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God's love

That God is love is a precious truth, and one which is accepted throughout Christendom as practically axiomatic today. But the meaning we put into love is not always that of the Bible writers. Modern man often confuse love with sentimentality, and they see love as a general benevolence which is interested in nothing other than happiness. If God is Love, they feel, then He must be concerned with our happiness as with nothing else. It follows that we need not take sin very seriously, since to punish men for sin is certainly not to make them happy! Not only the popular notion of hell but every notion of hell is dismissed, since it is so difficult to fit it in with celestial benevolence. John has a good deal to say about love. It is clearly a most important idea for him. But his ideas on the subject
must be understood according to his own expressions and not according to modern thought. And he relates love specifically
to the cross. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life" [John3:16]. ''Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" [John15:13].
''Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come, That He should depart from this world to the with the Father, having loved His own who were in the world. He loved them to the end" [John13:1].
In these three passages there is manifestly the thought that it is the cross which shows us the love. It is more than that. It is the means of bringing men life. It saves men. Apart from the cross they would perish. In
other words the cross which shows us the love of God is the very thing that shows us also the concern God has for righteousness, and the peril that men are in on account of their sin. Love, as John sees it, is not indiscriminate sentimentatily. It has a due regard for moral purposes, and for the moral law that sinners have broken. It has also a concern for the attitude of the beloved
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me, And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself in him" [John14:21]. This does not mean, of course, that God does not love all whom He has created. We have already seen that He loves the 'world'. But these passages mean nothing unless they mean that our reaction to that love of God is significant. That unless there is the appropriate
reaction we do not come within the shelter of it's provisions for men. Again there is the thought that God's love is not indifferent to moral considerations. However we understand the divine love, we must not regard it as a way of taking sin lightly, as esteeming sin a thing that can simply be ignored. Love is to be the characteristic thing about 'Jesus followers. "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" [John13:35].
This is not a truism; Jesus calls it a 'new commandment' that He lays upon them. Love of the kind that He displays, a love for sinners which at the same time does not condone the sin, but bears it and makes atonement for it, is a new thing in the world. Therefore the commandment that the disciples should love as Christ loved "A new commandment I give to you, that
you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love of another" [John13:34] is a radically new. Repeatedly love of the kind that Christ enjoins is linked with keeping His commandment. [see John14:15, 21, 23; 15:10]. There is a moral energy in love which is of the very essence of love as John understands it. All this means that when John thinks of the atonement as proceeding from the divine love he does not think of it along the lines of the 'moral' or 'subjective' theories. For him the love of God is seen in saving men from a very real danger. It copes with the situation posed by man's sin in such a way that neither the divine demand for righteousness nor the sinners best interest are overlooked ¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥¥


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