Its that time of the year where we are busy with the preparations to celebrate Christmas. One way we prepare is by shopping. We shop for gifts to give to our loved ones with whom we have deep affection for, friends and family that we love. Ever since we were children we have also loved to receive gifts. On this fourth weekend of Advent we focus on a very special gift that God wants us to receive, His love. When it comes to love, we could focus on three dimensions of love, Gods love for us, our love for God and our love for others. We are going to focus on Gods love for us because Christmas is primarily about Gods love for us.
1. God is love (v8)
One of Gods main moral attributes is love. It is His very nature and describes who He is. God is love and this means more than God loves or that God sometimes loves. It means that He loves, not because He finds people worthy of His love but it is simply His very nature to love. His love for us depends not on who we are, but on who He is. He loves because He is that kind of God and it is His very nature.
2. Why God loves us (v9)
God loves us because He chose to. Its a love that is unconditional and is purely from Him. It is the love that describes the decision to do what is best for someone else, even when it is personally very costly.
We are the creation of Gods planned purpose which is to have a relationship with Him and to glorify Him (Ge 1:26).
We were not created in the manner of lower creatures. Other creatures were created as a result of Gods spoken command. We are the only creation where God formed man out of the earth and breathed His divine breath into him (Ge 2:7).
We were created as flesh and spirit that bears Gods image with a rationality and ability to have relationship (communion) with Him.
Because God is love and love is His essential nature, we, in Gods image, were created as social creatures that are to love as well.
When reference is made to Gods love in the New Testament the word used is always agape. The lexicon defines agape and the verb agapao as follows: Gods love for us is described as agape love: to love, value, esteem (to set a high value, to regard highly), feel or manifest generous concern for, be faithful towards, to delight in, to set store upon; whence love, generosity, kindly concern, devotedness. (Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, p.78).
Why God loves us? Because of who we are as well as that we could have life in Him, eternal life and an abundant life on this side of heaven (Jn 3:16; 10:10).
3. How God demonstrated His love for us (v10)
To really understand Gods love for us we really need to understand His holiness, which is another moral attribute of God. God is not only love but He is holy. Holiness is the attribute that sets God apart from all created beings. It refers to His purity, free from sin and any profane thing. God is absolute perfection of character. There is no one or no thing that is holy like God.
In His holiness He is unapproachable. We alone, in our sinful condition, are the objects of Gods wrath. In Him there can be no sin. We, in and of ourselves, cannot come to Him because we are not holy.
In His love, God approaches us. It is in Gods love that His wrath is averted. How? By His only begotten Son Jesus coming to this earth (as a gift) to die a brutal death. Propitiation in the Greek means the gift which procures propitiation or the turning away of wrath by an offering. That is, the gift of Christ completely satisfying the just demands of a Holy God for judgment on sin, by his death on the cross. His perfect sacrifice cleanses us from all of our sin and unrighteousness and satisfies Gods demand for perfect justice.
When we lose sight of Gods holiness and His greatness, His love loses meaning.
Only when we rediscover the holiness of God will we be overwhelmed by His love. Only then will we realize how truly good the news of the Gospel isthat this holy God turns out to be a lover, that in His love God approached us by sending us His only begotten Son that the Temple curtain designed to protect us is now torn to let us in.
Human beings were not worthy of Gods love. We were a fallen, unholy, rebellious being. But God still delighted in us and in His nature of love, He sent Himself to satisfy the demands of holiness, and that the outpouring of His love could be realized. That is what real love is! That is His gift to us.
Proof of Gods love for the believer
1) Salvation and eternal life (Jn 3:16)
2) Desiring and providing for us all needed things (Ro 8:32; Jas 1:17; Php 4:19)
3) Sent us the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:15-26; 16:7
4) Placed us in His Body, the family of God (Eph 2:19-22; 1Co 12:13)
5) Made us children of God (1 Jn 3:1-2)
6) Provides healing for us (Jas 5:14-6; Mt 8:16-17)
7) Enables us to live a victorious Christian life (Ro 8:35-39)