God is Love (I John 4:8)
And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. (EXODUS 34:6-7)
God is Love.
Yet, that is not all that the Bible says about God. Scripture also reveals that, God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all.
The only true context for an understanding of the Love of God, is by factoring in the fact that God is Love, but that also Righteous, Holy, Faithful, True and He hates Evil.
The Love of God is grossly misunderstood by this generation, due to notions about Love that come from Humanism, rather than from the scripture themselves, nor from Jesus.
For example, where does the phrase “unconditional Love” come from? One would think it to be the central teaching of the Bible, if you went by popular ‘christian teaching’ which abounds these days.
The term “unconditional love” has not come from the Bible, but from an Atheistic German Psychoanalyst, named Erich Fromm. Yet millions of Christians would define God’s love in terms of it as being ‘unconditional’.
God’s love is definitely not ‘conditioned’ upon our behavior, works, past accomplishments, or personal characteristics. God loves and justifies unworthy and ungodly sinners. There is nothing in us which He sees as desirable, attractive or worthy.
But there are definitely conditions which God has set forth, to those who would receive His love, and be saved. God loved the World, but only those who believe in the Son, will have everlasting life.
There is a context to the message of God’s love, and missing out on that context leads to vast presumptions.
In the above passage from Exodus, we have a very clear revelation of the Character of God, to Moses. Moses, the man who had seen the burning bush, and who had led the people across the Red Sea and seen the mighty World Empire of Egypt brought to her knees by God’s power, had prayed to “see God’s glory”.
And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. (Exodus 33:7-8)
God told Moses He would “make all of His goodness to pass before Him”. Evidently the glory of God is his Attributes and Perfections. We are told that in the answer to Moses’ prayer, the LORD “proclaimed His name” to Moses.
Among those Attributes are the ones that our modern generation is so familiar with, Mercy, Patience, Lovingkindness,goodness… . But along side of the other stated perfections of God, he proclaims, that He (God) will by no means clear the Guilty...but instead He will certainly visit the iniquities upon the guilty… .
God is Love…God is good…God is merciful and slow to anger… whilst at the same time, God is Righteous, Holy… He will judge sin, iniquity and transgression. He will by no means “clear the guilty”.
How can God be merciful and forgiving and judgmental and righteous at the same time? How do these attributes of God reconcile? How does a loving and merciful God judge Sinners? How can a Righteous and Holy God forgive them? Does He throw out one attribute for the other?
The only reasonable answer to this dilemma, is the cross of Jesus.
There on the cross, the Righteousness of God was revealed. There we see the wrath of God poured out upon sin and evil. On that day, the Justice of God was satisfied, when He punished Jesus, who knew no sin, for us sinners. No one can accuse the Holy God of simply pushing sin under the carpet! Sin has been dealt with!
Yet we can see the mercy and Love of God at the cross of Jesus, when we realize that Jesus died for our sins, He took our place in Judgment and bore the eternal penalty that was ours to bear. “He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Christ…” (2 Cor 5:21)
A righteous God cannot merely pardon sinners as an act of kindness. What about Justice and Righteousness? What about the broken law? Shouldn’t the demands of the Law of God be upheld?
God had to make a Righteous way to forgive us…He had to satisfy both mercy and Truth, the conditions had to be met, thus Jesus had to come and die for us.
One of the Psalms puts it this way,
Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. (Psalm 85:10)
The Apostle Paul proclaimed
...Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.(Romans 3:25-27)