“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” - 1 John 4:9, 10
It is not difficult for one to notice how the word love is used in our culture. We hear of people loving a car or their pet. Love is even used in the place of other emotions such as lust or long-awaited desires. We casually use the word in simplicity. However, when we speak of God’s love it is the most perplexing and astonishing acts of divine power that flows out from His very Being. In fact, His love exceeds that of pure emotions.
To get a glimpse of God’s love notice how many times the word is used in our opening scriptures. In addition to that, this word “love” is the Greek word “agape.” This word is well known in the Christian community and contrary to popular beliefs the significance of “agape” love is not that of an unconditional love, but rather a love that comes from the will.
Christians often speak of free will and almost all the time it is in reference to man and not God. We must remember that the reason man has a will and is a free moral agent is because man was created in the image of God. Don’t forget that God has a free will and His will is holy, perfect, righteous, and just. Man was originally created that way, but because mankind chose to eat of the forbidden fruit man’s will became tainted and polluted with sin. As a result, the New Testament never speaks of God loving rebellious human beings with an emotional love, which expects something in return. The reason for this is because God cannot find anything lovely about a sinner who willingly lives in rebellion against Him.
Therefore we read in Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth His (agape) love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In spite of our sins, and in spite of our wrong doings and short comings, God in His free and sovereign grace willingly chose to express His “agape” love toward sinners who willingly rebelled against Him. This was an act of His willingness to love the unlovely and to save sinners by giving His heart to us in the person of His only begotten Son, the Son of His love, Jesus Christ.
This free will love is so well known that all of God’s other attributes seemed to be overshadowed by it. Furthermore the mission of Jesus Christ to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins upon the cross was the greatest evidence that God reaches out to sinners from His infinite agape love.
David C. Hale, pastor