God Is Love

God is love concept text lying on the rustic wooden background.

By Jacob Redekop

John called himself the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (Jn. 13:23, 20:2, 21:7,20 NKJV), and to him was given the great favor to write about the love of God, which he did in most eloquent terms in the gospel and three epistles that bear his name. Despite the fact that John, the apostle, did not use his name as the author in the four books, evidence within them makes it very clear that he, the one who leaned on Jesus’ bosom, was their penman as used by the Spirit of God. The books’ glorious theme of the love of God touches our hearts, knowing that His love has reached down to save us from our sins and draw us to Himself. Although much has been written about the love of God, this subject has not been, nor ever will be, exhausted.

Sin entered the world through one man: Adam. Through that original sin, death has passed to all men because all have sinned, and therefore the whole world is guilty before God. The sad effect of this has left man eternally lost under the sentence of death. This was a hopeless situation as far as we were concerned, for we could do nothing to gain favor or acceptance with God.

However, God in sovereign grace sent His only begotten Son into the world to stand in the gap – an arbitrator between a holy God and sinful man. “We have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us – that which we have seen and heard we declare to you” (1 Jn. 1:2-3). The Lord Jesus, the beloved Son of God, is the One that is declared to be God’s loving answer to our need.

The Love Of God Towards Man 
“Love is of God … God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” —1 John 4:7-9

Love is of God; that is His very nature. His love, shown towards us, flows out from Himself. He is its source, and He has provided the Lord Jesus as the answer for our need. In Proverbs 8:31 we read that He was “rejoicing in His inhabited world, and [His] delight was with the sons of men.”

The wonderful plan of love originated with God. Yet, when the moment came and the Savior was born, the world was asleep and unaware of the heavenly Visitor. God’s time in His plan of love for mankind was not delayed by the world’s inattention, for “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). He was “God … manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). The Lord of Glory – born in a stable and laid in a manger!

Shepherds on the plains of Judea were the first witnesses to this plan of love. They were awake, watching their flocks at night, when an angel of the Lord came to bring glad tidings of great joy, “for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:11). These humble shepherds had a most wonderful experience! Suddenly a response sounded forth from a heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (v.14). Yes, “toward men!” This is why the Savior came – to declare God’s love to mankind. Christ, the Son of the Father’s love, is God’s answer to our need, having brought life into this world where death had reigned. ”Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Rom. 5:20).

We find in 1 John 4:9-10 God’s two-fold purpose in sending His Son. The passage says, “God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” First of all, God’s purpose was to communicate life – divine life through His Son. Secondly, He sent His Son to take up the sin question and to settle it to the satisfaction of a holy and righteous God. This is what it means that He is the “propitiation” for our sins.

The Result Of God’s Love In Our Hearts 
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” —1 John 4:11

This verse is an appeal to our hearts. If God loves us so much, what is our response? We saw the first reply came from a heavenly host and was heard by certain shepherds watching their flocks by night. Now the response is witnessed on earth by those in whom that love flows freely towards each other as they drink at love’s fountain, God’s blessed Son.

John continued by saying, “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (v.13). Paul added, “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

The wonderful love of God flows down to us and leaves a lasting result within us because God abides in us and His Spirit has been given to us. Jesus is no longer walking here on this earth, for God has raised Him from among the dead and received Him into heaven. Yet we, His followers, are left in this world as the epistle, or letter, of Christ to be read by all men (2 Cor. 3:2-3). The beautiful features of Christ will be seen by those in this dark world as they see these same features lived out in the lives of believers. The love they observe among believers is not natural; it is divine.

God’s Love Is Perfected In Us 
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” —1 John 4:16-17

The Spirit of God dwelling in the believer bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God (Rom. 8:16). We are told a little further along in that chapter in Romans that nothing can “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (vv.35,38-39). God brings everything He does to a final and perfect conclusion. His love will not rest until He has dispelled every fear and cancelled every charge the enemy would dare to bring against the believer.

Dear Christian, are there any doubts or fears in your heart? Does the day of judgment raise questions in your mind? Notice that the verse that begins this section states “that we may have boldness in the day of judgment.” On what does this boldness rest? The answer is also given: “Because as He is, so are we in this world.” It is not as He was when here on earth as the sin bearer, but as He is now – the One who is seated and glorified at God’s right hand. The One who bore our sins upon the cross is now seated on the throne in heaven and representing us there. Christ in glory answers every charge that could be brought against a believer, by showing the wounds in His hands and His side – tokens of His wondrous love for us.

May His love fill our hearts and cause us to rejoice as we go on our pathway towards home, where His perfect love will be our theme for all eternity.