God’s Love to Man
The Bible declares that “God is love” (1 John 4:7–8). This statement is of great value in understanding the plan of salvation. For only God’s love would grant freedom of choice to His creatures and run the risk of suffering pain that sin has brought to the Godhead. Only Love would want to win the voluntary love of those who were free to go their own way. Only Love could make a plan that would allow the universe to understand the truths in the great controversy between good and evil, and thus safeguard against any future uprising of sin.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God’s love was best illustrated in the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf (1 John 4:9). “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). He did that “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).
As the prodigal son was received by his earthly father, likewise, we are received through faith by our Heavenly Father (Luke 15:11–32; Ephesians 1:6). The apostle John, in amazement declared, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
In gratitude for what God did for us, we are to love Him not by words but by actions through His enabling grace. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). God’s commandments can be expressed in different ways:
- Loving God with all the heart and one’s neighbor as oneself (Luke 10:27; 1 John 2:5; 4:12; 5:3).
- Believing in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and following His steps (1 John 3:23).
- Keeping the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) for they are but the expansion of the two commandments, love to God and love to man (Matthew 19:17–19; 22:36–40; Romans 13:8–10). Love to God makes keeping the first four commandments (which concern God) a joy, and love toward our neighbor makes keeping the last six (which concern our neighbor) a pleasure.
Love fulfills the law by taking away the labor of mere obedience and by making law-keeping a delight (Psalm 40:8). Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).
The Qualities of Love
Paul writes about the qualities of love in the “love chapter”: love is patient and kind; love doesn’t envy, boast, or dishonor others; love is not proud or self-seeking; love is not easily angered, doesn’t keep a record of wrongs, and doesn’t delight in evil; rather, love rejoices with the truth; love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres; love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4–8).
The apostle uses the Greek word Agape, which is the higher type of love that is based on principle. This love is between the Father and Jesus (John 15:10; 17:26) and their love for lost humanity (John 15:9; 1 John 3:1; 4:9, 16). And Paul ends the love chapter by the words, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (verse 13).
No Fear in Love
The person that doesn’t have Christ is under judgment and therefore, he has fear (John 3:18). But once a person accepts Christ, he is saved and doesn’t fear the judgement (John 3:17). Therefore, he who truly loves has no fear of God and has no need to fear the hate of men (Matthew 10:28; Hebrews 13:6). For “if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31–39). Christ declares that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38–39). Thus, “perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).
In His service,