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2. Love, the Greatest Commandment

God Is Love

Knowing God
How do we know about God? Paul wrote in Romans 1:18-23 that God has built into both nature and us the knowledge that He exists. By looking at ourselves and the universe around us, we can know that God exists, that He is divine and powerful, and that He has invisible attributes.

Paul does not, however, tell us what these invisible attributes are. In his sermon at Lystra, Paul told its pagan inhabitants that nature witnesses to God's existence in the rains that produced abundant harvests for them (Acts 14:15-17). He was telling them that God was showing His love and concern for them by providing them with food, clothing, and shelter. The pagans recognized these blessings came from a god but instead of acknowledging God - they created their own "gods" of wood, stone, and gold.

We can see God in nature. However, what we see is extremely limited. We see a loving God who provides for us but we do not know much about Him.

Another way we can know God is through what He has revealed to us. Throughout history, God has chosen certain men and women to act as His spokespersons. He gave them certain messages and they told everybody else. The Bible is a result of these messages. The Bible tells us of God's love for us, His limitless power, His unchangeable nature, His demand for justice, His refusal to accept sin (rebellion against Him), and other aspects of His character and activity.

God's love for man is a strange concept. When considered from a human point of view, there is no reason God should love us. He created us. But, we in turn, reject Him and spend most of our lives doing things that He does not approve of our doing. When people - even our friends and family - treat us meanly and spitefully, we usually do not want to have anything to do with them. We reject them. God, on the other hand, instead of rejecting us, tries to get us to change our attitudes and behavior and be reunited with Him. His love for us is so great that He came to earth in the person of Jesus. He lived like us and taught us what we need to do to be reunited with Him. Instead of accepting Him, we rejected Him and killed Him. Even in the act of dying, He showed His love for us. His death provided the means of escaping from our rebellious lives and becoming reunited with God.

In 1 Corinthians 1:23-25, Paul wrote that to the Jews - the cross was a scandal and to the Gentile - it was foolishness. To those who believed, the cross and Jesus' sacrifice was God's power and wisdom. This is true power, wisdom, and love. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes might have eternal life" (John 3:16).

God's Love for Us
Why does God love us? One reason is that He created us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7-8). God is spirit. He is logical and reasoning. He has emotions. When God created the rest of the universe, He made it strictly physical. When He created man, He added those aspects that would make us like Him. We have not only a physical nature - but also a spiritual nature. Of all the living creatures, only man is logical and reasoning. Also, man is the only physical creature who can show emotions.

God's love for us in not something fickle. He does not get tired of us or change His mind about loving us. In Jeremiah 31:3, God declared: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have drawn you with loving kindness."
God will always
love us.

God will always love us but this does not mean that He will not punish us when we rebel against Him. He will. His love demands that He reward those who accept and obey Him and that He punish those who reject and disobey Him.

1 John 3:1-3 tells us something about the greatness of God's love for us. It says that those who accept God's love will be called "children of God." God takes us and changes us from His enemies and makes us His children.

How many people do you know who treat their enemies this way? Few, if any. Most people either ignore or try to destroy people they do not like or who do not like them. The reason we act like this is that we have sold ourselves to the Devil.

God's love is something that is isolated. Paul joins it with God's "peace" in 2 Corinthians 13:11 and with God's "knowledge" in Ephesians 3:19.

We show God's love when we accept God's Son, Jesus. When we reject Jesus, we are doing the "works" of the Devil (John 5:30-47).

Another way is by allowing the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us. Paul says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

A third way is when God abides in us. 1 John 4:16-17 says that because God loves us, when we accept His Son, He lives in us. His love perfects us. His love makes us complete and righteous. In the day of judgment, that love will save us and provide us with eternal life.

Next Article: Expressing Our Love to God

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