God’s Love–What It Is, and What It Isn’t–Part 1
Many today have a very wrong perception and understanding of God’s love. In this blog, we will be carefully searching the Scriptures and Spirit of Prophecy to obtain a more perfect, balanced, and rewarding understanding of those challenging statements that often contradict conventional wisdom grounded in human philosophy.
After many years of study, discussion–both private and public–, and personal observation of those who profess to be knowledgeable of God’s love, I hope to convey that we don’t know God’s love as we ought to know it. In fact, the majority of those who claim that God’s love is unconditional have no clue as to the origins of the concept, nor do they understand how unconditional love contradicts so much of Scriptures as to destroy the power of the Bible to reveal the truth about God.
In man’s weak attempts to popularize unpopular truth, we actually see evangelistic efforts that are primarily grounded in an emotional appeal. This appeal is rooted in the idea that we can win souls to God by preaching only about God’s love. Unfortunately, this method is imperfect because it is incomplete.
Ellen White warned us away from that method when she wrote, “Take not the position that men can be moved by the presentation of the love of God alone. You may build ever so fine a structure, but it is without foundation. Dig deep, lay the foundation on Christ alone—a crucified Redeemer who died for the transgressor that he should not perish but have eternal life. How? Only by coming back to his allegiance to God’s holy law. ‘Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Acts 20:21.” (Manuscript 53, 1890.)
This leads us to search out more carefully the question of why Jesus had to die for the transgressor of God’s law. Someone had to die for sin. Only through the shedding of blood could sin be remitted. Hebrews 9:22. Jesus memorialized the shedding of His blood for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:28.
When tempted by Satan to forego the suffering on the cross by bowing down and worshipping this rebellious, fallen angel, Jesus knew that His “mission could be fulfilled only through suffering. Before Him was a life of sorrow, hardship, and conflict, and an ignominious death. He must bear the sins of the whole world. He must endure separation from His Father’s love. Now the tempter offered to yield up the power he had usurped. Christ might deliver Himself from the dreadful future by acknowledging the supremacy of Satan. But to do this was to yield the victory in the great controversy. It was in seeking to exalt himself above the Son of God that Satan had sinned in heaven. Should he prevail now, it would be the triumph of rebellion.” (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, 129.)
God loves righteousness, and He hates sin. His character is righteousness–righteousness yesterday, today, and forever. His moral law of love is the standard of righteousness. His law is immutable and absolute. Christ’s death on behalf of the sinner established and magnified the royal law. The wages of sin–transgression of the law–is death.
So, the fall of Adam presented a dilemma. Could God justify sin and the sinner? Could God love the sinner while he or she remained in a sinful condition? Is God’s love unconditional, or does His love have conditions? Jesus met all the conditions for us. And He tells us to overcome as He overcame.
“The Father loves you as he loves his Son, because his Son has averted the sword of justice by offering himself as a sacrifice.” (Ellen White, General Conference Bulletin, April 4, 1901.)