The Christian Teaching of ‘God is Love’
What does this mean? You hear it often, ‘Our God is a God of Love’, or ‘God is love’. Does this mean that God’s only attribute is ‘to love’ or that God is the ’emotion of love’? If God ‘is love’, then how do you reconcile this teaching with God’s wrath in the Old Testament and his returning wrath towards the end of days, or his wrath of torture and punishment according to the prophecies in the Book of Revelation?
What kind of loving God, who is known to have the ability to ‘just forgive sin’ as seen in the Lord’s prayer:
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. – Matthew 6:12.
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. – Luke 11:4.
Would then kill his son/ murder himself to forgive us of our sins? These acts, clearly do not seem loving. I’ve read John Gilchrist’s, “The Love of God in the Qur’an and the Bible“, and unfortunately, no act of God in the Old Testament is seen as loving, in his book, chapters 3, 4 and 5 contain not a single quote from the Old Testament to demonstrate the love of any of the Gods (Father, Son, Spirit) in the Old Testament. Would that then mean that the true God of the Christians was not always loving? The only ‘loving’ that God seems to do is to murder his son to forgive us of our sins, yet, we already know from the Lord’s prayer and the practise of the law – as confessed by Paul in Philippians 3:4-6, that one is able to be sinless and attain God’s love:
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
Yes, following the commandments leads to the love of God, as is written in 2 John 1:6:
And this is love, that we follow his commandments; this is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you follow love.
Therefore it is irrational according to the Bible, and Paul, that God is love, only due to Christ’s murder by his Father. Yet, John Gilchrist says in Chapter 4 of his previously mentioned book:
Herein lies the proof of the depth of God’s love towards us. He has done the greatest thing he could possibly do to reveal his love for us – he gave willingly his very own Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for our sins to redeem us to himself. No greater proof of God’s love can be given to mankind than this. It is no wonder that John does not appeal to anything further to make his point. He has given the very best possible proof of God’s love towards men.
Murdering his own son is God’s greatest act of love! As humans, we must stop and ask ourselves, can murder ever be seen as righteous? See, the words ‘kill and murder’ are substituted with the word ‘sacrifice’, which makes it seem as something dutiful, loving and passionate, an act of goodness. Yet, the reality is, and if we are to be honest, we must look at this situation objectively, why would God kill an innocent soul for the forgiveness of others, a soul who begged and cried out at the Father’s abandonment of him:
About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[c] lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
An innocent soul who asked the Father not to kill him:
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
The implications here are profound. There was no way God could remove the cup of suffering from Jesus without abandoning the purpose of human redemption. Some have interpreted the “cup” as agony itself, so great that Jesus was in imminent danger of dying before he ever came to the cross. Whether this was truly the “cup” or not is uncertain, but the appearance of an angel to strengthen the Lord in that agony surely suggests that it was at least an element in it.