I actually wrote this part intending for it to be part four of this series, but it has turned into part one according to how God is leading me. My point is that right now it is January 13, 2008 and I previously wrote some of the other parts as early as December 10, 2007, and some parts may have dates in them, so I wanted to clear up any confusion. I believe love to be one of the greatest (if not the greatest) attribute of God, so this has become the first part of the series.
God is great because of His love; In fact, the Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8). I want to first define love as the world sees it and then as God sees it. One definition of love from an online dictionary defines it as “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.” We say we love other people when we are attracted to them and when they make us feel good. Notice that a key phrase in the dictionary definition of love is the phrase “arising out of”. This phrase implies that we love conditionally – we love someone because they fulfill a condition that we require before we can love them.
God’s definition of love is quite different. There are many verses in the Bible that give us God’s definition of love. Probably the most well known (and maybe even the best) is John 3:16, which says “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” (NASB). God sacrificed His only Son so that we, who put our faith and hope in His Son, will not spend eternity separated from Him. This is an amazing love. Another verse is Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In both of those verses, there are no conditions placed on the love of God, it is unconditional, and not based on feelings or emotions. He loves us because He is love. Notice that is isn’t simply, God “loves,” but that He is love. Love is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature.
*Let me pause here for a second and say that I am not sure that I fully understand even those two verses mentioned above. I think that if I fully understood just how much God loved me (and you), that I would literally fall on my face and worship God.*
This next section comes mostly from a book titled, “The Attributes of God” by Arthur Pink. Mr. Pink gives seven descriptions of God’s love. This comes from Chapter 15 for anyone interested in reading the book. I highly recommend it!
First, Mr. Pink states that God’s love is uninfluenced, meaning that it is free, spontaneous, and uncaused. God has loved His people from everlasting, and therefore nothing of the creature can be the cause of what is found in God from eternity. He loves from Himself: “according to His own purpose” (2 Tim. 1:9).
Second, God’s love is eternal. God Himself is eternal, and God is love; therefore, as God Himself had no beginning, His love had none. Granted that such a concept far transcends the grasp of our minds, nevertheless, where we cannot comprehend, we can bow in adoring worship.
Third, God’s love is sovereign. This also is self-evident. God Himself is sovereign, under obligations to none, a law unto Himself, acting always according to His own imperial pleasure. The sovereignty of God’s love necessarily follows from the fact that it is uninfluenced by anything in the creature.
Fourth (entirely from Pink’s book), God’s love is infinite. Everything about God is infinite. His essence fills heaven and earth. His wisdom is illimitable, for He knows everything of the past, present and future. His power is unbounded, for there is nothing too hard for Him. So His love is without limit. There is a depth to it which none can fathom; there is a height to it which none can scale; there is a length and breadth to it which defies measurement, by any creature-standard. Ephesians 2:4, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us”: the word “great” there is parallel with the “God so loved” of John 3:16. It tells us that the love of God is so transcendent it cannot be estimated.
Fifth, it is immutable (not subject or susceptible to change.). As with God Himself there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17), so His love knows neither change nor diminution.
Sixth, God’s love is holy. God’s love is not regulated by passion or sentiment, but by principle. Just as His grace reigns not at the expense of it, but “through righteousness” (Rom. 5:21), so His love never conflicts with His holiness. “God is light” (1 John 1:5) is mentioned before “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God’s love is no mere weakness or softness. Hebrews 12:6 says, “for those whom the lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom he receives.” God will not wink at sin, even in His own people. His love is pure, unmixed with any sentimentality.
Finally, it is gracious. The love and favor of God are inseparable. This is clearly brought out in Romans 8:32-39: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “for your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God is the Creator of all things, and by His very nature, He is love. God says love is unconditional and sacrificial, and it’s not based on feelings; therefore, love is not a “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.” To understand what true love is and to be able to truly love others, we must know God, and we can do this through a close personal relationship with Him. We can have that close relationship with God by putting our faith in Jesus Christ, who was God’s sacrifice of love for us.
Wow, what a testament to God. With that, I will say that I truly love every single person that reads this blog, and while sometimes it may seem that I come across as harsh, arrogant, self-involved, or cocky, I say all that I say with compassion and an almost pleading nature to try to get you to see that there really is something more. If you really want to know more, I will do whatever I can to help you out. I will come to where you are; I will stay up with you all night and day if that’s what it takes for you to know God. And yes, I really mean that.
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all. (1 Chr. 29:11)
– Adam Smith