Every page of God’s Word is bursting with His love. The story of God is the story of His love. Without it there would be no story. There would be no history. There would be no future. We exist only because – God is love!
How can we explain it? How can we describe its fullness? Impossible! There is no way and the vastness of eternity will not suffice. Our minds can only grasp a glimpse, like Moses seeing the hinder parts of God on the mount. Here we are, in all our sin and filthy rags trying to grasp the greatness of Almighty love – a love too vast, too infinite, too measureless, too large, too deep, too high, too wide and too great for human minds to comprehend (Eph 3:18).
Like a child playing on the edge of the vast Atlantic, we touch our toes of understanding into the depths of divine existence and seek with our limited capacity to grasp an inexhaustible God. But as we allow its truth to fill us and wash over us, we become securely grounded, anchored in our faith (Eph 3:17).
EVER-EXISTENT LOVE – A love that never had a beginning
The Bible tells us that God had no beginning (Psa 90). It also tells us that He is love (1Jn 4). His love therefore had no beginning. It is His nature. He did not learn to love. It did not grow with time or eternity. He did not come by it at some opportune point in His eternal existence. He was always and ever the one true God of love. Is it explainable? No. Is it understandable? No. It must be accepted by faith alone.
God’s love is perfectly and eternally founded and functional within the boundaries of His own person. He is self-sufficient and needs nothing outside Himself to fill empty or lonely spaces. We try to understand this functioning love as we consider the truth of the trinity: love between the Father, the Spirit and the Son. In speaking to His Father, Jesus said, “You loved me before the foundation of the world” (Joh 17:24 ESV).
EXPRESSIVE LOVE – A love revealed through ages past
God didn’t need to create us in order to make Himself more fulfilled. He had all He needed, but the platform of creation and humanity was perfect for Him to reveal all His divine attributes. Whether in creation itself, in the choosing of the nation of Israel, in sending His Son as a descendant of Abraham, or in the building of the church, all were a part of His plan in showing the greatness of who He is.
The Hebrew word ahăbâh (pronounced “ahavah”) is a commonly used word for love in the OT. It is a broad word that could mean sexual love, or a friend’s love, or a child’s love, or a nation’s love for its leader. It is the word used in Deuteronomy: “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved [ahăbâh] you …” (Deu 7:7-8 KJV). It was not love that was merited or earned but rather a love that originated from God’s own character: He loves because He loves. It is not a duty but a genuine affection and feeling that God experiences. Hosea compared God’s love for His people to a husband’s love for his wife. But God’s love is not just a feeling; it is an action, something that He consciously chooses to do. Moses explained in Deuteronomy 4:37, “Because He loved your ancestors, he chose to bless their descendants” (NLT). Even through their failure, departure, idolatry, immorality and wickedness, He loved them and pledged to be their God and care for them to the end.
In the NT, the love of God is most often described by the Greek word agape. This word means choosing to love for the benefit of the recipient and loving without expecting anything in return, especially in situations where there is no ability for return payment. The life of the Lord Jesus is the perfect demonstration of how this love was displayed. He didn’t just say He loved – He did it! He touched and healed the leper. He went out of His way for the needy. He sat and listened to sinners. He washed the feet of complaining disciples. He made God’s love visible.
EXHAUSTLESS LOVE – A closer look at Calvary
The whole life of Jesus demonstrated the reality of His love, but there is no place or time where His love shone forth in such unbridled beauty than during the horrific sufferings of the cross: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8 ESV).
Calvary-love is the greatest of loves. All that He did was out of love to His Father who sent Him. Everything He did was for the Father. Every last pang of suffering was endured in absolute devotion to Him (Joh 17:4). His love was and is well rounded and all-encompassing. He loved His own who were with Him (Joh 13:1). He loved His family and specifically His mother. We see this so touchingly demonstrated at the cross (Joh 19:26-27). He loved His enemies as they nailed His hands and feet to the cross (Luk 23:34). After 2,000 years, His love is still real and vibrant; we join with the apostle Paul to say, “The Son of God … loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20 KJV).
ETERNAL LOVE – A love that will never end
Not only does His love have no beginning, it will have no end. It is the reality of an undying, unfailing love that enables us to live in fullness. When we walk through the fires of affliction, His love will be present. When we face the problems and perplexities of life, His love will surround us. When we face our fiercest foes, His love will carry us through. When things are well and life is good, His love will be our strength. When our friends have gone and loneliness starts to creep in, His love will comfort us. When we reach the end of life, His love will carry us through into the realms of His presence.
Going back to my initial analogy, we have only gotten our feet wet in this ocean of truth, but thankfully we will have the rest of our lives and all eternity to explore the full depths of divine love. May our lives be anchored by this truth and our hearts warmed to worship.