7539 - God Loved First

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Audio transcript

It’s always a joy to have an opportunity to discuss God’s Word together. Today we want to talk about “God Loved First.”

In the past weeks we have enjoyed several studies regarding the subject of love — both God’s and ours. Today we focus on 1 John 4, verse 19. It says, “We love because he first loved us.”

By nature God is loving. He has always been loving. Even when mankind did not respond to His love.

Wycliffe Translators tell us that in some of the thousands of languages around the world there is no word for the concept of loving kindness. Many of these translators of God’s Word, struggle to find a means of conveying the idea of God’s sacrificial love to such people.

Some languages have many words to express different facets of this emotion called love. The Greek language in which much of the New Testament was first written had four words for love. “Eros’ expressed an erotic, sensual love. ‘Storge’ expressed family love. ‘Phileo’ was a word expressing tender affections or brotherly love. A fourth word, ‘agape’ was seldom used in Greek writing.

Of these only ‘agape’ and ‘phileo’ were used in writing the New Testament. The word ‘agape’ was used by Bible writers to express ideas of love previously unknown. It became the characteristic word for God’s unselfish, sacrificial love.

Love in the English has been used to translate both ‘agape’ and ‘phileo’ so some of the shades of meaning are missing in the English translations.

It helps us to understand the depth and riches of 1 John 4 to realize that every use of the word love in this passage comes from the root ‘agape.’ And the meaning of this word comes most powerfully from the concept of God’s love — a supernatural, sacrificial, unselfish love that is given because of the nature and character of the giver even though the one receiving that love may be an unworthy subject.

Verse 19 in 1 John 4, teaches us a great lesson. People love because God first loved us. That tells us that the first people upon earth experienced and observed God’s love toward them. However, sin broke that intimate relationship with God. Much later God, out of love, in the fullness of time, sent His Son, the Christ, to earth in human form, to live and die as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind, love rose to a dimension long forgotten by mankind. Here was the Son of God bestowing the supernatural, sacrificial, unselfish love of God upon His bitter enemies, upon sinners who were separated from God in a state of helplessness and hopelessness. This was the long awaited redemption of mankind, which was prophesied in centuries past. This love gave hope to the hopeless. This love brought light into dark hearts. This love brought men who were dead in sin to new life.

All of this introduced people to a new level of love. Only God the Son could have the love to say, “Father, forgive these people who have brutalized me, and who are putting me to death. They really do not know what they are doing. This was God loving first, so that people could learn what love meant. Then knowing what love meant they could desire it, but never fulfill it until the Gospel was proclaimed, and salvation could be experienced. Then God’s “agape” love-package was delivered to the inner being of each person who believed in Jesus Christ. At that time, for the first time, people could pass God’s love on to others who had never experienced this awesome love.

Oh yes, family love and brotherly love still exist, but supernatural, sacrificial love comes only from God; and believers are now privileged to love others with God’s love so that they may learn of it and also receive His love into their lives.

We love because He first loved us.