The Character of God: God Is Love
Psalm 139:17,18 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
I. God loves you—this is why the Psalmist spoke of precious thoughts.
If we had to describe the one true God in one word what would it be? We know so many of his attributes: all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, just… But as John described him, “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) This doesn’t diminish his other attributes, but his love shines through all of the others. When the Lord appeared to Moses on Mt. Sinai, he came in great power, he did speak of his justice in punishing sin—but the overall tone of his statement on this momentous occasion was love.
Exodus 34:5,6 “Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,”
And all throughout Israel’s history, this verse is repeated. They knew that they were rescued from their sinfulness on so many occasions by only one thing: his love.
Lamentations 3:22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
I’m sure that we know the doctrine of the love of God. But it is important for us as believers to understand—to truly realize—God’s great love for us; the supremacy of his love.
II. God intends for us to find salvation in his love.
A. In fact we know that it is God’s love for us that provided Jesus.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
1 John 4:9,10 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
His justice requires payment for sin—but his love compelled him to pay the ultimate price—so that he might restore us to his love.
B. God does not punish us in spite of his love—he punishes us because he loves!
Revelation 3:19a Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.
There are times when we may feel that God is disciplining us. We cannot ignore that and try to muster up peace—we must deal with it, so that we can be reconciled to God. We feel way so that we will be compelled to repent and return.
However, in these times, we must realize that God still loves us—even as we still love our children while we discipline them.
C. God even called Israel “not his loved one in Hosea.” But he demonstrates that even as he told them he did not love them—it was for the purpose that they might return so he could say:
Hosea 2:23a I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called `Not my loved one. ’
I. God intends for us to find security in his love.
A. God’s love is a proved love.
How many times do we say in relationships that we don’t want people to tell us they love us; we want them to show us they love us. God’s love is a love that has been demonstrated.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on "The Love of God." As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lighted a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.
To give your life for a friend is amazing love. To give your life for a stranger is incomprehensible love. To give you life for an enemy is God’s love.
B. God’s love is an eternal love.
Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
This entire psalm ends every verse with the same words: his love endures forever. It is not like the love of man: here today and gone tomorrow—we can count on his love.
C. God’s love is an unconditional love.
Romans 8:38,39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing in heaven or hell… nothing now or later… nothing that you or anyone else do can make God not love you. GOD LOVES YOU!
“To stop God loving me would be to rob him of his Godhead, for God is love no less than he is truth.” – Meister Eckhart
IV. Application: Psalm 139:23,24 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
A. “Search me and know my heart.” Again this is an invitation. But why can we comfortably submit to inviting God into the secret place of our heart? Precisely because he is love. Many times when we are having experiences that would make God seem less than loving it is due to US not submitting to his love—not to his lack of love. Why is there suffering in the world? Because of rebellion against God—a refusal to submit to God’s love. Even Satan’s temptation of Eve focused on a disbelief in God’s love—he made her think God was manipulating her for His own good.
B. “Know my anxious thoughts.” Many of the anxieties we feel are because we do not know, understand, or possibly deeply believe the full extent of God’s great love for us. God intends for us to find peace in his love. One of the blessings that the prophet Zephaniah revealed God had in store for Israel was: “he will quiet you with his love” (Zephaniah 3:17c). When we understand that the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful, in-control God loves you deeply, there is nothing left to be anxious about. With great truths such as these, the only thing Satan has left to try to attack with is deceit.
C. “See if there is any offensive way in me.” We know that God judges. But God offers us one of two solutions. We can receive his final judgment. Or we can allow him to search out our sins now—in the light of his Word, by our consciences, and by the Holy Spirit’s conviction. In his love, he offers us this option. And as we’ve seen, even when he chastens us—he does it out of his love for us. So we must recognize and submit to his love, when he is correcting us. We can’t become bitter by correction—but we should submit to it, knowing that God’s love drives everything he does in our lives.
D. “Lead me in the way everlasting.” Just as God’s judgments are motivated by love, so his commands are motivated by love. He doesn’t make commands just because it’s fun to see us squirm and try to keep them. He has given us commands as guidelines for right living. As a standard of the best way that we can live—so that we can have the best life possible. We must understand all the commands of God in the light of his love for us—so that even when it seems that we’re being deprived of something, we know that really our great, loving God is leading us in the way everlasting.