Insights Into the Love of God

insights into god's loveThe overwhelming central theme of the Bible, without question, is the wonderful love of God. The patriarchs spoke about it, the prophets prophesied of it, the apostles gained firsthand insights into it, and centered their gospels around it, Jesus lived it and used many parables to explain it. The love of God is the heart of the gospel—and it is what brings a sinner to repentance.

As we look at the Scriptures to gain insights into the love of God, there is one demonstration that stands out above all others. We see it expressed in the most well-known verse of the Bible—John 3:16.“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.” There is deep, rich meaning in this verse that God is longing to impart to us. Oh what amazing love!—that the God of the universe, “the Most High,” who is “above all” loves me, a lowly sinner, so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die for me! The thought fills me with adoration and awe. It makes me realize that God loves me enough to give anything and everything, suffer any amount of pain and loss, to save me from the ruin I have chosen.

When Jesus said God “so loved the world,” He was saying, “This is how much God loves you. He loves you so much that He did something for you. This is how the Most High God demonstrated His love for you. He gave up His most precious possession, His only begotten Son.”

If God had loved the world so much that He gave a goat, you and I would seriously question God’s love for us, because a goat would be an almost meaningless gift for God to give up, because it is something He created. If God had loved the world so much that He gave a human, what would we think then? Well, that is a little better than a goat, but it is still a small gift, because humans were also created. What if God had loved the world so much that He gave an angel? That is a better gift than a human, but it still falls far short of demonstrating how much God loves us. You see, our understanding of God’s love depends upon the value of the gift He gave up for us. The more valuable the gift He gave, the more we can see His love for us.

God gave His only begotten Son for us. He has other sons, but He only has one begotten Son. Humans can be “sons of God” by adoption (Galatians 4:5), angels are “sons of God” by creation (Job 1:6; 2:1), but Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. What sets Jesus Christ apart from everyone else in the universe, and by which we know God’s love for us, is the fact that He was begotten.

The Most High God knows, from firsthand experience, the most valuable possession a person can have. He knows that nothing is more valuable to a person than a child whom they love. This is precisely where God tested Abraham’s love and loyalty when He asked him to offer his beloved son, Isaac, for a sacrifice. Abraham’s willingness to obey God’s command proved that he loved God with all his heart. It proved that he would be willing to give up every possession he had for God.

The same thing is true with God. When He gave up His only begotten Son it proved that He is willing to give up every possession, suffer any amount of pain, and endure any hardship in order to save those whom He loves. This is what Paul meant when he wrote, “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?” (Romans 8:32)

God truly loves us, yet this love can only be comprehended by understanding that God gave His only begotten Son. Therefore it is Satan’s determined goal to destroy, obliterate, and completely eliminate this truth from the minds of men. Satan knows that the only ones who will be able to overcome and endure unto the end, through the upcoming crisis of the mark of the beast, are those who believe that Jesus is the begotten Son of God. John wrote, “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5)

Believing that Jesus is the begotten Son of God enables us to overcome the world by elevating our perception of God’s love and enabling us to love Him with all our hearts in return.

When God sent His only begotten Son into the world He took a tremendous risk. The Bible says, “The government shall be upon his shoulder.” (Isaiah 9:6) The success or failure of God’s government depended upon the the Son of God. If He failed, God’s government would fail. God had only one begotten Son, and His Son had only one chance to redeem mankind. The Son of God “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) The battle was fierce, but the Son of God was “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8) He “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9)

The two greatest truths of the Bible, that reveal, above all else, the wonderful love of God, are the facts that God has an only begotten Son, and that He gave His Son to die for our sins. The Sonship and the death of Christ are the most important truths of the Bible, because only through these truths can we understand God’s love for us, thereby bringing us to repentance.

This is the everlasting gospel that is to be preached to all the world before Christ will come the second time. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14) John prophesied of this when he wrote, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Revelation 14:6) This gospel is preached for a purpose. It is to prepare a people to stand during the most fearful struggle that has ever come upon man. This gospel prepares people to fear God and keep His commandments amid the most trying circumstances. When this gospel does its work in the lives of God’s people, God will triumphantly proclaim, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12)

I want to be one of those faithful ones over whom God will be delighted to make this declaration. The everlasting gospel of God’s love will have to be accepted by, and allowed to do its work in, me before this can take place. God’s overwhelming love can be understood and appreciated only when we comprehend the grand truths in the words “only begotten Son” and “the death of the cross.”

These are not hard concepts to grasp. God has made them plain. We can understand them if we will just accept them without being hindered by the confusing theories of men.

Several years ago I was very confused about the love of God. I thought that God did not love me very much and therefore I didn’t want anything to do with Him. I was caught up in the world, addicted to drugs and ignorant of God and His love for me. One day God was able to break down the barriers between us and reach me with His love. I began to see that God really does love me, and I finally had a desire to give my life to Him. I read John 3:16 where it says, “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.” The thought was overwhelming! I knew now that God really loves me. I did not have to go to college, or be trained by a theologian, to understand the simple truth expressed in that verse. The thought that came to me was that there is a God in heaven who has a literal Son who was begotten by Him, and that He sent that Son into this world to completely die for my sins so that I could have eternal life. I am sure I am not the first, nor the last, to have come to this conclusion from John 3:16. Was I wrong in my thinking? Is that really what took place? If not, why did Jesus say it that way? When speaking of heavenly things, Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) If Jesus was not literally the Son of God, He would have told us.

The facts that Christ is the Son of God and that He died for our sins are the great truths that melt a sinner’s heart and bring him to repentance. Nearly all Christian converts are told that God loves them so much that He sent His Son to die for them. When they are told these things they understand them literally, and their hearts are broken when they behold this amazing love. I know this from experience. Sadly, too often, after they come into the church and are well grounded, they are told that really Jesus is not the literal Son of God, but the second person of the trinity, and that He didn’t really die, because God cannot die. The result of these falsehoods is that the motivating power that began the Christian’s experience is taken away, and they are left with a form of godliness without the power to overcome sin. (2 Timothy 3:5) They become “of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)

The more I read the Bible, the more it confirmed to me that I was right in my conclusion. John wrote, “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.” (1 John 4:9) This confirms the fact that God has a Son who was begotten long before God sent Him into the world. Jesus said, “I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” (John 8:42) Again, this confirmed to me that Christ was begotten by God before He sent Him into the world. Jesus also said, “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” (John 16:27, 28) According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the Greek word exhlqon which was translated “came out” can mean: “to come forth from physically, arise from, to be born of,” and the Greek word elhluqa which was translated “come” can mean: “to come from one place to another.” From the two Greek words that were used, it seems that Jesus was speaking of two separate events. Long ago He came out from God—came forth from the Father, then, much later, He came into the world.

Jesus prayed to His Father, “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” (John 17:8) Christ came forth from the Father long before the Father sent Him into the world. When Christ was on trial Pilate asked Him, “Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (John 18:37) He was born long ago, and then, much later, He came into the world.

In the first chapter of the book of Hebrews we find a moving collection of Bible proofs that Christ is so much better than the angels. Here we read, “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.” (Hebrews 1:5, 6) The Father says that there was a day when His Son was begotten of Him, and He sent the firstbegotten into the world. This demonstrates that Christ was begotten long before God sent Him into the world. Paul wrote that Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” (Colossians 1:15) Of all things that were ever born, Christ was the first one to be born, and the only one who was born in the express image of His Father.

The Bible says, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” (Hebrews 1:1-4)

The Bible is full of clear statements that Christ is the Son of God, and it even has many statements proclaiming the fact that He was begotten long before coming to this world, thus making Christ the literal Son of God.

The Old Testament affirms the wonderful truth that Christ is in reality the Son of God; brought forth from the Father. In the first verse of Proverbs 8 it says that wisdom is speaking. Who is wisdom? Verse 8 tells us that He has a mouth, and speaks. Paul wrote, “But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:24) “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30) Christ is Wisdom, and is speaking in Proverbs chapter 8.

He says, “When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth.” (Proverbs 8:24, 25) Also, let us look at this verse in The 1965 Bible in Basic English. It says, “When there was no deep I was given birth, when there were no fountains flowing with water. Before the mountains were put in their places, before the hills was my birth.”

The Hebrew word ytllwx which was translated “I was brought forth” is a verb. Hebrew verbs can be found in many different forms. In the Old Testament, this particular verb was used in six different forms. They are Qal, Polel, Pulal, Hophal, Hithpolel, and Hithpalpel. Depending upon what form is used for this verb, the meaning of the word can be completely changed. For example, when this Hebrew verb ytllwx is used in the Qal form it means “to dance, to twist, to writhe, to whirl, to whirl about.” (Brown-Driver-Brigg’s Hebrew Lexicon) It is obvious from the context that this definition would not apply in Proverbs 8:24, 25, and it could not apply because the Hebrew word ytllwx is used, in these verses, in the Pulal form: the definition for the Pulal form is the only definition that can apply here. This definition is as follows: “to be made to writhe, be made to bear, to be brought forth.” (Brown-Driver-Brigg’s Hebrew Lexicon) This verb in this form is only used three places in the Bible, and here are the other two places where it is used.

“Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made [Hebrew: ytllwx in the Pulal form] before the hills?” (Job 15:7) “Behold, I was shapen [Hebrew: ytllwx in the Pulal form] in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5) As you can plainly see, the term “brought forth” in Proverbs 8:24, 25 can mean nothing other than being begotten, or born.

Let us continue on with the rest of the verses in Proverbs chapter eight, and learn more about the characteristics of Wisdom.

“While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth: When He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the deep: When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:26-36)

The terms Father and Son, by definition, indicate the existence of one before the other. This was the understanding of the Israelites. In the book of Proverbs we read: “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in His fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is His name, and what is His son’s name, if thou canst tell?” (Proverbs 30:4)

The Bible refers to Christ as God’s Son at least 120 times. The Bible does this by using the phrase “Son of God” 47 times. Regarding the genuineness of Christ’s sonship He is called “the only begotten” five times, “the firstborn” three times, “the firstbegotten” once, God’s “holy child” twice. Four verses say He was “begotten” prior to His incarnation. Four verses say that He ‘proceeded forth from,” “came out from” or “camest forth from” the Father. The evidence on this subject is overwhelming. Christ truly is the literal begotten Son of God, brought forth from the Father before all creation. If God expected us to believe anything different He did a poor job of presenting it in the Bible. In fact, if God had wanted us to believe differently, He purposely confused us by making so many clear statements indicating that Christ is literally the begotten Son of God. Yet, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

The Rock

The fact that Jesus is the Son of God is so important that Jesus said He would build His church upon this truth. One day Jesus asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:13-18)

Notice that the subject of this conversation was who Jesus is. When Jesus said, “upon this rock I will build my church” He wasn’t referring to Peter as the rock, but to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. Upon this truth, Jesus said, “I will build my church.” This is obviously a very important truth, the truth upon which God’s church is built.

The fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is so important that at the close of John’s gospel he wrote, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:30)

The disciples who lived with Jesus and heard His messages firsthand, including the many things He said that are not recorded, exclaimed, “we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:69) They also exclaimed, “we believe that thou camest forth from God.” (John 16:30)

Right after Paul learned the gospel directly from Christ Himself, “straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:20)

Right after Phillip preached the gospel to the eunuch, “Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest [be baptized]. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:37)

Martha, a close friend of Jesus, who heard many of His teachings, said to Him, “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” (John 11:27)

Nathaniel, of whom Christ said, In him “is no guile,” said to Jesus, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” (John 1:47, 49)

Christ said, “Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” (Luke 7:28) John the Baptist testified, “And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”(John 1:34)

Of all the witnesses, the greatest is God the Father Himself. Two times He spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son.” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5) And we know that God “cannot lie.” (Titus 1:2)

I am persuaded to take my stand with the faithful witnesses in the Bible who all proclaimed that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God.

The Key to Overcoming the World

As mentioned earlier, understanding this truth is the key to understanding and appreciating God’s love for us, because God gave no greater manifestation of His love than giving His only begotten Son to die for our sins. If we ever expect to love God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our strength, and all our minds, we must believe that Jesus is truly the Son of God. John claimed that this is the key to overcoming this world. He wrote, “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5) There is something about believing that Jesus is the Son of God that enables us to overcome the world. Any deviation on this point is a deviation from our ability to overcome the world, because without this belief we can never understand the love of God enough to cause us to love God with all our hearts. “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

Do you think Satan knows that if we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God we have the key to overcome the world? He certainly does! Do you think that Satan would try to confuse people on this issue? Certainly! Satan knows that if he can confuse people regarding the truth about Christ being the Son of God, then he will maintain some control in their lives. Therefore he has sought, and is seeking, to destroy this truth from this world.

In 325 A.D., about 300 years after Christ died, Satan convinced a group of men to assemble in a town called Nicea, to discuss whether Christ was literally begotten or not. [“The Arian controversy was chiefly waged over the question of the eternal generation of the Son,” or in other words, the meaning of the term begotten Son. (The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers Second Series, Volume 9, Chapter 2, Introduction to St. Hilary of Poitiers)] The government forced the conclusion that Christ was not literally begotten before He came to this world, and the new idea that Christ is the same age as His Father arose upon the pages of Christian history. After the counsel, one man who attended wrote, “We have never heard, my Lord, of two beings unbegotten… but that there is one unbegotten, and another truly from Him.” (Letter written by Eusebius of Nicomedia—A Historical View of the Council of Nice, by Isaac Boyle, page 41) For a more thorough study on this counsel please contact us and request the booklet entitled, “The Formulation of the Doctrine of the Trinity.”

Satan is so dedicated to eradicating the wonderful truth that God really gave up His only begotten Son that he has convinced the translators of most of the new translations, including the NIV, RSV, NASB (1995 Edition), NLT, etc., to delete the word begotten from John 3:16. Check it out for yourselves!

My friends, God really means what He says. He says that He gave His only begotten Son, and that is exactly what He gave for us. Think about it! If Jesus Christ was not the begotten Son of God before God sent Him into the world, then what did the Most High God give up? The conclusion of the Council of Nicea, and which nearly all Christians believe today, is that Jesus Christ is an exactly equal, same-aged companion of the Father. If this were true, then all that the Father gave up was a friend; a companion. If this were true, then the one who loves us the most is Christ, because He is the one who willingly died for us. And the Father is selfish because He sent a friend to die instead of coming Himself.

But this is not true. God the Father suffered tremendously when His Son was suffering under the weight of the sins of this world. In Abraham and Isaac’s story it was obviously the father, Abraham, who suffered more than Isaac when he was asked to give up his beloved son. Jesus said, “the Father himself loveth you.” (John 16:27) John wrote, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.” (1 John 3:1) We cannot behold the love of the Father if we do not know what He gave up for us. John wrote, “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.” (1 John 4:9) God the Father has an only begotten Son whom He willingly gave up so that you could be forgiven of your sins and live for eternity. Praise God for such wonderful love!