"God is love.” Though short, this sentence is a statement of eternal magnitude and significance. Never was more meaning encapsulated in so few words than in this short sentence – “God is love.” The Apostle John stated this truth twice in his first epistle (cf. 1 John 4:8, 16). The message of this short verse reverberates throughout the Bible!
Some clarifications, though, are necessary before any further elaboration of this glorious statement is attempted. When John wrote that “God is love”, he was not saying that “love” is the complete revelation of God. In fact, he has already written in the same epistle that “God is light” (1 John 1:5), which refers to God’s holy nature (cf. John 3:18–21; 1 John 1:5–10). So, love is not the only attribute that adequately describes God. God cannot be fully explained by one of His attributes alone. Love is not the only perception we ought to have of Him. Neither was the Apostle John implying that “love is God”. The emphasis of the saying, “God is love”, is that in God alone can one fully view what true love is, and only by His enablement can one have the power to express true love.
The declaration that “God is love” not only reveals God as a loving God, but also portrays love as natural and essential to His divine glory. All of God’s will and all of His works are draped in His glorious love. In nature and essence, He is “God of love” (2 Corinthians 13:11).
God is perfect, and His love is perfect too. God is unfathomable, and hence His love is beyond our full grasp. But the knowledge that God is full of perfect and infinite love enables us to draw near to Him with full assurance of faith for pardon and redemption.
In this dark world of hatred, sin and sorrows, we have the assurance that a God of infinite love rules over all. Though we may not be able to reconcile all the cruelty and tragedies that occur around us, yet by exercising faith on this marvellous declaration, we can find consolation. In fact, amidst all the sadness, sin and sorrow, there is abundant evidence that God is love. Among all the manifestations of His love in this dark world, the gift of a Saviour is the greatest of all.
We can know God because His great love is manifested unto us. Immediately after making the assertion that “God is love”, the Apostle John wrote, “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” (1 John 4:9-10). God’s love has sent the Son of God to bear all our sins so that we may know Him intimately.
How amazing it is that God should love vile mortals like us. Who can fully comprehend that the holy, eternal God would love ungrateful rebels such as we? What a great mystery and a grand miracle that divine love would send His only begotten Son into the world for us! If this is not love, what is then?
John says, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). God’s sending of His Son is so unusual and such an unprecedented expression of love that the apostle says, “Herein is love”. God loved the world so wonderfully, so amazingly and so incredibly that He sacrificed His only begotten Son as the ransom for the redemption of sinners. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Being moved by the love of God manifested through Christ, the Apostle John exclaimed, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1a). John encourages us to contemplate the greatness of God’s love. He points us to God’s love as peculiar. It is an “out-of-this-world” kind of love. There is no act of love in this world that can ever be compared to God’s love that received us as His children, though we were once His enemies.
The apostle was so astonished at the greatness of God’s love that he wrote, “What manner of love”. The Greek words potapên agape, used by the apostle, point to both the quantity and quality of God’s love. Its length, breadth, depth and height are beyond description!
How can we ever describe the love of God that allows us to call Him, “Father!” There can be no higher expression of love than His adopting of us, reckless children as we are, as His own, now and forever. There can never be any greater act of love – even from God – than that which He has manifested through the sacrifice of His Son, so that we may be reconciled to Him as His children! “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” (John 3:16).
He loved us, when we had no love for Him. He lovingly came to us, even when we had wandered away from Him. When we laid down in our sin, guilt and misery, His tender love sought to redeem us. When we were undeserving, ill-deserving, polluted and unclean, He stooped down in love to wash us from our sins with His sacred blood. While we were dead in trespasses, His love for us affixed Him on the cross to die that we might live forever through Him. He loved us, wretched sinful mortals, that we might live in heaven, live with God and live in eternal glory and blessedness with Him and through Him: O, what love has reached us here on earth!
All those who have tasted His love, in receiving the salvation by faith in Christ, must praise Him for His eternal love. When we remember how insignificant we are as creatures, and how ungrateful, rebellious and vile we have been as sinners, we may well be full of adoration and worship at His love which had adopted us into the holy family of God, so that we may be regarded and treated as the children of the Most High. The love of God that surpasses all finite conception will be the theme of adoring praises from multitudes that no man can number, for ever and ever. Moreover, we should declare His love to every creature, that others may also come to Him and rejoice in His love.
Even in this world of animosity, bitterness, violence and suffering, we have sufficient evidence to prove that He is benevolent. Let us always behold the cross where the love of God shines through the injustice, travesty and violence of human sin. The gruesome experiences of this earth tend to mask our perception that God is love. The full glory and meaning of His infinite love will be fully understood only when we reach heaven. In the meantime, let us hold on to the truth that God is love. Let us believe that He sincerely desires our good, and that what seems dark to us is designed for our welfare. Amidst all the sorrows and disappointments of the present life, let us be rest assured that our interests and our destiny are in the hands of the God of love.
There is none who is infinitely perfect in love as God. O, what astonishing goodness and condescension from the Almighty God towards us who believe on His Son. Indeed, God is love!