The Mission of God’s Love

Written to people who need to know Christ, the gospel of John is clear about God’s initiating love towards each of us. John desires for us to understand God’s amazing love so we would surrender our hearts to Him as Lord and Savior.

Jesus used Numbers 21 to remind Nicodemus to look to Him and be saved (John 3:14-15). In his commentary, D.A. Carson says, “As the new birth, the acquisition of eternal life, has been grounded in the ‘lifting up’ of the Son, so also that ‘lifting up,’ the climax of the Son’s mission, is itself grounded in the love of God.”

The Nature of God’s Love in Mission

Love is found and sourced in God, for God is love. God freely commended His love towards us even as sinners (Romans 5:8). God’s expression of faithful love was missionally accomplished through Jesus, the eternally, faithful Son of God. "For God so loved the world that He gave." When the language of John 3:16 is studied, we discover God’s love is full of intention and purpose at the highest level, an intense love for those created in His image and fallen in sin, a love excited to demonstrate compassion, an initiating love (1 John 4:7-11), self-generating and spontaneous. God is eternally, unchangeably, faithfully love.

In John’s gospel, he teaches of God’s love for His Son, Jesus’s love for the Father, Jesus’s love for His children, His children’s love for each other and their Savior, and that God so loved the world. God’s love has souls in mind when it sets out to do what only perfect love and sacrifice can do. God’s excitable love was inexplicably made known to us who believe. Without God demonstrating that love to us in Christ, we would be helpless, lost sinners bound for an eternity in hell.

Hell was prepared for Satan and his fallen angelic companions (Matthew 25:41). God did not prepare hell for those who would not believe, though it is the place where we will go if we reject in pride the precious gift of Jesus Christ. God desires to rescue mankind from that place to which these fallen angels have recklessly condemned themselves. For each of us created in His image, God has sent His "only begotten Son" (John 3:16-17). Though fallen angels are unredeemable, mankind is not. In Christ, we can have eternal life. This is God’s plan for us if we will turn from our sin and place our faith in the Son, the one He has sent on this mission to save us from the consequences of our sin.

The nature of God’s love grants us an opportunity to respond to it. God’s great love chose us in eternity past according to the kind intention of His will (Eph 1:3-5), giving each person the opportunity to be redeemed. Jesus is the one-of-a-kind, divine expression of God’s unchanging, faithful love demonstrated to all of mankind. Only the sacrifice of Jesus offers salvation and eternal life. This gift is free to us, though it cost Him everything.

The Nature of God’s Love is Holy

John tells us if we refuse this precious gift of the Son, we will perish. God’s love is a holy love, and to enjoy Him forever, we must be like Him. Jesus says we must be "perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). If we break the law in one area, then we are guilty of all (James 2:10). Paul tells us that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23). No one is without sin (Romans 3:23). If we entrust ourselves to Jesus, we are made complete and holy before God and given eternal life.

Luke 16 tells the true story of a rich man who trusted in his wealth rather than Jesus. The rich man perished, crying out from hell for relief, that someone would put a drop of water on his tongue. He chose to reject Jesus, and he perished to remain permanently in hell. We must realize that we have sinned and fallen short of God’s perfection. God’s love is holy, and it is offered to us in the person of Jesus who is the holy love of God. Paul tells how Jesus, who knew no sin, was made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). Now is the time to turn from our sin and trust Jesus alone, or we will perish and suffer eternally like the rich man.

The Nature of Lives Targeted by God’s Love

We are born in unbelief; it is our nature of the flesh, dead in our trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1-3). There is nothing we can do to reform ourselves and escape the wrath of God on our wickedness (Romans 1:18). It takes the intervention of divine missional love to perform a miracle on our souls (John 3:17-21). Once we are in Christ, by the nature of Christ in us, we live the truth of the will of God (John 3:21). This is our new nature by God’s grace, indwelt by His Spirit. Though many things are detestable to the Lord (Ez. 18:10-13), He does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ez. 18:23) but would rather they turn from their sin to life in Him.

Paul encourages us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). We have a gospel to give as it was given to us. Since the day we were born again, God’s mission became our mission if we believe. We are to take God’s loving message of Christ to those who need Him. It is what Christians do. If we are not proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ with others, then we are not right with God. God’s mission of love is our mission too.

Application Points

  • Have you responded to God’s choice of you by His grace and mercy? Have you repented of your sins and trusted in Christ Jesus as your Savior?
  • When is the last time you prayed for someone who needs Christ, that the Lord would use you to see them saved?
  • Who is the last person you spoke with about the good news of Jesus Christ?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Ps. 60:6, 68:17, 108:7; Eze. 28:25, 36:23; Amos 4:2; Rom. 1:4; Eph. 4:24; 1 Thes. 3:13 – Holiness
  • Matt. 13:19, 25:41; Luke 10:18; John 8:44, 12:31; 2 Cor. 4:4, 11:14; Eph. 2:2; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6; Rev. 12:7-9, 20:10 – Satan/devil
A Hymn to Encourage: "Complete in Thee" by Aaron R. Wolfe

Complete in Thee! no work of mine
May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee.

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!
And sanctified! Salvation wrought!
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And glorified, I too, shall be!

Complete in Thee! no more shall sin,
Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand complete in Thee.

Complete in Thee--each want supplied,
And no good thing to me denied;
Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,
I ask no more, complete in Thee.

Dear Savior! when before Thy bar
All tribes and tongues assembled are,
Among Thy chosen will I be,
At Thy right hand, complete in Thee.