Why do we love God?

In giv­ing an ear to TULIP the­ol­o­gy, many vers­es of the Bible are stand­ing out in new and excit­ing ways, often-reaf­firm­ing the Reformed doc­trines. The most recent is 1 John 4:19.

We love Him because he first loved us.

Think about that for a sec­ond. Why do we love God? Free-will demands that we love God because we choose to for what­ev­er rea­sons we have, but the Bible does not say that. The Bible says that we love God because He first loved us. That is the rea­son the Bible gives.

If I was ever asked why I loved God, I prob­a­bly would have said some­thing like “Because He’s good,” but that isn’t the rea­son. The rea­son I love God, accord­ing to God, is because He first loved me. Now, the rea­son for His love might be because He is good, but that isn’t the cause of my love for Him.

The rea­son I love God is because He first loved me. I know I’m repeat­ing that, but it is impor­tant to let your mind wrap around that. If God did­n’t love you, you would not love Him, and because God does love you, you love Him.

Per­haps you are think­ing, “But God said that He loved the whole world, and so He sent His Son to die for every­one.” Indeed, God did say He loved the world. But not every­one loves God, so how do we square 1 John 4:19 with John 3:16?

I pro­pose that Rev­e­la­tion 5:9 is a great cross-ref­er­ence to John 3:16.

And they sang a new song, say­ing: “You are wor­thy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and peo­ple and nation.”

Christ was slain and redeems to Him­self a group of peo­ple rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the whole world, for these peo­ple come out of “every tribe and tongue and peo­ple and nation.” Rev­e­la­tion 5:9 expands on “the world” of John 3:16.

It could be stat­ed like this: “God loved a group which He has cho­sen out of every tribe and tongue and peo­ple and nation of the world that He gave His only begot­ten Son to be slain for them, redeem­ing them to God by His blood.”

And because God loves that group of peo­ple, they love God.

There is a con­trast formed between those who believe and love God and those who reject and hate God. On the one hand, it is said that those who love God do so because He first loved them. On the oth­er hand, those who hate God do so because their deeds are evil (John 3:19).

The saved per­son loves God because God loves him. The rea­son is not any­thing he can control–no free will is involved.

The lost per­son hates God because his deeds are evil. He can­not help that his deeds are evil and so it is not any­thing he can control–no free will is involved.

The fact that all those who God loves love Him seems to direct­ly par­al­lel John 6:36, which states that all who the Father draws to Christ will not only come to Him, but will not be reject­ed when they do come. It all begins with God; our sal­va­tion is a direct result of His will, His work. And we love Him for it.

2 thoughts on “Why do we love God?”

  1. You’ve always got some­thing insight­ful. I’ve heard the 1 John verse, but it nev­er real­ly reg­is­tered a sec­ond thought in my mind. Inter­est­ing­ly though, the NIV ver­sion trans­lates that pas­sage as “We love because he first loved us.” Not just the NIV trans­lates it that way, but many ver­sions trans­late it that way…

    What’s going on with that? Those def­i­nite­ly mean two dif­fer­ent things.

  2. Col­in, “him” and “he” in the verse from the trans­la­tion I quot­ed above come from the same Greek word. The Tex­tus Recep­tus con­tains two instances of that word; the West­cott-Hort Text does not. I’m not sure about the Major­i­ty Text or any of the vari­ants, but that is why there is a difference.

    Either way, it would seem that the verse is talk­ing about lov­ing God whether the “him” is there or not. Most lost peo­ple love others–their neigh­bors, etc. Many go to great lengths to express that love–Ghandi comes to mind.

    But to love God takes a spe­cial divine act–His first lov­ing us.

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Rick Beckman