Our foundational theme is: God is in control, God has absolute authority, and He has promised His Presence with us forever [see: A Simple View of God]. These three tenets form our belief that God is LORD of all, including us. In order to know Him better, God acts through miracles, providence, creation, and His authoritative decrees. This may all be a little abstract for you, but hang in there with me. Because God doesn’t want us to just study theology, He actually wants us to KNOW Him personally. He has also revealed His attributes through this whole process. Each of these attributes correspond to the three tenets discussed already. The ATTRIBUTES which demonstrate control, authority, and presence are: LOVE, KNOWLEDGE, and POWER.
Today we’ll focus on LOVE.
John the apostle wants there to be no mistake…
1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:16
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
John is emphatic: God is LOVE!!! [He wrote it twice in 8 verses]
The Old Testament uses many different terms to describe God’s ethical characteristics including: goodness, grace, covenant faithfulness (Hebrew: hesed), righteousness, justice, and finally, yes, LOVE! All these terms have nuance within the passages where we find them.
When we find God’s love, we see: allegiance, affection, and ACTION! Isn’t it fun that these reflect our basic tenets about God as LORD [control, authority, presence]. Allegiance demonstrates God’s loyalty to HIS OWN WORDS of promise. Affection is simply God’s emotional fondness for His creation [think John 3:16]. And action is God demonstrating His own love towards in that while we were still sinners Jesus died for us on the cross. [Romans 5:8]
Here’s the thing…
God loves all His creation, and His creatures, even those who hate Him (His enemies). Have you ever noticed the point of these verses:
- Matthew 5:43-48
- Genesis 18:25
- John 3:16
- 1 John 4:8-10
What each of these verses make very clear is that while we deserve death, that is not what God offers us. In His death, Jesus got what we deserve, and when we trust Him as Savior and LORD, we get what we DO NOT deserve… HIS forgiveness, and life everlasting! This is God’s love, goodness, grace, and righteousness in ACTION bringing us to salvation and redemption.
That said, it is also clear in the Bible that God is a wrathful God… a God of judgment. You may not believe this but it actually says that God hates some people (the wicked: Leviticus 20:23; Deuteronomy 25:16]. In fact until we trusted in Jesus, this would describe us as well [the wicked]. Paul says, [Ephesians 2:3]
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
About now you might be thinking… “How can God hate people if He is love? That makes no sense!” Look at it through the lens of what we’ve already believed as basic tenets of faith.
Because God is LORD of ALL, He has the RIGHT to expect us to be faithful to Him, to do as He instructs, to keep His commands, and to receive His grace in Christ. When we do not do this, we invoke God’s wrath. And while God IS LOVE, don’t mistake that to mean that He is obligated in some way to distribute this love equally to all.
While God gives everyone sunshine and rain [Matthew 5:43-48], God has the authority to reserve His best blessings (forgiveness and grace) only for those who believe in His Son, sent to save mankind from their sin. It is only when we receive Jesus that He calls us His own family, His children, with the rights and privileges of grace and redemption.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–
God is love. This love commands, and demands, that we believe in His name… the person, Jesus!
Next time, the attributes of Knowledge.
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