In Romans 5:8 we find these powerful words, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Most of the relationships we have in life are conditional relationships. This is probably best illustrated in the college & professional sports world. If the coach wins a sufficient number of games, he is the prince who can do no wrong. If he loses too many games, or loses to the wrong team, he is out.
The relationship we have with God is an unconditional relationship. Our fellowship with Him can be marred by sin and disobedience, but our relationship with Him is secure and eternal. That is a key point and one we must nail down. If you confuse the terms “fellowship” and “relationship” please go back and read the previous sentence again.
This is why Paul closes 1 Corinthians 13 with these words: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” As we continue to live the Christian life, we would be wise to continuously reckon on the unconditional love of God.
In 1 John 4:18, John wrote “Perfect love casts out fear.” The truth is we fear many things. We could put these in two categories: Things we talk about and Things we do not talk about with just anyone. Let’s take this a little further.
Group #1: Things we talk about (several examples)
- Being found out
- Evil people
- What might be
Group #2: Things we do not talk about
We really need not elaborate much here because these are things we do not talk about. These might include the fear of dying, the fear of having a serious disease, etc. The only time we might talk about things in this group is when we are with a very close friend, a counselor, or a doctor in professional setting.
But Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power love, and a sound mind.” So, these fears are coming from someplace or someone other than God. Couple 2 Timothy 1:7 with 1 John 4:18 and we have a powerful combination.
In Jeremiah 31:3 we find God saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Another way to say this is God’s Love is Eternal.
Let’s remember our 1 Corinthians 13:13 passage. There we read … “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Let’s recap a bit before we look at this post.
- God is the personification of love; He is love
- Love comes from God
- He perfectly demonstrates love
- His love is to be replicated
Now we see, God’s love is everlasting & eternal. Since God is eternal and God is love, then the love He demonstrated in Jesus Christ is unending. That’s why Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As long as you can read these words and appreciate the truth in them, it is not too late for you because, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Since God is love and love comes from God and is perfectly demonstrated by God, we need to replicate love.
During His earthly ministry, the Bible tells us a lawyer approached the Lord and asked Him what is the greatest commandment. Jesus said “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments, Jesus said, hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
We can see here, we are to replicate love. God perfectly demonstrated His love by Jesus dying on the cross for us. We replicate or return love to Him by loving Him with our whole being and loving our neighbor as ourselves. To do this we need to know what love is. We need a definition of love. How would you define love?
As you think of your definition of love, how does the world define love? If we were to take a clipboard and survey people, how would they define love? In different words than these, they would most likely say “Love is getting my needs met” or “Love is giving me what I want.” We see the self focus here.
Notice the words of 1 John 4:19. “We love Him because He first loved us.” When we examine the Scriptures and specifically 1 John 4:19, we find a biblical definition of love. Love is giving a person what they need.
How do we make that leap? How do we come to that definition? God gave us what we needed. We were lost; dead in trespasses and in sin. We needed a perfect sacrifice. We needed a Savior. He sent His only begotten Son to be our Savior; to be that perfect sacrifice. He gave us what we needed. To replicate the love of God we must ask …
- What does God need from me?
- What does my spouse need?
- What does my child need (or) What do my children need?
- What does _______________ need?
You get the idea. You can keep filling in the blank. You could keep asking those questions because we are to replicate the love of God. To love God and to love others we need to know what they need. To know what they need, we need to spend time with them and get to know them in the most personal way possible. That will lead us to replicating, repeating, and duplicating the love of God in wholesome and Christ honoring ways.
The love of God toward us is shown in so many ways. Two passages that perfectly shout this love are those that follow.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
If you have not accepted this love and entered into a relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, why not today? What good reason do you have to put it off one more day? More about His love tomorrow.
Since God is love (our previous post), then we can say love is from God. In 1John 4:7 we find, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” In this verse, the word of means ‘out of the source of.’ Meaning, love is from God. He is the source of genuine love.
In many situations, love is degraded and twisted and cheapened. But the fact is we can love many people and many things in a wholesome way. When we do, we can honestly and biblically say love and the ability to express genuine love is because of God because love is from God.
Having looked at faith and hope from 1 Corinthians 13:13, we now turn to love.
What we need to see is, the very essence of God is love. It is important we begin here if for no other reason so many people see God and portray God has a mean God, a killing God, an angry God. But John, the disciple who ranks high if not highest on the list of those who knew the Lord and walked with the Lord during His earthly ministry, writes “God is love” (1John 4:8).
If we were to try and paint a picture of God, we could not use normal paint and canvas like we would with a typical painting because Jesus told us “God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” So, since we cannot use paint and canvas, we would paint our picture of God with words. Inside the frame of our picture would be at least 11 attributes. We would say that God is
- Absolute Righteousness
- Eternal Life
- Omniscient (He knows everything)
- Omnipotent (He is all powerful)
- Omnipresent (He is everywhere simultaneously)
- Immutable (He cannot lie)
- Merciful, and
- He is Love
Now, there is so much more to say and I will have more to say in the next several posts, but the emphasis I want to make here is God Is Love. He certainly does love people. We see that love in John 3:16. However, what we need to say and affirm first is – the very essence and DNA of God is love. That’s what John wants us to see in 1 John 4:8.
In 1 Corinthian 13:13, we find these words. “Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” These three items are described in many ways. They are called:
- Three Christian graces
- Spiritual gifts
- The primary and fundamental dispositions of a believer
- Theological virtues
- A three ingredient formula for Christian character
In the context of their appearance in Scripture, we need to see these three expressions are expressions of a genuine believer. We express faith, we have hope, and we are able to love as God loves. Over the next several days, each afternoon we will look at these three truths. We will begin with faith, move to hope, and end with “the greatest of these” which is love. We will see …
- Faith is the foundation
- Hope is ongoing, and
- Love is the capstone of the three.