The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8 CSB).
To be loved by the Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, is truly awesome. For this reason, we ought to know as much about it as possible. Next, let’s consider the characteristics of God’s love.
- God’s love is uninfluenced or uncaused by motives apart from God himself. God’s love is spontaneous, flowing out from his loving nature. God traces his love for his creatures, not to their goodness, but to his (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Anything that he does proceeds from his purpose and grace (2 Timothy 1:9). The expression of God’s love toward his people came from his decision to make the riches of his glory known to them (Romans 9:23-24). In fact, our love for God comes from his love for us (1 John 4:19).
- God’s love is eternal. God did not develop love when he created. No, God has always enjoyed love within the Persons of the Trinity (John 17:24). But what is even more amazing is that God from eternity set his love upon his people (Jeremiah 31:3) and predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4-6).
- God’s love is infinite. It is not measured by our puny ability to calculate or imagine its true glory. Instead, it is as great as God himself (Ephesians 3:18-19). It is a love of such power that it can overcome the greatest obstacles (Ephesians 2:4-5) and move God to give the greatest gift, his one and only Son (John 3:16).
- God’s love is immutable (Romans 8:35-39). As it springs forth from eternity, so nothing can stop God’s love. It keeps a strong hold on all those on whom God sets his heart (John 10:27-29). This ought to produce great confidence in Christ’s followers, even during the darkest hours and in the face of the worst evil. At all times, we are “brothers loved by God” (1 Thessalonians 1:4). Since God’s love comes from his loving nature, it cannot be changed by our failure to love or trust or obey God.
- God’s love is sovereign. We have yet to consider God’s sovereignty, but we must know that God loves whom he will. He is under no obligation to love any. All that any human deserves is justice. If we receive mercy instead of condemnation, it is not something that we can control or force God to extend. It is completely a gift of free grace, proceeding from God’s good pleasure (Luke 10:21). A clear example of this is God’s declaration about Jacob and Esau (Romans 9:10-13). “There was no more reason in Jacob why he should be the object of Divine love, than there was in Esau. They both had the same parents, and were born at the same time, being twins; yet God loved the one and hated the other! Why? Because it pleased Him to do so” (Pink, The Attributes of God, p. 93] “God set his love upon Jacob purely as an act of his sovereign will… To most people this is an unpopular teaching, but it is the only way things can be if God is truly to be God. Assume the opposite: God’s love is regulated by something other than his sovereignty. In that case God would be regulated by this other thing (whatever it is) and would thus be brought under its power. That is impossible if he is still to be God. In Scripture no cause for God’s love other than his electing is ever given” (Boice, God the Redeemer, p. 217]
Someone once thought about John 3:16 and the greatness of God’s love and wrote about “Christ—the Greatest Gift”. I have modified a few words to present the idea more accurately.
God: the greatest Lover
so loved: the greatest degree
the world: the greatest wonder
that he gave: the greatest act
his one and only Son: the greatest gift
that whoever: the greatest offer
believes: the greatest simplicity
in him: the greatest attraction
shall not perish: the greatest promise
but: the greatest difference
have: the greatest certainty
eternal life: the greatest possession
Grace and peace, David