Vol. 14 No. 42
God’s Way of Salvation
Next in vs. 4 we see that God applies the mercy of His grace towards the sinner, “because of His great love with which He loved us….” In other words, Love goes into action on our behalf.
Eph 1:5, “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.”
Here we have both the noun AGAPE and verb AGAPAO that mean “love.” In the N.T. it expresses a love that wills to initiate a relationship and show kindness and self-sacrifice regardless of whether the object of the love is worthy or even likable. It is a love that does not depend on emotional response. It is an expression of the nature and character of the one who loves.
AGPAPE tells us of God’s love for the world, John 3:16, and for sinners, Rom 5:8; Eph 2:4. It also characterizes Christ’s love for His church, Eph 5:25, and for individual members of His body, Gal 2:20.
AGAPE Love is what motivated God to express His mercy towards us as sinners because, “He loved us,” the Aorist, Active Indicative of AGAPAO. Therefore, God intervened because of His great (POLUS – greatness in magnitude and quantity) love, which is the motivating force behind all that He does. In quantity God has enough love for all of us, and in scope His love is great. It is also perfect because God’s character is perfect.
AGAPE reveals God’s deepest nature: He is love, 1 John 4:8. AGAPE here does not note an aspect of God or a feature of His character; rather, it encapsulates the very nature of God and summarizes the activity of God’s words and deeds throughout the history of salvation. Therefore, love caused God to act in mercy, which can be defined as love in action. Because He loves so much, God performs specific acts of mercy towards sinful man.
By nature, “God is love,” 1 John 4:8. But God would love even if there were no sinners, because love is a part of His very being. Theologians call love one of God’s attributes because it is intrinsic to Him. When this love is related to sinners, it becomes mercy and grace. As we have noted, God is “rich in mercy,” vs. 4, and we will also see that He is rich in “grace,” vs. 7. These riches make it possible for sinners to be saved.
The verb “love” in the English language is a transitive verb, meaning that it must have a subject and an object. God is the subject in this case, and He can love spiritually dead mankind solely on the basis of His own perfect character and Divine self-esteem. From the state of His perfection, God can love all mankind in spiritual death having an Old Sin Nature. Yet, there is no way God can personally love man through physical birth, for man is born spiritually dead in his sin. Part of his spiritual death means he cannot be the object of God’s personal love. Furthermore, man cannot produce enough righteousness to equal perfection. In fact, man’s righteousness is called “filthy rags” in Isa 64:6. Man has only relative righteousness. Therefore, God’s love toward mankind must first be AGAPE love, impersonal, in that it does not depend upon the merit of the object (man); it depends on the merit of the subject, (who and what God is). Since we are born spiritually dead and totally helpless to have a relationship with God, there is no way God could personally love us because we are attractive to Him. Furthermore, there is no system of works we could perform that makes us attractive. Therefore, Divine impersonal love is always directed toward the world of unbelievers.
Under Divine impersonal love, God can love unworthy creatures, i.e., both fallen angels and unbelievers in mankind; not because of who and what they are, but because of who and what God is. Mankind does not have virtue or integrity, but uses his volition to sin and to perform functions of human good and evil. So God’s love toward His creatures has to be impersonal. This category of love requires all the virtue, integrity and holiness of God. Compared to God, all objects are unworthy. God’s impersonal love depends on who and what God is, never on who and what mankind is.
Because God is holy (just and righteous), His divine love is divorced from any unfairness, altruism, sin, human good, or evil. Therefore, God can convey impersonal love to all fallen angels and fallen man under real spiritual death.
Divine impersonal love toward all mankind is expressed in 1 John 4:9-10.
1 John 4:9-10, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
The only thing that can satisfy God regarding our sins is the fact that each one was judged in Christ on the Cross. God the Father’s impersonal love was demonstrated in judging all the personal sins of the human race in His Son on the Cross. Our Lord’s impersonal love was demonstrated by His perfect motivation and perfect integrity in going to the Cross, founded in His perfect personal love for God the Father. As a result, He obeyed the Father’s will, going to the Cross and receiving the judgment of our sins. Therefore, no work can ever be substituted for the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. When God gives in grace, it demands faith on our part, not commitment. There is no commitment in faith. No one can have eternal salvation by believing and making a commitment to God or making Christ Lord of your life. Christ is our Lord; we do not make Him Lord or recognize Him as Lord. This is adding to faith in Christ.
The greatest manifestation of God’s impersonal love is expressed in John 3:16 and Rom 5:8.
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Rom 5:8, “God demonstrates His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died as a substitute for us.”
It comes as a shock to some people when they discover that we are not saved “by God’s love,” but by God’s mercy and grace. In His mercy, He does not give us what we deserve; and in His grace He gives us what we do not deserve. All of this is made possible because of the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. It was at Calvary that God displayed His hatred for sin and His love for sinners.
Finally, the “us,” HEMEIS (the plural of EGO) in our verse and vs. 5, includes both Jews and Gentiles, as Jesus Christ, motivated by His AGAPE love, took on the sins of all Jews and all Gentiles as God the Father, motivated by His AGAPE love, judged those sins in the body of Jesus Christ. Having paid the price for the sins of all Jews and Gentiles, when anyone, Jew or Gentile, believes in Christ’s saving work, the mercy of God saves that believer by His grace.
The Doctrine of Divine Love
1. God’s love is a part of His essence. He does not possess life. He is life. We possess life; God does not. The life that God has is infinite, eternal, unending, unchanging life. Part of God’s life is love. Love is a part of the essence or being of God, 1 John 4:8.
2. All three members of the Trinity have coequal and co-eternal sovereignty, absolute righteousness, justice, eternal life, love, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, immutability, and veracity. Love belongs eternally and coequally to each member of the Trinity. The love of God has always existed. There never was a time when it did not exist. Love which is characteristic of the essence of God can be called Divine love.
2 Thes 3:5, “And may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.”
Jude 21, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.”
3. The perfect love of God always comes from perfect virtue. Because God is holy and unchangeable, Divine love cannot be compromised by sins, human good, evil, including Christian degeneracy, dead works or any function of the sin nature. This means that Divine love cannot be corrupted by any creature failure.
4. God’s love is self-motivated and totally compatible with all of His attributes. God’s love is always compatible with God’s justice and is absolutely perfect in every function. God’s love is always fair. Perfect righteousness excludes arrogant self-righteousness. Perfect righteousness means God’s love is totally moral. Since God’s love is perfect virtue and is a Problem Solving Device, it cannot be divorced from either His holiness or His Divine attributes.
5. Since God is holy, He is perfect in His righteousness and in His justice. Since God is eternal, He is eternally perfect in His righteousness and in His justice. Therefore, since God cannot be anything less than perfect nor anything less than fair, this includes the use of His Divine love. Therefore, because God is holy, His love can only function in perfect virtue, honor, and integrity.
Rom 3:24-26, “Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
6. God is Omniscient, which means that God has simultaneous knowledge of all things in eternity past. Therefore, Divine love always functions in a rational manner. God’s love is devoid of emotional content. But you must learn to distinguish between emotion and compassion. Many people think of emotion as compassion; it is not. God’s love is never cancelled or changed by His Divine knowledge and omniscience. God knew billions of years ago about our sins and failures, but His knowledge of these did not cancel His love. Nor does God’s love for us increase because we advance to spiritual adulthood.
7. God is Immutable; therefore, His Divine love is unchangeable, stable, compatible with His perfect character, and cannot be corrupted by anything. God’s love cannot increase or decrease. God’s love cannot expand or diminish. God’s love cannot begin or end.
a. God never reacts to us. Since God always has been love and always will be love, He never falls in love. God’s love is in no way subject to corruption. Because God is immutable, His love does not increase or diminish. God’s love cannot be changed by any form of human failure or vacillation, moral or immoral degeneracy.
b. Because God is immutable, His love cannot change. This means that Divine love does not improve or decline, increase or decrease. God’s love always remains the same whether it has an object or not. It is very difficult for man to even begin to understand the love of God. When man changes, it often appears as though God is changing. But in reality, God remains consistent with His own perfect and immutable character. Rejection of God’s eternal love never results in any form of sinful or evil reaction by God.
Man’s sinfulness and failure cannot and does not change or affect God’s unchangeable Divine love. Even God’s pre-knowledge of our sins and failures did not cancel or diminish God’s love for us. Because God is perfect and absolute, His Divine love cannot be prejudiced, unfair, or in any way discriminatory.
8. So we see that from the love of God the Father and the Love of Jesus Christ our sins have been paid for once and for all time. The one who receives Christ’s sacrificial work for the forgiveness of their personal sins is the one who is also the recipient of God’s personal love and will live in perfect righteousness forever.
- God’s love always depends on who and what God is never on who and what mankind is.
- God’s love exists with or without an object, since God’s love eternally existed unchangeable and with optimum capacity.
- God’s love is never sustained by attractiveness or worthiness of an object, nor does it depend on the merit, works, sacrifices, flattery, or legalistic modus operandi of human beings.
- Divine holiness is the sphere of integrity for our exercise of impersonal love for all mankind.
- Divine personal love always functions in compatibility with Divine integrity, which means that God’s personal love never contradicts the justice and righteousness of God.
- All three categories of God’s love have combined to form Problem Solving functions of God, which do not contradict or compromise His Divine attributes, and He has passed on these Problem Solving Devices as a part of our spiritual life.
- Divine love is always a source of God’s grace policy. This means that human works, worthiness, merit, good is not the basis of God’s love for us.
1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.”
2 Cor 13:14, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.”
If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson #’s:
15-129, 15-130, 15-131
A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore our sins will never be held against us. Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life.
To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!