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"He Loved Me Ere I Knew Him"

One of the great old hymns that is often sung by the church is Victory in Jesus.  The idea of the song comes from 1Corinthians 15:56-57, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God, who give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” and 1John 5:4, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”  It is a wonderful message of redemption from the spiritually dead ways of the world through faith in Christ Jesus.

One of the phrases in the chorus of that song is “He loved me ere I knew Him.”  The word “ere” is an old English word that is rarely used today.  It means “before,” so the meaning of this phrase is that Christ loved us before we even knew Him.  A form of this thought is found in 1John – “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (4:10), and, “We love, because He first loved us” (4:19).

This phrase, “He loved me ere I knew Him,” captures an aspect of God’s love that is otherwise difficult to express.  It proves that His love is unconditional and selfless.  The fact that He loved us before we even knew or cared to acknowledge who He is reveals a depth of love that is characteristic of God.  In fact, this is a love that even predates our existence in this world, for Christ died not only for those who preceded Him and for His contemporaries, but He also died for those who would come after Him, which is who we are.  When “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16), His love extended beyond the limits of any era, age, or dispensation.

Yet there is even more to be appreciated in this phrase about God’s love for us.  For our part, “He loved me ere I knew Him” expresses more than just our previous ignorance of God.  It also expresses the state of alienation of the sinner from God.  In similarity to the meaning of Christ’s words, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23), which will be spoken at the Judgment to those who do not do the will of the Father, the person who is outside of Christ has never truly known God.  The sinner may know who God is, but he has no relationship with the Almighty.  In fact, he is an enemy to God because of his sin (Rom. 5:10).  Nevertheless, God loves sinners so much that He gave His Son to die for them so that they could have a relationship with Him: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).  Truly, God loved us when we were unlovable.

The closest likeness to this love that we may experience otherwise must be the love that parents have for children.  Who could love us before we even knew who they were?  Who could love us even when we insulted them, acted against them, and openly rebelled?  Who could love us when we refused to love them and were unlovable ourselves?  Among mankind, this kind of unconditional love is seen only in parents toward their children, their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren.

Yet God loves us more than our parents ever did.  When God appealed to His people in Judah through Isaiah, He said, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb?  Even these may forget, but I will not forget you” (Isa. 49:15).  His love for us today is no different.  Those who have obeyed the gospel of Christ are described as children of God, and He is their Father.  Notice 1John 3:1 – “See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are.”  Those who are in Christ love Him as their Father because He first loved them, and they have the promise that He will never forget them.  If He loved us before we even knew Him, how could He ever forget us after we become His children through Christ?

Dear Christians, having experienced the boundless love of God ourselves, let us be diligent to make others aware of it also.  Consider all those in the world around us who are loved by God but do not know Him.  They are no different than we were – sinners who are separated from God.  It is our responsibility to introduce them to the Savior so that they may know the Father.  Let them know that the One whom they do not know loves them and wants to save them.  Only then may they have victory in Jesus and overcome the world.

Stacey E. Durham



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