One of the top topics from our annual message survey at The Ridge was to know more about God. This is good because the bible teaches that God wants us to know him. The more we know God, the better we can trust him. One of the key attributes of God is:
God is love. I John 4:8
God is love. This does not mean that “love is God.” It has accurately been said that “love does not define God, but God defines love.” God is love and His love is a holy love, and His holiness is expressed in love. All that God does expresses all that God is. Even His judgments are measured out in love and mercy (Lamentations. 3:22-23).
People constantly impose on God a human view of love, but He transcends any such human limitations. That God is love explains four things in the biblical worldview.
1. God’s love explains the reason He created. Love must have an object. We are the object of his love. He has geared all of creation to meeting men’s needs. In eternity past, within the perfect fellowship of the Trinity, God the Father purposed, as a love gift to His Son, to redeem a people who would honor and glorify the Son (John 6:39; 17:9-15), drawn to Him by the Holy Spirit. Though God existed in perfect Trinitarian relationship, He created a race of beings out of which He would love and redeem those who would in turn love Him forever.
2. God‘s love explains human choice. He designed people to know and love Him by an act of their wills (John 7:17-18), though not apart from the work of His Spirit (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:5; Titus 3:5). God’s greatest commandment is that people love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:29-30).
3. God’s love explains His providence. He orchestrates all the circumstances of life, in all their wonder, beauty, and even difficulty, to reveal many evidences of His love (Psalm 36:6; 145:9; Romans 8:28).
4. God’s love explains the divine plan of redemption. If God operated only on the basis of His law, He would convict people of their sin, and justly consign everyone to spend forever in hell (Psalm 130:3). But His love provided a remedy for sin through the atoning work of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:21; Gal. 4:4-5) on behalf of all who repent of their sin and trust in His mercy (John 3:14-15). In the most well-known statement of His earthly ministry, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:19-20; 1 Tim. 4:10; Titus 3:4-5).
Here’s a very common but wrong take on God’s love: “God’s love means that everyone will go to heaven.” Many non-Christians have the idea that when they get to the gates of heaven, God will smile and say, “Oh, you’ve been a pretty good person, come on in.” This is the heresy of universalism while this sounds attractive, it’s completely at odds with what the Bible teaches. So let’s look at God’s Love and Judgment.
God’s Love and Judgment
God expresses His love and goodness to all through common grace. The psalmist wrote, “The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (Ps. 145:9; Matt. 5:45). As part of this, God reveals His love through His compassion, primarily in that He delays His final judgment against unrepentant sinners (Gen. 15:16; Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 3:25; Gen. 18:20-33). That compassion is further expressed in His myriad of warnings to us as sinners (Jer. 7:13-15, 23-25; 25:4-6; Ezek. 33:7-8; Zeph. 2:1-3; Luke 3:7-9; 1 Cor. 10:6-11; Rev. 3:1-3). He finds no pleasure in the damnation of anyone (Ezek. 18:23, 32; 2 Peter 3:9). Accompanied with His warnings, God extends His love to every part of the world through His general offer of the gospel (Matt. 11:28; John 7:37; 1 Tim. 2:4; Titus 2:11). As Jesus told his followers, which now includes us today, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19).
God’s compassion to sinful people and his warnings are limited to this life. After death, unrepentant sinners will experience God’s judgment for all eternity (Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:41; 2 Thess. 1:9; Rev. 20:12-15). But God has a special, perfect, eternal love that He lavishes on everyone who believes. The apostle John aptly characterized that love Jesus displayed to the apostles when he wrote at the beginning of the upper room narrative: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1b, niv). Paul later celebrated that special love in his letter to the Ephesians:
God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7)
The greatest expression of God’s love is in the death of His Son. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8
There is no reason for God to love us, except this: That’s the kind of God He is. He loves us because God is love and He can’t help loving us even when we are His enemies. His love is greater than our sin and He loves us in spite of our sin.
Any time I am tempted to doubt God’s love for me, I go back to the Cross. When you ask, “Lord, how much do you love me” He says, “This much,” as he stretches his arms out on the cross
God loves you!
For more about the series God is go to www.RidgeFellowship.com