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Lowell Brueckner

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Love is not God!


Below I will cite several lines from A. W. Tozer´s book, The Knowledge of the Holy, specifically the chapter on the love of God. Before he entered into the subject, he had to address a misconception, which is common among believers. That is, that the apostle's statement, "God is love", is not meant to be a definition of God. 
A. W. Tozer

I have tried to deal with this same issue, wherever I have preached and taught, throughout my years of ministry. If you would ask a congregation, "How would you describe God? What is He like?", the answer would commonly come back, "God is love." 

Please notice similar statements in the same epistle of John, regarding other attributes of God. In 1:5... "God is light." In 2:29 and 3:7... "He (God) is righteous." It is just as true that God is light and that He is righteous, as it is true that God is love. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." He is as much the way, the truth and the life, as He is love. 

I hope that you will be able to capture Tozer's thinking and let it form your concept of God; if necessary, I hope that it will correct any mistaken ideas that you might have. Please pay attention, as Tozer expounds on this matter in no uncertain terms: "The apostle John, by the Spirit, wrote, 'God is love,' and some have taken his words to be a definitive statement concerning the essential nature of God. This is a great error. John was by those words stating a fact, but he was not offering a definition.

Equating love with God is a major mistake what has produced much unsound religious philosophy and has brought forth a spate of vaporous poetry completely out of accord with the Holy Scriptures and altogether of another climate from that of historic Christianity.

If love is equal to God, then God is only equal to love, and God and love are identical. Thus we destroy the concept of personality in God and deny outright all His attributes save one, and that one we substitute for God. What we have left is not the God of Israel; He is not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; He is not the God of the prophets and the apostles; He is not the God of the saints, reformers and martyrs, nor yet the God of the theologians and hymnists of the church.

For our souls' sake, we must learn to understand the Scriptures. We must escape the slavery of words and give loyal adherence to meanings instead. Words should express ideas, not originate them. We say that God is love;  we say that God is light; we say that Christ is truth; and we mean the words to be understood in much the same way that words are understood when we say of a man, “He is kindness itself.” By so saying we are not stating that kindness and the man are identical, and no one understands our words in that sense. 

The words “God is love” mean that love is an essential attribute of God. Love is something true of God, but it is not God. It expresses the way God is in His unitary being, as do the words holiness, justice, faithfulness and truth. Because God is immutable He always acts like Himself, and because He is a unity He never suspends one of His attributes in order to exercise another. 

From God’s other known attributes we may learn much about His love. We can know, for instance, that because God is self-existent, His love had no beginning; because He is eternal, His love can have no end; because He is infinite, it has no limit; because He is holy, it is the quintessence of all spotless purity; because He is immense, His love is an incomprehensibly vast, bottomless, shoreless sea before which we kneel in joyful silence and from which the loftiest eloquence retreats confused and abashed."

Warren Wiersbe
Add to these statements, similar ones by Warren Wiersbe, a former pastor of Chicago's Moody Church: 'God is love.' This does not mean that 'love is God.' And the fact that two people 'love each other' does not mean that their love is necessarily holy. It has accurately been said that 'love does not define God, but God defines love.' God is love and God is light; therefore, His love is a holy love, and His holiness is expressed in love. All that God does expresses all that God is. Even His judgments are measured out in love and mercy (Lam_3:22-23).

Much that is called 'love' in modern society bears no resemblance or relationship to the holy, spiritual love of God. Yet we see banners saying 'God is love!' displayed at many festivals, particularly where young people are 'doing their own thing' — as if one could dignify immorality by calling it 'love.'

Christian love is a special kind of love. 1Jn_4:10 may be translated: 'In this way is seen the true love.' There is a false love, and this kind of love God must reject. Love that is born out of the very essence of God must be spiritual and holy, because 'God is spirit' and 'God is light.' This true love is 'poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us' (Rom 5:5)."


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