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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Personal Attributes of God

Don Stewart :: Is God Love?

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Is God Love?

The Personal Attributes of God – Question 6

The Bible makes it clear that one of the characteristics of God’s nature is that He is love. Indeed, the God of the Bible is a God of love. A number of important observations need to be made about the love of God.

1. The Bible Says God Is Love

To begin with, we note that the Bible states that God is love. We read about this in the first letter of John. It says,

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:8 NASB)

God is love. Love may be defined as, “seeking the highest good of another.” It is the opposite of selfishness. It is not merely some emotion. God is perfect love.

2. Each Member of the Trinity Is Love

Scripture also teaches that each member of the Holy Trinity can give and receive love.

God the Father showed His love to the world in sending His Son, Jesus Christ. In the most famous verse in the Bible we read the following.

“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 NASB)

God the Father is able to express love.

The Son, Jesus Christ, is also able to give and receive love. The Apostle Paul spoke about how God the Son loved him when he wrote to the Galatians. We read,

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 RSV)

Paul was loved by God the Son, Jesus.

The Apostle Paul wrote of the love of the Holy Spirit. At the close of his letter to the Romans he said the following.

Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:30 NLT)

The love which the Romans exhibited toward Paul was given by the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

Each member of the Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, is both personal and loving. The love among the members of the Trinity is not merely expressed between themselves. It is show to their highest creation, the human race.

3. God Is Not the Same as Love

While one of God’s most obvious attributes is love, it must be understood that He is not equivalent to love. Love is an attribute of God. The statement, “God is love” is not reversible. We can rightly say that God is love but we cannot say that “love is God” for that would make God impersonal. This is not what the Bible teaches about either God or love. Love is not God!

4. His Love Is Perfect and Continual

The God of the Bible can give of Himself perfectly, and continually. He will never exhaust His supply of love. The Bible quotes God saying the following to Israel.

Long ago the LORD said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NLT)

What a wonderful statement this is! His love is everlasting to His chosen people. Indeed, when we read through the New Testament we find God showing His love toward Israel time after time.

5. He Showed Us His Love by Giving Us the Gift of His Son

It is impossible to love without giving. God has clearly demonstrated His love for humankind by giving the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. John wrote about this as follows.

But anyone who does not love does not know God—for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us. (1 John 4:8-12 NLT)

The sending of God the Son into the world was the highest expression of love which God could make toward us. Indeed, He did not sent an angel to save us, He sent God the Son.

The Son not only came into our world, He died for the sins of the world. The Apostle Paul wrote about this ultimate demonstration of God’s love for humanity; the death of Jesus Christ for lost sinners. He put it this way.

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

God showed His love for us in tangible way.

Indeed, Jesus said that the greatest thing a person could do is to lay down their life for someone. John records Him saying,

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NKJV)

The ultimate demonstration of love was shown by Jesus Christ. He came to our world and then He suffered a humiliating death on the cross.

6. His Love Is Shown by His Grace

God’s love for sinful people is also shown by His grace, or unmerited favor, that He displays for them. Paul wrote the following to the Ephesians.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7 NKJV)

God’s grace is another demonstration of His love for humanity. Indeed, the fact that He offers eternal salvation to undeserving humanity shows His great love for us.

7. While God Is Love There Is Judgment for Sin

This brings us to our next point; something which people do not like to think about. Although God is love, the Bible says that He will judge those who reject Him and His Son Jesus Christ. Some people wrongfully assume that God will not judge unbelievers because He is a God of love.

However, God is also holy. His love cannot overrule His holiness and justice. There will be a final judgment of the wicked for those who have rejected Jesus Christ. This is consistent with the God of the Bible who is a God of love but also a God of justice and holiness. Jesus has told us what God will say on Judgment Day to those unbelievers who have turned away from His truth.

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons!’” (Matthew 25:41 NLT)

Such is the awful fate which awaits the lost.

The Apostle Paul also wrote of this judgment. At His Second Coming, we are told that Jesus Christ will bring the wrath of God upon those who do not believe. The Bible says,

All of this shows that God judges fairly and that he is making you fit to share in his kingdom for which you are suffering. It is only right for God to punish everyone who is causing you trouble, but he will give you relief from your troubles. He will do the same for us, when the Lord Jesus comes from heaven with his powerful angels and with a flaming fire. (2 Thessalonians 1:5-8 CEV)

Love does not mean the withholding of judgment. Indeed, we are told that God will punish those who are not His. Again, we emphasize that Scripture speaks of a terrible fate which lies ahead for those who are unbelievers.

8. Believers Are to Imitate Jesus in Loving Others

Believers will face no such judgment for Christ has taken our judgment upon Himself. Indeed, God has shown His love for the world when He sent Christ to die for our sins. In like manner, we are to imitate Christ by selflessly giving ourselves to the needs of others. Jesus said,

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34 NLT)

We are to love fellow believers in the same manner that Christ loved us. This will be what identifies Christians.

The Apostle Paul echoed this thought. He emphasized that we are to consider the needs of others above our own needs. Paul wrote about this to the Philippians.

Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4 NRSV).

Our goal should be to meet the needs of others.

In addition, to show our love for God, we are to keep His commandments. John wrote that the commandments of the Lord are not a burden.

For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome... (1 John 5:3 NRSV)

Therefore, those who believe in Jesus Christ have the opportunity, as well as the obligation, to demonstrate God’s love to all.

In sum, there are number of things which we learn from Scripture about the doctrine of the love of God. Consequently, it will be beneficial if we take the time to consider that the Bible has to say on this most important of subjects.

Summary – Question 6
Is God Love?

The Bible says that love is one of God’s attributes or characteristics. Indeed the God of the Bible is a God of love. He seeks the highest good for others. However, the reverse of this is not true. Love is not God. Love is an attribute or characteristic of God but His character is made up of more than the one attribute of love. This must be understood at the outset.

The love of God is a very important topic. It is one that must be correctly understood. Thus, we must diligently search the Scripture to find out exactly what God says about this most important of subjects.

For one thing, we find that each member of the Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, are said to be “love.” Each of them is able to give and receive love. In addition, we are specifically told that each member of the Trinity loves the human race. Since the God of the Bible is made up of these three distinct persons, and each of them is said to show love to others, we can truly say that God is love.

The Bible also teaches that God exercises His love perfectly, and continually. In other words, He never stops loving and His love is always perfectly expressed. When He loves it is always to seek the highest good of the object of His love.

We must appreciate that love cannot be demonstrated without giving and God is One who is continuously giving. Indeed, God showed His love to the world in that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ. For one thing, Jesus came to this world to show us what God is like. In addition, He suffered and died in our place so that we will not have to eternally suffer. This is what love is all about.

Although God is a God of love His love cannot overrule His holiness. Indeed, He must judge sin. The love of God does not cancel out His justice. Thus, while He loves the sinner, sin must be judged. If a person is not willingly to accept the payment which Jesus Christ has made for their sin on the cross then they must pay the price themselves. This judgment of sin is consistent with the love of God.

Since God showed His love by sending of Jesus Christ to the earth to die for the sins of the world, believers are to imitate that love that God has shown. We show that we love God by keeping His commandments. This is how we reflect His love.

This sums up some of the basic truths about God and His love. It is a topic that we should all explore.

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