Of all the love songs ever sung, or all the love stories ever written; has anyone ever considered that the greatest love story of all times is The Holy Bible? This being the month of February, the month in which many turn to thoughts of love especially on Valentine’s Day; my thoughts also turn to love, but maybe with a different perspective. Let’s take a few minutes to consider the greatest love story ever told: the story of a Father’s love for His children!

The words “love” and “loved” occur a total of 408 times in the Old and New Testament. The word “charity” occurs 28 times, but it is only found in the New Testament. With these kinds of stats, I think it’s safe to say that love is a major theme in Scripture. 1John 4:7 states, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God”. God is not only the author of truth; but He is also the author, the originator of love. Why? The next verse tells us “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love”. We cannot truly know God if we do not know and walk in His love. He can only give what He is and that is His love. Since the Bible IS God’s Word, and God IS love, it would behoove us to know more precisely what this love is all about, and what it means to us today. Perhaps the more we learn about God, the more we will come to understand His love for us and be drawn closer into His loving arms.

In Matthew 22:37 and 39, we are given the “two great commandments”, “Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…., And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”. It is reiterated in Mark 12:30, 31, and 33, and Luke 10:27. It is stated emphatically in three places in Scripture, so it must be important, right! Jesus said in John 13:34 “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another”. How can this be possible, to love as Jesus loved? Later he states, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”, and again in John 15:12, he states, “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you”. Then he adds in verse 13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. How can this be possible? Jesus said we are to love like he did AND lay down our lives. Isn’t that asking just a bit much? Isn’t this so-called God of love asking just a bit much with all these commandments? Is this a one-sided love affair with us doing all the work? Hardly! Let’s see what we get in return.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

Perhaps this is what Jesus was referring to; that he would lay down his life for us; the family that had been in God’s foreknowledge since before time began. Perhaps Jesus saw something greater that gave him the strength and courage to endure endless hours of torture, finally suffering through the most excruciating form of death imaginable. A Father’s love paved the way for us to have eternal life, for redemption, righteousness, justification, sanctification, and the ministry of reconciliation, to have a life that is not only abundant, but more than abundant, to have face to face access to our heavenly Father, and do the works of Jesus Christ and greater. Perhaps one of those greater works, is to be able to love the way Jesus loved-with his compassion, strength, and power.

Romans 8:28, 35, 39 tells us; “all things work together for good to them that love God, and to them who are the called according to his purpose…”.  Verses 31-39 begin by asking the question: (31) “If God be for us, who can be against us”? It continues with (32) “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things”? Verse 33 continues, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect”; then asks rhetorically in verse 35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ”? After a crescendo of what cannot and will not separate us from the love of Christ, comes the conclusion of the matter: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38 & 39) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. How could we ever doubt our Fathers love, in that He sacrificed His own son to redeem us and purchase us back for the enemy so we would NEVER be separated from Him again for all eternity. What does HE ask from us in return? Nothing but to love Him and have fellowship with Him.

Romans 13:8 show how we repay our debt: “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law”. Romans 13:10 repeats and establishes this truth; “therefore love is the fulfilling of the law”. Galatians 5: 14 says it this way; “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”. Galatians 5:6 says “neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh (energeo) by love. In other words, it is not our works nor lack of works that brings us into our Father’s love, but our believing which is energized, activated, made mighty, shows forth power, is made effectual by one thing, LOVE!

Love is but a part of that powerful spiritual package called the fruit of the spirit. In the great “Love” chapter, 1Corinthinans 13, we are told that without charity we are nothing but noise without power or impact! Strong’s defines charity as, affection, good will, love, benevolence, brotherly love enkindled by the Holy Spirit. Thayer’s states: “God is wholly love, his nature is summed up in love”. Even if we do great works for God and in His name, without love, there is no profit. Without love, the things we do come to nothing! This section is summed up with, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Ephesians 3:17, tells us to be rooted and grounded in love. Ephesians 4:2, encourages us to forbear one another in love, and Ephesians 4:15, would have us to speak the truth in love so that we may grow up in Christ. Ephesians 5:2 asks us to walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour”. Philippians reminds us to have the same love, and to be of one accord, of one mind. The Apostle Paul prayed for the believers to have their hearts comforted and knit together in love, so they can realize “the riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ”.  In 1 Thessalonians 3:12, again Paul prayed, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you”. These great requests continue to apply to us today. We have the same privileges and abilities today that the first century believers had. That is why we can love like Christ loved, because the love of Christ is shed abroad in our hearts. We have God in Christ in us. We have the very nature of God in us so that we can love and demonstrate that love to a world that is dying for lack of love.

God so loves us that He calls us His sons: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God’. In verse 11, we are exhorted “For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another….”. Again, we see the love of God, demonstrated by our Lord in verse 16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he (Jesus) laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren”. (1John 3:1, 11, 16).

No! God does not expect us to die for Him. Quite the opposite; He simply asks us to present ourselves as living sacrifices. We lay down, offers our lives in service as our logical response to what God did and continues to do for us.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies if God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable [logical] service.

Romans 12:1

Summing up and continuing in 1John 4, we see so much more about what this kind of love is all about.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (Verse 9)

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation [payment in full] for our sins. (Verse 10)

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (Verse 11)

No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. (Verse 12)

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (Verse 16)

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. (Verse 17)

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (Verse 18)

We love him, because he first loved us. (Verse 19)

God’s love sent His only begotten son to be payment in full for all our sins, and that through Jesus we might have eternal life. Because God so loved us, we should also love one another as He loved us and in loving one another, God’s love is perfected, brought to maturity in us. As we come to experientially know the love of God, that God IS love, we also dwell in God’s love and presence and God dwells in us. Our love is perfected in knowing that we can have boldness in the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we TODAY! We have NO fear in that love, because that perfect, mature love casts out all fear. We can have confidence in God’s love, because He first loved us! Now that’s love!

For everything our Father has done for us because of love, all He asks of us is that we “love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love our neighbour as himself” (Mar 12:33). We love one another as He (Jesus) loves us (John 15:12). This is the new commandment that Jesus gave us, and it is not grievous (1John 5:3); and this kind of love covers the multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)! Love gave us life. Love bought us back from the clutches of the enemy with a very steep price: the life of the only begotten son of God. Love gave us eternal life. Love allows us to live confidently before a loving Father knowing that we are righteous and redeemed and will dwell with Him for eternity. Love allows us to live our lives with no fear nor be fearful of future judgment, because we will be “as he is” at that great day!  Love has covered all our sins.

So, when I pose the question, “What’s love got to do with it”? The answer really is EVERYTHING!

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