A Most Loving God

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Westminster Confession of Faith

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. (1 John 4:8–9)

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Yesterday we looked at God’s overwhelming, weighty glory. His absolute holiness. With all this talk of purity and majesty it’s easy to come up with the idea of a forbidding God, a divine tyrant. A God before whom you would never be good enough.

The weighty otherness of God is to be held alongside his love. God is love, we are told by the Apostle John, and so he is the very definition of love. After all, what could be more loving than a God who is perfect, eternal, all-powerful and also love? If we want to really know what love is, we should refer to God. Equally, we should be very wary indeed of projecting our own less-perfect feelings of love onto God.

So what is love? Well, perhaps we might see the best example in the quote from John 3:16 above. It is an active love, seen in the giving of his only Son. Also it is sacrificial, since that giving of his only Son led to the crucifixion. More than that, it is reconciling since when someone puts their trusting faith in that sacrifice and leads to eternal life. This is what love truly looks like, it is not simply an emotion or a feeling but active and reconciling. It is the means by which God brings forgiveness, and restores sinful humans to a holy God.

The God of love has given us a way to return to him. That is what love is like.

The Glory of God

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36) - Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. (Revelation 4:11) - When we give glory to God, we are giving him the weighty seriousness he deserves. God’s glory means he shouldn’t be taken lightly, or dismissed with a brief “I’m sure God wouldn’t mind”. People get nervous when the Queen enters the room. How much more the King of Kings!

A God All-Gracious

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Exodus 34:6–7) - The fact that he sent his only Son so that we might be reconciled back to him is sheer grace. The fact that Jesus’s death has washed away those sins which we commit is abundant mercy. The fact that he sticks with us is great patience indeed. That he forgives “iniquity and transgression and sin” is something to be cherished.

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