The Love of God

Tom Ascol
| 1 John 4:7-21

Pastor Tom Ascol continues in the church’s series on the attributes of God with a message entitled “The Love of God.” While the love of God may be the most universally celebrated of God’s attributes it may also be the most misunderstood. God’s love encompasses much more than a love patterned after our own mere human emotion of love. God’s love has been radically sentimentalized until, in the words of A. W. Pink, “There are many today who talk about the love of God who are total strangers to the God of love.”

1 John 4 has two verses (8 and 16) teaching “God is love.” More than indicating God is loving this is a statement about God’s very being. There is, however, more the Bible says about God’s essence. The apostle John writes two other statements with the same grammatical structure about God. First, “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). God is not subject to the limitations of time and space. He does not change. What this means is that God’s love is always free and spontaneous and not subject to the passions of emotions. There are no fluctuations in God’s love which clearly differentiates it as superior to human love.

Second, 1 John 1:5 says “God is light.” Light represents holiness and moral purity while darkness represents moral wickedness and perversity. Therefore, the God who is love is also holy and upright. Any conception of God’s love as being tolerant of sin is inherently wrong. God’s holy love results not in an acceptance of sin but in discipline as a way of correcting sin in His children. J. I. Packer then defines God’s love as “an exercise of his goodness toward individual sinners whereby, having identified himself with their welfare, he has given his Son to be their Savior, and now brings them to know and enjoy him in a covenant relationship.”

God’s love, however, is discriminating. While it is true God loves all humanity, after all Jesus indicates as much in saying the Father “makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45), there is a distinctive, covenantal love God has for His own special people. Having chosen His own before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1) God exhibits his saving, redeeming love to those He has chosen. God’s love is further expressed in His giving of His Son for the salvation of those people.

Finally, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” emphasizes not so much the width of God’s love to all humanity as it highlights the depth of God’s love for His chosen ones. We see the depth of God’s love for us in Christ. We find in Christ all we ever truly need and desire. Why would you not want this type of love? Seek Him who died for you and loves you.