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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