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Few words have been more distorted, abused, twisted and misunderstood than this word, "love". It has been so re-cycled by Hollywood as to be virtually useless without some clear definition and explanation. This is especially true when we try to grasp what love is like from God's perspective. Often our human experience seems to challenge or deny "God is Love"

Read Eph.3/18,19. "And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God".

Our task in this study session is to grasp (mind) & to know (heart) the dimensions of God's love.

[1] THE NATURE OF GOD'S LOVE

a. "God is loving" but He is much more than loving. The Bible says "God is love". That speaks of the very nature of God - who He is means much more than what He does.

b. Note: Yet this statement is not the complete picture of God; e.g. "God is Spirit" (John 4/24),"God is Light" (1 John 1/5). What do these two verses tell us about the nature or being of God? What does "God is light" mean?

c. Our understanding of God's love must accommodate His justice and His Holiness; that means His love is a just love; His love is a holy love. In other words, His love does not compromise His justice. Something is wrong with our understanding if we see God as so loving that He can't be just.

d. Likewise, we must not impose our human limitations on His love. i.e. if we understand love as weak & indulgent and treat God's love the same way, we have a faulty understanding of what God's love is like.

e. Read Hebrews 12/1-6 There are times when God expresses His love in discipline/correction.

f. Here is one definition of God's love = "the unconditional, unmerited self-giving of God for benefit of human race". How do you respond to that? What would you change or add or remove?

g. God's love is not a response on His part to anything in us as though He loves us because of who we are or what we have done. Because He is love He has made a willing choice to love us quite apart from any merit or worth in us.

h. A helpful insight (although incomplete) is 1 Cor. 13/4-8. If you are in a study group for this session, why not refer to that passage as you develop your own definition of love. [Note: Paul doesn't attempt to define love. He chooses to describe it instead].

[2] THE PROOF OF GOD'S LOVE

a. The real test/evidence/proof of love is what it gives to the object of that love.

b. The proof of God's love is no more eloquently expressed than in the Cross of Christ

*John 3/16 - God loved so much that He gave that which cost Him most dearly

*John 13/1 - He now showed them the full extent of His love; action, not just words

*John 15/13 - action, laying down one's life, there is no greater love

*Romans 5/8 - laying down life for powerless, hopeless, sinners, enemies

c. There has never been a loving, self-giving sacrifice like this! Never!!

d. "All of life's reversals that seem to deny that "God is love" must only be evaluated at the Cross ". What does that mean? What do you think the author of that statement was trying to say?

[3] THE INTENTION OF GOD'S LOVE

A. RECONCILIATION BETWEEN GOD AND THE HUMAN RACE

a. 1 John 4/9,10 - "atoning sacrifice" = removal of the cause of offence; breaking down the barrier that was erected by the invasion of sin.

b. That sacrifice was motivated by love and has neutralised the hostility, guilt, fear and estrangement. The way is now open for us all to be reconciled to God. Read 2 Cor.5/18-21

c. God's intention was to open a new way for a relationship founded on love resulting in peace.

B. RECONCILIATION BETWEEN PEOPLE

a. 1 John 4/11, 19-21 - being reconciled to God opens the way for us to be reconciled to each other.

b. His unconditional love, effective in us, frees us to love & forgive others unconditionally c. To choose hatred instead of love evidences an incomplete experience of God's love

APPLICATION:

a. Many have a head knowledge but fewer have personal heart experience of that reality. The same people who will answer the question, "Does God love you?" with certainty will often struggle with their own question, "How could He love someone like me?"

b. Gal.2/20 - "…who loved ME and gave Himself for ME…"Here we see Paul revelling in the personal nature of God's love for him. God not only loves the whole world….He loves me as an individual!!

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