Biblical Definition of God's Love - Part 3

By Johnny Hunt
Bible Book: 1 John  4 : 7-11
Subject: Love of God; God's Love
Series: The Love of God

I read an article from Danny Akins’ commentary about love through the eyes of children.

Noelle-age 7

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.”

Mary Ann-age 4

“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”

Karen-age 7

“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.”

Rebecca-age 8

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore, so my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”

In 1 John 4:7-11 we get God’s perspective. Here we learn that God is the source of love. In fact, love is His very nature, and acting in love is His essential character.

“The cross of Golgotha (place of the skull) is an everlasting monument to the truth that our God is love” Danny Akin

I. God’s Love Personified and Personalized - 7-8

“John is not teaching that non-Christians cannot love. Sometimes they love better than some Christians do. Remember we are all made in God’s image. Everyone can give reflections of the One whose image they bear.” Danny Akin

Howard Marshall said, “Human love, however noble and however highly motivated, falls short if it refuses to include the Father and Son as the supreme objects of its affection.”

Such love fails to honor the greatest love command of all, the command to love God with all that you are. (Matthew 22:36-38).

Christianity is a religion (relationship) of love because to the Christian God is love. God loved to the extent that He gave His only Son (Jesus) for us. Christians are called to love God above all, and to love their neighbors as themselves. God does not leave Christians to try to work up this love by themselves but He sends the Holy Spirit with gifts (1 Corinthians 13) and fruits (Galatians 5:22).

To look at 1 John 4:7-11 as a whole, we will find that God the Father is the God of love, whose love is made known in the sending of Jesus Christ for our sins and this love is perfected in the love displayed among His people. We are commanded to “love one another” but we are also indwelt for this reality.

A. Loving One Another Testifies To The New Birth

“love of God” - born again

Sam Storms says, “love one another” occurs as an exhortation .7, a statement of

duty .11, and as a hypothesis in .12.”

(an assumption or conclusion).

Irish Rhyme

To live above,

With the saints I love,

O, wouldn’t that be glory.

But to live below,

With the saints I know,

That’s another story.

B. Loving One Another Testifies Of Intimacy With God.

“knows God” - not that I know about God, but to know Him personally.

Love’s source is in God, and as we love like God loves, we give testimony we are connected to the source. We demonstrate by a life of love that we know God.

II. God’s Love Propitiated In Jesus - 9-10

In Greek mythology they saw the gods easily angered by humans. Humans sought to appease that anger by offering sacrifices to the gods.

The word propitiate is used 3 other times in the New Testament.

Romans 3:25: “whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed”

“Man is incapable of satisfying God’s justice apart from Christ, except by spending eternity in hell.” J. MacArthur

Hebrews 2:17: “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

By His partaking of a human nature, Christ demonstrated His mercy to mankind and His faithfulness to God by satisfying God’s requirements for sin and thus obtaining for His people full forgiveness.

1 John 2:2: “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s holiness for the punishment of sin.

The pardon for sin is offered to the whole world but received only by those who believe.

The word means to turn away the wrath of God by means of an offering.

David Allen says that “Propitiation” includes 6 things in its definition.

God’s holiness, wrath, justice, mercy, love and grace.

1. Why does there need to be a propitiation in the first place? All sin is an affront to God’s holiness.

A common false teaching among some liberals is that God’s only characteristic is love and not a God of judgement, nor a God of wrath. Orthodox belief sees rather that the love of God is made richer and deeper when seen in the context of the whole person.

2. God’s wrath is His settled disposition against all sin. God is angry with sin and sinners. God can be angry with sinners and love them at the same time.

3. Sin violates God’s love, and His law demands that justice be done. God is just. He must punish sin.

4. God is also merciful. He is willing that sinners not receive all they deserve for their sins.

5. God is love. His love extends to all people. God desires the salvation of all people. But there is nothing sinners can do to earn God’s forgiveness for their sins.

6. This is where God’s grace comes into the picture. God does something for us that we could never do for ourselves. He pays the price for our sins. When Jesus died on the cross, He became our substitute and took the wrath of God against our sin upon Himself, thus satisfying God’s justice in a payment for sin. In Jesus’ death on the cross, God’s holiness, justice, wrath, mercy, love and grace all converge. David Allen

“Propitiation teaches us that God personally hates sin, sin is serious; it teaches us the greatest of God’s love in which He provided the offering to turn His wrath away. Propitiation teaches us the truth that Christ’s death satisfied the Father and was a substitution for sinners. Propitiation teaches us that God’s holiness required satisfaction and that God’s love provided satisfaction.” Danny Akin

John Stott in The Cross Of Christ,

“It is God Himself who in holy wrath needs to be propitiated. God Himself who is holy love undertook to do the propitiation and God Himself who in the person of His Son died for the propitiation of our sins. Thus God took His own loving initiative to appease His own righteous anger by bearing it His own self in His own Son when He took our place and died for us.”

“The gospel is that Jesus lived the life you should have lived and died the death you should have died, in your place, so God can receive you not for your record and sake but for his record and sake.” Tim Keller

“For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices Himself for man and puts Himself where only man deserves to be.” John Stott


John 17:26: “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

A. Ought 11

Out of gospel gratitude and connection to the very source of love, we ought to love God and love one another.

B. Others 12

“seen” – where we get our word “theater:” implies a careful observing, a close scrutiny or examination.

No one can see God in His essence, but we can see God through the lives of those who demonstrate His love to others.

“Mutual Christian love is the evidence that “the unseen God, who was once revealed in His Son, is now revealed in His people, when they love one another.” John Stott

“Perfected” - brought to complete maturity; it reaches its intended goal.

ILLUSTRATION: The word “amateur” means “a lover.” When it comes to loving, we should be amateurs, not professionals. Amateur athletes do what they do for the love of the game.

On June 25, 1967, more than 400 million people in 26 countries watched, via satellite, the Beatles perform the song “All You Need Is Love.”

Close to the truth. What we really need is the God who is love. We really need Jesus, who was sent by the God who is love.