Speaker: Pastor Darin Browne
1 John 4:7-12 (ESV)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
I met a guy who proudly told me, “I don’t believe in God.”
I said, “Really, can you describe this God you don’t believe in?”
“Yes, he’s vengeful, malicious, and unfair. He sends people to hell because he’s too harsh, and he allows wars, hatred, and pain because he doesn’t care.”
I replied, “I don’t believe in that God either. My God is a God of love.”
Don’t confuse love with legalism and don’t mix up religion with relationship. Don’t blame God for man’s sinful and hateful actions. The Bible described God like this…simply “God is love!”
WHAT IS GOD’S LOVE
But what is God’s love, and how can you describe it? Can you prove it? How do you describe a rose to a blind person or a symphony to a deaf person? How do you describe the infinite, fathomless, all-powerful love of an omnipotent God to a finite, limited human being? If God is love, why can’t we just do whatever we want?
We humans know something of love, but it’s limited. Is your love like God’s love? Is your love infinite or is it fickle. Do you change how much you love someone if they hurt you or let you down, or betray you? Does your love give someone else a licence to do whatever they want, and abuse your love however they see fit, or does it have standards of what is right and wrong? Does your love ebb and flow, changing every minute depending on how you feel, or is your love strong and dependable?
WHAT IS GOD’S LOVE LIKE?
How can we mere mortals describe God’s love?
1. GOD’S LOVE IS FOR EVERYONE
The first question I would ask is, who does God love?
John 3:16 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
God loves everyone. He loves sinners, all sinners and He loves His people, the Jews. He also loves Palestinians, and Greeks, and yes, even Aussies. God loves old people as they draw near the end of their lives, and He loves children, adolescents, mums, and dads. He loves gay people, straight people, transgenders, those who don’t know what gender they are, those who identify as cats, dogs, fences, and tables. God loves rich and poor, the sick and the well, those who are hurt and abused, and yes, even those who abuse others. He loves good people, and bad people. No one is beyond the scope of God’s love.
1 John 4:16 says that God is love.
It doesn’t say that He loves if you’re good enough. It says, God is love. To say God is love does not imply that love is God. There’s a difference between saying my dog is a girl, and my girl is a dog. So you can love without God, but everywhere you see God, you will see love, because God is love, and He loves us all.
So, does that mean everybody goes to heaven, regardless of the life we lead? No. His love is offered to us all, but many refuse to accept it.
2. GOD’S LOVE IS SELECTIVE
God loves everyone. But not everyone is treated the same way, and in fairness, not everyone responds to God the same way. God’s love is there for everyone, but not everyone accepts His free gift. Some accept Him, some want to do their own thing and reject Him, to be their own Lord.
Romans 9:14-16 (ESV)
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Let’s see things the right way. Rather than say it’s not fair that God blesses this person and not another, here’s God’s perspective…no one deserves any blessing, because we are all sinners, but God chooses to bless some.
3. GOD’S LOVE IS ETERNAL
Psalms 103:15-17 (ESV)
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
Everlasting is the Hebrew OLAM, which means time eternal, indefinite and beyond definition. It comes from a word meaning the vanishing point when something is so far out there you cannot see it. It is infinite, and unfathomable, and it is eternal!
4. GOD’S LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL
Most love we experience is conditional, in other words, we are only loved if we meet certain criteria. So, if we do well, we are loved, but if we betray someone, they withdraw their love. But God’s love, agape love in the Greek, is unconditional.
Titus 3:4-5 (ESV)
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
God loves us, not because of what we do, but because of who we are. We are created in His image. You can’t sin enough that He stops loving you, but there are still consequences for your decisions. Reject Jesus and you reject His love, and all the benefits of that love. Accept Jesus, and all God’s love is yours.
5. GOD’S LOVE IS BENEFICIAL
Psalms 103:2-6 (ESV)
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
God’s love is beneficial. There are so many benefits for us!
God’s love removes our sin and restores our relationship with Him (verse 3). He heals us both physically and emotionally. He redeems us, which means He buys us back from the pit of death. God crowns us with His love and mercy and gives us authority over things of darkness. He satisfies us, and boy, our thankless, self-centred generation needs to hear this. He renews our youth, even as we get older.
6. GOD’S LOVE IS PURE AND HOLY
Psalms 103:6 (ESV)
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
Importantly, His love is judicial, it is right and righteous. It is just. This is what sets God’s love apart from the so called love the world pedals.
Psalms 33:5 (ESV)
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
God’s pure love doesn’t allow us to do whatever we want. The world says, if you love me you’ve got to approve of whatever I do, but that’s not true. You can love someone and and not approve of what they do! God’s love doesn’t excuse doing wrong, it doesn’t cover up your sin, it covers over your sin with the blood of Jesus.
Every decision you make and action you take has consequences. Sin has bad consequences. You can choose the sin, but you cannot choose the consequences, they choose you. You need to stop blaming God for what happens when you’ve made all the bad decisions, not Him. He loves you and plans the best for you, but if you disobey Him, consequences follow.
GOD’S LOVE IS CLEAR
If you choose to reject Jesus Christ today, you are heading towards hell, not because He doesn’t love you, but because you chose against Him and have to bear the just consequences of your decision. You can choose the sin, but not the consequences.
God clearly shows us what sin is in His Word. The fact that society calls something an alternate lifestyle instead of what is has always been called, sin, does not change the consequences. I believe that marijuana is destructive. You can legalise it or call it medicinal, but it’s the same thing.
Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV)
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Don’t mistake God’s love as a licence to sin however you want. God’s love is not weak and easily manipulated for our own ends, it is Holy and pure, and if you come to Him today, He will make your life Holy and pure too. He will set you free from sin and its consequences, and He will guide you into a productive life beyond anything you have ever imagined!
7. GOD’S LOVE IS ALL CONSUMING
God’s love is all consuming, it touches every part of our lives. There is no pain, no circumstance, no status, no situation that God’s love does not touch. Some here are running from God, but let me tell you that God loves you, and has your number!
Psalms 139:7-10 (ESV)
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
Today you need to stop running and give it all to the God who loves you. I heard about a little girl, lost in a busy shopping mall. She panicked as she looked for her mummy, but all she saw was people, noise, and confusion. But then her mum saw her, and picked her up, and she began to stop crying and calm down, not because her surroundings had changed, but because of whose arms held her.
Whatever you face in life, the arms of God are here for you, loving and pursuing you, so yield your heart to Him today! You need not fear what the future holds if you know Jesus holds the future.
8. GOD’S LOVE IS PERSONAL
The Bible clearly teaches that God is not a force, or an energy, or the universe, He is a real person, capable of loving and being loved. Your rejection of Him causes Him pain, your sin breaks His heart, and His decision to love you anyway is genuine.
God’s love is not a neutral force, He is very much in your corner…
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God sees you as someone of worth, someone of value, someone precious. He doesn’t see the mass of people, He sees every one of you, individually, and He wants the very best for you. Don’t throw your problems and future out into the universe and hope it all works out, take them to the One who created and controls the universe, and trust Him to work it out for you!
9. GOD’S LOVE IS BEYOND COMPREHENSION
Psalms 103:11 (ESV)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
I cannot fathom the love of God. God knows me, my faults, my sin, my rebellious heart, but still, He loves me. I’m a sinner, yet He forgives me. I’m diseased, but He heals me. When I’m in a pit, He lifts me out. I’m ungrateful for His wonderful gifts in my life, yet He continues to give them to me. I deserve justice, and death, and and eternity in hell, yet He grants me mercy and life. I can fathom such live!
A little Vietnamese orphan girl was injured during the Vietnam war, and doctors believed she would die without a blood transfusion. The only people whose blood type matched hers were a small number of her orphan friends. A doctor, in broken Vietnamese, asked if any of the friends would give blood to save her life. After a long silence, one small orphan boy raised his hand.
They inserted the needle in his vein to extract the blood, and he began to cry, then sob and he screwed his eyes up tightly. Nurses were confused by his overreaction. At this point, a translator arrived and began to talk to the boy until he calmed down.
The doctor asked, “What was that about?”
The reply was there had been a misunderstanding, and the boy thought he would have to give all his blood, and hence his life, to save his friend. They asked him why he volunteered when he thought he would die as a result and he replied simply, “She is my friend.”
John 15:13 (ESV)
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
That’s love, and that’s God’s love. It’s beyond anything you can imagine, and it’s here for you today.
Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A few weeks ago, our nation was asked to vote on whether we should have the voice. Today there is another voice, God’s voice, offering you God’s limitless, amazing, and all-consuming love, and it’s another yes/no choice. And unlike the voice, it’s not just an opinion. Your entire eternity hangs on your decision! How will you respond today?
The Beatles sang All You Need is Love, and then they broke up. What substitutes for love from mankind fades away into a dot compared to God’s love. Let me finish with a true story…
A TRUE STORY
A pastor got up to speak in his church one day, and before he spoke, he introduced an old man, whom he called a childhood friend, and asked him to share a few words. The old man stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak. “A father and son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific coast,” he began, “when a storm hit the boat, and it capsized, throwing all three into the ocean, one boy was thrown one direction, the other the opposite way.”
“Grabbing a rescue line, the father had only seconds to make the most excruciating decision of his life – which boy should he throw the lifeline to? The father knew that his son was a Christian and he also knew that his son’s friend was not.
As the father yelled out, “I love you, son!” he threw the lifeline to his son’s friend. By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells, and sadly his body was never recovered.
The old man said, “This father knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus, but he could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into an eternity without Christ. So, he sacrificed his son to save the son’s friend. How great is the love of God that he should do the same for us. Our Heavenly Father sacrificed His only begotten Son that we could be saved. I urge you to accept His offer to rescue you and take a hold of the lifeline He is throwing out to you.”
With that, the old man sat down, and after the service a couple of teenagers thanked him for the story but said they didn’t believe it was true. No one, they reasoned, would sacrifice their own son to save a boy they didn’t really know. It’s not realistic, they said, sacrifice your boy hoping the other would become a Christian.
The old man looked up at the boys and said, “It sure isn’t very realistic, is it? But I’m standing here today to tell you that story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me. You see, I was that father, and your pastor is my son’s friend.”
THE BEST OF GOD’S LOVE
God’s love is best seen in a broken, bloodied man hanging on a cross. Nails did not hold Jesus to the cross, love did. His incomprehensible, all-consuming love for you and me. How much does God live you? This much, said Jesus, and He opened His arms and died in your place. Written in blood on a Roman Cross are His final words…I LOVE YOU!
When asked what was the single, greatest truth you have ever learned, after a lifetime of study, Theologian Karl Barth replied…
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”