At the heart of the most succinct summary of the gospel message is the love of God. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). “God loved” is the foundation upon which the gospel stands. And God’s love reached down and rescued you and me.
In the Old Testament and other Jewish writings, God’s love was reserved for the children of Israel. We have some hints here and there that the Gentiles would eventually be included in God’s redemptive plan, but His love appears to have some boundaries. In the New Testament, God’s love is shown to be boundless. “God so loved the world.” His love was now showered upon the entire population of the earth. God’s love for “the world” makes it possible that “whoever” believes has eternal life. As part of the progressive revelation of God’s character, we now see God’s love without limits or partiality.
Did God change? No, but as with many aspects of God’s character, the curtain is pulled back in the New Testament and we see and experience more and more facets of who God is. And at the heart of who God is, at the heart of His character, at the heart of His very essence is love. God is love.
In his hymn The Love of God, Frederick Lehman put to music an ancient poem that paints a beautiful picture of the vastness of the love of God. Read slowly and let the enormosity (God’s love is so beyond description that I could not even come up with a proper English word) of God’s love fill your soul:
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.
As a holy and beloved saint, wrapped up forever in God’s love, may this be your and the angels’ song.