GOD IS LOVE
God is Love: How do we Define Love?"God is Love", but how do we define it? The American Heritage Dictionary defines love as "an intense affection for another person based on familial or personal ties". Often this "intense affection" stems from a sexual attraction for that other person. We love other people, or we say we love other people, when we are attracted to them and when they make us feel good. Notice that a key phrase in the dictionary definition of love is the phrase "based on". This phrase implies that we love conditionally; in other words, we love someone because they fulfill a condition that we require before we can love them. How many times have you heard or said, "I love you because you are cute;" or "I love you because you take good care of me;" or "I love you because you are fun to be with"? Our love is not only conditional, it is also mercurial. We love based on feelings and emotions that can change from one moment to the next. The divorce rate is extremely high in today's society because husbands and wives supposedly stop loving one another-or they "fall out of love". They may go through a rough patch in their marriage, and they no longer "feel" love for their spouse, so they call it quits. Evidently, their marriage vow of "till death do us part" means they can part at the death of their love for their spouse rather than at their physical death. Can anyone really comprehend "unconditional" love? It seems the love that parents have for their children is as close to unconditional love as we can get without the help of God's love in our lives. We continue to love our children through good times and bad, and we don't stop loving them if they don't meet the expectations we may have for them. We make a choice to love our children even when we consider them unlovable; our love doesn't stop when we don't "feel" love for them. This is similar to God's love for us, but as we shall see, God's love transcends the human definition of love to a point that is hard for us to comprehend.
God is Love: How does God Define Love?The Bible tells us that "God is Love" (1 John 4:8). But how can we even begin to understand that truth? There are many passages in the Bible that give us God's definition of love. The most well known verse is John 3:16, "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." So one way God defines love is in the act of giving. However, what God gave (or should we say, "who" God gave) was not a mere gift-wrapped present; God sacrificed His only Son so that we, who put our faith in His Son, will not spend eternity separated from Him. This is an amazing love, because we are the ones who choose to be separated from God through our own sin, yet it's God who mends the separation through His intense personal sacrifice, and all we have to do is accept His gift. Another great verse about God's love is found in Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." In this verse and in John 3:16, we find no conditions placed on God's love for us. God doesn't say, "as soon as you clean up your act, I'll love you; " nor does He say, "I'll sacrifice my Son if you promise to love Me." In fact, in Romans 5:8, we find just the opposite. God wants us to know that His love is unconditional, so He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us while we were still unlovable sinners. We didn't have to get clean, and we didn't have to make any promises to God before we could experience His love. His love for us has always existed, and because of that, He did all the giving and sacrificing long before we were even aware that we needed His love.
God is Love: It's UnconditionalGod is Love, and His love is very different from human love. God's love is unconditional, and it's not based on feelings or emotions. He doesn't love us because we're lovable or because we make Him feel good; He loves us because He is love. He created us to have a loving relationship with Him, and He sacrificed His own Son (who also willingly died for us) to restore that relationship.
God is Love: How Should we Define Love?When the Scriptures say, "God is love," they aren't telling us that God is some nebulous, warm fuzzy feeling of love. The writers who penned the scriptures weren't saying that in our limited form of human love we will find God. Not at all -- in fact, when we read that God is love in the Bible, this means that God defines love. And when we say that God defines love, we don't mean that He defines it like Webster might define something -- we mean that God is the very definition of love itself. There is no such thing as love without God. As hard as we might try, we cannot define love outside of knowing God. This essentially means that our human definition of love is false. God is the Creator of all things, and by His very nature, He is love. God says love is unconditional and sacrificial, and it's not based on feelings; therefore, love is not an "intense affection… based on familial or personal ties". To understand what true love is and to be able to truly love others, we must know God, and we can do this through a close personal relationship with Him. We can have that close relationship with God by putting our faith in Jesus Christ, who was God's sacrifice of love for us.
God is Love: True Love Only Comes Through a Relationship With HimGod is Love! As such, true love -- God's love -- can be summed up in this passage of scripture: "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 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. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." (1 John 4:7-11) If you want to know this love - true love -- get to know God. He is ready to pour out His love on you, and He wants to teach you how to love others as He loves you.
God's Love - John 15:13God's love towards us, His estranged creation, is graphically depicted in the sacrifice He made on our behalf. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13 NIV). Jesus Christ, is God's unique and eternal Son.1 He is the Alpha and Omega,2 the Great I AM,3 the "Mighty God"4 by whom all things were created5 and in whom all things consist.6 Jesus, who is the head of all things,7 humbled Himself in such a way that the human mind couldn't even bare the thought of it. He came into this sin-cursed world and actively partook in our sufferings. Even as we are flesh and blood, He shared in the same.8 He became a man and dwelt among us.9 He shared in the sufferings we brought upon ourselves through our rejection of His holy precepts.10 And as if that were not enough to convince us of His love and concern for us, Jesus, the immortal God and the Giver of Life, gave up His own life upon the cross in the greatest act of love the world has ever known! In doing so He took our sins away, effectively nailing them to the cross with Himself. Thus, He who knew no sin became sin for us11 and He who gave life to all, tasted death for those condemned to it.12
God's Love - For God so Loved the WorldThis is God's love! "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:16-17). Jesus Christ loved the world so much that He gave everything for it, from His rights and privileges as the unique eternal Son of God, to His very life! If you want to see the love of God, look to the cross. "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 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 4:9-10). "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
God's Love - It's For You!God's love has been made known to us and now He stands at the door and knocks.13 It's up to every individual to either pursue a personal relationship with God or else reject Him outright. The only barrier between us and God's love is our own freewill and Jesus Christ is the door.14 "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'" (John 14:6). Salvation is a free gift bought and paid for by the blood of Christ. There is no other way. "…Do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:21). You can't earn God's forgiveness through good works. How will doing the good works that you should have done all your life make up for the countless times you've failed? God's no fool. You can "use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before Me…" (Jeremiah 2:22). A man once fell on his knees before Christ and begged, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." Christ, "filled with compassion" replied, "I am willing; be clean" (Mark 1:40-41). We too can fall on our knees and acknowledge God's only provision for our sins. We too can hear, "I am willing; be clean." Christ willingly took God's righteous indignation upon Himself so that you don't have to; whoever accepts His death upon the cross as payment for their sins will be reconciled to the God whom they've offended. "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ…God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them…God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:18-19, 21). Will you accept God's love today?
Prayer of Salvation - Our First Real Conversation With GodThe "prayer of salvation" is the most important prayer we'll ever pray. When we're ready to become a Christian, we're ready to have our first real conversation with God, and these are its components:
Prayer of Salvation - It Begins With Faith in GodWhen we pray the prayer of salvation, we're letting God know we believe His Word is true. By the faith He has given us, we choose to believe in Him. The Bible tells us that "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) So, when we pray, asking God for the gift of salvation, we're exercising our free will to acknowledge that we believe in Him. That demonstration of faith pleases God, because we have freely chosen to know Him.
Prayer of Salvation - Confessing Our SinWhen we pray the prayer of salvation, we're admitting that we've sinned. As the Bible says of everyone, save Christ alone: "For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) To sin is simply to fall short of the mark, as an arrow that does not quite hit the bull's-eye. The glory of God that we fall short of is found only in Jesus Christ: "For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:6) The prayer of salvation, then, recognizes that Jesus Christ is the only human who ever lived without sin. "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Prayer of Salvation - Professing Faith in Christ as Savior and LordWith Christ as our standard of perfection, we're now acknowledging faith in Him as God, agreeing with the Apostle John that: "In the beginning was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." (John 1:1-3) Because God could only accept a perfect, sinless sacrifice, and because He knew that we could not possibly accomplish that, He sent His Son to die for us and pay the eternal price. "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)
Prayer of Salvation - Say It & Mean It Now!Do you agree with everything you have read so far? If you do, don't wait a moment longer to start your new life in Jesus Christ. Pray this with us:
Prayer of Salvation - I've Prayed It; Now What?If you've prayed this prayer of salvation with true conviction and heart, you are now a follower of Jesus. This is a fact, whether or not you feel any different. Religious systems may have led you to believe that you should feel something - a warm glow, a tingle, or some other mystical experience. The fact is, you may, or you may not. If you have prayed the prayer of salvation and meant it, you are now a follower of Jesus. The Bible tells us that your eternal salvation is secure! "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9) Welcome to the family of God! We encourage you now to find a local church where you can be baptized and grow in the knowledge of God through His Word, the Bible.
© 2008 Global Harvest For Christ Ministries.