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Introduction, the Preeminence of God's Love.

"Oh Love God so rich and pure

So measureless and strong.

It shall for evermore, the saints and angels song."[1]

Man's desperate condition in sin would have been without cure except for the Person of God. This series will not try to provide a definitive view of God's Love, rather it is the aim of this series to challenge the believer to Love as God Loves and to enjoy fellowship with God and each other. The Love of God cannot be rationally reduced to human understanding. However, God's Holy Spirit has seen to it that the disciple of Christ is able to demonstrate It to each other and the world. We will be relying heavily on the epistle of 1st John to provide the challenge to us all to abandon our preconceived views of the subject of love in general and to look, in awe at the person of God who loved us with a Love that goes beyond all understanding.

Man's Desperate Condition.

As a sinner, man is an enemy of God, [2] he cannot fellowship with God, indeed he is what the theologians call "Totally Depraved":

Rom 3:9-12  What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. [10] As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; [11] there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. [12] All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." [3]

Sinful man operates within a world that is ruled by Satan. He has no way of communicating with God - nor can he know who God is except for the fact that he can look at creation and derive the information that there is a Creator-God. Man's desperate condition includes the fact that he is lives under the influence of Satan and is virtually a slave to his lusts - his cravings.

What about human virtues such as the love that a mother has for her child, her husband - and he for her? What about the human virtue of a man giving his life for his country in war or, for that matter, giving his life to save his children in some sort of disaster? The Bible teaches that man is, in spite of his total depravity, a moral being. That is, God has created man with the capacity to be a moral creature.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them." Romans 1:18, 19.

The Bible teaches that every man and woman who is born is the result of a condition and a creation. First, he is conceived by sinners and was born a sinner:


Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5, NAS)

The original can be literally translated this way: "Behold in sin I caused labor pains and by a sinner my mother conceived me. The Bible teaches that every man and woman who is born is born as a sinner - without exception.

Man Created in the Image of God.

Secondly, man was born as the result of the creative act of God:


For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. [14] I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14, NAS)

Man's biological function in the conception of man is not the end of the gestation of a baby. No. David is teaching here that God had an active part in his gestation. God, during David's gestation, was active in His creative work. To form his inward parts (lit. kidneys) has a strong implication of God's ownership of David's body while he was in embryonic form. The word used here suggests that in creating David, God not only formed his kidneys (his inward parts) but formed them for Himself. The word "weave" suggests strongly that we are not just biologically wired up cell with cell, but that God is active in the intricate interweaving of our very complex bodies and souls. Yes, it is true that we are the wonderful creation of God. There is a similar passage in Job:


"Thy hands fashioned and made me altogether, And wouldst Thou destroy me? [9] 'Remember now, that Thou hast made me as clay; And wouldst Thou turn me into dust again? [10] 'Didst Thou not pour me out like milk, And curdle me like cheese; [11] Clothe me with skin and flesh, And knit me together with bones and sinews? [12] 'Thou hast granted me life and lovingkindness; And Thy care has preserved my spirit." (Job 10:8-12, NAS)

This passage is rich with imagery which I would like to cover but will only point out the similarity with Psalm 139:13-16 and this passage especially in verse 11 and add that in addition to God's creative activity in Job's gestation but also that God continued to act in Job's behalf after his birth - God gave him life, and lovingkindness and had preserved his spirit.  The reference to cheese making in vs 10 is not a negative image but one that shows God's creative activity with the view of man being "made" for His purpose - for His enjoyment.  That man was made for God reminds us all that our lives are not our own but His.  We were created for His purpose - that's the teaching of Job being "curdled" - he was "curdled" for God - He was made for God.

Man's Sinful Condition Does Not Exclude Him from God's Redemptive Plan.

So we have two opposing "facts" about man.[4]  First, he is desperately lost in sin and cannot escape the judgment of God.


For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Romans 1:18)


"What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;... For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:9, 23)

On the positive side of the ledger is the fact that man is the direct result of God's creative act and is the object of God's Redemptive Plan.  This seems to be a paradox.  For more reading on this see Acts 17:22-30 below, especially verse 27.


It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (1 Cor. 1:30, NIV)

The "him" in this passage is God, the Father. Since He had a direct role in our gestation period, it follows that even though we are desperately wicked - totally depraved, yet, He has, in His Redemptive Plan included the salvation of man from this horrible condition of being lost. That fact is that man is deemed an object of God's Redemptive Plan by God Himself because of His Love and has provided a way to save man from sin.


Man's Desperate Need Is Met by the Love of God.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (Ephes. 2:4, NAS)

Left to his own efforts man would have forever been lost. But God because of His great Love intervened in behalf of man and thus we have the greatest romance story of all ages - the wooing of man to God - a return of man from sin to a life of fellowship with God. This is the salvation of man - man saved from what? Saved from a life of meaninglessness - of condemnation by God because of his sin and saved from a life of slavery to his own sinful nature, living in the kingdom of Hell [5] - Satan's kingdom. So it is with a sense of awe that we approach the subject of God's Love and I give this caution; beware of the cute one-liners - do not receive the totally rational human experienced definitions of God's Love. Be, however, drawn with spiritual curiosity into the Biblical depictions of God's Love as showcased by Jesus Christ Himself [6] and His command that we love each other even as He has loved us.

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May we now turn to the first epistle of John and investigate the Love of God.


God's Love Is Lavished on Us as His Children.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1, NAS

When we turn to the Lord in repentance God does several works of grace in our lives and as a result we have been declared His children. As such now the Father is, as a loving Father, now compelled, because of His very nature, to lavish His Love upon us. This saving experience is called in the gospel of John the new birth. Jesus taught in the gospel of John that every sinner must be born from above - then and only then can he see (perceive) the kingdom of God - as opposed to being subject the kingdom of Hell. The thrilling fact is that now we live in His kingdom - are subject to its "laws" and to its benefits as citizens of God's kingdom - rather than Satan's.

1 John 3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

John introduces us to a very basic truth regarding our New Birth: The very fact that we are expected not to hate fellow believers in Christ, but rather, to love them is foundational to our fellowship with God. This Message@ is taken from Jesus= own command in 13:34 and also in this passage;

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

The point of these passages is that the New Birth brings about an affinity between man and God that never existed before since the fall. This is John=s point in;

1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Man is completely helpless in his sin to have fellowship with God and to love Him.

A wonderful thing happens when a sinner comes to Christ in faith and receives Him as Lord and Savior - he is Born from above. The wonderful fact is that when a sinner comes to Jesus Christ and receives Him as Lord and Savior that man is regenerated as part of the saving experience. Fellowship is then restored between him and God.  The new-born child of God now enjoys fellowship with God just as Adam did before he fell, in sin, from fellowship with God in Eden.  The evidence of this New Birth is that the Love of God now resides within the Regenerated child of God. Oh yes, Christians still sin. John knew that Christians did sin. He taught in this epistle that it was the life-style of loving sin that separated the unbelieving sinner from the Christian. He then went on in this section to amplify on what Jesus Christ had already commanded His disciples to do - love the brethren. No unbeliever can evidence this kind of Love because it comes from God, Himself. God's Word states unequivocally that it is His Love that is shed abroad in the heart of the converted sinner (Romans 5:5). And so, it is this Love that becomes the litmus test in John's epistle for a genuine Christian. It is His Love that is perfected in the believer, who looks over, guards God's Word (2:5). It is His Love that is bestowed upon all who have had faith in Him (3:1). It is His Love that is perceived [ginosko] by the believer who, accordingly, appreciates the death of Christ on the cross for what it is and thus emulates that same love toward fellow believers (3:16).

Unbelievers are characterized by the lack of this Love that remains [meno] in the genuine believer (3:17). God's Love is His exclusively (4:8, 16). If a believer Loves another believer, it is because of this indwelling Love of God not the believer's amicability, felicity toward the other.

The sinner cannot fake God=s Love, he cannot fake a desire to keep His Word, nor can he appreciate the true nature of Jesus Christ=s person. All these qualities in a believer come directly from the New Birth experience. So we look at the new Love - the Love of God that indwells the believer.

Next time we will look at the Love of God contrasted, His Love commended, and the Confidence that comes from the Love of God.

1  A paraphrase of a well know gospel song. [ Back ]

2. Rom. 5:8. [ Back ]

3. Psalm 14:1-3 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. [2] The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. [3] They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. [ Back ]

4.  Paradoxical - something like the doctrines of the Election of God and the Freewill of man.  The two Truths seem irreconcilable but nevertheless both are true. [ Back ]

Acts 17:22-30  Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. [23] For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. [24] God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; [25] Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; [26] And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; [27] That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: [28] For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. [29] Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. [30] And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: [ Back ]

5. I form this phrase from Mat. 16:18 where Jesus states that the [fortified] gates of hell will not prevail against the [onslaught of]  the church.  The term hell comes from the Greek "Hades." In classical Greek Hades was the god of the underworld and thus his kingdom was so named.  The NT usage normally refers Hades to the abode of the wicked dead, but in this passage Jesus is referring to the "war" between the church and Satan's kingdom.  Jesus states that the gates of "hell", make that Satan's kingdom will not prevail against the evangelistic onslaught of the church.  The gates of hell will give away to the church's "war" of bringing sinners  from Satan's kingdom into the kingdom of the Son of God.  The church is assured of victory over Satan.
[ Further commentary on the kingdom of "Hell" - press "back" button to return here ]
[ Back ]

6. Romans 5:8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  [ Back ]

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