Bible Study Series
Contemplating the Almighty
The Divine Love
How well do you know God’s love?
1) When it comes to God’s love
a) it is so obvious that we never have to think about itr have to think about it
b) we have to earn it
c) if flows from His being and is not the result of our actions and so is forever ours
2) God provides salvation
a) simply because He loves us
b) because a universal law obligates Him to do so
c) because He loves us and would be lonely without us
3) The best thing that God’s love can give to us is
a) the best of everything that the world has to offer
b) no pain, sorrow, trials, or suffering
c) a relationship with Him and His presence
4) When the Bible says that we are accepted in the Beloved it means
a) that we are doing enough good things for God to let us into His presence
b) that every demand of sin has been met by the righteousness of Christ
c) that we are currently sinless
5) We should obey God and do what is right
a) so that God will love us
b) because God already loves us
c) so that God will love us more
6) When circumstances are going badly
a) it proves that God does not love me in particular
b) it proves that God does not really want us to have joy in our lives
c) we must draw even closer to God because we are confident in His unshakable love
7) John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world…”
a) and I can just as truly substitute “For God so loved me…”
b) but that does not mean that I can say that God notices and cares about me as just one person
c) but it would be prideful to think that I can apply that to myself
8) Because God loves us no matter what
a) we can always expect good from God
b) we can just sit back and let the blessings flow
c) we still need to do what is right in order to be open to His blessings
9) Because some people are more beautiful, richer, smarter, or luckier
a) it proves that God loves some people more than others
b) we are each one God’s masterpiece created in the best way to know Him
c) that evolution is true, otherwise God would have to take a lot of blame
10) God’s love is sacrificial and unconditional
a) and so that is how we should be towards other people
b) but He is God and we are human and so we are not expected to c) but He is not our example, good people are
Of all that God is, perhaps the quality most studied, most meditated upon and most cherished is His love. It is the theme that begins numerous gospel presentations. It is the subject of many Bible studies. It is that aspect of God which is most discussed and treasured. The unconditional love of God! How it fills our hearts with adoration. Nevertheless, it is also perhaps one of the most easily doubted of all of God’s attributes. We sing about it, we meditate on it, yet when we are tested, how quickly we forget it. He proved His love by giving His Son; still we demand more proof. He confirms it every day, but, even this never seems to completely convince us. We must learn to not merely talk about it, but to consistently and wholeheartedly believe it.
First of all, it must be realized that there has never been a point in time when God first began to love us. He has always loved us and He always will. His immense love for us is not bounded by time. Because He is omniscient, He has known all for all time. He cannot learn anything nor is anything new to Him. If our existence resulted from the process of evolution, then there could be no love until it evolved after us. But through creation, we could be loved throughout the eternity before us. His love was not initiated by our creation nor by some point of our conceptualization. We have always been in the mind and heart of God and, thus, we shall always remain. we shall always remain.
An aspect of divine love which is greatly neglected is that of its own satisfaction in creating and saving lost men. The Lord does not save people out of some merciful obligation; He saves people because He wasn’t to. The gratification which God receives through the salvation of a soul runs deeper and transcends even all the human benefits we receive through such an act. What we can too easily take for granted, the Most High cherishes so much that He will never let go. Though God does not need us, it is nevertheless ture that He has chosen to delight in us. Though, in ourselves, we can add nothing to Him, we find ourselves to be the primary objects of His infinite love. Our salvation pleases the heart of God more than our own hearts to the degree that His understanding and love surpasses ours. Only God can fully esteem the value of the Sacrifice, the superlative position and the changes which occur in the one saved, and the eternal relationship and unity between Himself and man resulting from such an act. That which is wholly appreciated by the Almighty plunges our comprehension into the vast darkness of infinitude. What we minutely realize, the Savior infinitely relishes. How much the Lord delights in us! How much He superlatively loves us. We are not contemptible little creatures but the objects through which Jehovah God chooses to satisfy His illimitable love.
The Lord knows every one of our needs, and He understands all of our desires. Romans 8:32 reads, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” If He gave us His precious Son at such a great cost, then what distrust causes us to think that He would withhold less? He gave His best, demanding nothing in return; what makes us think we need to earn the rest? What God gives, God gives freely. This should not be misconstrued, though, to mean that God gives us everything that we want. Instead, we should understand that He gives us everything that we need. We are greedy creatures who are rarely satisfied with what we have and even more discontent because of what we do not have. We are often quick to present our list of demands and neglect our reasons for thanksgiving. But God is faithful and all of our needs are met through Christ. Philippians 4:19 promises, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” God’s primary instruction to the unregenerate is that of repentance. Once the sin issue has been righteously and finally dealt with, He is then free to act as fully as His love wishes in our lives. What justice restrained, grace freed to be poured out gratuitously and superabundantly.
What God gives is not merely an extension of what the world offers, but that which is wholly new and different. He has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Indeed, the great issue lies no longer in the giving, but now in the receiving. We are blessed. And we are blessed with every spiritual blessing. Yet we still tend to beg for a few of the world’s morsels even when the whole heavenly storehouse has been given to us. We ask for bread and water when a feast is already ours. The world offers a peace. God gives a peace without fear, without misgiving. The world offers imitations. God gives what is eternal and cost Him much. The world offers religion. God gave us Christ.
Too much emphasis cannot be placed upon the truth that the Most High has already given much more than we realize and vastly more than we appreciate. We have barely come to understand the tremendous riches of His grace which has been bestowed upon us. Who can truly realize the tremendous implications of being forgiven, the full potency of being justified? Is there anyone whose heart is given wholly to the worship of God? The love of God transcends all that our minds can grasp. It transports us from knowing God to experiencing God. Who can contemplate the efficacious sacrifice of the Lamb of God and not bend the knee of reverent worship? “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” God gave because He loved. He did not give in order to love. This is the sublime declaration of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” The love of God is wholly unconditional. This means that it is dependent only upon its source and not at all upon its recipient. We shall be loved for as long as God is love. It is not contingent upon what we may become. He loves us now, regardless of what we may be, regardless of what we are, regardless of what we were.
To be without sin is to be pure. To be pure, while maintaining a deep hatred of sin is to be holy. To be holy and yet to die in order to pay for another’s sin is t love. God has a tremendous drive to make us happy, and He has proven that He will stop at no obstacle to see that end accomplished. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down His life for His friends.” He did not die to prove His love; He died because He already does love. The very culmination of all human comprehension in its attempt to understand the meaning of the Holy One of God becoming sin is greatly surpassed by the immense reality and significance of the event. We, sinners by nature, should shudder at the prospect of becoming such an atrocity; how much more the Son of God. He emptied Himself, leaving His exalted and glorious estate where He received the continuous praise of all the host of heaven to become a worm, a reproach of men and despised by the people; to become the sin of the world. Truly, there has never been any greater manifestation of the love which one has for another. Should we compel our thoughts to ponder this tremendous reality we cannot but be moved by this awesome sacrifice.
One of the most sublime declarations in the bible is that in view of God’s awesome holiness and its infinite contrast to our depraved and evil nature, we are, nevertheless, accepted in the Beloved. To be found acceptable to God necessarily implies that every requirement has been filled which He can ever demand against the sinner. Because of His immense holiness, even on stain, though ever so small and seemingly insignificant, would be just cause to incur the eternal wrath of the Almighty. His acceptance is not contingent on what we have done nor on what we may become. It is based on what we now are in Jesus Christ. There is no condemnation nor could there ever be because all have been redeemed, all have been reconciled, and God has been fully propitiated. We are gladly received into the fellowship of the Most High.
It is vital to realize that God’s love and acceptance is never based on our performance. We perform to please God because we love Him, but never to win Him. We must understand that we cannot win God’s love, and even more importantly, that we do not need to. If God so loved us unconditionally when He saved us, why do we often think that we must prove ourselves now that we are Christians? We do not enter into the presence of the King simply to be evaluated by Him, but to enjoy Him. When we were saved, we came to God confident in only His attributes and promises. As we now approach God, what leads us to reason that this relationship has changed? “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” Having been saved by grace and faith, are we to obtain perfection through works? We can draw near with confidence and boldly come into His presence, not because our lives sparkle with obedience and righteousness, but because of who He is and what He has promised to those in Christ Jesus. There was no excellency in our life which won us to God; how dare we to think that our performance is necessary to keep us there. This is perhaps one of the greatest barriers to freeing our hearts to wholly love God. We will always be hindered in our love if we concern ourselves more with trying to win His acceptance rather than believe it. Though the Almighty fully deserves to be served out of fear and punishment, He has chosen instead to be obeyed because He loves. He is not like King Ahasuerus as described in the book of Ester. Our favor before our King depends not upon our present appeal or works of righteousness, but wholly on the merit of Christ. We obey because God is good, not that we might appear good. Should our attention be focused primarily on the act rather than the object for which it is performed, then we will love more the praise for our actions rather than love to praise the One for whom our actions were intended. Our center of interest must be the Lord and not our Christian activities; however, we are obligated to obey all of His commandments. Our greatest and most consistent motivation should be the belief that God loves and accepts us. “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
One of Satan’s greatest deceptions is for us to believe that God does not really want to make us happy. Satan tells us that God’s commandments are burdensome. He tells us that God does withhold good from the upright. He tells us that the more we give up for God, the less we will have. Satan is a liar and the father of lies, but how much we believe Him. It is amazing how easily we can reason from circumstances that God’s plans are basically designed to make us miserable. We continually make the automatic assumption that if we want something, then it must be the best. Working then off of the absolute truth that God is sovereign and can do whatever He pleases and knowing that we do not always get what we want, often leads us to the conclusion that God really does not want to make our lives enjoyable. The results of this can be devastating. But as we grow in faith and in believing the word of God, we will become better trained in discerning good and evil, in discerning the truth of God from the lies of the devil. Thus, we become more likely to believe what God says rather than what our mind concludes. God does want to make us happy. He came that we “might have life, and might have it abundantly.”
We must apply the infinite, unconditional love of God to ourselves in a very personal and real way. We must not deceive ourselves by merely saying, “God loves people” but to believe, “God loves me.” The person who cannot truly say this has been deceived by perhaps one of the greatest lies of the devil. God demands repentance of this heart. It is to mock the Lord of all His words, all His works. Its root is not an attitude of inferiority, but one of prideful arrogance. Our God is a personal God who greatly desires a profoundly intimate relationship with each one of us. What evil causes us to withhold this from Him? To acknowledge that “God is love” is one thing, to believe, though, that “He loves me” is quite another.
It is amazing how quickly we can forget the good which God has done in our lives and how frequently we choose not to remember His abundant kindness. Psalm 106:8-14 is so typical a pattern. We find ourselves in adversity; God delivers us; we believe His words; we sing His praise. We then quickly forget His works and crave intensely. How much God blesses us. How many times He has delivered us yet how easily we forget. Hebrews 6:10 reads, “For God is not unjust so as t forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” It is amazing how He is not so unjust as to forget our work, yet we forget Him.
The love of God is fully consistent with all that He is. Because God is holy, His love is pure; because He is just, His love disciplines; because He is eternal, His love is endless; because He is infinite, His love is limitless; because He is omnipresent, His love is always available; because He is omnipotent, His love is inseparable; because He is awesome, His love is immense. To experience the love of the Almighty is to experience all that He is. His love, therefore, cannot be completely described as similar to the human emotion but being much more so. A proper description must incorporate into it all that God is. The love of the Most Holy God is unique.
Though it is emphatically true that God immeasurable loves all men, it is equally true that only the regenerate can be the free recipient of its full, incessant surge. Isaiah 59:2 says, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God” and in Jeremiah we read, “your sins have withheld good from you.” What love actuates Him to give to all, the sinful nature of man hinders and restrains. There is a vast difference between loving someone and being fully able to give them that love. But through grace, God gave His own Son to pay for our sins so that believing man can have eternal peace with his God. Thus, with the penalty of our sin discharged, the illimitable love of God is able to be experienced wholly and eternally by those whom He calls His sons and daughters. There is never any moment when God’s outpouring of love is any less than the moment before nor can be any greater the moment after. The real issue lies, rather, with our desire to see and acknowledge it. When we question God’s love for us, it is not that He has changed but that we have become dull. How easy it is for us to blame God. We grumble because we think that “the Lord hates us.” To often, we listen more to the devil’s lies than to God’s promises. It would do us well to memorize and devote much meditation to Ephesians 2:4-7. It avers the primary motivation which actuated God to plan and accomplish that which He did. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come, He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” How sublimely beautiful are the scriptures in their description of the Lord. The truth in this passage should never be forgotten. God is, indeed, good to us.
We must grasp the truth that the loving kindness of God extends to all situations and developments. An illustration of this is His personal fashioning of us. When He created us, He formed us exactly the way in which we would best be able to serve Him and others so that we could most fully experience His love. We read, “For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.” We are His work. All that God does, He does in love. Our appearance, intellect, and personality were each created carefully and skillfully by the Lord. He does not fully exert His love to us in some instances and allow “random chance” to rule in others. Indeed, no such principle as chance really exists. The point of any condition or situation is not just that God did it but that He did it in love. It is unbelief to assume that our life would be better if we were created any differently. We are each an individual masterpiece created by a loving Master.
The magnificent love of God! We may not fully understand why it is nor even fully understand what it is, but His love is real, is glorious, and is lavished upon unworthy creatures such as ourselves. What remains is for us to believe it and to praise God for it. “In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for Considering the faithfulness of God should draw our hearts into a tranquil state of confident trust and peace. It abundantly reminds us of how good God is and how totally undeserving we are. We should all be able to recall many instances where this attribute has been demonstrated to us. It places the full glory upon god and engenders in us a rich devotion of worship. When meditating on this area, perhaps the most common theme contemplated is His loyalty.
What does God’s love mean to us?
We can be free to wholeheartedly love Him.
What is one of the greatest hindrances to our loving God? It is thinking that we need to perform in order for God to love us. It is because we are then too focused on trying to win God’s acceptance instead of simply basking in His pure, unconditional love. We obey because we know that God is good; not so that we might appear to be good. Should our attention be primarily focused on our act of obedience rather than on God for whom it is performed then we will more love the praise for our obedience then love to praise the One for whom our obedience was intended.
We do not have to continuously validate God’s love by circumstances.
One of Satan’s biggest deceptions is to make us believe that God does not want us to be happy; that God is withholding good from us. Look at Satan’s deception in the Garden in Genesis 3:1-5. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden”?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.”’ And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” Notice what Satan is basically saying. “God told you that you can’t have something because it would be harmful to you, but that isn’t true. In fact, if you had that your life would be better. So go ahead and take it.”
Other, perhaps more familiar variations on Satan’s lie are: God’s commandments are burdensome; God does withhold good from the upright; the more we give up for God the less we will have. We too often make the assumption that if we want something then it must be good for us so if God does not give it to us then He must not really love us. The results of this can be devastating. We lose trust. We lose faith. We think that God has let us down.
But then we have forgotten the one event that proved God’s love for us. Circumstances may not be going our way but we can always look back to the cross. God did not become the sins of the world and die a horrible death and then become anemic in His love later on. When you are struggling and doubting the love of God do not judge God by circumstances that you do not understand; judge God by the one circumstance that you do understand and that is the cross.
When you blame God for how things are going in your life who are you listening to? –God or Satan? You can almost hear the devil whispering in your ear, “You really wanted that relationship to work out, didn’t you? But it didn’t. God doesn’t love you.” Far too many times we believe the Devil rather than God.
We can experience God’s love for us in a personal and real way.
We must not deceive ourselves by merely saying that, “God loves people” but we must be able to say and believe that “God loves me.” God did not die for a faceless mass of sins. God died for each one of our personal sins.
It is crucial that we remember personal accounts of how God loves us. Perhaps it is when He gave us courage to do something that we never thought that we could manage or when He answered a miraculous prayer or blessed us in a personal unique way. It is when we forget what God has done for us that we are prone to rebel, sin, and become bitter.
We can trust Him for how He created us.
Psalm 139:13-14 proclaims, “For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well.” Most of us do not particularly care for some aspect of how we look. But even though many of us could improve our appearance through exercise and a little better sense of fashion, our basic looks were created that way by God. All that God does He does in love. Our appearance, intellect, and personality were each created skillfully and carefully by God because that unique combination is what enables us to serve God the best, and when we serve God that is when we will find true joy.
Something about our appearance that we may see as a curse, God sees as an opportunity. God did not create us in a way to make our life easier; He created us in a way for us to enjoy Him the most.
Answers to quiz
2) a 1) c
Amy has a terrible problem with feeling like she has no value or worth. She hates her appearance and thinks that everyone looks down on her. She was picked on while growing up both in school and by her parents. As a result, she struggles in her Christian walk since she does not think that she can do anything that anyone or even God will find useful. What are some things that you can say to encourage her and give her a new and victorious outlook on herself all the while emphasizing God’s love?
1) In addition to the ones discussed above, what are some other assurances that God’s love mean to us?squo;s love mean to us?
2) How can a loving God allow someone’s baby to suffer and die?
3) If God is so loving then why do so many people live in poverty?
4) If God’s love is unconditional then why do we have to confess our sins?
5) What does the fact that God unconditionally loves you mean to you?
6) Give some practical examples of God’s love in action in your own life.
7) Give some practical examples of how you can love others with God’s love.
8) Why do not trials and miserable circumstances prove that maybe God does not love us right at this moment?
9) Why is it important to personalize God’s love for us? I.e., why is not it good enough to only claim that God’s loves everyone?
10) Why do we sometimes doubt God’s love for us?
11) Are there times when God does not love us? Why or why not?
12) What are some practical ways that we can show God’s love to other people?
Copyright Bob La Forge 2011 email: firstname.lastname@example.org