Contend Earnestly: Definition of God's Love

Monday, November 23, 2009

Definition of God's Love

My friend Mike Van Drie asked an important question:

When I say "God's love", what comes to your mind or how would you describe it?

My first thought on "what comes to my mind" was the cross based on John 3:16. This is actually what was done for the entirety of the world so that we would all know the length and strength of God's love. He did this so that none would have reason to say that God did not love them or pursue them. He did this to show that he does not wish that any or everyone would perish, but so that everyone, whether in this world, or the next (judgment) would have proof of the literal dying love of God on their behalf. This is my first thought.

How would I describe God's love? Meaning, what would be my definition?

Giving us what we need for his glory and for our joy (which can be what we want, but not necessarily so)

I believe that God does all things for his glory and, just like Israel (think civil laws of OT towards the nation of Israel), if we are obedient to those things, we will have the greatest joy in our lives. Are we always obedient? No. This is why we do not live "our best life now" but we struggle, fight and go through much pain. If we were to be sinless, living always for the glory of God, our joy would truly be complete. But, not only do we not, but we can't. So, the great exchange took place so that, although we continually sin, we can say that our joy is complete because of the finished work on the cross and resurrection. As we live in this light with our joy full because of him we shine the glory of God to all people and all nations, including our neighbors.

What are your thoughts on God's love?


Tony Byrne said...

When I am asked what I mean by God's love, the first thing that comes to my mind are DISTINCTIONS.

There is inter-Trinitarian love.

There is God's love for angels.

There is God's electing love for all the elect humans.

There is God's electing and complacent love for all the believing elect humans.

There is God's benevolent love for all humanity, including the non-elect.

There is God's love for his creation.

There is God's love for non-human creatures or animals.

Whenever you're asked some theological question, in a context when instruction is appropriate [not when someone merely needs comfort while in anguish], first think about making biblical distinctions. If you don't, you'll be trapped, or cause others to be confused. This is particularly the case when talking about God's love, which is why Carson's book is called "The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God." If it is not "difficult," it is at least complex in revelation, so our replies need to do justice to that complexity. So how do we do it justice? By thoughtful and biblical DISTINCTIONS :-)

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