Throughout life, so much seems to be said about how much God loves us. Do you think you are able to comprehend the depth of love that God truly has for His sons and daughters? Maybe with all the struggles of life, is it easy for you to question God’s love. My hope in this commentary is to reveal to you that having a strong understanding and truly believing the depth of love that He has for His sons and daughters is vital for us in living out the Christian life; one which brings glory to Him and one that gives us great joy in the midst of our afflictions. As believers, we are called to honor Him (Prov 3:9-10). Understanding and believing God’s love for His children is foundational to our faith, as doing so is pleasing to Him and it increases the joy that we have in following Him!
As a Christian, I grew up hearing of His love, while at the same time, I grew up with depression and an overwhelming fear and concern that because I had always lived with it, I would probably continue to live with it for the rest of my life. Although this study is not about depression and fear, it can be applied to any emotion where we are deprived of joy. Even while we live in a world where evil is overwhelmingly present; God desires His children to reside with love and with joy and without fear of the tribulations that we encounter. Depression and fear had been a result of my not truly understanding and believing the truth of scripture as I had lived with these things with very minimal joy. Both of those traits stemmed from selfishness (not getting what I want in life), which oppose love. Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – I know just from this verse that the feelings and emotions that I had expressed or felt in the past were not of God. 1 John 4:18-19 states, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” – Here it is revealed that fear is related to a lack of love and reference is again made of God’s love towards us. These are only two verses out of many that speak of God’s love. We should then realize that baggage (including sin) within ourselves prevent us from receiving His love. What led me to question the depth of my belief in His love was the Holy Spirit’s work within my heart; questioning the root of my emotional pain in accordance with what the scriptures reveal. The fear I dealt with, mentioned above, is fear related to circumstances and is not the same as a reverent fear that we should have towards our Holy God. The subject of fear is another topic in itself and important to the subject of love, as Jerry Bridges writes in his book, The Practice of Godliness, “A crucial characteristic of our growth in godly devotion, then, must be a balanced approach to all three of the essential elements of devotion: fear, love and desire. Another crucial characteristic must be a vital dependence upon the Holy Spirit to bring about this growth.” – The Holy Spirit must lead us and we must be aware that if we are imbalanced in these areas, it will negatively affect our view of God and that will affect how we glorify Him. Scripture tells us that we are to fear God and that we are also loved by Him. Meditate on the scriptures, as they reveal how we must attempt to balance these things.
The majority of human beings spend their days seeking fulfillment in most things apart from God. Isn’t it true that we are seeking the perfect relationship, one that seems to give us the greatest pleasure? So many times that seems to be represented by the love of another, sex, drugs, alcohol, power, wealth, possessions, security; whatever makes life easier and what “feels good” is the relationship we tend to seek. If you claim your love for Christ and yet live in sinfulness and place idols before Him, it reveals your lack of love for Him in your heart (John 14:15). Also, Jesus states in Matthew 6:21 – “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. In pursuing the things of this world, we never seem to be satisfied. That is because God does not allow us to be fulfilled in them as He has created in us a desire of fulfillment that can only be met by perfect love, which only comes from God. Rather than going into greater detail of what perfect love is, I hope you will get an idea by studying and meditating on the verses following this commentary. I had spent my entire life seeking the things of this world and had still been left empty. For the first time in my life I decided (with the leading of the Holy Spirit) to truly see if what scripture speaks of in reference to God’s love is true. I had to look into it because nothing else was working as there was still emptiness inside. Yes, even with the knowledge of my desire to live for Christ, there had still been emptiness because I had not truly understood and believed in the depth of His love for me and I was still seeking it in other things. I searched for every verse that I could find that related to the love that God speaks of for His children. I studied those verses in depth and even looked into the Greek and Hebrew meanings of specific words that would shed light to better understand the passages as they were written. It has become vital to pray and meditate over these verses that are filled with evidences of God’s love for His sons and daughters. Do you realize that the God of this universe calls those whom are His, His sons and daughters (2 Cor 6:17-18)? Meditate on His word and His love. Memorize His words of love and repeat them to yourself throughout your days (Psalm 119:10-11, Deut 11:18-19). As you begin to do these things with a fervent desire, God’s love will magnify within you. Joy begins to grow as truth pushes out emotions of depression and fear (Romans 12:2, 2 Cor 5:17). Less and less, do we seek those other things, which we have all been guilty of looking for; to fulfill what God has intended to be fulfilled by His love. As amazing as the realization of all of this is, and in sharing with you my past difficulties in believing His love, it is vital for you to know that we all must constantly remind ourselves of the truth. Because we continue to live in the flesh and battle with sin, I tell you that I myself must come back to His words of love to constantly remind myself because the enemy will consistently tell us we are outside of God’s love.
The devil has used the tribulations of this world to mask God’s love for His children. So many have mistakenly abstained from true belief in God’s love due to pain and suffering, wrongful death and basically, things that happen that do not seem fair with our limited understanding. For reasons that only God knows, He has not given us specific answers to why many of these things take place. What He has told us is that the devil is the temporary ruler of this world (John 12:31), we are sinners whom are given free will, and again, we are not given a complete answer as to why God has ordained this, but we are to trust Him. Many people have come to believe that if God is God and if there is a god, why would He allow evil to occur. In that thinking, they have, in a sense, made themselves their own god by believing that they know better than God what should be allowed and what should not. In all the evil that is committed in this world, God still stands firm in His word that He loves His children and His children are those whom love Him. We are told throughout scripture that the Devil’s time will come to an end (Rev 20:10) and God has promised His people, that for their love, He offers perfect love in return, which includes the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, and eternity with Him in heaven. John 14:23-24 – Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” – God’s word indicates that we are to obey Him no matter what the cost. How do we do this without love? We cannot. There has to be love and only God can give a person the love that is necessary to obey, even when it is seemingly impossible. The above verse indicates that there are those who love Him and those who do not. If you say, “God, give me the heart to love,” and you actively pursue it, you show evidence of one who loves God and who desires to learn perfect love. If your reaction is one that is unwilling to submit to the severity of His words of love, then there is hardness in your heart that may be evidence of a heart that is unrepentant and unwilling to love God.
God’s words of love are true and if you are struggling with trusting and believing the depth of God’s love, it reveals your own misunderstanding, hardness of heart and/or unbelief of scripture. I spent most of my life hearing God’s word, but doubting that it could change me and that was a form of unbelief. Although the purpose of our faith in Christ should not be specifically to improve our emotional well being, it often is a result of true faith in Christ. The truth finally struck me that God would do with me what His word said He would do. I had to pursue Him and His truth (they are one) diligently, as He tells us to in scripture (Heb 11:6). If you find yourself disagreeing with God’s word, and if you are a true believer and thinking correctly, you will look into why you are wrong. If you choose to disagree with what scripture says, it evidences that you are one who does not believe in the truth of God’s word and you will pick and choose what your own truth is. If that is the case, then the word of God is not true, and that is the indicator that you do not have a true belief in the God of the bible and therefore you have made yourself your own god. The point I am making in relation to this study is that if you are a true believer and struggle with love as it is discussed here, you must believe that scripture speaks truth in relation to God’s love for His people. When we fall short of understanding, we must persevere in seeking to understand the depth of our Creator’s love for His sons and daughters. Our understanding of God’s love for us has been distorted due to errors in what we have been taught, our lack of study and misinterpretation of the scriptures and also because we do not see things as God sees things (Isaiah 55:8-9). J. Stephen Yuille who authored the book, A Hope Deferred: Adoption and the Fatherhood of God, is quoted with the following observations of God’s perfect and infinite love; “God’s love is never self-serving. That means He doesn’t need to love us, nor does He need us to love Him. Simply put, He doesn’t gain anything from loving us. That realization shouldn’t disturb us or offend us. On the contrary, it should comfort us, because that’s the kind of love we need (unconditional). We need someone to love us that actually doesn’t need us (conditional). God has that kind of love in Himself. And here is the wonderful thing: He lavishes it upon His children. We don’t need to earn God’s love. We don’t need to merit God’s love. We don’t need to worry that God’s love for us will change. We don’t need to worry that God’s love for us is contingent upon our performance. Why? God’s love is merciful, and it’s the whole reason why he adopted us.” – I realize now that I don’t deserve it, but that it was freely given to me. I/we need to stop trying to deserve it, meditate on His words of love in the scriptures, believe it and joyfully and undeservingly accept it.
The verses following the commentary are to memorize and meditate on and they reveal how much God loves you. I want to give you an example of how meditating on one individual verse can strengthen your hope in Christ expand your joy. You have probably heard that when we get to heaven, we will receive a new name. That comes from Revelation 2:17 and Jesus says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” – Interesting, we get a new name, what exactly does that mean? Pastor John MacArthur explains his understanding of the verse and I have paraphrased his words. – The hidden manna refers to the spiritual bread that the true believer receives and that the unbelieving world cannot see. He then assists the reader in understanding that the white stone represents what was given to an athlete who won in the games. The white stone was an admission pass to the winner’s celebration afterwards and it pictures the moment when the overcomer will receive his ticket to the eternal victory celebration in heaven. The new name is described as a personal message from Jesus Christ to the ones He loves, which serves as their admission pass into eternal glory. It is so personal that only the person who receives it will know what it is. – Do you hear that? A personal message…from Jesus Christ to you! Only you and He will know it! A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM CHRIST!!! THAT’S how much he loves you!!! Do you realize the implication that as a true believer, you will have one on one communication with Jesus Christ in which there will be a special bond shared between the two of you? This exemplifies why it is necessary to delve deep in understanding as we seek scriptural truth. God is passionate about His people!
The purpose for separating the verses below from the body of a commentary without further explanation is for you to go deep into understanding on your own. I want you to see just how much scripture there is that reveals how much God loves and desires His people. There are even more words of God’s love throughout scripture that are not included in this study. Please, if you sense that you have fallen short in understanding the depth of His love by your painful emotions or your disobedience, repent, pray and ask God to teach you perfect love. God is seeking that from and for you. Ask Him to give you a heart of understanding (James 1:5-6) and belief that will change your life forever in the ways of truth versus many of the lies in which we have grown up believing (many of which we don’t even know we have come to believe). It is my suggestion that you not only read the verses below, but that you study them, meditate on them individually and memorize them (Deut 11:18-19). Without doing so, you will not understand the depth of love as you are called to. If you have difficulty in understanding scripture, there are study bibles available that give good interpretation and understanding. The John MacArthur study bibles are a source that I highly recommend. When we begin to understand how much God loves us, joy is a result in that the things of this world no longer become our measure of worth. Do you have the sense of walking blameless before God? He has that for you and it is the product of loving obedience from the Holy Spirit. Understanding the greatness of the depth of His love in the sacrifice of placing His own son, Jesus Christ on the cross to die for us because of our sinfulness and to be resurrected and to sit at the right hand of the Father for all of eternity, and He did it because He loves us?!! This reveals that we must prepare ourselves for what is in store for those who love Him. The words in this commentary alone cannot reveal the depth of love that God has for you, but the scriptures that follow are God’s love letter to you that I pray will open your hearts to the truth of the depth of a Holy love that human words cannot adequately portray (Ephesians 3:19-20).
Verses Related to God’s Love
Deuteronomy 5:29 – “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!”
1 Samuel 2:30 – Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: “I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.” But now the LORD says: “Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.”
Psalm 139:13-18 – For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.
Psalm 149:4 – For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.
Proverbs 8:17 – I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.
Proverbs 8:23-29 – I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I was brought forth; while as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, or the primal dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above, when He strengthened the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth,
Isaiah 43:4 – Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you; therefore I will give men for you, and people for your life.
Isaiah 54:10 – “For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
Isaiah 62:3-5 – You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 31:3 – The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
Zephaniah 3:17 – The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Malachi 3:16-17 – Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.”
Matthew 10:29-31 – “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
John 1:12-13 – But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 3:16-18 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 15:9-17 – “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.”
John 17 – It’s important to read the entire chapter as Christ prays to the Father for Himself, His disciples and for all believers…click here to read.
Romans 5:5 – Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:14 – For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.
1 Corin 13:13 – And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
2 Corin 5:21 – For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corin 6:18 – “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”
Galatians 3:26 – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 4:5-7 – to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Ephesians 1:4-6 – just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
Ephesians 1:11-12 – In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 2:4 – But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 3:19-20 – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
Ephesians 5:2 – And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
1 Thessalonians 5:5 – You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.
Hebrews 13:5 – Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
1 Peter 5:7 – Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
1 John 3:1-3 – Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
1 John 4:4 – You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:7-11 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:18-19 – There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
Verses Relating to Inerrancy of Scripture
Proverbs 30:5-6 – Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
John 17:17 – Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
Galatians 2:11-12 – But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Peter 1:20-21 – knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Revelation 22:18-19 – For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.