-Motivational Blog Posts To Encourage You To Stay On The Mainstream Path Of Faith-
The word love has been skewed in today's culture. Anytime a word is overused, it is manipulated and taken out of context making the true meaning slowly fade away. The meaning and name of God have also been very skewed. It doesn't take an expert detective to find different beliefs on who or what or when God is. Take a hundred random people to answer some simple questions about God, I am quite positive that they're all going to be a little different, but many come to the same answer in some way. This is what makes the doctrine of the love of God so difficult to describe.
"God loves everyone and everything. He knows everything. He is a great protector for everyone." This is a very basic idea of what many will say about who God is or describe God. It's very simple, and I am not saying all of it is false, but it is not full. There is so much missing. Check out this website if you have the time by clicking here. That website talks about a poll taken in the US about people who say they believe in God. It's funny... mostly sad.... but a little funny... many who say they believe in God have a hard time answering questions about Him.
The point I am getting at is that mixed understandings of love + confusing beliefs in God = A HUGE PROBLEM! How can we truly say we know God loves if:
1) We can't define love.
2) We can't define God.
Do you see the issue? That's why I would urge you to read your Bible! Don't wait for the day to come when your pastor or priest or friend or neighbor decides to teach you this stuff! You need to take action! Be motivated to get edified by the word of God! We need to be willing to learn about God. What I teach you today, I want you to learn from! I do not want you to simply and blindly believe/apply what I say. LEARN from it.
AKA - take the knowledge I have gained and felt the desire to type out and go proof check it. Read your Bible. Buy the book I read. Study it out yourself. Please, don't blindly believe what I say. I did it for years myself, and I never want to do it again. Don't believe what a mere man has to say. Believe what God has to say. I will quote some scripture to back up my points to show that this is from the word of God, but I would encourage you to go and read these things yourself!
From the learning I received in D. A. Carson's book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, here are 5 aspects of God's love found in the Bible
PS: this is going to be long... Instead of quoting each verse, I will be leaving links to scripture at the end of each point for you to look up and study on your own.
1) God's Trinitarian Love
The love of God between the Father and the Son is the most unique love seen in the Bible. This kind of love is something that does not exist anywhere outside of the Triune God. It cannot be replicated, nor can it be fully comprehended. The Love Between God the Father and God the Son is the ultimate picture of God's love we should all long to mimic ourselves.
It is not only a love that is like Father and Son love but a love that was kept perfect through the obedience of Jesus to the Father. For example, a father will always love his son, but the son definitely senses the love differently when he obeys or disobeys. This is because, though punishment may be out of love, the love does not feel rewarding. Since Jesus kept the Father's commands perfectly, their unity of love was always perfect.
2) God's Creation + Provisional Love
God has what some would call "common love" for all things. This love is not one that is intimate and emotional, but a love that is a choice God has made. He chose to make all things and call them good, showing He had a love that was pleased with His creation. In Matthew 6, Jesus speaks of how God provides for Creation and having full control of providing for the animals. If He can provide for the birds and the lilies, how much more can He provide for humans, the ones made in God's very image?
God did not make the earth and immediately hate it. Yes, He does have sorrow for His creation because of what sin has caused, but that doesn't mean He has stopped loving. He still sends rain; God still provides food. God is still actively working in His creation though it is no longer in perfection. God has a love for His creation that does not rely on the creation's state of perfection. Thankfully, this is good news for us. Though we live in a fallen world, we can have faith God is still actively loving us.
3) God's Salvific Love
This is probably the most commonly understood love, yet it needs to be referred to. The God in His love granting salvation is the best news we as sinful humans can hear. Out of love, God sent His Son for the world. Out of love, God foreshadowed redemption for humankind in history. Out of love, God made a way of salvation through belief.
The hard part for many to understand is that this love, though it is shared will all men and women, is not acknowledged or experienced by all men and women. Sadly, God gives this loving gift and not only offers salvation but demands all to repent, yet some hearts stay in a dark place and never come to salvation. Some never really grasp and partake in the fullness of God's love. God makes it clear that His love is shown and there, but foolish men decline God's beautiful love offering. Do not be one of those men. Christ died for the sinners of this world, to sufficiently pay the price. Come to Christ and let the blood sacrifice sent out of love wash you clean!
1 John 2:2
4) God's Intimate Elective Love
God has a specific love that is shown only to the elect. This love is seen in ways it is not shown to the whole world. This is not to cause jealousy or to say I am better than someone else, but this is to show that God longs for an intimate and affectionate relationship with His children. Like His relationship with the Son, He longs for a close father-son relationship with His children. Christians have been adopted into the family of God; this was because God has set affection on His children.
They may sound unfair to the ones who are not the elect, but you must remember that God is not the author of sin. Man is! God is not responsible for man neglecting to belief. Man is responsible for their own actions. For God to set special affection on whom He pleases is something to rejoice over. As a Christian, I can say, "What!? Me? You have an intimate love for me?" How marvelous this truth is, and it makes me want to love and worship God all the more!
God chose to change my will, to draw me close, to save me! It was nothing I did or said; it was all God. I have all the reason to rejoice and serve Him with my life! I love Him because He decided to first love me! This is the greatest aspect of God's love that could happen to anyone, and if it has not happened to you, cry out for mercy that God would bestow such love on your life!
5) God's Directed Love In Obedience
Lastly, God's love is seen through the elect's obedience. We are to mimic Christ the way He kept God's commandment to stay in His love, so shall we. This love is specifically only for Believers to partake in, as Believers are the only ones that can do the will of God. As I mentioned above, when a child obeys his father, he feels that love because of his obedience. Similarly, when a child disobeys his father, he will not feel the father's love but the father's wrath. Though this wrath is out of love, it is felt in a much different way.
The Bible describes the relationship of a Christian and the heavenly Father in the same way. When we obey God, we stay under His will and under His love. When we disobey God, we come out from underneath the will and love of God and fall under His wrath. This is not an easy truth to accept, but it must be something we believe; otherwise, we would not keep the father's commandments. This gives us the initiative to keep His commands and obey Him as we should.
This does not mean we will lose salvation in disobedience. Once we are saved, we are secure in the Father's love. Like any good father, no matter how the child disobeys, the father will always love His child, and discipline him to come back onto the path they are to be on. This good news should motivate and encourage us to do as we are told in God's word.
With the five aspects of the love of God in mind, there are a few more things to keep in mind that I would like to go over.
The Love Of God Is Unified
Never should we ever look at the five aspects of God's love divided. God's love is not to be divided, for God's love is unified as one attribute. God does not have five different loves. God only has one love. This is so important to keep in mind because if we try to divide His love, we can fall into the danger of elevating the importance of one aspect of God's love. They are all equally important and must all be seen this way.
For example, I should not say God's elective love is more important than God's common creation + provisional love. Without God's creation + provisional love in place, God's elective love would not even exist. I cannot put too much weight on the other side either, for then we are making His intimacy less important than it truly is.
We also cannot say His Trinitarian love is most important because if God's love for His Son was more important than the love for creation and life on earth, He would not have made the sacrifice He did. Do you see why all of the aspects of God's love are completely unified? They all exist as one love. Without one aspect of these five loves, the others would cease to exist. They are all so important together.
This also brings up another important point I would like to make: we must understand each aspect of love individually to understand the love of God in its context. This is where Calvinists and Arminianists find many of their debates. Calvinist put more weight on God's intimate, elective love, forgetting that God's salvific love was for all. Arminianists put more weight on God's salvific love, forgetting the importance and beauty that is found in the affectionate love of God that is set upon the elect. Without having an understanding of the importance of both, we will start to pick sides and argue why one is right and one is wrong.
Many try to do the work backward by saying, "well, the Greek word used for love in this context is agape, so it must mean this." The problem with this is that instead of allowing the context to define the meaning of specific words, we allow the word to define the specific meaning of the context. Have you ever heard the term "Context is King"? This is a true statement we must take into account when understanding passages. The book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God speaks much more on the Greek words of love and solid reasons why it can be dangerous to allow one word to define a whole context, but I am not going to go into it now. You will have to get the book yourself to find out.
Here is one quick example to hopefully drive home my point. Some will say John 3:16 is not speaking of the world or loving the world; it is speaking of love that is meant for the elect. That would be using words to describe the context. Allowing the context to describe the words gives us the better understanding of the passages meaning. We also have to remember that trying to go back to the Greek and not speaking the Greek ourselves can be dangerous. We may not understand the reading like they would, and therefore draw conclusions that are not there.
With a holistic understanding of the word love, we can then know which aspect of the word love is being used in the context. This is why it is important to know what it means when the Bible says "God loves". Without understanding who God is or what love is, we cannot truly understand this statement.
God Is Transcendent, Omniscient, And Sovereign
When studying the doctrine of the love of God (or any doctrine for that matter), we must remember who we are studying. We are not studying a human! Do not make the same mistake I made for years, compare God's attributes to human attributes! This is so dangerous, and I would advise you to break that habit if you started it. When we view God and study Him, we must remember the context of who we are studying.
We must remember specifically these three attributes of God: He is transcendent, omniscient, and sovereign.
Transcendent - God is above and not bound by space or time
Omniscient - God is all-knowing
Sovereign - God is in full control of all things
Without remembering these three attributes of God, we will fall into the mindset of putting God in a box and making Him seem like a mere human.
With these three attributes of God in mind, we can then have a better understanding and perspective of who God is. When we look at God's love with this perspective, it makes it all the more glorious. Think about it: God, knowing all things, outside space and time, and in full control, decided to intimately interact with the world He created and LOVE! He showed love in the midst of all the sin. How amazing truly is our God? I can't even fathom how great He is! Though how imperfect and sinful I have been, God set affection on me!
The great news of this truth is that if God has chosen to love, He must have a reason. He did not choose to love without a plan, for He knows all things. If He knows all things, then God gives His love with a purpose! This is good news for all; God has a purpose for the loved creation He has. How amazing is that? Just think about how beautiful that truth truly is? Are you in awe of the doctrine of the love of God yet?
God's Love Is In Full Agreement With God's Wrath
Lastly, I want to mention the term compatibilism. Compatibilism refers to the truth that all attributes of God are in full agreement with one another. If they were not, then obviously we are misunderstanding something. God does not overstep or make mistakes; His very nature is immutable (unchangeable). Keeping this in mind, we must then realize that God's love and God's wrath are compatible with one another.
This is a sticky subject for many, and it does not agree with what the world believes about the love of God. The truth is, God's love is not greater than any one of His other attributes. He is perfectly loving, but God is also perfectly holy. And to protect God's holiness, He must be full of wrath and justice. Without God's punishing justice, His love would not align with His holiness. God must stay holy and hate sin.
Multiple times in the Psalms the hard words that God hates sinners are repeated. While many would say, "No, God doesn't hate; He only loves," they're wrong. God must stand firm on His justice. The good news is that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to make a way to be justified in the presence of God. While this is true, the bad news is that apart from Christ, you are under the wrath of God. Though God still shows love to the sinner that is at enmity with God, He cannot save one that is not justified.
God's love may be deep and wide, but it will not overstep the bounds of God's holiness.
A great example of how we see the compatibility of God's wrath and God's love is the cross. God poured out His wrath in order to bring redemption to pass. God's love was given through His Son when God's wrath was taken in our place. This is the picture of God's love and wrath colliding in complete unity. Through God's wrath, we see His loving hand working and vice versa.
If you've made it this far, thank you for actually taking the time to learn more about the love of God from what I have been taught through God's word and D. A. Carson's book. I hope and pray that I have been an encouragement to you, and that these words motivate you to learn more about the love of God. Whether that is through reading The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, studying the Word, or maybe somewhere else, I hope that you will go somewhere to deepen your faith through the studying of God and His attributes.
Thanks again for reading what God has laid upon my heart. I would appreciate it if you comment below on what you thought of this post, subscribe to my blog to get updated on new posts in the future, or hit one of the social media icons below. All the support helps my audience grow and the furthering of the teachings of the Bible.
Hi, I am Michael Jaymes. I am 20 years old, and decided to start writing in the winter of 2017. I have always loved writing, and I get to pour out that passion in my blog. I want to be a motivation, an encouragement, and edify my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that come to MainstreamBlog. I have made my life motto, "I just want to be a blessing." This is where I live that out!