Vol.XI No.V Pg.6
July 1974

Barclay, On 1 Jn. 4:8

Robert F. Turner

From The Letters of John and Jude by William Barclay. (1 Jn. 4:8)

God is love. It is amazing how many doors that single statement unlocks, and to see to how many questions it is the answer

1. It is the explanation of creation.... Why should God create a world which was to bring Him nothing but trouble? The answer is that God created the world because creation is essential to the very nature of God. If God is love, it means that God cannot exist in lonely isolation. Love, to be love, must have someone to love, and someone to love it. Gods act of creation was a necessity of His divine nature, because, being love, it was necessary for God to have someone whom He might love, and who might love Him.

2. It is the explanation of freewill. Unless love is a free response it is not love. There can be no love which is not spontaneous love. Had God been only law He could have created a world In which men moved like automata, constantly obedient to the laws of the universe and of God because they had no more choice than a machine has. But, if God had made men like that, there would have been no possibility of a personal relationship between God and man. Love is of necessity the free choice and the free response of the heart; and therefore, before men could love God in any real sense of the term, their wills had to be free; and therefore, God, by a deliberate act of self-limitation, had to endow men with free will that the very purpose of creation might be fulfilled. 3. It is the explanation of providence. Had God been simply mind and order and law, He might, so to speak, have created the universe, wound it up, set it going, and left it. He might have used it as a man uses a machine, never paying any regard to it unless something goes wrong.. . . But because God is love, His creating act is followed by His constant care. He not only created the world; His love for ever sustains, upholds and broods over the world of His love.

4. It is the explanation of redemption. If God were only law and justice, He would simply leave men to the consequences of their sin. The moral law would operate; the soul that sinned would die; and the eternal justice would inexorably handout its rewards and punishments. But the very fact that God is love means that God must seek and save that which is lost. He must find a remedy for sin, and a cure for the sickness of the soul. It is impossible totally to kill the love of a parent for a child and God is the Father of men.

5. It is the explanation of the life beyond. If God were simply creator, then men might live their brief span and die for ever. The life which ended too soon would be only another flower which the frost of death had withered too soon. But the very fact that God is love makes it certain that the chances and the changes of life have not the last word, but that there is a love of God which will readjust the balance of this life.