Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Is God Love? How Do We Know?

The atheist who stopped by my blog to tell me that “God is not love” got me thinking. In writing, we talk about how we should show, don’t just tell. That’s nothing new. God knew that a long time before we did and yet, we have this statement in the Bible that says, “God is love.” I thought it might do us good to take a closer look at that.

The statement appears not once but twice in First John 4. It is in verse 8 and again in verse 16. In verse 8 is says, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” In verse 16 it says, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

In context, what we see here is that John isn’t trying to tell us that God is love. John writes this in such a way that we see that he took the statement “God is love” as a known fact. It is similar to someone saying, a green leaf is not the sky because the sky is blue. What John is saying is that we know that those without love are not saved because we know that God is love. On the other hand, a person can’t dwell in love without dwelling in God because God is love.

When we extend the context farther, we see that John doesn’t leave us without evidence to support his assumption that God is love. Look at First John 4:9, 10. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins.” If you have any doubts about God being love, put that in your pipe and smoke it. How many fathers do you know who would ask their only child to die the death of the cross (even knowing he would rise from the dead) in order to save the life of a murderer facing the death penalty? Most people would say, “he did the crime, he should pay the price,” and they wouldn’t be wrong in saying that.

Even more than us, God recognizes that those who commit the crime must pay the price. God’s glory is so great that no sinful man can stand before God and live. Just to look at him would kill us, but he wants a relationship with us. He wants us to be able to see him face to face. He wants that so much that he sent Jesus to be the propitiation for our sins. Literally, Jesus took on our sins, as if he had committed those sins, and died for them, so that we could take on his righteousness. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

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