The Love of God, continued…
God is the perfect essence of love and the prefect expression of love. Genuine love is only seen perfectly in the Godhead and to be known and understood must be viewed there.
But who are the objects of God’s love? Can it be said that God loves everybody? And, if so, in what sense is this so? This is a big subject that I make to pretense of exhausting here. But hopefully this article will give you food for thought and meditation and, if you are a believer, great reason to rejoice.
To begin, God has a general love for His creation. This is at least alluded to in the passage referred to last time (1 John 4:9): “because God sent His only begotten Son into the world…” Other passages in Scripture are more specific about this general love for His creation, a love that is often referred to or spoken in the same context as “common grace.” Matthew 5:43-48 is perhaps the most clear passage regarding the subject. In this passage, Christians are commanded to love their enemies and to do so because that is what their Heavenly Father does. God blesses, in some sense, those who curse Him. He does good to those who hate Him. He causes His sun to rise on good and bad alike and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. It is this kind of response to our enemies that shows we are true children of God.
Murders, rapists, and thieves all breathe God’s air, eat His food, drink His water, and enjoy many blessings from God that they never acknowledge. The face that unconverted people do good things is a manifestation or evidence of God’s favor, His common grace, or common love for all people. But is not evidence of His saving grace in their lives.
But more importantly, God has a special love for His children. Though God has a general love for all, He does not love all persons in the same way. His love for those who are in Christ is different and greater. “He has sent His Son into the world that we might live through Him.” “…He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” God’s special love has been reserved and given to His very own children.
So only a believer can say in this sense; “I am loved.” To be loved by God in this sense is a special manifestation of His grace. The knowledge of His love is ministered by the Holy Spirit (4:13). The assurance of this love builds faith, confidence, hope, as well as “boldness in the day of judgment” (4:17). The love of God is not just a general good will toward them but is the love of a father for His children, the love of a shepherd for his sheep, the love of the Savior for His redeemed. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us…” (4:9a). The believer is a special object of God’s special love (see also Matthew 7:7-11; Romans 5:1-5 & 8; Romans 8:14-17).
Because of His love,