God is Love

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Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
What does it really mean to say God is Love? John was quite clear that God is Love:

1 John 4:8,16 KJV
[8] He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
[16] And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.


I'm noticing that Arminians and Roman Catholics like to bring up the passages saying that "God is love" when dealing with the topic of the expanse of God's love towards his creatures. They use this to build a case to defend the assertion that God loves everyone.

Is it true to say that God, who is love, hates all workers of iniquity because there is no love in them perhaps?

Because the bible is clear that he does hate all workers of iniquity:

Psalms 5:5 KJV
[5] The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

So if God is love, and we must accept that he is because it says so in the above passages, then that must mean that love can and does hate if we take Psalms 5:5 literally because we cannot disregard any passages of God's inerrant bible. The only other way to take it would be to assume it is an anthropomorphism, which is apparently the Roman Catholic position because they include in their canon the book of Wisdom which says the following:

Wisdom 11:23-26 KJV
[23] But thou hast mercy upon all; for thou canst do all things, and winkest at the sins of men, because they should amend.
[24] For thou lovest all the things that are, and abhorrest nothing which thou hast made: for never wouldest thou have made any thing, if thou hadst hated it.
[25] And how could any thing have endured, if it had not been thy will? or been preserved, if not called by thee?
[26] But thou sparest all: for they are thine, O Lord, thou lover of souls.

Since we don't accept the book of Wisdom it has no real bearing on our conversation but the above quote simply illustrates where the Roman Catholic is drawing his scriptural conclusions from. With that in the canon the Roman Catholic cannot ever say that God hates anything because it clearly says that God loves all things that are. So we can see where they disconnect with us and why they prohibit the doctrine of double predestination.

I accept the 66 book canon and believe in double predestination and that God only loves the elect. However, I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around the concept of God actually BEING Love and then hating at the same time.

So, according to John the person of God actually is Love. How does love itself literally hate? I assume love is holy because God is holy and God is love, so God would hate things that are not holy because anything unholy is evil. Does this sound logical? So then love must hate evil. What about a person or a demon who is said to love evil? Can there really be true love for evil in existence if God is love and God is holy at the same time? I think that would mean that the only things that can love are holy things, because love is holy. So it would not be possible to actually love evil. Any pointers or ideas?

All thoughts welcome.

Thanks
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
Ex 33:18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

Ex. 34:5 The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 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, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

David, when the Bible speaks of God's love it must always be understood that God's love is not the sentimental human preference that is so susceptible to change with emotion, but an electing love that is based in the hidden purpose of divine decree. God's love is unchanging and it therefore set in direction in eternity.

In the Exodus passages you see God connecting his electing love with his name, his essence, his weightiness. The concept that he is revealing to Moses is "I am Yahweh, there is nothing outside myself that defines my power or essence, there is nothing outside myself that determines my purpose."

God is love in that his electing love has been the over arching theme of redemptive history and let's face it, human history is redemptive history. We humans deserve to know only wrath because of our ruined natures but God is love, he makes provision for reconciliation, he sends his only begotten to reconcile the elect to himself.

Rom. 5 "6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."

God reveals his holy love and his holy wrath, his holy mercy and his holy justice in the cross of Christ. The cross is the ultimate proof that God is love and that he has set his preference on his chosen.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
You're using the word love in two different instances, but the definitions to each are different. God is love in the truest sense. It is a part of His character. It isn't an emotion or a feeling, but part of who He is. The love you speak of with regard to evil is a sentiment felt by created beings. It has nothing to do with the love that's characteristic of God. I'd go so far to say as it's not real love, but a strong emotional affinity we define as love because we don't have another word to describe it. It's myopic.
 

Don Kistler

Puritan Board Sophomore
It is perfectly consistent with God's love for there to be hatred. God loves Himself first and foremost because of His infinite purity. He loves that which is like Him. But that also necessitates that He hate anything and everything that is NOT like Him. If God did not hate all who practice iniquity, He could not be said to love Himself for He would be loving that which is contrary to Himself.
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
God reveals his holy love and his holy wrath, his holy mercy and his holy justice in the cross of Christ. The cross is the ultimate proof that God is love and that he has set his preference on his chosen.

That is a great thought. At the cross God guarantees that his elect were saved which is a great display of love in that he bore the punishment due our sins. Here is a question I have about that:

As I understand it we have earned an eternal outpouring of God's wrath upon ourselves. When Christ died on the cross and bore the punishment of our sins what eternal implications does that have for him? I know that he died for us and He rose on the third day, but how does that equal the eternal punishment we were to receive? Is it the death that was required or has Christ suffered something eternal for us? This has always confused me, the extent of Christ's suffering in paying our penalty, It shows his great love for us and his mercy for us, and his holy justice, but I don't remember a passage that reflects the depth of his suffering and just what was required.

So, God being love in that it is not an emotion but just the way he is, has revealed himself ultimately in the cross in the fact that Christ bore our iniquities.

---------- Post added at 10:36 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:07 AM ----------

It is perfectly consistent with God's love for there to be hatred. God loves Himself first and foremost because of His infinite purity. He loves that which is like Him. But that also necessitates that He hate anything and everything that is NOT like Him. If God did not hate all who practice iniquity, He could not be said to love Himself for He would be loving that which is contrary to Himself.

That is a very clear way to look at it, Dr. Kistler. Thanks. So when we think of this topic, which can be confusing, we can use as a baseline the fact that God loves that which is like himself, so he only loves that which is holy! That makes sense.
 

Jimmy the Greek

Puritan Board Senior
God is a consuming fire. Heb. 12:29
God is holy. Lev. 19:2, etc.
God is Spirit. Jn. 4:24
God is one. Gal. 3:20
God is light. 1 Jn 1:5
God is righteous. Deut 32.4
etc.
etc.
And God is love. 1 Jn 4:8
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
David, here is the heavenly 'equation' to describe why Christ had to die:

If you break man's law then you must pay a price. The price is directly proportional to the severity of the infraction.

a x b = ab where 'a' is the crime and 'b' is the offended, for example, society, the bank, the president and 'ab' is the punishment.

If you assault (a) your neighbor, then you might have to pay a fine and maybe serve a short sentence.

If you assault the president then a x b squared would be a good description because of the measure of honor attributed to the president.

If you offend God then the equation is a x b to the infinite power because God is infinitely holy. It doesn't matter how severe your infraction is (gossip, murder), the infinite holiness of the one you offended has made your offense so heinous that only an infinite sentence can justify it.

Christ, as fully man, is the only suitable substitute because he lived a life perfect according to the law. Christ, as fully God, is the only substitute because only infinite God can withstand the infinite wrath that must be poured out on an offense against the Holy One.

This satisfaction of God's wrath is called propitiation.

The eternal implication for Christ is that because at the cross he demonstrated perfect obedience to the law, he has been given authority over all things.

I would recommend you begin reading Hebrews with your question in mind. Much of the book speaks to the eternal implications of Christ's suffering.

Heb. 1:3*He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4*having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Heb 2: 8Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9*But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10*For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
David, here is the heavenly 'equation' to describe why Christ had to die:

If you break man's law then you must pay a price. The price is directly proportional to the severity of the infraction.

a x b = ab where 'a' is the crime and 'b' is the offended, for example, society, the bank, the president and 'ab' is the punishment.

If you assault (a) your neighbor, then you might have to pay a fine and maybe serve a short sentence.

If you assault the president then a x b squared would be a good description because of the measure of honor attributed to the president.

If you offend God then the equation is a x b to the infinite power because God is infinitely holy. It doesn't matter how severe your infraction is (gossip, murder), the infinite holiness of the one you offended has made your offense so heinous that only an infinite sentence can justify it.

Christ, as fully man, is the only suitable substitute because he lived a life perfect according to the law. Christ, as fully God, is the only substitute because only infinite God can withstand the infinite wrath that must be poured out on an offense against the Holy One.

This satisfaction of God's wrath is called propitiation.

The eternal implication for Christ is that because at the cross he demonstrated perfect obedience to the law, he has been given authority over all things.

I would recommend you begin reading Hebrews with your question in mind. Much of the book speaks to the eternal implications of Christ's suffering.

That's a great idea. I'll start studying Hebrews tonight! I'm now looking forward to getting off work :)

Does Christ in any way suffer eternally because of the weight of our sins that were laid on him?
 

Don Kistler

Puritan Board Sophomore
David, Christ already did suffer eternally and infinitely on the cross. He suffered infinite wrath in a finite period of time. And then God said, "It is finished," which is something He will never say to the person in hell.

Christ does not continue to suffer eternally because "it is finished." Both God's law and His love are satisfied.
 

tommyb

Puritan Board Freshman
This tells me that we must define our concept of "love" by what we know of God. Too many do just the opposite. They take their own personal amorphous concept of "love" and use this verse to define God based on that. Of course, that's turning scripture on its head.
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
This tells me that we must define our concept of "love" by what we know of God. Too many do just the opposite. They take their own personal amorphous concept of "love" and use this verse to define God based on that. Of course, that's turning scripture on its head.

That's what I have experienced as well from those in a non-calvinistic denomination or the RCC, when limited atonement comes up and the inevitible conclusion drawn from that that God doesn't love the reprobate they almost always conclude that the doctrine cannot be true because the bible says that "God is love".
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The term, "God is love," is twice used there in 1John4.

In the first instance, as I have just been preaching in 1John, the context shows us that for love to have a real definition, it must originate in God. It is his "goodness" given concrete expression. Ultimately, that concrete expression is demonstrated in the Son given as propitiation for our sins. v10. Only Christians really love, because they are acting (in the last analysis) as further expressions of God's love.

God's love doesn't exclude other descriptions of his being or actions. Indeed, wrath against sin demands objects--if not Christ (for us) then whomever has no Christ (for him).

In the second case (v16), the words are at the end of a kind of list of "primitive confession" (I counted out 5 separate statements, starting with v12). The Christian community is identified by "love" AND by "doctrine" or truth. They all are tremendously "packed" statements. But as for the last, I would say that "God is love" is essentially the unified message of Scripture. It begins in Creation, passes through the Promise after the fall, and the fulfillment of the Promise is in Jesus Christ.
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
David, here is the heavenly 'equation' to describe why Christ had to die:

If you break man's law then you must pay a price. The price is directly proportional to the severity of the infraction.

a x b = ab where 'a' is the crime and 'b' is the offended, for example, society, the bank, the president and 'ab' is the punishment.

If you assault (a) your neighbor, then you might have to pay a fine and maybe serve a short sentence.

If you assault the president then a x b squared would be a good description because of the measure of honor attributed to the president.

If you offend God then the equation is a x b to the infinite power because God is infinitely holy. It doesn't matter how severe your infraction is (gossip, murder), the infinite holiness of the one you offended has made your offense so heinous that only an infinite sentence can justify it.

Christ, as fully man, is the only suitable substitute because he lived a life perfect according to the law. Christ, as fully God, is the only substitute because only infinite God can withstand the infinite wrath that must be poured out on an offense against the Holy One.

This satisfaction of God's wrath is called propitiation.

The eternal implication for Christ is that because at the cross he demonstrated perfect obedience to the law, he has been given authority over all things.

I would recommend you begin reading Hebrews with your question in mind. Much of the book speaks to the eternal implications of Christ's suffering.

That's a great idea. I'll start studying Hebrews tonight! I'm now looking forward to getting off work :)

Does Christ in any way suffer eternally because of the weight of our sins that were laid on him?

So I studied the first chapter of Hebrews last night. I have a Longprimer reference bible so it took me a long time and I went all over the scriptures. It was great.

I have a question about Jesus being begotten.

Hebrews 1:5 KJV
[5] For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

I understand this as God speaking to Jesus about his birth as human; his incarnation. Because he says this day have I begotten thee, when we know that Jesus in his deity is eternal and of one being with the Father as part of the Godhead which is one divine being with three distinct persons. So I don't think I have a good grasp on what it is to be begotten, I think this refers to Jesus' humanity, but I realize the creed says eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God. Is this begotten speaking of the eternal begetting? I have trouble with that because it says this day... Can someone explain the begetting?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
"Father" and "Son" are not temporally conditioned relations. They are descriptive of the divine-relation, and are consequently eternal description. The Son is eternally begotten of the Father, never has been or shall be an eternal moment (or historic) where this is not the case.

The notion, therefore, of "begetting" is intrinsic to the eternal relation of the godhead. What humans refer to as "begetting" must be a creaturely (and therefore greatly limited and diminished) illustration of the divine relation. It is an inversion to think first of human begetting, and then impose that notion on divinity.

This is the failure of comprehension that leads mslms, for example, to a crass understanding (and rejection) of the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation. Or the polytheistic Mrmon doctrine of godhood. Fundamentally, they think in ahthropocentric terms.

The Hebrews passage (quoting Ps.2) is not reference to the Virgin Birth, nor likely the Incarnation as a whole. He is declared to be the "Son of God with power" (hence the "this day" and "begotten" language is appropriate) at the Resurrection, or perhaps most aptly that in temporal conjunction with the Ascension (see Rom.1:4; cf.Acts4:24-30, where Ps.2 is presented as a commentary/prophecy concerning the rejection and accomplishment of the Son).
 
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