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Who is God?
Many have tried to answer this question and have relied on the words of men and their religions to find the answer. Many have turned to the idea that God is whatever we want him to be, or the sum of all good. Some also argue that God is a figment of our imagination, created only for the purpose of blaming someone or something for the good, the bad, and the unexplainable.
But for those of us who have come to a life-changing and life-saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we know that God is more than just a myth or legend. We know that God is not revealed through the teachings of Buddha, Allah, Confucius, the Pope, Aristotle, or New Age incantations or affirmations. Rather, we believe that God is revealed through the infallible and divinely inspired teachings of the Bible.
However, even as Christians who know the Bible and claim to live our life centered around its teachings, we complacently rely on our imaginations or the teachings of our Christian parents or leaders to help us from our opinion of who God is. I’m not saying that what you’ve learned from your parents or pastors is incorrect. What I am saying is the most intimate relationships are developed from firsthand accounts and so when we encounter Jesus firsthand by learning about Him directly from His Word, we begin to develop an intimacy with Him that nothing or no one else can produce.
Admittedly, I’ve also struggled with complacently accepting a sermon for my knowledge of Jesus. But after encountering Jesus firsthand through the intimate moments spent meditating on His Word, I’ve learned that intimacy with Jesus cannot be taught, but rather experienced. And it is through our time studying the Word of God, meditating on His Word, and through prayer that we find ourselves arriving at the answer to the infamous question Who is God?
To help facilitate this intimacy and shed light on truths I’ve encountered during my own time spent in God’s Word and in the solitude of prayer and meditation, I’ve decided to dedicate a devotional series to the character of God, both those which are communicable and incommunicable.
I pray that as you listen and / or read each devotional in this series you find yourself closer to God and more intimately familiar with who He is.
God is Loving
To begin our series, we will look at what I believe is the most important and most powerful attribute of God, namely, His love toward us. Love is the foundation of the gospel message. It’s the love of God that saved us, redeemed us, sanctified us, and called us. Love is the greatest thing we could experience and do. In fact, the two most important commandments that God gave us are to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves.
"Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV
Without love, we have nothing.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV
So, what is it about God’s love that is so special, how can we observe and experience His love?
The Qualities of God’s Perfect Love
God's love for us is so strong that so that while we were yet sinners, He sent His one and only son to die for us.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NKJV
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is also one and equal with God the Father, loved us so much that He endured the penalty of our sin and died for us. He took on the burden of every failure, every temptation, every moment of despair that we would ever face and upon Himself. He did this so that through His victory over sin and death, we would be justified and reconciled. You might be asking what does that even mean? Why did we need to be justified and reconciled to have eternal life?
"Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous." Romans 5:18-19 NKJV
Jesus, who was both God and man, came to Earth to die in our place, so that the judgement of mankind's sin, which entered the world through the first man Adam, would be justified through His perfect sacrifice. Jesus paid the debt for all humanity. He took on the judgement that was due every person, because of His love for us.
This is perfect love. The love that God had for us, His creation, which was made manifest through the sacrifice of Jesus.
"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:9-10 NKJV
God's perfect love for us, which is manifested through Jesus Christ holds 3 key characteristics. His perfect love is unconditional, unfailing / unchangeable, selfless, and pure.
1. An Unconditional / Pure Love
God's love is unconditional because there is nothing that we needed to do to earn God's love. His love for us is not based on any of our works, thoughts, or feelings towards Him. God simply loved us first, without any ifs, or but's. God's love for us is pure. It is the purest love that has an ever will exist. It holds no blemish, no selfish trait, and no limit.
"We love Him because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19 NKJV
2. An Unfailing / Unchangeable Love
God's love is unfailing because nothing can stop us from being loved by God. No power on heaven or earth could separate us from it.
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39
God’s love for us is unchanging. It never diminishes. It never stops. Even in our sin, God promises to love us. Time and time again, the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people forsook Him and turned to other gods. They forgot that it was God who delivered them from their slavery to Egypt. They forgot the miracles of the Red Sea parting, and the supernatural victories against their enemies. Yet even in their idolatry, God refused to give them up. God refused to forsake them just as they forsook Him. And just like God didn't forsake Israel, he won't forsake or stop loving us.
“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I set you like Zeboiim?
My heart churns within Me;
My sympathy is stirred.
I will not execute the fierceness of My anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man,
The Holy One in your midst;
And I will not come with terror." Hosea 11:8-9
3. A Selfless Love
God’s love is selfless. God doesn't love us because He needs our love to survive or because He needs our love to feel better about Himself. God's love, which is displayed through Jesus' death on the cross, was freely given to us despite the fact that He knew many would reject Jesus and His gift of eternal life.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16-17
How God Displays His Love
God's perfect love for us was displayed through Jesus' death on the cross. This was the ultimate display of His love towards each individual, and also the whole of mankind. In addition to this, there are other unique ways in which we can personally observe and experience God's love.
God's Love as a Father
God is more than just the ruler of the Universe. He is also our heavenly Father. And just like our earthly dads love us, God all the more loves us as a Father that sees us, knows us, and takes care of us.
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."1 John 3:1-2 NKJV
"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:11 NKJV
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." Romans 8:14-17 NKJV
God's Love as a Creator
God is our Creator. He is the one that spoke our world and life into existence. He breathed life into our bodies and intricately fashioned us in the womb. We were made in His image and considered as His masterpiece.
"For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them." Psalm 139:13-16
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10
God's Love as a Friend
Probably the 2nd most intimate way we can experience the love of God is through the love He displays towards us as our friend. We can come to Jesus as a friend who understands us. Jesus is the best friend because Jesus' friendship is not dependent on whether or not we make time for Him or call Him back. Jesus is our best friend and always will be. We can go to Him whenever we need someone to talk to, cry to, vent to, laugh with, or just be silent with. He shares in all of our joys, all of our sorrows, and all the moments in between.
"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another." John 15:9-17
God's Love as Husband
Arguably the most intimate love we can experience from Jesus is His love for us as our Husband. There are a few different ways we can see the love of Jesus displayed as a husbandly love.
First, Christ loves the church, just as husbands love their wives, because He gave Himself up for the church. And so, the same sacrificial, selfless, and protecting love that we see earthly husbands demonstrate towards their earthly wives, we can also experience in Christ Jesus.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:25-33
Second, for us women who accept the love of Jesus and love Him in return, we can also experience the love He gives us as the Lover of our Soul or Husband. A love between a wife and husband is the most intimate love we can experience on earth. Well, imagine this intimacy exponentially multiplied and experienced with someone who knows us better than we know ourselves!
Jesus' love is the most fulfilling love because Jesus created us and knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows us in and out and knows exactly how to love us.
This intimacy is so powerful that only sin could break it. And it was after sin emerged that we see Eve's desire shifted from God's love to the love of her husband Adam. But even though our desire does not always seek God because of our sinful nature and flesh, we can correct our desires and point them back to the One who made us, knows us, and loves us more than words could even describe.
"To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” Genesis 3:16 NKJV
"I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the Lord." Hosea 2:19-20 NKJV
"For your Maker is your husband,
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth." Isaiah 54:5 NKJV
"Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." Revelation 19:7 NKJV
The Nature of God – God is Love
God is Love refers to the nature of God. His very being is love. He exists as love and love exists because of Him. Therefore, it is not possible to love without God.
"He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:8
How We Can Display the Love of God
We could never repay Jesus for what He did for us or love Him back to the same degree that He loves us because we are prone to sin and error. But, as we see in Matthew 22, the greatest things we could ever do and are commanded to do are to love God and others.
"Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV
The Bible outlines characteristics of love that we can display as we strive to love God and others in 1 Corinthians 13.
"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV
God's love is at the center of the gospel message. His perfect love for us was manifested through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
This perfect love holds several key qualities that describe how His love is perfect and the highest form of love. These key qualities are that His love is unconditional, unfailing, and selfless.
Love is more than just demonstrated by God. Love is the nature of God. God is love and perfect love cannot exist without God.
Lastly, even though we could never fully repay or demonstrate God's love to the degree that He can because He alone is perfect, the Bible outlines characteristics of this perfect love that we should strive to embody and demonstrate as we strive to love Him and love others.