Subject: The Love of God
Romans 5:8 “God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
If you were a Christian living in America in the 1800’s, the popular perception you would have of God is one of the revival evangelists, who preached of God’s judgment against sinners. It would have been scandalous if a preacher taught that God loves sinners. D.L. Moody was famous for his emphasis on God’s love for sinners, but how he came to this was through a converted pickpocket named Harry Moorhouse. John MacArthur, in his book ‘The God who Loves’, tells the story:
”In 1868 Moorhouse showed up in Chicago and offered to preach to Moody’s congregation (Moody was leaving for a few days’ ministry in St. Louis). Returning on Saturday from his trip, Moody asked his wife about Moorhouse’s preaching. ‘He preaches a little different from you’, she told Moody. ‘He preaches that God loves sinners.’ ‘He is wrong,’ Moody replied.” Moody then went to listen to Moorhouse that Sunday, and he noted that “Moorhouse went from Genesis to Revelation giving proof that God loves the sinner, and before he got through, two or three of my sermons were spoiled… I never knew up to that time that God loved us so much. This heart of mine began to thaw out; I could not keep back the tears… D.L. Moody turned in his ways, to become from that time forth an apostle of the love of God.”
What do we mean by ‘God’s Love’ for us? Let’s do a quick overview of the four words for love used in biblical times. The first was ‘EROS’, which only exists in a relationship. It’s a romantic, passionate, sentimental love between two people. It’s the idea of yearning to unite with and possess the one loved. It’s emotional, and can’t sustain a relationship by itself, but it’s a response to a real, mature love relationship.
The second is ‘STORGE’, and refers to a secure, safe, “old-shoe” love. It’s a natural affection and a sense of belonging to one another (part of a close-knit circle). Those in the relationship care for, and give the utmost loyalty, to one another. When the world is a cold, hard place, “storge” offers emotional refuge
The third is ‘PHILEO’, and it refers to a “dear friend” type of love. While “eros” makes lovers, “phileo” makes dear, intimate friends, where the most intimate things aren’t shared with anyone else. This type of love is only possible once a relationship exists (it requires mutual vulnerability).
The fourth is God’s supernatural love – the word is ‘AGAPE’. It is the word in our verse (Romans 5:8). This is the only love of the four that does not require a relationship and can be exercised immediately, because of four key reasons: 1) it’s a choice of the will, with no dependence on feelings (it is a mental attitude of
conviction); 2) it’s a love of action, not an emotion or a reaction or a response; 3) it doesn’t care if the person is indifferent or rejecting to the love being offered; and 4) it doesn’t consider how loveable the person is.
This is why only the God of the Bible has it. He is the source because it is His CHARACTER. The exercise of Agape is only accessible through Him, and, as Romans 5:8 says, He made agape visible to our finite minds by demonstration. As the songwriter Billy Crockett once said, ‘God’s love was exposed in sacrifice… the depth of God’s love is Jesus Christ.”