We get the best answer of all when we look at the cross of Jesus Christ. We were all hopelessly lost, bound by Satan’s power and a slave to the devil and to our own unredeemed flesh—but God intervened because of His great love for us. He wasn’t willing that we should perish and go down the tubes.
Paul wrote, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
There it is! God is “rich” in mercy and “great” in love. Even when we lived for our sin and flaunted our trespasses—even while we remained totally alienated from God—He loved us.
Why? Because God is love. That is the essence and nature of God’s being. That’s what He’s all about. As the original Greek would say it, theos agape esten, “God love is” (1 John 4:8). And how did God show the magnitude of His love for us? “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).
There is the proof. God powerfully demonstrated the magnitude of His love by sending His Son into the world that we might live through Him. The Bible never seeks to prove God’s love apart from the cross. It always points to Calvary. “God demonstrates His own love toward us,” Paul wrote, “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
We don’t learn much about God’s love from nature. It can bring us to the awareness of God’s existence, but not much more. That is why every culture in the world has some consciousness of the existence of God. Nature gives us a very powerful witness to His reality, but the only nature we see on earth is fallen, corrupted by our sin. Consider the marvelous design of the gazelle; it has elegant grace and exceptional speed. That gazelle testifies to a marvelous divine design. But watch it long enough, and you might see a lion wrestle that gazelle to the ground and devour it. Nature alone cannot tell you that God is love. Only the Bible gives a clear revelation that God is love.
Man-made religion cannot teach us that God is love. Greek mythology, for example, tells us that god is lust. Many religions promote hatred. Hate pours out when their adherents say, “If you don’t believe, we’ll kill you.” Only in the Bible do we get the consistent revelation that God is love—and the greatest proof it offers is the cross. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
This word “propitiation” has an interesting history. In Hebrew it appears as the term kophar, which means “a covering.” Once a year, the high priest came into the Holy of Holies before the ark of the covenant to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the mercy seat. This signified a covering for their sins, but it could never fully take it away.
John tells us that Jesus, on the cross, became that covering for our sins. He took our sins upon Himself and satisfied God’s justice by bearing our sins in His own body on the cross (see also 1 Peter 2:24). Taking away our sins forever. That is love! That is grace! And that is what God willingly did for you and for me, thus demonstrating His mammoth love.
In the book of Hosea God says of His people, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely” (14:4). I love that! God loves us freely. Centuries after Hosea’s time, Paul echoed his predecessor when he wrote, “He who did not spare 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).
So here’s the question: If God has freely given you and me that much already, then how much more will He willingly give us the little things we need from day to day?
- excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith