“God is Love” (1 John 4:16)
Defining love is defining God: that is the testimony of the Christian Scriptures both Old and New Testaments.
The topic of Love truly is a fascination in today’s world. This is why we have endless novels, films, plays and love stories revamped and rewritten on the topic! It is a recurring theme and the human heart is constantly searching for love expressed and found and felt personally.
The Bible on the other hand tells us that we must, ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness’ (Matt. 6:33) for it is our duty to love God - not with a cold heart but with all our heart, soul and mind. We are meant to enjoy God and our Savior, because, “Jesus is enjoyed by faith”.
Love originates in God
The Bible reveals to us the true nature and essence of God Himself. He made Himself known to Israel over thousands of years through the inspired prophets and to the whole world through Jesus Christ, the living Word.
The Bible tells us that God is not just the spring from which love flows but that He is the origin of love and that all true love derives from Him, ‘for love is of’ God’ (1 Jn. 4:7). God’s love is therefore ‘part and parcel’ of the divine Being Himself. Love as well as Holiness is his essence. This means that God cannot exist without being loving, kind, merciful, patient etc.
God cannot but love. He is and has ever been Love. Love can never be absent from His Being nor actions. Think of the one true God the Almighty and you think of Love. Love therefore, like God himself is not created and never slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121).
The divine essence which is Love goes beyond knowledge: oh, the height and length and breadth of it! Its depth is unfathomable! It can be wondered at, embraced and enjoyed, but it is ultimately beyond human comprehension. God’s
Love controls his responses to our failures and what is more is His holiness guarantees a righteous response towards us; He will not sin against us for, ‘He cannot deny Himself’ (2 Tim. 2:13).
This love of God toward us is so precious that the Apostle Paul prayed that we, ‘may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God’ (Eph. 3:18 & 19).
Love sent Jesus
The incarnation of Jesus Christ is a historical manifestation of that divine, eternal, holy love of God the Almighty,
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 Jn. 4:9).
Jesus Christ was made sin for us on the cross, he took, “the iniquity of us all” in his body on the cross (Isa. 53:6). We have gone astray from the original righteousness given to Adam now guilt is imputed to us all. We have fallen into transgressions and turned to idols, “every one, to his own way” (Isa. 53:6).
A Scottish preacher (Robert Murray M’Cheyne) said, “God heaped upon his Son all our sins until there was nothing but sin to be seen. He appeared all sin; nothing of his own beauty appeared. Brethren, look at the love of Christ, that he should be willing to be made sin for us, and this was His love” (2 Cor. 5:21).
In our unsaved state, we feel no love for God but He loves us with the very love which His Holy nature declares in the Gospel.
God so loved the World
God’s love is real. It is not a theory or sentimentality but it is as real as God Himself. It is given not to creatures who are innocent and pure but to rebels and transgressors of the law of God who know that they need the Physician, and believe the good news, personally repent of their sins trusting in the promise of forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
The atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross was how God communicated and made known His love for this world ruined by the fall. No greater act of love was possible. Jesus was God’s unspeakable gift.
The Son of God died in our place, this was forgiving love; the Son came to save us: this was atoning love; the Son came voluntarily for heaven this was amazing love: “Amazing love how can it be that Thou my God should die for me” (Charles Wesley).
To be loved by God
The love of God as understood from the Scriptures is a most precious doctrine. To be loved by God and to love Him in return is the joy unspeakable, “Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
It was the American preacher Jonathan Edwards who is credited with saying, “True religion, in great part, consists in holy affections.” Where true religion is found in the soul true and pure love and joy are known.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved ” (John. 3:16-17).
Rev Ian S McNaughton is presently serving as the Vice-Chairman of Barnabas Fund in the UK.
Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash
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