Lesson 16 - The Love of God

Lesson 16 - The Love of God

Lesson for April 15, 2012

Christian Integrity

The Love of God

One of God’s attributes is love.  God’s love for Himself is the greatest love of all.  God the Father personally loves God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  God the Son personally loves God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.  And God the Holy Spirit personally loves God the Father and God the Son.  God’s love is perfect and is never compromised by anything human beings do or don’t do. 

In designing the power system that would sustain Jesus Christ while on earth, God patterned the love complex after His own divine attribute of love.  God’s love is unique and different from man’s love.  God does not fall in love, begin to love or increase nor decrease His love.  God’s love is not dependent on attraction, rapport or deeds.  God cannot be coerced into loving.  Furthermore, God’s love shows no partiality.  God’s love functions the same way today that it did in eternity past.

As an attribute, God’s love cannot be isolated from His other attributes.  They all function together and one is never compromised by another.  Two attributes of God that coordinate with God’s love are justice and righteousness.  These two attributes taken together are often designated as God’s holiness.  Unfortunately holiness has become an obscure, if not misused, word when describing God’s character.  This is why we use the word integrity in its place.  Righteousness is the standard of God’s integrity and justice is the function.  To avoid compromising His love, every action that God takes toward man has to be executed by God’s justice as demanded by His righteousness.

God’s love exists in two categories when directed toward mankind: divine impersonal love and divine personal love.  Divine impersonal love is unconditional and is based on the subject, God, not the object of His love.  Through the unmerited favor of grace, God has provided the solution to the sinfulness of the human race.  All which God is free to do for mankind on the basis of Christ’s work on the Cross, defines God’s grace.  Salvation is provided for each member of the human race on the basis of grace through faith in Christ in coordination with God’s justice and righteousness.  

Divine personal love is conditional and is based on the object, believers, not the subject.  Only through God’s grace can sinful mankind become acceptable to His righteousness and justice.  This is the doctrine of propitiation which states that Jesus Christ completely satisfied the righteousness of God the Father.  Only as believers are we qualified to be loved personally by God.  Justification means to be declared righteous and this is what happens at the moment of salvation.  Since God loves His own righteous wherever He finds it, He is free to love believers personally, as they now possess His righteousness. 

As possessors of God’s righteousness, believers can receive blessing from Him.  Divine righteousness always deserves blessing.  The approval to bless believers comes from the Supreme Court of Heaven.  Judicially, God is free to bless any believer regardless of spiritual status because His blessing is not based on our works.  However, God gives believers the right blessing at the right time based on their capacity to receive them.  Too much prosperity at the wrong time can destroy a believer more quickly than adversity can.  Only through Bible doctrine resident in our souls and properly applied can believers keep pace with God’s timing for blessings.

God’s love is not emotional or sentimental.  God does not love mankind because they are lovable or because they deserve His love.  Mistakenly, some people attempt to humanize God by ascribing to Him some emotional, superficial love.  God does not bless us, for example, because He is sentimental about us.  To be blessed by God, a believer must adhere to the divine protocol for blessing.  Divine protocol for blessing requires a believer to have the capacity to receive blessing.  This protocol aligns perfectly with the justice and righteousness of God and therefore the love of God.

Like God’s love, our personal love within God’s power system derives its strength from the virtue that we have developed as a result of the consistent intake and application of accurate Bible doctrine.  In other words, God’s love is the pattern for legitimate human love.  Genuine love between believers originates from God.  (I John 4:7-8)

As knowledge of Bible doctrine builds our virtue within God’s divine power system, our capacity to love others increases and is expressed in our treatment of those in our periphery.  An understanding of the categories of God’s love helps us distinguish the difference between impersonal and personal love and the power of impersonal love.  The true power behind personal love is impersonal love because impersonal love is unconditional.

God’s love for His own essence explains the phrase “God is love.”  No human being is ever said to be love.  This is an attribute exclusive to God.  Before anything or anyone was created, God loved just as He does today.  God’s love has always existed and never required an object to love.  God’s love is unchangeable.  Unlike you and I, God’s love does not fluctuate.  God’s love does depend on any other created object.

Since God is perfect righteousness, He loves Himself.  This love is not arrogant because it is within the keeping of the perfect standard of righteousness and justice which God possesses.  Failure to love Himself would be a compromise of God’s righteousness and justice since He must love His own righteousness wherever it is found (even within His own essence). 

God exists in three separate and distinct Persons, each having identical attributes and essence: the Father (I Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 1:3), the Son (John 10:30; 14:9; Colossians 2:9), and the Holy Spirit (Exodus 31:3; Isaiah 6:8-9; Acts 28:25; Isaiah 11:2; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 10:15-17). 

The Trinity is perhaps the most difficult doctrine in the Bible to understand, but it is imperative that we do our best to understand and accept this important spiritual truth.  Our understanding of the Trinity (or Godhead) affects our understanding of Christology, the doctrine of the Person and work of Christ.  It also affects our understanding of Pneumatology, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, our power source.  Understanding the Godhead, and the role of each member, is essential to a believer’s ability to live the Christian Way of Life. (Psalms 110:1; John 10:30)

The Trinity DOES NOT mean that there are “three gods in one.”  The Trinity means that there is “one God existing as three Persons.”  Each Person of the Trinity is co-equal, co-eternal and co-infinite and possesses the same nature.  Each Person of the Trinity is a separate Person who possesses the same attributes individually.  Each Person of the Trinity has a distinct purpose that is related to God’s eternal plan.  For example, the Father is the planner and source of all things, the Son is the executor of the Father’s plan and the Holy Spirit is the revealer of the plan and the power to execute it. (Matthew 28:19)

The word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible; it is a technical, theological word to describe the Godhead.  It is a concept unique to Christianity and is established in both the Old and the New Testaments.  Even the Hebrew word for God (Elohim) in Genesis 1:1 is a plural noun used with a singular verb asserting that all Persons of the Trinity took part in Creation.  In Genesis 1:26-27 we see the phrase “Let us make man in our image…” indicating a Trinity. (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2)

All three members of the Godhead possess identical attributes.  These attributes are Sovereignty, Righteousness, Justice, Love, Eternal Life, Veracity, Immutability, Omnipresence, Omnipotence and Omniscience.  When a believer understands Who God is, by learning about His attributes and perfect character, he can begin to build a stable foundation of inner happiness and peace.  This foundation, based on God’s character, will sustain the believer in adversity and in prosperity.  Relying upon God’s character results in good decisions and actions regardless of life’s circumstances.  It must be remembered that God’s attributes work in harmony.  For example, Righteousness and Justice work in harmony with Love in answer to “How can a loving God send someone to hell?”.  God’s righteousness and justice demand a penalty for man’s sin and God’s love provides the payment – Jesus Christ.  Once the salvation solution is accepted, God’s other attributes become operational in the life of the believer.  (John 3:18)

The role of each Person of the Godhead is distinct.  For example, the Father is the designer of the plan of salvation, the Son is the executor of the plan and the Holy Spirit is the revealer of the plan.  Though each Person has a different function, they never act in opposition to one another.   All three Persons of the Trinity are always equal, even though they sometimes act in subordination to the other. (John 4:34, 16:8; Hebrews 10:7)  In order for the finite human mind to be able to understand and appreciate the character and functions of God, the Holy Spirit uses a language of accommodation.  Use of anthropomorphisms and antropopathisms is the language of accommodation.  An anthropomorphism is ascribing to God parts of the human body, such as eyes, hands or feet, which He does not possess.  An anthropopathism is ascribing to God feelings, thoughts or actions which He does not possess in order to explain His policies and decisions toward mankind.

The name God the Father itself speaks of supreme authority and describes a family relationship between the first and second Persons of the Trinity.  It also describes our relationship as Christians with God.  God the Father is the author and planner of all that exists.  One of the Father’s titles is “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  This is an indication of the relationship between Christ and the Father.  Christ both reveals the Father and His plan and is the center of that plan.  Christ came to execute the Father’s plan of salvation by willingly subordinating Himself to the Father.  As a result, those who trust Christ as Savior enter into a family relationship with God.  There is no teaching in Scripture of the “brotherhood of man” or of God being the Father of all mankind.  ALL PEOPLE ARE NOT GOD’S CHILDREN.  Only by faith in Christ can a person enter into this family relationship. (John 1:18, 8:42,44; Ephesians 1:3,5; Galatians 3:26, 4:6)

Jesus Christ is God the Son, the unique Person of the universe.  His title of Lord, “kurios” in Greek and “Yahweh” (Jehovah) in Hebrew denotes His deity.  No one makes Christ “Lord”, the Father has already done that.  The word Jesus means “Savior” and Christ means “Anointed One;” both are indications of His mission of providing eternal salvation.  We have studied the fact that Jesus Christ is the unique Person of the universe, being both deity and humanity in one Person (Hypostatic Union).

Jesus Christ not only provided salvation, He also showed us how to execute the Christian Way of Life by His impeccable life.  During His life, Christ experienced the same things that we do, except without sin.  He accomplished this by using the same power source that we have available to us, the Holy Spirit.  We must remember that Christ restricted the use of His deity and relied solely on the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain Him throughout His earthly ministry.  When He was about to depart this earth for Heaven, He promised to send the Holy Spirit as our guide and teacher.  Jesus Christ is the One Who reveals the Father.  (Colossians 2:9; John 14:16)

God the Holy Spirit is the title of the third Person of the Trinity, yet the Father and the Son are also spirit.  Therefore, the title Holy Spirit describes His function toward mankind.  The Holy Spirit is, however, a Person just like the Father and the Son.  The Holy Spirit is the revealer of God’s plan, purpose and will for man. 

The Holy Spirit is the restorer at creation and the restrainer of sin in the world.  To the unbeliever the Holy Spirit convinces of sin and the need for a savior.  Upon positive volition by the unbeliever, the Holy Spirit makes the Gospel clear and upon faith He makes it effective for salvation (Genesis 1:2; II Thessalonians 2:6-7; II Corinthians 2:14; John 16:7-11)

To the believer, the Holy Spirit is the power source for execution of the Christian Way of Life.  He permanently indwells the believer, places the believer into union with Christ, seals the believer, guides the believer and gives believers spiritual gifts. (I Corinthians 12:13; Romans 8:9-11; Ephesians 1:13; I Corinthians 12:4-11)

To know God is to love God and love for God should be the motivation to live the Christian Way of Life.  As we learn about each member of the Trinity, we are accessing the available resources for glorifying God.  God has provided each of us the doctrine (His Word), the motivation (our faith in Christ) and the opportunity (freedom), so that we might produce the character of Jesus Christ and become winners in life.  However, as with everything, it is a matter of personal choice.  (John 16:14; Galatians 5:22-23; II Peter 3:18)