The Love of God
The Love of God
Shortly after my conversion, just after my sophomore year at Clemson University, I began attending Fellowship of Christian Athlete (FCA) meetings. I will never forget the expressions on the faces of the students when I first began attending. They were surprised and confused. Because of my wild lifestyle, I was told by more than one student that they thought I was the last person on campus that would ever become a Christian. What I remember most from those FCA meetings, however, was the singing, praying, and preaching. As soon as the singing commenced, my heart was overwhelmed with a sense of the nearness of God and His love for me. For weeks I could not make it through a song without being overcome with deep remorse for my sin and gratefulness for God’s forgiveness and love, causing many tears. When the gospel was preached, it occurred to me that never before had I heard the gospel message with ears of faith. The following thought kept coming to my mind: “God loves me – though I have rebelled against Him, though I have cursed His name, though I have worshipped Idols – God loves me, gave His Son for me, and has brought me to Himself.” For the first time in my life I truly understood (and embraced) the indescribable love of God.
This love that I was newly experiencing through a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ was markedly different from anything I had experienced before. Unlike other loves, this love was pure, full, abounding, satisfying, and limitless. No person or possession could rival the divine love that had captured my mind, will, and affections. God and His love became my chief pursuit and this helped me to love people and things properly. In fact, this is what the grace of God does, it transforms lives.
The Apostle John states in I John 4:8 that “God is love.” Indeed, within the eternal Godhead exists a perfect love relationship. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have always enjoyed a three-way reciprocal relationship that is founded upon holy love. Some teach that God created us because He was feeling lonely and needed someone to love. This idea would lead us to believe, however, that there is some deficiency in God. On the contrary, even before creation the three persons dwelled in perfect unity, joy, and love.
How is it, then, that mankind is able to know and experience the incomprehensible love of God? Again the Apostle John explains, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him” (I John 4:9). Here is revealed to us the full expression and manifestation of God’s love. He sent His only Son into the world. Why? So that Christ would live a sinless life and then be a propitiation (wrath-bearer) for sinners from every tribe, tongue, and nation.
As I sat in those mid-week campus meetings at Clemson and soon began attending a good local church, the consistent message of the love and forgiveness of God manifested in the person and work of Christ never became old. You see, I could not – and still cannot – forget the chains that once held me in bondage to sin and Satan. The love of God in the gospel – communicated by the Spirit through the means of grace – should never get tiresome and redundant. When it does, it means that our hearts have been captured by something else. Isn’t this why John warns us at the end of his first epistle, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:21)?
Many people refer to John 3:16 as the gospel in a nutshell. Perhaps the Apostle’s words in his first epistle are an even better summary of God’s saving love. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [wrath-bearer] for our sins” (I John 4:10). In response to this ineffable love, Count Zinzendorf wrote in 1739:
Jesus, be endless praise to thee, whose boundless mercy hath for me –
for me a full atonement made, an everlasting ransom paid.
Beloved Christ Church, let us live and worship in the light of the love of God manifested in the perfect life, substitutionary death, and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we do, God’s love will radically transform our lives and inevitably lead others to the wellspring of love that has changed us.
- Pastor Jon