The Son of God: Legacy of Love
God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in Him." (1 John 4:16) Perhaps the characteristic which is most prominent among the followers of Jesus Christ is the manifestation of the love of God in their lives. For instance it is typical for charitable activities to abound where His followers are found. The followers of Jesus Christ tend to love all men of like faith. Even more striking is the fact that they tend to love all men, even their enemies.
This manifestation of love is truly the "litmus test" of those who profess themselves to be Christian. The words of the beloved John, which we have quoted above, echo the words of our Saviour, "By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." This love is not developed naturally, but rather it is taught to the believer personally by God himself. This godly love is not easy to understand. I am sure that people of faith have about as much difficulty understanding it as do unbelievers. Like many other things, the love of which I speak is more easily demonstrated than it is explained. Therefore, God demonstrated it.
God was aware, when He first created Adam and Eve, that His crowning creation would fail Him, and He planned ahead for it. Before He created them, He developed a plan for their redemption. Peter mentioned it in his statement that Jesus "verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." Again, in Rev. 13:8, Jesus is described as "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
Adam fell from the perfection of his creation, and men gradually drifted farther and farther from their creator. Hatred and all kinds of evil then filled the Earth. The God of Love could bear it no more and proceeded to isolate the best man He could find, together with his family. He then expressed, for men of all ages, His intolerance for humanity without love. He sent a flood which destroyed them all, except for those who He had preserved alive. Later, when evil had once again begun to fill the earth, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Apostle Peter said, He "condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished..." (2 Pet. 2:6-9)
It may seem to the average person that God was very harsh and uncaring in this act of judgment. But in the case of both Noah and Lot, God was demonstrating love to people of righteousness by eliminating the evil influences around them. God loves with great love, but He hates evil. When God revealed His plan of the redemption of mankind by giving His law to Moses and the children of Israel, the harshness of God seemed to be greater than His great love which was being expressed. The result was that God came to be viewed as the stern old man who was far away in the sky somewhere who had no feelings for menís temptations and sorrows.
All of that was to change when God executed his plan for the redemption of His creation. Godís love was to become more obvious than His wrath. In Moses, God revealed the exceeding sinfulness of manís ways, and the just punishment which it brings upon the sinner: "The wages of sin is death." That sentence of death was to be set aside by that great act of love which has fascinated and greatly affected mankind ever since: the sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
We do not have to try to comprehend His love abstractly anymore. God has demonstrated it to us in a most vivid manner: He gave His Son to pay the price for our redemption by dying in our place.
The Apostle John told us, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He went on to say, "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved." "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." (John 3:16,17; 1 John 4:9)
When we accept this love into our lives by accepting the fact of the sacrifice of Godís Son, God accepts us as His children. He forgives and justifies us, blotting our sins from our record and holding them against us no more. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God."