April 07, 2018

We Love Simply Because God is Love and we are Born of God

“We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 NIV)

The question of "why" is one of the most important questions in life that little children intuitively understand but adults tend to forget. It's extremely important today to understand why we as Christians love God and other people and what this love is based on because popular false teachings have sprung up that seriously misrepresent this very issue.

First, scripture teaches that our love and all other actions should not be based on humanistic motives or self-centered urges, rather, we are taught that our prime impetus as Christians is a supernatural type of love that was initiated wholly on the part of God, "because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19 NIV)

Second, it's clearly explained that God's nature is to love with a self-giving type of agape love. Everything that exists has an identity and nature that is manifested. God does not love in order to feel pleasure or to seek His own glory. To love is simply God's nature. Fish swim, birds fly, God loves. And we love because we have God's nature.We love because God is love and we are born of God.

“Beloved, let us love one another because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8 NIV)

The type of love that God emanates and lives by is described in the original Greek language of the New Testament as “agapeo” love. This is a self-giving commitment-based love. It is not a feeling-based self-seeking love of desire. If we know God and are living in the truth of God, then we as regenerated Christians love because we know God and have His nature living in us and through us.

Third, in the Old Testament when God defines his own name and nature, God self-identifies as primarily a loving and altruistic being that is also just and therefore must judge sin. The latter does not cancel out the former:

"And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)

A Love Above all Other Loves

The ultimate evidence of God's nature and God's love is forever highlighted in the awe-inspiring sacrifice that Christ in giving Himself to the cross in obedience to the Father's will and in conformity with God's loving nature. Christ was given by the Father a “name above all other names” because He demonstrated a love above all other loves. No other form of love or act of love has ever exceeded the love demonstrated on the cross.

“And love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ( 1 John 4:10 NIV)

Through the ages, writers such as Augustine of Hippo and C.S. Lewis described agape love as “charity.” Augustine confirmed the centrality of agape love as our basis for loving God: "Charity is a virtue which, when our affections are perfectly ordered, unites us to God, for by it we love Him." (De Moribus Eccl. xi). The Bible does not teach that Agape love will dissolve away in heaven or will morph into erotic love. Even as there is a sense of self-giving love between the members of the Trinity, scripture implies that agape love will endure eternally:

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)
God's Agape Love is an Empowering Love

If we try to base our life and walk with God on inspirational motivations for blessings or the seeking of pleasure then we are entirely missing a more essential aspect of our walk with God. We cannot live the Christian life described in the Bible without the power of God. Scripture is replete with admonitions to be filled with God's Holy Spirit and to know God's real power as a basis for living a fruitful and victorious life. The Holy Spirit is described as a "deposit guaranteeing our inheritance" and the Apostle Paul described one aspect of our empowered nature as the dynamic force of agape love that has been given to us and abides in us as true believers.

"and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us." (Romans 5:5 KJV)

The love of God is described as the most powerfully compelling aspect of our lives. The same love that Jesus had for the Father and for us as He went to the cross dwells in every true believer. This love compels us in different ways. We can feel God's love tangibly in us, as shown in Romans 5:5, and we can have a revelation of the greatness and vastness of God's love, as Paul described in Ephesians 3:18. It is clear in scripture that God's agape love has inestimable and eternal value and will not ever change.

Additionally, we can have the revelation that we have died together with Christ and we are no longer to be controlled by humanistic needs or wants, but we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit and Christ living in us and through us in love, as shown in Galatians 2:20. In understanding all of these, we realize that by faith we are free to love as Christ loved.

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died."(2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV)

God Loves People and God Loves Truth

Despite these types of clear explanations in the Word of God, popular teachers today mislead thousands by urging that God chose to love us not because it is His very nature, but mainly because God was seeking personal pleasure. And any teaching that suggests that our motive for loving God and others should be based mainly on seeking our own personal self-gratification is not from God. For example, John Piper teaching that "all our loves are erotic" is false. God's eternal prime nature is based mainly on agape love and holiness, not subjective feelings that ebb and flow within relationships.

These types of teachings misrepresent God's nature as well as the value and power of God's nature combined in perfect holiness. Agape love is explicitly described as the supreme love in scripture. And that understanding is internally consistent with the whole of scripture. The highest form of love is not best represented by subjective feelings, but actions and truth:

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18 NIV)

False Doctrines Defraud and Weaken the Bride of Christ

To defraud someone is to make a false representation either with knowledge or belief as to its falsity or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity. One the one hand, there are teachers like Rob Bell claiming that God's love discounts the idea of hell described in the Old Testament and by Jesus in scripture. Bell misrepresents God by focusing on love to the extent that he denies the prime righteous and holy aspects of God's nature. On the other hand, there are other teachers like John Piper that misrepresent God by portraying Him like the god Eros with primarily a self-gratifying nature. The whole of scripture does not support either of these representations. To misrepresent God and to subtly idolize one of God's characteristics is a serious matter that God does not take lightly.

"Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:14 NIV)

Jacob Rutledge made a good point that false doctrine causes division in the church. Only a sound foundation based on a true representation of God and the essence of God's true nature can allow for a healthy sense of unity in the church. I believe that God desires to purify the true church as the bride of Christ in these last days. Scripture shows that we cannot live the Christian life described in the Bible without the power of God enabling us to love God and others. I'm willing to reason with anyone that believes that our Christian life is more dependant upon positive motivations than the power of God. And if anyone believes that God's nature is not mainly based on agape love but is based on some other type of characteristic I would like to try to discuss this with you.

Christian humanism is harmful and if you follow this type of doctrine I would urge you to pray about it, closely search the scriptures, and be willing to discuss and debate your views in order to see if they are correct. If you love God and the truth, please share this post. God is jealous of His name and does not like His nature to be misrepresented.

Tags: the greatest love, the highest love, God's true nature, where does love come from? What is the main motive for the Christian? What is the basis of the Christian life? why is Christian Hedonism harmful

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