Summary: The Attributes of God series: how God is love and what that means to us
Godislove 11/27/05 am
Rev. Jeff Simms, SBC Philippi
The Attributes of God: God is Love
Primary Purpose: To look at how God is love and what response we should have to that.
We have been looking at the attributes of God’s nature. If we stopped where we are today, you might come to the conclusion that God is a awesome and powerful and transcendent God, but would you come to the conclusion that he desires relationship, love and fellowship? Perhaps not. But, the good news is that God desires for us to have a relationship with him. The apostle John who spent 3 years on earth with Jesus said about God that God is love repeatedly.
I want to talk about what kind of love God has and then the results of His love in our life. A pastor named John Gossip once said about God’s love:
’The wonderful thing about Christ is that as people looked at Him, followed Him, and watched Him, it became apparent to them that this is what God must be like. They concluded that if there is a God at all, then He must have Christ’s eyes, Christ’s ever-helpful hands, Christ’s character…Stand upon Calvary and know that if today he loves like that, he always loves like that. Even when our hearts become hot and suspicious of Him or soured and bad-tempered toward Him for His ordering of our lives and crossing our wishes, He still loves us. To be God means always to stoop lower by far than any man could stoop, to bear what never a human heart would dream of bearing, to give Oneself with an abandon of unselfishness that leaves us staring in slack-jawed wonder. His love is a hugeness beyond all human reckoning. It is an everlasting Calvary."
So, when we start to talk about what God’s love is like we must start at Calvary. For this is how God demonstrated his love toward us. His love is apage love, it is a committed love, it is a decisive love. It resulting in his giving of his very best for us- His very son.
Many times today you look at what our world says love is and it seems that it is very much a feeling. Feelings can and often are a part of love. But, God’s love isn’t simply based on feelings. It isn’t based on how much you deserve God’s love. It is based on a decision based on God’s own divine will. You don’t deserve God’s love. Neither is he loving you because you first loved him. In verse 10, John makes it clear that God gave his son to us when we were hostile toward him and unloving toward him. Romans 5:8 says this when it reads “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” John Stott said about this in his book “The Cross of Christ” that “only one act of pure love, unsullied by any taint of ulterior motive, has ever been performed in the history of the world, namely the self-giving of God in Christ on the cross for undeserving sinners. That is why, if we are looking for a definition of love, we should look not in a dictionary, but at Calvary.” That truly defines what God’s love is like. Now, what is our response to that kind of love?
John said that the one who loves can be described in two ways. One is that person is born of God. The word born is the same word that Jesus uses 5 times in the Gospel of John 3:3-8 when he talks to Nicodemus about being born again. It is a metaphor for God making men sons of His through faith in Christ. It is talking about your becoming born into a new family by the power of God. John also says that the one who loves can be described as knowing God. The word know here is the word Ginosko (ghin-oce’-ko) and it means come to know, perceive, understand, feel, get a knowledge of. In other words, we demonstrate that we have real knowledge of God and understand him when we love other people
Please understand that we are not saying that God is only love. We cannot separate the attributes of God and say that he is one thing and not another. God is also holy, patient, kind and merciful and also a judge at the same time. These attributes all work in perfect harmony with one another and are never in conflict with each other. In fact, because God is holy he holy nature demands payment from sin one way or the other. What God’s wrath demanded here then God’s love provided.
That part of what it means when it says that God sent his son to make propitiation for us. The word propitiation here is a greek word that means Hilasmos (hil-as-mos’) it means an appeasing (it is a key word in our passage). In other words, it means to appease the wrath of God for the sins of each person. This is what John 3:16 says when it says that “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”