In Christ crucified we find the highest expression of God's love to sinful men. The most comprehensive sentence in the universe is comprised in three monosyllables, 'God is love.' Nature could not reveal this wonderful truth, men of the greatest wisdom and insight could not infer it from the physical world or from human history. There is too much suffering in the world to justify such an inference. It must be revealed by the Spirit of God, who searches the depths of His being. The Spirit inspired John to write the words 'God is love,' the demonstration of which he had contemplated at Golgotha.
Love is the only weapon that can conquer the rebellious will and transform the soul from sin to holiness. And divine love does this only when it awakens responsive love in the sinner's breast. If love alone could save sinners, every prodigal son who has a mother would be drawn immediately from his husks to his home a reformed man. As a parent's love alone cannot save the dissolute son or fallen daughter, so God's love alone, though deep as hell and wide as the world, can save no soul from the guilt and love of sin. But love that awakens love in return is a magnet that draws men from the lowest depths near the very gates of perdition up to the highest heaven. The sinner whom love cannot save God cannot save, for salvation is absolutely impossible without responsive love, the first throb of which is the first pulsation of spiritual life. He is born again, born from above, for, behold, he loveth.
He who has so hardened himself in sin as to lose the capacity to be inspired with love responsive to the love of God revealed on Calvary must perish. For God has no way of regenerating the sinner except by awakening in him love to himself. If love revealed in the greatest possible sacrifice cannot awaken love to God, nothing can enkindle this sacred flame. It is certain that omnipotence cannot change the heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Power cannot constrain love. Not the thunderbolt but the cross is the symbol of salvation. What a relief did Christianity experience when she shook off the dreadful doctrine of salvation through sovereign power and irresistible grace with a sledge hammer breaking down the door of the impenitent heart!
Herein is the secret of the rapid spread of the gospel going forth as an angel flying over all the world, not with a sword in her hand, but with a trumpet at her lips proclaiming God's love. Deny the vicarious atonement and we have an utterly impotent gospel. The churches which have tried this experiment have lost the light and warmth of evangelical truth, and have felt the chill, the frost, the death of mere naturalism. But wherever Christ crucified is preached as the Redeemer of the entire human race without one exception, and the Saviour of everyone who believes and receives the Holy Spirit, there is a quickening power which raises the dead to life and enkindles the fire of a quenchless zeal. Hence the cross of Christ becomes a live coal, which has touched myriads of dumb lips and made them eloquent to preach Christ crucified to all the world.
— From Jesus Exultant (1899).