The Fatherhood of God: Love
A few weeks ago, I ran a series of posts on the major areas of theology and how they should impact our personal ministry of the Word to one another. Astutely, one regular reader emailed me to inquire why there is a separate, dedicated category of systematic theology covering the Son of God (Christology) and the Spirit of God (Pneumatology), but none for the head of the Trinity, the Father. I thanked him for his question and assured him that I would give some time to the topic of the fatherhood of God. For lack of a better word (one that actually exists), let’s call it Paternalogy. Today begins that series. One of the greatest Scriptural proclamations concerning the fatherhood of God toward believers in Christ is 1 John 3:1, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” Through repentant faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, a sinner is rescued from the family of the devil and adopted into the family of God (1 John 3:10). An Everlasting Love How is God’s love described in the Bible? It is everlasting toward those whom He has chosen to have a covenant relationship with; “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jer 31:3). God’s love is great: “ButGod, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved “ (Eph 2:4). Surely, our heart affirms the prophet Micah’s declaration: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love” (Micah 7:18). Not Based Upon our ‘Love-able-ness’ God’s love is not based upon man’s attractiveness (love-able-ness). When God affirmed His love for Israel, He made that abundantly clear. Moses preached, “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deu 7:7-8). Though spoken directly to the nation of Israel these words teach us much about the love of God toward us as well. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “God’s love to us is not controlled by us–not by what we do or think or say, nor by our attitude towards Him. It is something, if I may use the expression with reverence, that wells up in His eternal heart of love.” Romans 5:8 affirms this clearly: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” As sinners who are born with the rebellious nature of Adam there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love. It is freely bestowed upon us in Jesus Christ. J. I. Packer writes, “God’s love is an exercise of His goodness towards sinners. It is an outgoing of God in kindness which not merely is undeserved, but is actually contrary to desert; for the objects of God’s love are rational creatures who have broken God’s law, whose nature is corrupt in God’s sight, and who merit only condemnation and final banishment from His presence. It is staggering that God should love sinners; yet it is true. God loves creatures who have become unlovely and (one would have thought) unlovable. There was nothing whatever in the objects of His love to call it forth; nothing in man could attract or prompt it. Love among men is awakened by something in the beloved, but the love of God is free, spontaneous, unevoked, uncaused. God loves men because He has chosen to love them…” The Ultimate Demonstration The world tries to convince us that love is a warm feeling we have toward others. God’s Word, however, teaches that genuine love is not a feeling, but an action. What did God’s love cause Him to do? God’s love for sinners moved Him to send His only begotten Son into the world to save them (John 3:16). What great love! God “did He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Rom 8:32). The heavenly Father loved us so much that He was poured out His wrath (His righteous anger against our sin and all unrighteousness) on His own Son—in our place—so that we could receive the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21).This is love: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:9-10). Biblical love does what is best for the one being loved. It involves sacrifice. We must thank God for doing what was best for us; sending His only Son to be our Savior; rescuing us from eternal punishment. This was the supreme demonstration of the heavenly Father’s love toward us as persons. A. W. Tozer wrote, “God does not love populations, He loves people. He loves not masses, but men. He loves us all with a mighty love that has no beginning and can have no end.” The Dependability of God’s Love Romans 8:35-39 may be the greatest passage concerning the love of God in all of Scripture. Take a moment to read it. According to these verses, what things in life tempt you to question or doubt God’s love? Can any of these cause God’s love toward you to change? Why? (v. 37). In order to experience the Father’s love, what must be true about you? (v. 39)
Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade, To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry. Nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky.
[F. M. Lehman, verse 3 of the hymn, “The Love of God”]