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„GOD IS LOVE”
This is the grand expression of the Bible—the key-note of Christianity. It is the foundation of the great plan of creation and redemption, and the underlying principle in the structure of the Word of God.
It is truth, the truth, as God is true, the embodiment of all other truths; so that whatever, rightly understood, is not in harmony with it must be false. „God is love,” eternal and unchangeable. All that He has done or will do can but express His infinite fullness. All His attributes are moved and controlled by love.
„God is love.” Many feel, as a result of education, that God hates them, but that Christ loves them; others believe that Christ purchased the Father’s love. Both are answered by Christ’s words: „God so loved the world that he gave his son,” &c. John 3:16. Christ’s work is not to purchase the Father’s love, but to manifest it. Practically, if not as theologians teach, Christ’s words are true: „I and my Father are one”—one in purpose and in work.
Christ prayed to the Father that the disciples might be one, „even as we are one.” „As thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they may be one in us,” &c. John 17:21. He could thus be called „Immanuel—God with us.” „Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.” 1 Tim. 3:16. God gave his Son. The Son „gave himself for us.” Truly they are in harmony. The love of the infinite God could neither be created nor purchased, but it could be shown. This is one part of the work of the Son of God—to reveal the Father. To reveal his love is to reveal himself, for „God is love.” Without Christ or, out of Christ God cannot be known. The Father does not reveal the Son, but the Son reveals the Father, „For no man knoweth who the Son is but the Father, and no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” No theologian need attempt an explanation of the Divine Sonship of our Lord. „But it pleased the Father that in Christ should all fullness dwell,”—”All fullness of the Godhead bodily.”—Col. 1:19, and 2:9. He is the Word, the truth, the personal embodiment of all that is good and true, and emphatically the Revelation of God. „The Word was with God and the Word was God.” „The Word was made flesh.” He took our nature, the „form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” Phil. 2:7. He of whom it was said, „Let all the angels of God worship him,” [that must include Michael,] and „Thy throne, Oh God! is forever and ever,” (Heb. 1:6,8); „Left the glory he had with the Father before the foundation of the world;” „made himself of no reputation;” „was made a little lower than the angels;” „for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man.” Heb. 2:9.
Great condescension! Glorious love! Whose love? Both the Father’s and the Son’s, but primarily the Father’s. „God so loved that he gave.” The love caused the gift. „God commendeth his love to us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8. „And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself, by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation, to wit: that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them,” &c. 2 Cor. 5:18,19. The hymn line, „My God is reconciled,” has well been changed, „To God I’m reconciled.” It is man that is out of order—away from home—and God is in Christ to win the wanderer back. God hates sin, but loves the man. One reason why he hates sin is because he loves the man, and sin destroys man’s happiness and if persisted in will destroy the man himself. „Thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help found,” saith the Lord. „The grace of God, that bringeth salvation to all men hath appeared.” Grace is love and favor. God in Christ brings salvation to all men absolutely, so far as relates to the recovery of what was lost in Adam, „Who will have all men to be saved.” „As in Adam all died, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Thus, „We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of ALL MEN, specially of them that believe.” 1 Tim. 4:10.
He has not only redeemed man from what was lost in Adam, but has made higher attainments possible, brought Salvation near, within reach of all men, and is the „author of eternal salvation to them that obey him.” Heb. 5:9. He not only „gave himself a ransom (to buy man back from death) for all,” but it is „to be testified in due time.” 1 Tim. 2:6. He not only „will have all men to be saved” (from the Adamic penalty), but will also have them „come to the knowledge of the truth.” Ver. 4. Thus, and in „due time,” he is the „true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” John 1:9. All who have died without the true light, will be enlightened in future, and the words of the angel will be verified: „Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:10.
The salvation from death is secured to all by the Ransom; the salvation from sin is made possible to all by the light, and all this is the Father’s arrangement, through the Son, who is constituted Redeemer, and also the „Head”—”Firstborn” of a new race in a Spiritual and immortal life. He restores the old to all, and imparts the new to as many as receive and obey the truth.
How true it is, that: „He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8. „Love is of God.” Ver. 1. „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,” (the Son.) (Ver. 9.) „Herein is love, … that He loved us,” &c. (Ver. 10.) „We love him, because he first loved
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us.” (Ver. 19.) In view of so much testimony, who can doubt the Father’s love, or believe that it was purchased by Christ’s death. Christ’s death meets a necessity of man, in relation to man’s forfeited life; hence He purchased man, and not God. God arranged it as a grand exhibition of his love for man. „Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God,” &c. „Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” We love the Giver and we love the Gift. „Whom having not seen, we love.” Who can refrain from joining the grand chorus of the angels: „Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14.
J. H. P.
— July, 1879 —