We love Him, because He first loved us. —1 John 4:19
Most people are interested in their own possessions, but I find that Christians have a great deal more than they realize and more than they are possessing and enjoying. Let’s have a little Bible reading about the Love of God.
Read from First John, the fourth chapter, beginning at verse nine. “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.”
Now this statement certainly proves beyond any shadow of a doubt, by means of referring us to the Cross of Calvary, that God does love us. There may be someone listening to my voice who doubts the love of God. “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.” I have two sons. I couldn’t force myself to give either of those sons for the best man who ever lived, let alone for a world of sinners. But God proved His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. God loves us! Now, verses 11 through 16a —
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us.”
I’m sure all of you have known—have you believed God’s love? “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (v. 16b).
“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love Him, because He first loved us” (vv. 17 through 19).
I suppose one of the reasons for doubting the love of God is a sense of our own unworthiness. I know there is no reason why God should love me. I wasn’t so irresistible. I was just a sinner and God knew all about me. I recognized my unworthiness. But God didn’t love us for what we are. There’s an old song that goes, “I wonder what He saw in me to suffer such deep agony.” Well, let me let you in on a little secret—He didn’t see a thing! That isn’t why He loved you. He loved you because it’s His character. He is love.
Not only did God love the whole world, as that wonderful verse, John 3:16, tells us: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever, believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” but we are told also that Christ loved the church. Specifically, in the fifth chapter of Ephesians.
And then Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “…the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” John, the beloved apostle, seemed to grasp this more than most for he called himself, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Now the manner of the love of God, I’d like to say, is not a complacent love. It isn’t because He is so pleased with us, even after we’ve become Christians, but it is a compassionate love.
And I would like to say, too, that God loves us in the same way He loves His Son. That is, to the same degree. We are told that we are loved as the Father loves the Son.
Some of you may be wondering if He is going to continue to love you. Well, did He have any reason to begin? If He had no reason to start loving you, is He going to quit? In Jeremiah 31:3 He calls this love an “everlasting love.” And in the Song of Solomon, chapter eight, and verse seven, He says, “Many waters cannot quench love.” This kind of love is enduring.
I suppose everyone loves the eighth chapter of Romans. That chapter begins by telling us: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,” and it ends by telling us that nothing can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
If you feel your unworthiness just now, God hasn’t changed a bit. It is only you who change. I change, but not God. I change, He changes not. “No change Jehovah knows,” the old song says. And that’s very true.
Now God has proven His love to us, not only at Calvary, but think of His lovingkindness. And this is a word that seems to be peculiar to the Bible. It is used thirty times: Lovingkindness. We don’t use that word very much—maybe because there isn’t much kindness in our love for one another. But God is kind to us.
And the love of God is the love that brings us into son-ship because He says in First John 3:1, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” That’s what we are. Because God loved us, He made us His own children. Now I may love someone enough to spare him some trouble or punishment, but to love him enough to make him my own son is quite another thing. And that’s what God has done to us. Some of you who come to God with fear and trembling, almost afraid to ask God for something, do you realize that you are His own dear child? That as Christ is, so are we in this world? That we have not only “boldness in the day of judgment,” as we read in First John, but we have liberty, or boldness, to come into the very presence of God—to pray, to talk to Him, to be at home with Him,—all because He loves us so much. When you know a person loves you, you feel at home in his company.
Another proof of the love of God for us, in everyday life, is chastisement. Now you may not have thought of it this way, but He says, “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” (Heb. 12:6). The very trouble some of you are going through right now may be a proof God loves you! He doesn’t want you to go on in a way that is displeasing to Him, so He’s bringing you back to Himself with a little chastening.
Then, when we love someone, we like to spend time with them. We’re told in the fourteenth chapter of John that God showed His love to us in that He wants to live with us. He says He will love us and will make His abode with us.
Now think about the effects of the love of God in our lives. We just read together in First John 4 that we are given “boldness in the day of judgment.” I think that means we have no fear about meeting God about our sins. Some people live in constant fear that maybe their sins aren’t forgiven after all; that maybe they’ll be lost after all. Well, read that verse over—see what it says. He wants you to be “rooted and grounded in love” as we read in Ephesians 3:17. The result of being rooted and grounded in love is that we’ll come to know the love of Christ better than we do. The word for “know” here is a word that means “full knowledge.” He wants you to know, by revelation, how very much He loves you.
Another effect of the love of God is that we are brought to love Him. The more you read of the love of God, the more you believe God’s love, the more response there will be in your heart to God, and you’ll love Him in return. And you’ll love His Word, and you’ll love His people, and you’ll love the souls of the unconverted, “We love… because He first loved us.”
We are told in Second Corinthians 5:14 that the love of God “constrains us.” Now this isn’t restraint, like the Law restrains people—holds them back from sinning. This is constraint. He pulls us with Himself. The love of God leads us along and makes us want to please Him. And we judge that since He died for us, and we have died with Him, we are not now our own but we belong to Him. The love of God constrains us, pulls us with Himself, makes us live in a way that we would not and could not without this constraining power of the love of God.
Do you believe the love of God? First of all, have you ever believed that God loved you and gave His Son for you? And have you ever thanked Him? If not, this would be a good time to do so. Just bow your head and tell God that you have turned His love away, you have not believed His love, but you do believe Him now. And if you do believe Him, and if you have believed Him before, why not believe that love more and enjoy it more. Revel in it. Live in it—day by day. God would like to have you enjoy these things which we have as believers. The children of Israel did not enjoy their possessions because they did not go in and possess them.
Our Father, we thank Thee for the Lord Jesus, a proof of Thy love to us. We thank Thee for daily proofs. We pray that Thou wilt direct our hearts into the love of God and enable us as believers to keep ourselves in the love of God, to enjoy and to show to others that we believe this love. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.