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Love Bears All Things

 iStock_000009326024Small_3_.jpgSurely it would be remarkable to boast that agapē bears all things if we mean that agapē “endures” all things or to put it in a more contemporary language, “agapē puts up with all our nonsense.”

 

I remember when I first began to engage with the Calvinist teaching of the “perseverance of the saints”, I could not help wondering if the real miracle was not that the saints persevered with God but that God persevered with the saints. Of course, the blunt truth is that God perseveres with us regardless of our fidelity but that is not what is on view here. There is a much deeper truth.


The Greek equivalent word for the verb “bear” is “stego” which means “to thatch or to cover”. The idea conveyed is that “stego” seeks to preserve an object by covering and shielding it from harm, and protecting it from anything which threatens it.


While not an exact parallel, the imagery of “thatching” and “covering” evokes memories of Noah and his Ark. Indeed, that story captures the very heart of this most magnificent characteristic of agapē. Genesis 6:14-8:1 recount the story of Noah’s Ark and record Noah’s graduation from the school of faith to the life of faith. The Lord instructed him to make a boat and in so doing, provided him with meticulous specifications. Noah was told to “pitch” the boat inside and out [Gen. 6:14] and it is this word, “pitch” which demands our attention. What is being crafted for us in this account of Noah is typological. The event is pointing towards the Cross, illustrating in the natural realm what will happen in the spiritual realm. “To pitch” means “to cover, purge, make atonement or make reconciliation”. It is derived from the Hebrew word “kaphar” which is “to cover over or to atone for one’s sin; to propitiate”. Now, here is the really exciting part. You will recall that it was Noah’s family who went into the Ark and there, they found shelter from the storm and safe passage to dry land (the new earth, if you will). In the same way today, we, the believers, are placed into Christ [Col. 3:3] in whom we find shelter from the storms; we are brought safely to the New Jerusalem and preserved from the impending judgment. Thus, the Ark is a type of Jesus. The purpose of the pitch was to make the Ark watertight. Indeed, we will see later in this book that our salvation is watertight. However, you may ask, “How could Noah and his precious cargo know that they were safe inside the Ark?” The answer is delightfully simple. They were safe because the Lord shut them in, sealing the outside of the Ark Himself.

“And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in.”
Genesis 7:16

We have here another aspect of agapē. Just as the Lord God closed the door and shut Noah and the cargo in, we see that He has shut us safely in too. It is He who does the sealing. No water will breach the Ark and nothing will come in as importantly as nothing will fall out. God designed the Ark to an exact specification. He knew in advance the pressures which the Ark would have to withstand and He knows the pressures which we will have to withstand in the seas of this present life. Agapē has budgeted for the tempests and you can be assured that agapē bears all things.

Q: What difference would it make to your life if you believe that God has already covered you for every eventuality which the storms and floods of life will throw up at you and that when the enemy comes in like a flood, He will raise a standard against it?

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