Grace Bible Church

Preaching the Living Word through the Written Word











4.†††† Love


a)††† Intro

(1)†† This is often called the most central attribute of God, but it is doubtful whether it should be regarded as more central than the other perfections of God. (Berkhof, Summary of Christian Doctrine). Such a statement may surprise us, but we must remember that God possesses, enjoys, and glories in all His attributes equally.

(2)†† The love of God, like the holiness of God, is emphasized in the Bible because man is in desperate need of understanding it.

b)††† Definitions

(1)†† The quality in God which moves Him to give of Himself and His gifts. (Gibson)

(2)†† God seeks the highest good of humans at His own infinite cost. (House, Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine)

(3)†† [It is] Ö that perfection of the divine nature by which God is eternally moved to communicate himself. It is not a mere emotional impulse, but a rational and voluntary affection, having its ground in truth and holiness and its exercise in free choice. (Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 86.)

c)†††† Godís love is agapā love.

(1)†† When the Bible speaks in reference to Godís love, it is almost exclusively refers to the Greek word agapā

(2)†† Agapā denotes a reasoned-out love, rather than an emotionally-based love (but not devoid of emotion)óone that loves the object irrespective of the worth of the object and even though the love may not be reciprocated. (Enns, Moody Handbook of Theology)

(3)†† Agapā is the love that God possesses and is a selfless love that seeks to benefit another. It was coined almost exclusively by the New Testament writers (Jn 3:16; Ro 5:5; 8:39; 2Co 3:11; 1Jn 4:7-16). It is usually distinguished from philos love, in that its devotion is not based on emotion but on the will. However, sometimes philos love is a synonym for agapā (Jn 5:20; 16:27).

d)††† Godís love is part of His nature and essence (1Jn 4:8, 16)

(1)†† In obvious terms, we are told in Scripture that 1) ďGod is spiritĒ (Jn 4:24), 2) ďGod is lightĒ (1Jn 1:5), and 3) ďGod is loveĒ (1Jn 4:8, 16). Therefore, love is an attribute of Godís essence and nature.

(2)†† However, it would be incorrect to say ďlove is GodĒ for in doing so it would make love the sole attribute of God. That is to say, that God either possesses only the attribute of love or Godís major attribute is love. Godís love is equivalent in degree to Godís holiness, or any other attribute. However, because Godís holiness must be comprehended by sinful man, and Godís love is so inconceivable to sinful man, these attributes are emphasized in the Scriptures.

e)†††† Godís love is eternal (Je 31:3; Ps 25:6)

(1)†† Because God is an eternal God ďwho is who (He is)Ē (Ex 3:14), His love has always been part of His essence.

(2)†† Though difficult to comprehend, the objects of Godís love have been the objects of His love from ages past (Ps 25:6). Thus He tells Jeremiah that He has loved Him with an everlasting love (Je 31:3). That is, it has been an everlasting love from eternity past and will be so into eternity future.

(3)†† How blessed to know that the great and holy God loved His people before heaven and earth were called into existence, that He had set His heart upon them from all eternity. A.W. Pink

f)†††† Godís love is unconditional (Dt 7:7-8; Ep 2:4-5; 2Ti 1:9)

(1)†† Godís love is not influenced by anything man is or does, but on the basis that God has chosen to love him unconditionally (Dt 7:7-8).

(2)†† Should God require something from man in order to love him, no one would meet the requirements. In fact all men are spiritually dead until according to Godís love, He makes them spiritually alive (Ep 2:4-5).

(3)†† We can add that Godís mercy and grace (favor) to the sinner are not based on manís works, but on Godís love (Tit 3:4-5).

(4)†† Therefore God loved us because it was according to His own choice (Ep 1:4) and His ďown purposeĒ (2Ti 1:9).

g)†††† Godís love is infinite (Ep 2:7; 3:19)

(1)†† Derived from an infinite God, His love is limitless and without measure. The breadth and length and height and depth of Godís love surpasses manís knowledge (Ep 3:18-19).

(2)†† 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. A.W. Pink

(3)†† Not even in eternity will the believer be able to search out the vastness of Godís love (Ep 2:7).

h)††† Godís love is immutable (Ro 8:35-39)

(1)†† If Godís love were as fickle as manís love, then no one would be secure in Godís love. But because God is an immutable God, therefore His love is immutable.

(2)†† Since Godís love will not and cannot change toward the objects of His love, there is nothing that could separate the love of an omnipotent God (Ro 8:35-39 cf. Jn 10:28-29).

(3)†† As stated by an unknown hymn writer, ďHis love no end nor measure knows, no change can turn its course, eternally the same it flows, from one eternal source.Ē

i)††††† Christ possesses the divine attribute of love (Ep 5:2; Tit 3:4)

(1)†† We know that nothing can separate us from Godís love, but Ro 8:35 called it Christís love, showing that Christ possesses the same divine attribute of love.

(2)†† Christ was not only sent by the Father, but Christ voluntarily died for mankind because of His own love (Ga 2:20; Ep 5:2, 25).

(3)†† Christ is called ďGod our SaviorĒ when He and His love appeared for mankind (Tit 3:4).

(4)†† Together, both the Father and the Son loved believers and gave them eternal hope (2Th 2:16).

j)†††† Applications of Godís love

(1)†† If the believer should ever doubt the love of God, he should understand that just as Christ is the special object of Godís love (Jn 15:9), believers too are the special object of Godís love (Jn 15:9; 17:23; Ep1:4-5).

(2)†† If the believer should ever think that he is too unworthy for God to love him, he should remember that Godís unconditional love was demonstrated while he was Godís enemy (Ro 5:8-10).

(3)†† If the believer should ever become prideful, he need only remember that the love of God can only be experienced in Christ (Jn 14:6; Ro 8:39; 1Jn 4:10).

(4)†† If the believer should ever care to know whether the love of God abides in him, he should look at the degree that he obeys Christís Word (Jn 14:15; Jn 15:12) and how much he loves the brethren (1Jn 4:16).

(5)†† If the believer should ever wonder how he can love in a greater way, he should meditate on Godís attribute of love (1Jn 4:19; Ro 5:5; 1Th 4:9).




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