It is only by the love of Christ that we can experience and appreciate the love of God.
The love of God for man moved Him to give Christ for man’s redemption (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4).
Christ’s submission to the will of the Father moved Him to give His life’s blood for man’s salvation (Galatians 1:4; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2; Ephesians 5:25; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14).
The gift of Christ to man is the measure of God’s love.
The death of Christ for man is the measure of Christ’s love.
Christ loved us, and gave himself for us.
We can know all these things, yet God’s love surpasses our full comprehension; therefore we can only speak of it in terms of the depth of our experience and what has been revealed to us from the Holy Scriptures. Therefore God’s love is not known but is experienced in a personal relationship with Him through His Son Jesus.
There is something about God’s love that is so tender, so sweet—so beautiful; one who has experienced God’s love has enjoyed the pleasure of it as a soothing ointment flowing over his total being; and is a healing for the soul. Our Heavenly Father’s love is like eye-salve that allows one to see His beauty through the eyes of Christ. To know God’s love is to know joy and peace that surpasses all understanding. To experience God’s love is to possess eternal life and perfect rest. To be perfected in love is to be filled with love, meekness, gentleness, goodness, justice, holiness, mercy, and truth---to be made perfect—to be filled to all the fullness of God. Heaven and earth hold no greater treasure.
Love is the supreme attribute of God and is the very core and nucleus of His glory. Love is also a state of being, a living life form---or as the Bible declares, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). God is love just as truly as He is “light” (1 John 1:5), “truth” (1 John 1:6), and “spirit” (John 4:24). Just as Spirit and light are expressions of His essential nature; love is the expression of His personality corresponding to His nature. This love is the highest expression of God and His relation to mankind, so it must be that this love be the highest expression of man’s relation to his Creator---and to his fellow man.
The love of God is that part of His nature which leads Him to express Himself in terms of endearment toward His creatures, and to actively manifest that interest and affection in acts of loving care and self-sacrifice (John 1:1-2) in behalf of the objects of His love. Thus we can think of God as the fountain of love.
God not merely loves, He imparts this nature to be the sphere in which His children dwell, for “he that abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). Not only do the children of God dwell in the presence of His love the very nature of God is thus imparted to His children. Love directed to both God and man is fundamental to true believers. For this reason the reality and power of God’s love are properly executed only under the infilling and guidance of our Heavenly Father’s own Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul writes,
“The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5).”
Thus we understand love is the first and foremost element of the fruit of the Spirit—a divine impartation to God’s children (Galatians 5:22; see also 1 John 3:14).
If God is the fountain of love, then it must be that His Son, the living Word of God, is the expression or out-flowing of that love (John 3:16).
While we were yet sinners and did not know or love God,
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASU)
He made Him who was innocent to be a sacrifice on the altar of the cross for the sinner. In other words, He died in our stead that by repentance (Acts 2:38) and faith we might through this act of grace (Ephesians 2:8) be partakers of eternal life; there is no greater love than this.
All virtue springs out of divine love; hence the love that is presented in the Gospel as the mainspring of holy living is grateful love. A revelation and conviction of sin and the punishment that is due followed by a revelation of God’s love and the price He paid for man’s deliverance and redemption, humbles the heart to the point of gratefulness. This impartation of grateful love is the highest motive or ground of moral actions. All other self-effort motives fall short of furnishing the true stimulus for obedience leading to righteous living.
“We love, because He first loved us” are words that rightly express the whole matter (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Romans 12:1-2).
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7 NASU)
James C Sanford