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JESUS

What Is His Love?

CHAPTER 8

Much has been said of the love of God. Jesus said, "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you." (John 15:12) But what was and what is His love? Love means many things to many people, so how can love be defined? We will do a Biblical search to discover the principles of love.

The Scriptures read, "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." (1 John 4:7-8) We learn a principle here. God is love. This may well be understood to mean that whatever God does comes through love and indeed, would be an act of love since that is what He is.

The Bible is filled with examples of God's love. Many would look at the gift of Jesus as a supreme act of love from the Father. He gave His only born Son that we might find salvation. We might look at the forest and seas, the mountains and all the living creatures as evidences of God's love. But how many would look at the destruction of the wicked in that light? When Ananias and Saphira were stricken dead for lying to the Holy Spirit (see Acts ch. 5), how many would consider that as an act of loving?

When Jesus cleansed the temple from those doing business there, using a braided cord which struck fear to the guilty, how many would consider that a loving act? Do you suppose the money changers who escaped the temple went home and reported this "loving thing" Jesus did? Can you hear them at the dinner table saying, "I want to tell you all how this loving man came into the temple today and chased us all out. How wonderful! I felt so loved."

In Matthew 23, much of the chapter is dedicated to pronouncing woes on the scribes and Pharisees. Do you suppose they went home that evening talking of Jesus' love for them? Most of us know when we are loved by kind words and generous deeds, but can we recognize love in the scathing rebuke or the disaster that strikes? It would help us to see this by having a knowledge of the character of God. That character is described well in God's description of Himself to Moses. "And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation." (Ex. 34:6-7)

By No Means Clear The Guilty

Yes, we can recognize mercy, graciousness, long-suffering, goodness, truth and forgiveness as love, but how many would recognize "by no means clearing the guilty" as love? How many would recognize "visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation" as love? Well, it is love, for God is love and these things are the very character of God.

There are two principles represented in the understanding of love. These principles represent the tender qualities we have read about as well as the qualities of judgment. When qualities of mercy and compassion are expressed without judgment, we have a pseudo-love and a fanatical sentimentalism. When judgment is exercised without the qualities of gentleness and mercy, you have cold, formal legalism. You have a fanatical self-righteousness.

Love cannot be expressed without gentleness and patience. Neither can love be expressed without judgment. These ideas both describe the quality of love. When judgment is given, some respond by saying, "You are judging me; you are supposed to love." These do not know what they are talking about. They have not familiarized themselves with what love is. Many would like to have the character of God rephrased to read, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and clearing the guilty; making sure the iniquity of the fathers will not be felt in any succeeding generation." Since what is not love is hatred, this description would adequately describe hatred.

I marvel at the wonderful love of God. Look about you. All nature has within its design the betterment of all concerned from the lowly gnat to the great eagle. From animal to man the laws of nature work for our betterment. Love has given us the great opportunity to develop the higher qualities even the attributes of God.

The great flood came to the earth and destroyed everything upon the land; we can see that what developed after the flood was for our benefit. The mountains thrust high to catch the snow for summer water storage. The valleys and lowlands create the perfect environment for growing things needed for our existence.

Cursed Is The Ground For Your Sake

The quality of life was more difficult than before in order to aid us in perfecting characters of industry and creation. Our corrupt nature made it necessary for us to suffer at our work so that we might discern righteousness. We saw this illustrated with our first parents. "...Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread...." (Gen. 3:17-19)

Notice how God says, "The ground is cursed for your sake." It is like saying, "Cursed is the ground because I love you". God gave us hardships because He loves us. The soul that sins shall die, and God is doing all necessary things to aid us in not sinning. Through probationary time He designs lessons for us that we may understand how to live. This is the love of God. "He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord's permission and 'all things' that are permitted work together for good to them that love God." (MB 71)

This principle is alive for all mankind. God's love is the generator of all that comes to man. When Satan is permitted to bring ruin and pain into our lives, it is only permitted because God loves. Since God is love, He cannot do anything that is derived from hatred. His "strange act" of destroying sinners is also an act of love. "This [the destruction of the evil] is not an act of arbitrary power on the part of God. The rejecters of His mercy reap that which they have sown. God is the fountain of life; and when one chooses the service of sin, he separates from God, and thus cuts himself off from life...'All they that hate me love death.' Eph. 4:18....They receive the results of their own choice. By a life of rebellion, Satan and all who unite with him place themselves so out of harmony with God that His very presence is to them a consuming fire. The glory of Him who is love will destroy them." (DA 764)

When God said He visited iniquity to the third and fourth generation, this is through the laws of cause and effect; and this is a law because it is love. The world has decided that love is the loving approval of wrong acts and attitudes. God has declared that love is the destruction of wrong acts and attitudes. No loving parent would stand by and watch his child walk off a tall building then in loving tones say, "Well, that was such a wonderful thing you did. You are just so wonderful." No, the parent who loved would teach the child not to walk off the building. As the child neared the edge, the parent might even raise his voice in warning. As a matter of fact, to set the truth of warning home, the parent might even lay to his hinder parts a hand of remembrance. Now this is loving.

God's Permissive Love

Look into your own life. Look at your pain, suffering and anguish. Look at your disasters and trouble. Did it ever occur to you that they are created by you and that they are permitted because God loves? Have you ever considered that God's love is continually trying to bring you back from disobedience and rebellion? In so doing, He is helping you see that rebellion is death. "The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands." (Ps. 9:15-16) And all this is God's act of love.

You are the creator of all that comes to you. That very act is how we know the Lord. We know God since we can be made to recognize the relationship between cause and effect. We can see that even when we do evil in secret, the results come to us in one way or another. And all this is love. When the wicked are snared in the acts of their hands, they receive the love of God.

When one seeks righteousness, he may also do things out of ignorance that are not in accordance with perfect justice. He may also find that he has spiritual needs that have to be developed. This man may also find that trials come to him and this, too, is love. "Let me assure you that the struggles and conflicts which must be endured in the discharge of duty, the self-denials and sacrifices which must be made if we are faithful to Christ, are not created by Him. They are not imposed by arbitrary or unnecessary command; they do not come from the severity of the life which He requires us to lead in His service. ...Jesus invites us to come to Him and He will lift the weights from our weary shoulders and place upon us His yoke, which is easy, and His burden, which is light. The path in which He invites us to walk would never have cost us a pang had we always walked in it. It is when we stray from the path of duty that the way becomes difficult and thorny. The sacrifices which we must make in following Christ are only so many steps to return to the path of light, of peace and happiness." (4T 558)

Since the sons of God are reflectors of His character, they too, will reveal this love to the world as Christ did. They exhibit mercy and patience. They practice long-suffering and gentleness. They in no wise clear the guilty and they visit the iniquity of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. You will find that God's people have patience toward the erring. They pray for the sinner and rebel. They will also remind the rebel of his rebellion and show the rebel the results of his rebellious acts. The sons of God might even show the rebel how he has been practicing the very sins his great grand-father practiced. This is the love of God.

The love of God is well established in mercy. The laws of nature and the rebellion of natural forces against man are also the love of God and all the circumstances of man and his hardships and pain are the love of God as well. Nothing can happen that does not express the love of God. Even Satan and all his host cannot help but recognize the love of God; for nothing can be done by them except God permits it, and God does not permit anything that is not designed to save us from our wickedness. Yes, the apostle said it well: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ...I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:35, 38-39)

Love Obeys

There is another description of love in the Bible. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?"(1 John 5:3-5)

If we love God, we obey all His commandments. If we love God, we know Him. If we know Him, we overcome the world. That is the world has no more power over us. Sin and sinners cannot cause us to fall. This is the love of God. This is loving. In 1 John 4:18 are many descriptions of this great love. We read, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."

Have you ever heard someone say, "Love is the only thing that is important. As long as you love, you will go to heaven." That is true. But what so many fail to understand is just what love is. "Love endures long and is kind; love is not jealous; love is not out for display; it is not conceited or unmannerly; it is neither self-seeking nor irritable, nor does it take account of a wrong that is suffered. It takes no pleasure in injustice but sides happily with truth. It bears everything in silence, has unquenchable faith, hopes under all circumstances, endures without limit. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians. 13:4-8)

Love includes all these qualities. Love overcomes the world. Love keeps all the commandments of God. Love is not afraid. Love does not clear the guilty. Love visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. Do you love? If you do, you will fulfill all the law and the prophets.

The love of God is deep and abiding. It goes far beyond the mere observance of law. Love is fully involved. Love is responsible and far- reaching. While love takes in mercy, patience and long-suffering, it also does not let us get away with anything. Love notes all that transpires. Love takes record of all that we do. It visits us with the reward of our actions. It upholds us in the fulfillment of our desires.

What is the experience of one who dwells in perfect love? We have already read where God's love destroys the wicked. This fire is God Himself. It is eternal. "...Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire [love]? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings [love]? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil." (Isaiah 33:14-15)

Here we have the final conclusion of love. Love will be the fire that saints dwell in forever. Love will be the fire that destroys the wicked. Love will be the final answer to the question of rebellion. Love brought the Son of God to die for men and love will be that which destroys those who destroy the earth.

Love is the great principle on which all the worlds hang. It is the rock on which the entire universe is placed. God has given His children love. True love is the center of their being. It is not that they just try to love, but that they are love. Love is their motivating power. Love is their direction. Love is their truth.


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