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GOD IS LOVE

 

This is perhaps the most intimate and tender expression of God’s nature, his eternal and essential characteristic. God’s Word says, “We have known and we have believed in the love that God has for us. For God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

 

Love is the essential component of the nature and the person of God. God does not only have love, but God is love. It is because God is love that he constantly and consistently makes himself available to humanity.

 

There are many great Bible passages that define the love of God to us. God has said over and over again that he has loved us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3). In Deut. 7:7 God told Israel that he did not love Israel because of who Israel is. In other words, the love of God expressed towards us is not because of who we are but because of who God is. God tells Israel, “You were precious in my eyes, you have been honorable, therefore have I loved you” (Isa. 43:4). The love of God is not something that is just recent; it’s always been. The love of God towards us is a “great love” (Eph. 2:4). “Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). It’s a love that extends to the eternal past because it’s a love that has to do with his nature. The name of God is I AM that I AM. God is simply stating, “I am today everything I have always been. And I am today everything I will always be. What I have always been is what I am.” It’s got nothing, so to speak, to do with us. God’s love towards us is an everlasting love.

 

The love that God has for us is not different from the love that God has for Christ. It was Jesus himself who prayed to the Father, “… that they may know that as you have loved me, so have you loved them” (John 17:23). In other words, it’s not a partial love. It’s the same love. God is a God who is not partial. 1 Tim. 5:21 says, “Let nothing be done by partiality.” Rom. 10:12 says, “There is no difference between the Jews and the Greeks, for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon his name.

 

There is something God is able to maintain that human beings cannot: the ability to remain the same. If it looks as if God is interested in some people other than us, it’s not because of who God is but because of the kind of response that those people have had to the love of God. The Word of God tells us that God’s love towards us is the same love that he has for sinners. As I was growing up, I thought that the love of God towards the believer was in a way superior to the love of God towards the sinner. But God loves a sinner as much as he loves me. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.” This is a love that will not make him keep anything back from me — a love that he’s willing to demonstrate to each and every one of us. Rom. 5:8 says, “God commended his love towards us.” I like translations of that verse that say, “God displayed his love,” or “God demonstrated his love,” or “God showed his love” towards us. How did he do it? “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

 

The love of God towards us is a love to the end. Psalm 48:14 tells us, “This God is our God for ever and ever, and will be our guide even unto death.” John tells us that “having loved his own, he loved them to the endJohn 13:1.

 

Not only is God love and not only does he show love. His love was displayed in creation. The book of Genesis tells us how God created the heavens and earth: “And God said …” (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 20, 24). Those things came to pass, and the Word of God tells us “the Lord saw it was good ….” (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 15, 18, 21, 25). But when God was going to make man, God made man as the symbol of his love.

 

Love always has an object that it is directed to. But much more than that, is that when love is directed at an object, especially the love of God, that object should be in a position to reciprocate the love that God directs towards it. The creation of God in all its glory — the stars, the moon — can receive love but cannot give love back to God. The brute beasts, the elephants, the rhinoceros, the lions, the leopards, the various animals can receive the love of God, but cannot give it back.

 

But when God made man he made man as a being he could direct his love towards, and who is also capable of responding to God in the way in which the love of God is directed towards him. We are told in 1 John 4:19, “He first loved us”; so we love him because he first loved us. Not only does God want to love us but he also wants us to love him. Prov. 8:17 says, “He that loves me will I love and they that seek me shall find me.” So God made man to be a love being — a being that can receive and reciprocate love. That is why man is different from the glorious universe and brute beasts.

 

One way in which we can respond in love to God is by doing what he says. When you love somebody you obey him. When the love of God is perfected in us, we obey what God says. Jesus said it in John 14:21: “He that has my word and does it he it is that loves me.” In John 14:15 he says, “If you love me keep my commandments.” Jesus said in John 15:21, “Because I love my Father I have kept his commandment and have been able to abide in his love; if you also want to abide in my love do what I say.

 

When God made man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, man was supposed to receive the love of God and give God back love in obedience. We all know the story. Gen. 1:26 “God said let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” He made man to fellowship with God. He made man for his pleasure. He made man for himself: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

 

We all know the story in Genesis. God was saying to man, “I have loved you and made you as a symbol to whom I can direct my love, and who can also love me back. I just want you to show your love towards me by doing what I have commanded you.”

 

In the Garden of Eden, man was quite aware of the consequences, but he sold out to the devil. The Word of God tells us in 2 Peter 2:19 that to whom you shall yield yourself to obey, you become that person’s servant. Man changed lords; he refused to obey God and obeyed the devil. Man rejected the love of God and sinned.

 

--Source: Fuller, W. H. (2000; 2003). Global Crossroads: Focusing on the Strength of Local Churches (169–173).


This article was published on Thursday 28 January, 2010.

Back to main topic: STUDY THE WORD OF GOD
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