Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Attributes of God: Love

God Is Love 1 John 4:8.

I spent the first part of my morning on the couch watching as one of my heroes of the faith was laid to rest. The legacy of this General will stay with me forever. Though I rejoice that he has received his heavenly reward, my heart broke when he passed. Many spoke and shared touching stories of how this great man of God touched their lives. Tears fell hard as I listened to the daughter who returned home in her fallenness and brokenness to find her father waiting for her with loving arms open wide. The unconditional love of a father. Her father was not God, but he showed her that day who God is and how He loves the broken-hearted. The prodigal son jumps off the page of the Holy Writ and into my heart. 
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love {1 Jn. 4:8 NASB}.

Scripture tells us three things concerning the nature of God; He is spirit {Jn. 4:24}, He is light {1 Jn. 1:5}, and He is love {1 Jn. 4:8}. God does not simply love us, He is Love. Love is not one of His attributes, but His very nature.[1] Oh if only we had a full grasp on the love of God! The more we experience and understand His love—its character, fullness, blessedness—the more our hearts will be drawn out in love to Him.

I am so thankful for His love. I cannot fathom how He can possibly love me, yet He does. His love is unchanging and it cannot be influenced by anyone or anything. I cannot cause Him to love me more and I can’t do anything to make Him love me less. His love is free, spontaneous, and uncaused. He loves me when I am loveless.

God is eternal which means He has no beginning; His love is eternal. I cannot wrap my finite mind around His love for me—I am but dust. I am undone.

I have loved you with an everlasting love;Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness{Jer. 31: 3 NASB}.

From eternity God set His heart upon His people. Everything about God is infinite. His essence fills heaven and earth. He knows all and sees all. He is all-powerful—nothing is too hard for Him. His love is without limit, it cannot be fathomed, it cannot be measured.

God’s love is one of the grandest themes in all of Scripture.[2] The Bible is God’s story of love for all creatures. The Preacher’s daughter spoke of being comforted in her father’s arms in the midst of her darkness—her brokenness. This is a beautiful picture of our heavenly Father and His love for us. God’s love means that God eternally gives of Himself to others.[3] It is part of His nature to give of Himself in order to bring about good to His people.

His love was evident at creation in the Trinity. Jesus speaks to this truth in John’s gospel in one of the most beautiful prayers ever spoken—His High Priestly Prayer:

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (Jn. 17:24 NASB emphasis by author). God loved and honored Him from all eternity. The Beloved Disciple wants us to know this truth, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand”{3:35 NASB}. The love between the Father and Son also presumably characterizes their relationship with the Holy Spirit even though it is not explicitly mentioned.[4] This eternal love of the Father for the Son and both for the Holy Spirit demonstrates that the Trinity seeks to bring joy and happiness to each other and to us as well. The Trinity’s self-giving love is expressed in God’s relationship to mankind. He loves sinners which is why He sent His Son to redeem everyone who will accept this precious gift of grace.

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 {Jn.3:16 NASB}

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us {Rom. 5:8 NASB}.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me {Gal. 2:20 NASB}.

Christ loves sinners. He loves all people. He came and died for all mankind—because of His love for us. His love drove Him to the cross. It is unfathomable to me that God set his love on us and that He longs to bring us true joy and happiness. It doesn’t mean that we will have a trouble-free life, but He is working all things for our good {Rom. 8:28}and His love for us is eternal.

God’s love is so amazing and it is even more profound that we can and should return our love to Him:

And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment” {Matt. 22:37-38 NASB}.

The way we demonstrate our love for God is by obeying His commandments. Just as God has bestowed His love on us, we can pour out our love on Him by living a life of obedience, living a life of worship and prayer, and by doing so, we bring joy to His heart.

As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you {Is. 62:5 NASB}.

The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. {Zep. 3:17 NASB}.

To read all in this series of the Attributes of God click here
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[1] A.W. Pink, The Attributes Of God (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1975), 77.
[2] John S. Feinberg, No One Like Him (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001), 349.
[3] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 199.
[4] Ibid.

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