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God is Love ... Right?

First we need to understand that while God created all things, humans are the only creatures He created capable of experiencing the emotion of love. That is not to say that other creature do not instinctually protect their own kind. But only that the instinct in creatures is just that, an instinct or physiological reaction to a need. Thus, while animals protect and nurture their young, they do not experience intense emotional exhilaration or trauma over long periods of time as do humans. So, we can say that while God loves all His creations, only mankind was endowed with the intellectual and emotional capacity to love Him back as their Creator.

Like Father Like Son

Because most people have a loving biological father, it is understandable that a person would assume that God the Father loves them in much the same way as their human father loves them. But scripture is clear that this is not the case. God loves mankind to a different standard. A human father shares with his offspring the propensity to sin. Therefore, because a human father sees himself as imperfect, he is quick to understand that his offspring as also flawed, and thus is quick to forgive and forget any moral or ethical infractions. In other words, who is he to judge the flaws of his child when he himself has those same flaws. And, according to scripture, it is in fact the father that passes on the cognitive predisposition to sin to his offspring. See Related Paper: "How Ancients Thought Babies Were Conceived". So, the overall philosophy of mankind is, I am imperfect and you are imperfect therefore, lets us learn to forgive, forget and go on with our lives. Additionally, we might add that we should try to learn from our mistakes so that we can say to ourselves that we are good people and perhaps somewhat better than our neighbors.

On the other hand, God the Father is without sin and perfect in His Holiness and Righteousness. So, He finds sin to be an anathema to His senses. Sin is seen by God for what it is, an intentional active ongoing rebellion against His sovereignty as Creator by His creations. Therefore, when an unrepentant sinner randomly seeks God in a time of panic, His reaction is to not engage because the person lacks authentic faith in Him. However, if the person truly repents of their sins and has faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit will immediately indwell that person, God will then hear their plea and respond according to His will.

Moses Shielded By Rock As God Passes By Him

While a righteous, mortal person can commune with God through prayer, they cannot actually see the face of God the Father and live (Exodus 33:20). We learn this understanding in the Book of Exodus when Moses request that he be allowed to actually see the face of God. It is then that God explains that no human in their current mortal and sinful state of existence can look at Him in His full glory and survive. It would be like downloading the information of a super computer into a laptop. The laptop system would instantly be overloaded and burn out. However, God showed Moses grace because of his faith just as He did with Abraham (Genesis 15:6). God told Moses that if he were to hide himself inside the crevasse of a rock then, after He had pass by, he could safely look and see Him from behind (Exodus 33: 19-23). Scripture is clear that no mortal human has ever seen the face of God the Father.

However, God the Word has shown Himself on behalf of the Triune Godhead many times in Scripture. It is thought by scholars that anytime God manifested Himself in a physical form, what was actually observed or heard was the Word of God acting on behalf of the greater Godhead. These appearances are referred to as the Angel of the Lord or a pre incarnation of Christ also referred to as a Christophany.

The Big Bang

So for example, it was God the Word that spoke the command “Be Light”. This command realized itself in what today we call the the Big Bang. This event produced the greatest light ever seen since the beginnings of creation. It was God the Word in the form of Christ that molded Adam from the soil of the earth, breathed life into him and taught him to speak. It was God the Word that created Eve and walked with them in the Garden of Eden every evening (Genesis 3:8). It was the God the Word that taught Adam how how to sacrifice after the fall. It was God the Word that spoke to Cain concerning his rebellion against God. It was God the Word that walked with Enoch and raptured him down into Sheol to save him from the coming flood (Genesis 5:24). It was God the Word that spoke to Noah concerning the coming flood. It was God the Word that spoke to Abraham and told him to leave his family and move to the land of Canaan. It was God the Word who met with Abraham before the destruction of Sodom and who wrestled with Jacob and changed his name to Israel. It was God the Word who talked to Moses from the burning bush that was not consumed (Exodus 3:2). It was God the Word that spoke to the prophets. And it was God the Word whose Spirit indwelled the body of Jesus at His birth and so became the visible image of the invisible God. And it was God the Father who showed His ultimate love for mankind by allowing His Word or Jesus to be self sacrificed as a propitiation for the sins of mankind.

Before the Creation of Time and Space the Triune Godhead Existed Eternal

It was this self-sacrificial show of love that brings us the answer to the question, is God love? Scripture tells us the before the creation of time, space and matter or the Big Bang, the Triune Godhead created a plan for the redemption of mankind. It was decided that because of their Righteous and Holy nature, the only way to erase the future sin debt of mankind was for there to be the self-sacrifice of a member of the Godhead. This was the only way to uphold God’s hard wired standards of Holy Righteousness as judge, jury and executioner yet, at the same time, be allowed to offer mercy and grace to man. Mercy was the plan of forgiveness through the act of self-sacrifice on the part of God. Grace was the reward of immortality and eternal life in the will of God. See Related Paper: "Time Ends and Eternity Begins" So, here we see revealed the love of God which is far beyond and much deeper than mere human love. Therefore, we cannot say that God is love, but instead it would be more accurate to say that God is Loving.

Mankind immediately associates the word love as it pertains to human emotions towards another person. However, the Greek word for physical human love is the word erose from which we derive the word erotic. That is a type of love created between two people who are physically attracted to each other. In the writings of the Apostle John, we learn that the love God shows towards mankind is called agape love. This is a love that is based on a grateful appreciation that one person has for another without a sexual element attached. It is this word that John uses when he refers to the type of love God has for the world and mankind. John famously wrote that, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

So it is here we learn that God is a self-sacrificial God when it comes to providing a solution as to how a Holy, Righteous and Perfect God can still justify and provide eternal life for His unholy, unrighteous and imperfect children. His children can now be deemed righteous because their sin debt was righteously paid in full by the voluntary self-sacrifice of one of the Godheads own … the Word of God. Jesus, being fully human by way of His genetic connection to Mary His mother, was born as a human. But, because His biological father was God, He was also part divine. Therefore, He could be divine in spirit yet still sacrifice Himself bodily as a human and experience death on behalf of humanity. Only through the self-sacrifice of a human with a divine nature could God achieve His goal of having a Holy and eternal relationship with His sinful human children.

Therefore, the type of love God shows towards His children is beyond human or Eros love, beyond self-love, or an expression of a personal self-serving desire. To say that God is loving is to say that God, as the Creator of all that exist, is the most self-sacrificial entity that has ever or will ever exist. Thus, the idea of the word love expressing the feeling one person has for another pales when one considers the self-sacrificial love that a Creator has for His creation.

Greek Scholars of Philosophy

It was this idea that made the philosophical Greeks laugh out loud. How was it remotely possible that a perfect eternal Creator God would sacrifice Himself on behalf of his imperfect creations. This philosophical construct was considered absurd in the extreme. However, once the Greeks applied their considerable principals of logic to this idea, they began to have second thoughts. They eventually traveled to Jerusalem to talk with Jesus to receive a better understanding of an idea that had never before been advanced in the history of philosophy. Their arrival was yet another sign of what God told Jesus to look for. With their arrival, Jesus now knew that the idea of a self-sacrificing savior was becoming a unique and powerful doctrine never before considered. There was no Greek story concerning a pagan god that sacrificed itself to give mankind eternal life. Jesus was showing by example that the one true Creator God could and would. That through His sacrifice, He would make his followers in some ways god like through immortality. This was a concept that blew the minds of Greek philosophers. And, this was the reason they made the 1,300 mile trip by ship to Jerusalem. But their arrival was also a sign to Jesus, from God the Father, that the time had now arrived when He would be separated from His Father for the first and only time in eternity while being crucified (John 12:20-28).

Further, God freely offers unconditional love towards His followers. But God refuses to compel a person to accept His offer of love and to love him in return. God could reach inside a person’s mind and caused them to love Him, but this would be disingenuous and defeat the point of establishing a healthy relationship based on mutual love and respect for one another. True love must be freely given, freely received and freely returned. God’s sense of righteousness will not allow him to void a person's inalienable right to choose to believe in Him and establish a mutual relationship with Him. Scripture tells us that God is not willing that any should perish, but instead that all people come to the understanding that they are sinners and need to repent (II Peter 3:9). Scripture tells us that it is also a part of God’s nature to offer goodness, mercy and grace to all people. So, His love extends even into the very lives of His creations. But God will not force a person to love Him. God does not want to be loved in a robotic way. He offers His love to mankind and in return, He wants true genuine love from mankind just as a child loves and trust their father.

The way a person exhibits their love for God is by following His command. And that command is for His followers to forgive and love their fellow man. Jesus summed up this understanding by saying that a person should love their neighbor as they love themselves and that this understanding is the underpinning of all the laws and the prophets (Matthew 22:39-40).

The following is a loose paraphrase of I John Chapter 4 verse-by-verse: We are commanded to love one another because this type of agape love is from God, and everyone who loves their fellow man is born of God and knows God. God manifested this same type of love towards sinful man by sending His only Son into the world that believers might live eternality through Him. This is true love because this was given by God, not because we loved Him, but because He loved us first. And it was necessary for His Son to self-sacrifice Himself for the righteous forgiveness of our sins. Therefore, if God loved us that much, we should love our fellow man that much. It is through forgiving and loving those who disagree with us and even our enemies that we show God is in us and in this way His love is perfected in us. We now live in Him and He lives in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And because He is in us, we can now boldly approach the day of judgement because, as Christ is in God, so are we even though we are currently physically in this world. Thus, we will not fear because there is no fear in love. To fear shows a lack of faith. There can be a righteous fear that comes with respecting the power of God, but not a fear of judgement. If a person says they love God but hate others, the hate for others in a person’s heart negates their love for God. You cannot love God and hate His creations at the same time. It is like trying to mix oil and water. The two cannot coexist as hate is proof of a lack of love (I John 4:7-21).

Jesus Teaching

Jesus encapsulated this concept when He said, “…  The first of all the Commandments is Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God in one Lord; And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart (body) and with all your soul (spirit), and with all your mind (intellect), and with all your strength (works): This is the first commandment.. And the second is like, namely this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than theses.” (Mark 12: 29-31) The verse is not referring to a love based on feelings as feeling are fleeting depending on the circumstances. The command to love God in all ways and in all things is in and of itself a self-sacrificing act on the part of a believer. We are to continue loving God in the good times and the bad time. We are to love others who are both kind to us and those that are disrespectful and hate us. This is the love God has for mankind and the type of love God expects to see in return from His followers.

In other words, if God can forgive a follower’s gross sins and literally sacrifice Himself for them to insure they have eternal life, surely a believer can forgive the minor trespasses that they may receive from others. To do this is difficult because it is not in the nature of adamic man to self-sacrifice by praying for someone who has intentionally tried to harm them in some way. But practicing this self-sacrifice is a breakthrough moment for a Christian. And it is required of all followers of Christ as proof that they are actually in line with the will of God. This does not mean that by you forgiving a person of their sin against you they are also forgiven by God. It simple means God will reward you for following His command while He will hold the person who sinned against you accountable (Romans 12:19).

Jesus Self Sacrifices His Life 

Jesus said, “Greater love (agape) has no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Jesus, always true to His word, did this very act by self-sacrificing Himself during Passover so that death would now pass-over a believer. By allowing His only biological Son to self-sacrifice Himself on behalf of mankind, God the Father also showed His own nature of self-sacrifice. So, this plan of salvation was not love without righteousness and not righteousness without love. This same ability of God to perform a balancing act of unconditional love while at the same time remaining Holy and Righteous is displayed many times throughout the Old and New Testaments. But it is in His willingness to sacrifice His only biological Son that this loving propensity of God reaches its zenith and is perfected.


Eros: Romantic love; erotic desire; intimacy; infatuation with another’s beauty.

Philia: Brotherly love; friendship; affectionate regard for and loyalty to friends, family and community, requiring virtue, equality and familiarity.

Storge: Familial love, affection, natural empathy for one’s family, country or team.

Agape: Unconditional, self-sacrificial love; what the term ‘God is love’ actually means; God’s unconditional, self-sacrificial love for mankind, and the type of love God expects in return from mankind towards Himself and their fellow man.

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