Summary: God is loving, holy, wrathful, and sovereign.
Characteristics of God Part Three
We have seen many of God’s characteristics: he is a spirit, he is a person, he is independent, he is immutable, he is good, he is eternal, he is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and he is merciful. In this lesson, we will look at four more characteristics of God, which are probably his most controversial characteristics. God is love, God is holy, God is wrathful, and God is sovereign.
God Is Love
Since love is a difficult concept to define, Grudem’s comments are helpful. He says: “God’s love means that God eternally gives of himself to others. This definition understands love as self-giving for the benefit of others. This attribute of God shows that it is part of his nature to give of himself in order to bring about blessing or good for others.” In fact, Scripture defines God as love, meaning he is the expression of love and all his characteristics flow out of this. Listen to what John said, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).
This means that it is impossible to truly know what love is unless we know God for he epitomizes love. This is part of the reason that, looking at the world today, nobody has a good definition of love. For some, love is an emotion. If you watch any romantic comedy, without a doubt, there will always come the big question, “Do you love him?”
What does that mean?
Does it mean having butterflies in one’s stomach? Does it mean two people have a good time together? We can only know what love is by looking at God. Moreover, since God is love, he was living out this love even before he created the world and everything in it. In John 17:24, Jesus says this: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world” (emphasis mine).
Before God created the world, he was living in a loving relationship with the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the Trinity, there has always been a perfect loving union between the members of the God-head.
We must ask the question then, “What is love?” We must know the characteristics of love in order to better understand God, and also to better love one another.
Scripture declares that since believers have experienced love, they naturally should demonstrate it to one another. John, who is often called the Apostle of Love and in his Gospel was identified as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23), said this in 1 John 4:11: “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Similarly, Jesus said this: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
Supernatural love should mark believers. The world will know us by this love. In the New Testament, God’s love is the word “agape.” Because this love is so otherworldly, it was rarely used in secular Greek. However, this is the type of love that the world should see in Christians. They should see a love that doesn’t make sense. It is sacrificial; it is forgiving; it blesses one’s enemies; it is unconditional. It is a phenomenal love by which the world should be able identify a believer by.