the grave. After what I believe was the climax of the story, Christ's crushing of our sins, my friend sang a simple cathartic refrain that fit so perfectly in the narrative I could have cried. He quietly began singing, "I could sing of Your love forever, I could sing of Your love forever."

This little chorus meant so much to me and was entirely necessary, especially considering the theme of the previous morning's song and devotional session: Receiving God's Love. According to the speaker that day, God doesn't love us based on how much we can do for him. He went on about the Father's love and other truths I needed to hear, but what I really needed to hear, in order to truly receive God's love, he never said. I was longing to hear the story of my sinfulness and Christ's sacrifice for me, namely, how God demonstrated His love for me. I was needing to be reminded of the gospel. It was simply skipped.

Some might say that we can sing and speak about God's love without any mention of the cross, because it is a given. We already know what He did for us, so it is not imperative that we intentionally and verbally acknowledge it every time we gather. I, however, would strongly disagree. Why? Because I am a human, who constantly forgets the gospel.

One day, a couple of Martin Luther's parishioners approached him after Mass, and asked, "Pastor Martin, why do you keep preaching the same message? Don't you think we know the gospel by now? Why do you tell us the same thing week after week?" Luther replied, "Because week after week you forget it."

So, when my friend, the following morning, told that beautiful story of how God demonstrated His love for us, then sang that simple, way-over-used chorus, "I could sing of Your love forever," it hit home more than ever before. I was reminded of my great sin and God's even greater mercy, and I received God's love for me to start the day, His new-morning mercy. I need to be reminded every day of how God demonstrated his love for me. It is only then that I can most fully receive it.

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