The Love of God
(All the Occurrences in the New Testament)
Who can adequately describe the love of God? F. M. Lehman, the hymn writer, attempted this as he wrote:
The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled and pardoned from his sin.
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints and angels song.
The phrase, “the love of God,” is found a number of times in the New Testament. Sometimes it is difficult for the reader to determine whether the phrase refers to Gods love for us (subjective genitive in the Greek) or our love for God (objective genitive).
Let us notice each occurrence of this phrase, taken from the NASB Update. Read each passage below and really try to understand it. Check the context of the verse. Seek to determine whether the writer or speaker has reference to Gods love for us or our love for God. Rejoice in the love of God for you personally! And determine to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30), demonstrating this love for Him by your wholehearted, sacrificial obedience to Him (cf. 1 John 5:2-3).
The Passages in the New Testament
- “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others” (Luke 11:42 NNAS).
Comments: Do we observe the “small” matters of God’s will? This is important. But are we so concerned about these necessary points that we overlook the crucial need to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Let this be our consuming passion!
- “. . . but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves” (John 5:42 NNAS).
Comments: Jesus could see into the heart of the Pharisees (cf. Mark 2:6-8; John 2:25). He could see that the Pharisees were only obeying a form of religion. They had no sincere love for God and no true relationship with Him. What would Jesus see as He looks into our hearts? Remember, He does look into our heart and sees our passion for God or indifference toward Him (Rev. 2:23)!
- “. . . and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:5 NNAS).
Comments: Through the work of the Holy Spirit in our heart and life, we are able to bear the fruit of love (Gal. 5:22). We are also able to perceive God’s measureless love for us, a love that was preeminently demonstrated when He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, for our redemption (Rom. 5:8). Let us thank God for this love and respond in love toward Him (cf. 1 John 4:19)!
- “. . . nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39 NNAS).
Comments: God’s love for us was manifested in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, His beloved Son. God’s love comes to us and is bestowed on us through “the love of Christ” (Rom. 8:35,39). Paul says that we should feel secure for nothing (outside of ourselves) is able to separate us from this love. Let us never take this priceless possession for granted. Let us rejoice in it!
- “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (2 Cor 13:14 NNAS).
Comments: The love of God is not a merely abstract principle. It is not far away from us and unrelated to our daily life. The love of God is with us and we may take comfort in it moment by moment, every day, when all is going well and also when we experience pain, rejection, and persecution for our faith.
- “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Th 3:5 NNAS).
Comments: The love of God should be our heart-focus and the theme of our life. We should meditate on it, speak of it, and rejoice in it! May the Lord direct your heart and my heart into the love of God!
- “. . . but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:5 NNAS).
Comments: Let us never think that we can disobey God and still love Him. Our love for God is manifested when we submit to Him and obey Him. This means a complete surrender to the commands of God (cf. 1 John 5:2-3). Those who profess to love God but carelessly reject His authority over them, are disproving such love. They are lying. Let the love of God be perfected in our own life as we keep His word in all things! Let us turn away from the world and its evil ways. Why? “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
- “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17 NNAS).
Comments: If we fail to be compassionate toward a brother or sister who has genuine needs, when we have the physical, material, and financial means to help, the love of God does not abide in us. God’s kind of love does not remain in us and our own love for God is proven false.
- “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” (1 John 4:9 NNAS).
Comments: God’s love for us was demonstrated when He gave His Son Jesus to die for us (John 3:16; Eph. 2:4-5; Titus 3:4-5). It was demonstrated when He saved us through His dear Son’s sacrificial death. The greatest manifestion of love was given by God: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). do we thank God for His love? Do we use His love as our model for love?
- “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3 NNAS).
Comments: Love for God and obedience toward God go together. So many profess to love God but deny it by their sinful deeds (cf. Titus 1:16). We cannot have genuine love for Him while living selfish, indifferent, sinful lives. As we noticed above, the test for a love and knowledge of the Lord is practical, consistent, sacrificial obedience to Him and submission to His commands (1 John 2:3-6).
- “. . . keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life” (Jude 1:21 NNAS).
Comments: Our experience of God’s love is related to our own response to that love. We must keep ourselves in this love! While God loves all people (cf. John 3:16), His special intimate love is reserved for those who love Him and love Jesus. Christ said, “The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father” (John 16:27). We also keep in God’s love by yielding ourselves to His Lordship or authority. Jesus declared, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (John 15:10a).
The hymn definitely is true: “Oh, love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure, the saints’ and angels’ song!” Let us search our own heart today and begin to love God our Heavenly Father!
Let us rejoice in God’s fathomless love for us!
Let us love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength!