1 John 4:8
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Affections Essential to the Moral Perfection of the DeityN. Emmons, D. D.1 John 4:8
God Always Love1 John 4:8
God and LoveJ. M. Gibbon.1 John 4:8
God is LoveM. G. Pearse.1 John 4:8
God's Love ChangelessW. G. Pascoe.1 John 4:8
God's Love UnfathomableH. W. Beecher.1 John 4:8
Originating LoveJ. Vaughan, M. A.1 John 4:8
Our Salvation Intelligible in the Light of God's LoveJ. Morlais Jones.1 John 4:8
The Love of GodA. Bonar.1 John 4:8
The Love of God Manifested by the Sending of His SonBp. Mant.1 John 4:8
The Love of God: the God of LoveMark Guy Pearse.1 John 4:8
The Love of the EternalW. J. Hocking.1 John 4:8
The Loving Heart the Faculty for Knowing GodHomilist1 John 4:8
A Triune PhilosophyB. J. Snell, M. A.1 John 4:7-10
Brotherly LoveD. Rhys Jenkins.1 John 4:7-10
Christian LoveH. W. Beecher.1 John 4:7-10
Christian LoveJ. C. French.1 John 4:7-10
God's Existence and LoveBp. Harvey Goodwin.1 John 4:7-10
Knowing God by LoveJ. E. Rankin, D. D.1 John 4:7-10
Love and KnowledgeJ. M. Gibbon.1 John 4:7-10
Love and ReligionJ. M. Gibbon.1 John 4:7-10
Love is of GodBp. Stevens.1 John 4:7-10
Love is of God -- God is LoveR. S. Candlish, D. D.1 John 4:7-10
Love of Relations and FriendsJ. H. Newman, D. D.1 John 4:7-10
Love the Organ of the Highest KnowledgeChristian Weekly1 John 4:7-10
Only Love Can Know LoveGeo. Thompson.1 John 4:7-10
The Lessons of LoveH. M. Butler, D. D.1 John 4:7-10
The Love of GodJ. Morgan, D. D.1 John 4:7-10
The Voice of God Through Human LoveC. Voysey.1 John 4:7-10
Threefold Recommendation of the Duty of Loving One AnotherR. Finlayson 1 John 4:7-21

I. THE DUTY RECOMMENDED, FROM LOVE HAVING ITS ORIGIN IN GOD. The duty enjoined. "Beloved, let us love one another." John has a winning way of urging duty, addressing his readers as objec

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love
Is God knowable? The answer is no — and yes. No, He is not knowable to the intellect, with its prying and searching; provable, perhaps, but not knowable. Yes, He is knowable indeed to the heart. It is a poor kind of love that depends for its proof upon the skill of the logician. The love is lost by default that must hire counsel to take up its case and eloquently contend for its existence. Love must tell its own story, and carry its own proof. This loftiest knowledge dwells not with intellectual strength. See how the Lord Jesus Christ recognises this truth, and. bases all prayer upon it. "Our Father which art in heaven." The relationship which is the strongest possible claim upon help and love is to be transferred to God. "Our Father" — what does it mean but that He is bending over us to pity us and to help us; to teach us and to make us good; glad indeed when we do well? This is the first step and beginning of the know ledge of God. Let us try to think how otherwise we can know God. Tell me of Him as the Omniscient — the All-wise. How can I know what that means? I know only by what I am conscious of in myself, or by what I see about me. But within me or about me what is there that can teach me of the All-wise? I am only bewildered as I hear of such an One — I know Him not. I hear of the Almighty, but what does it mean? I judge of strength by my own arm, or by the winds and angry seas; or by the power of human mechanism. In all these I can see only matter overcoming matter. I have nothing by which to know the Omnipotent. I hear of the Self-existent, the Independent. What is that? I see all things depending alike for their source and their sustenance upon others. What then can I know of Him whose name is "I Am"? And if I turn from these aspects to the moral character of God, I am yet more bewildered. Tell me of the righteousness of God. Sin has put out the eyes by which I can see true righteousness; and perhaps as much in mercy as in punishment. But think again. If I did know all this about God, I should not know Him. Vastness, immensity, knowledge, power, leave me as utterly as ever a stranger to God. But tell me that He is love — that what love is, that is God — then I know Him. I know now how He feels and thinks and acts. I know now how to come to Him, and to speak to Him. Now do I know Himself when I know that He is love. He that loveth knoweth God — look at this faculty within us by. which we know God. Love is ours as nothing else is ours. The slow and irksome toil of learning is not needful for love. The dullest scholar may be a very master of this art, and the most unlettered may read aright the signs and mysteries of love.

(Mark Guy Pearse.)

I. The loving heart, not the INQUIRING INTELLECT.

II. The loving heart, not the CREATIVE IMAGINATION. Imagination has swept the universe, and yet failed to discover God.

III. The loving heart, not the EXCITED CONSCIENCE. The excited conscience has formulated a God, but it has been a God of vengeance, wrath, and fury. God is only known to the loving. If I know the controlling feelings of a being, I know him, though I may be ignorant of his person and his history. Profoundly philosophical, therefore, is the statement that "He that loveth not, knoweth not God."


There is singular force in the expression "God is love." He does not say that God is benevolent, or kind, or merciful, or compassionate, or affectionate: he does not say that God is a Being of infinite goodness, or mercy, or loving kindness: but, as if he intended to magnify above measure this most adorable of the Divine attributes, he pronounces Him to be the quality in the abstract, and thus, as it were, identifies the Godhead with love.

I. With respect to THAT BEING WHOM WE CALL GOD, infinite as He is in all His perfections, our limited understandings can comprehend only a very small portion of His excellence. "The heaven of heavens cannot contain Him": still less can His nature be compassed by the little span of the human mind. Yet of this much we are assured, that His power is such, as to be incapable of being controlled, and that His happiness is such, that nothing can enhance or augment it. And these are two of the Divine attributes which, when we reflect on the Godhead by Himself, tend most satisfactorily to prove His benevolence in condescending to interfere for the salvation of mankind.

II. From the Sender, let us turn our thoughts to HIM WHO WAS SENT. "God sent His only begotten Son." The greatest trial which human nature can sustain is perhaps the loss of a son, of an only son.

III. AND WHITHER WAS HE SENT? He was sent into a world which was altogether "lying in wickedness." How unbounded, in this respect again, how great, how disinterested appears the love of God!

IV. Let us not forget THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH HE WAS SENT, as a farther testimony that God is love. "He was sent that we might live through Him": for us men, and for our salvation He came down from heaven. And as the love of God is thus manifested, in that we were His enemies, for whose salvation His Son was sent, so is it, more over, manifested by the greatness of the salvation, which was wrought by His coming: a salvation great in every particular respect; great in respect to its extent; great in respect of the deliverance which it affords; great in respect to the means of grace which it now affords us, and of the all-sufficient aid of Christ's Holy Spirit to overcome our natural weakness and corruption; and great in respect of the hope of everlasting glory which it reveals to those who shall hereafter be admitted into His presence.

(Bp. Mant.)

I. IN THE SIGHT OF GOD MAN IS A BEING OF UNSPEAKABLE WORTH. And the fact is only intelligible in the light of this first fact, "God is love." It is very easy to prove the insignificance of man. The scientist, for instance, traces him to the ape, and says, "This is where he came from"; or he dissects his brain, and says, "Thought, emotion, love, imagination, poetry, worship — see the marks of every one of them upon this material tablet, which we call the brain." And this gospel story the cynic indulges in cheap sneers at it, and asks if you are going to make an angel out of this sorry being with his vulgar appetites and animal lusts. The sober-minded Deist, out of pure reverence for God, he thinks, refuses to believe the story. That the infinite God should concern Himself with man and his paltry destiny is incredible. And it is incredible. Man is so small, mean, ignoble, unworthy, until you read his story with the eyes of love; until you remember this — "God is love." But every mother will waste the wealth of her brave heart upon the boy in whom no one but herself can see one sign of grace or virtue. But it is a luxury to her to serve him. The man who believes in no prophet but the political economist thinks that Christian philanthropy is sheer infatuation, sheer waste of human energy. And so it is to everything but love. Love sees worth in what to every other eye is contemptible. The poorest, most sin-sodden is to God a mirror in which He sees Himself. Beautiful, of infinite worth to Him! Divine in Him, for "God is love."


1. The good of man includes the whole man. It includes the body. To preach the gospel of health is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. God intended us to die as the ripe fruit falls from the tree. The physician is God's servant, as well as the preacher. It includes the mind. God claims every pure-minded writer as His workman. It includes the sunniest as well as the gloomiest sides of human life. The frosts of winter work for the harvest.

2. But these things are preliminaries. They exist merely for the sake of a greater thing than themselves. Beyond these there is something still sacreder and more precious — the spirit. Here man finds his most perfect good, and God works through every other good to this. There lies the difference between Divine love and human love. We ignore the highest for the sake of the lowest. We ruin our children in the name of the vulgarest and ignoblest thing in them, and we imagine that to be love. The child's native indolence grumbles against the drill and what he calls the hard work of the school. "Poor overtaxed boy!" says the mother; "I must not permit it"; and he grows up with a flabby mind that is not fit for such a world as this. I often saw in Upper Egypt an ancient temple pulled to pieces to build a village of hovels. I have seen a band of roving gypsies tear down the exquisitely carved panels of an old palace to light a fire to boil their kettle with. And I have seen young people take the studies in which they had been long immersed, and with them light the fires of sordid pleasures and the many foolishnesses of fashionable life. We Use the highest to light the lowest. Not so God. God also has His fire; and the fire is your religious life. And God uses your whole soul, your whole nature, to supply fuel for that fire. Your intellectual life; you read, you think; but you read and think that you may have fuel for the fire. You go through the drill of your daily work, you wrestle with temptations; it is fuel for the fire. You join hands with others in the joy of worship. The Word of God feeds you, the common hymn and the common prayer thrill you; it is all fuel for the fire. This is man's highest good as God reads it; this God feeds, for "God is love."

III. GOD HAS MADE SUFFICIENT PROVISION TO SECURE EVERY MAN'S HIGHEST GOOD. There is a very famous English poem — of course you know who wrote it — it is called "Pictor Ignotus," the painter who chose to remain unknown; the man of genius, the born painter, who refused to paint because men would not understand, would not properly appreciate his work. He would never degrade the genius that was in him by pandering to vulgar wealth. But that is not the noblest genius. Real genius must express itself, even for its own sake. Forgive the illustration. God must express Himself for His own sake. God has poured out the wealth of His redemption. We may reject it or receive it: God must give it. He has been telling it unweariedly through the ages. Men have rejected it, treated it with contempt. It matters not: to God to tell Himself was a necessity, for "God is love."

1. In the redemption of man God has found a work by which He manfully express Himself. Men talk of the wonders of nature. They often become so absorbed in nature that they have no wish to look beyond it. But these were the mere trifles of God's works. God had never been able to tell Himself in these. But Christ came; Calvary came. This is God; this was the solution of the world's problem: God had told Himself at last. Pardon, hope, life, for all the world; the break of the eternal day. This is God.

2. The love of God makes it all credible. It would be impossible to believe it did we not know that "God is love." Everyone believes the Bible to be a marvellous book. It is when you speak of the Cross, when you speak of the "Lamb of God," of the sins of the world being laid upon Him, that men begin to hesitate and stammer. "No, no; that is incredible; that can never be," they say. But love — the love of God — makes even that — makes every item of the story credible. I have seen the miracles that love works. The Cross shall be forever the symbol of love's perfect triumph. It was love, it was love that did it. "God is love."

IV. GOD WILL WORK OUT THE PROVISIONS THAT HE HAS MADE SO THAT THEY SHALL NOT MISS WHAT THEY AIM AT. Set it down as a certainty that God's love will win, that the gospel of love will tell. This love often uses terrible means to secure its purpose. Do not miss that. Not terrible means for the sake of using them, but terrible means because it will not submit to be beaten. Terrible disasters require terrible remedies; but he who can use terrible remedies, loves. So is it with some of you. You have been sore tried; hut God set so much store upon the design He is cutting into you, that He may set you in the fire even yet. He will not miss His aim; for "God is love."

(J. Morlais Jones.)

God is perfect love, all His affections are pure and clear as the crystal stream.

1. Benevolent affections form the moral beauty of the Divine character. God is love. His independence, almighty power, and unerring wisdom are mere natural perfections; but His benevolent feelings are moral beauties.

2. Men are required to imitate their heavenly Father. Power, wisdom, and all the natural perfections of the Deity are above imitation. There is nothing in the nature of God which any of His creatures can imitate, except His benevolent feelings.

3. The Scriptures ascribe affections to God in the most plain and unequivocal terms.(1) It may be said that the passages which ascribe affections to God are figurative, and ought not to be taken in a literal sense. We are never to depart from the literal sense of Scripture, without some apparent necessity.(2) It may be said that affections are painful, and consequently cannot belong to God, who is perfectly happy. It is true, affections are always painful when they cannot be gratified; and this is often the case among mankind. But since all the affections of the Deity are only different modifications of pure, disinterested benevolence, they admit of a constant and perfect gratification, and always afford him a source of complete and permanent felicity.(3) It may be asked, "How is this notion of Divine affections compatible with that perfect immutability and simplicity which all divines ascribed to the Deity?" We may observe here that there is a plain distinction between such a mutability as does, and such a mutability as does not, imply imperfection. If a man who was a sinner yesterday becomes a saint today, it implies no imperfection in God to change His affections towards that person.Improvement: —

1. This subject may give us some faint conceptions of the strength and ardency of the Divine affections.

2. In the view of this subject we may discover what it was which moved God to the work of creation.

3. It appears from what has been said that God is pleased with the existence of everything which takes place in the universe. His heart is in all His works.

4. This subject suggests matter of great consolation to those who are interested in the Divine favour.

5. This subject warns sinners to flee from the wrath to come.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

I. In the first place, I think we should take this text as it stands — as being literally and completely true. It needs no qualification, admits of no complement. That "God is love" is not one side of the truth, but the whole truth, about God. No addition is possible. The leaf, we are told, is the stem expanded — the stem is the leaf closed. This text is theology closed. All theology is this text expanded.

II. We are to take it as true of God at all times and in all places. Nothing but love has ever reigned on the throne of creation; nothing but love ever will reign. Christ did not create, He revealed, the love of God. The love of God has no shallows. It is equally deep everywhere — Calvary deep Wherever you try it.

III. "God is love." When? Always. "God is love!" Where? Everywhere. Love built heaven. Love made earth. Love made hell; and its pains are the measure of God's love for goodness — its flames are love on fire.

IV. Now, one word as to the effect this revelation ought to have on us. One effect is joy. This text, if we believe it, will assuage our sorrow, lighten our hearts, and brighten our lives. "God is love," I say. "Of course!" you say. How commonplace! But look into old creeds, look into modern philosophy, where God is Force without heart, and Law without pity. Look at your own lives, at the records on the pages of memory. Are you not glad for your own sakes that God is love?

(J. M. Gibbon.)


II. MAN'S PRESUMPTUOUS CRITICISM. St. John's statement does not imply that love's activities are necessarily in accordance with human conceptions of love. Who art thou, O man, with thy limited perception, blind to all the future — who art thou, that thou darest to say what infinite, omniscient, eternal love ought to do? As well expect the fly that crawls on the dome of this majestic cathedral to interpret the purposes and methods, the disposition and attributes of the architect. Do not expect that because God is love you are going to understand all that God is doing around you and for you. It may be a token of the greatest love that you know nothing of it.

III. INDULGENCE NOT LOVE. It is the office of love to seek the final good of its object; to bless the object rather than pamper it; to raise and ennoble and glorify it rather than minister to its passing whims and caprices. Does not this thought interpret some of the mysteries of life to us? Does it not let in daylight and sunlight upon the dark experiences of this sorrowing earth?

(W. J. Hocking.)

God has many attributes, and we see Him and adore Him under many aspects; but the essence of Deity is single, and His being is "love"! Other things He does, but this He is. And observe the power of the present tense. It is not, "God was," or "God will be," but now, — in an eternal and unchanging now, — "yesterday, today, and forever," — "God is love!" Take the sweetest moment of your whole life, — take the moment of the greatest manifestation of God's goodness that has ever been seen in this world, and it is the very same now, unshaded, undimmed; no sins of yours will alter it. Doubtless there are difficulties. The brightest lights throw the deepest shadows. But the mists which cloud the summer morning are only made to melt into the sweeter noonday brightness. "Was it love," a man says, "to make man, and then let him fall into sin and misery?" The answer is two-fold. First, man was made a free agent. This was a first principle in the creation of this world. Secondly, man, the whole race of man, is better for the fall. Had man not fallen, Christ would not have come to this world. But another objects: — "See all the suffering and wretchedness there is now in this world — how is that consistent with the Divine government of love?" First, all the suffering, in the main, is man's own fault. The suffering is the result, directly, or indirectly, of voluntary sin, which might have been avoided. But secondly, this world, having fallen, is now passing under discipline and training for another and better world; and the suffering is the discipline essential to the educating processes of the present life. Thirdly, if there are degrees in glory, the degree of the glory must depend on the degree of the grace; and, to a great extent, the degree of the grace is dependent on the degree of the schooling. But I hear it said again, "Why has God left such a vast proportion of the inhabitants of this earth ignorant of Christ, and of the way of salvation?" God has not left them ignorant. He willed and provided that "all should know Him." He commanded His people from the very first, to "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Had we done our duty, all would have been right, and this whole world have been evangelised. And we believe that the heathen who have not known God will not be judged as we shall be. Everyone will be judged according to his knowledge and his conscience. But, leaving all these cavils, let us look at this matter very practically. At this moment there is not a person — whatever his past might have been, or whatever his present is — who might not, this very day, be freely and perfectly forgiven, and be quite happy. He might have the sweetest peace, and perfect assurance in his mind. He might be quite confident of the love, the infinite love of God. He has a Father, a tender, loving Father in heaven. Treat God as "Love," and you will find Him "Love." But remember "love" is sensitive. "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way/' If you wish a picture of God in your mind, study the "father" in the parable of the prodigal. If "God is love," may I not say, "Love is God"? The highest characteristic of our religion is "love." If you have no love, you have no God! The measure of the "love" is the measure of the "God."

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I. This emphatic description refers to THE NATURE, as well as to the operations of God.

II. The truth of the assertion, that God is love, appears in His PROVIDENTIAL DEALINGS with the children of men.

III. IN THE REDEMPTION OF MANKIND our Lord has displayed the full glories of His love.

IV. The truth of the assertion appears with peculiar evidence, by tracing THE DEALINGS AND METHODS OF HIS GRACE towards every individual who has interest in the Saviour. CONCLUSION:

1. Let me address careless sinners in the language of warning and reproof.

2. Let me address those who, drawn by the attractions of Divine love and redeeming grace, are saying in sincerity, "Whatever others do, we will serve the Lord."(1) Submit, without murmuring, to the various dispensations of His providence.(2) Love this God with supreme regard and gratitude.(3) Imitate this God of love, and seek, through grace, to resemble your heavenly Father.(4) Is that glorious Jehovah, to whom you have devoted your hearts and lives, indeed the God of love? Then recommend Him as such to your friends and families while you are on earth, and long to be with Him in the heaven of heavens.

(A. Bonar.)

A briefer sentence it would be difficult to find; yet how infinitely vast and wonderful is the truth which lies within its compass! The very centre and source of all things. Although this is the one truth about God which we can know, yet it is the last truth which we accept. Most men believe in the existence of God, in His power, in His wisdom. There are others who vaguely believe that He is good and kind. But there are few men who really think of God as love. And very many spend their time in putting up fences and limits to the love of God, as if it were beset with statutes, and thoughts of precedents, and dread of presumption. Would that we believed it as God has taught it in His Word! The great power in the world to redeem men, to uplift, to ennoble men, is the power of love. To love, to be loved, is a restraint, a constraint, a transformation. Love is the true salvation. And yet what can it avail to tell of love? Words may do for some things, but to hold love they are too little, too shallow, too coarse, too cold. And even if words could tell of it, who were the richer for hearing them? What avails to tell a hungry man of a banquet? To see and not to have may be an agony. A sermon about the love of God, if it be a sermon only, is a stone that mocks one's hunger. The love of God is ours not in words only, but ours in deed and in truth; ours to accept it; to rest in it; to delight in it. How then may we make it ours? Well, take the words and brood over them until the very Spirit of God speaks them to the heart. "God is His own interpreter" — and only love can tell of love. To its anointed eye all things are revelations and emblems, and to its tuned heart every breath is music. Love is not to a crowd; compassion, pity there may be for a multitude, but love is separate; it is personal; it is distinct and peculiar. God's love is like His sunlight, diffused throughout the heaven, catching the heights of the hills and crowning them with ruddy gold and clothing them in purple. So it seems to us an easy and a natural thing for God to love some people; outstanding men and women whose goodness might make them dear to Him. But this is not all that the sun does. It climbs higher that it may creep lower — down the hillsides further and further, until it lifts the mists of the valley and covers the meadows with its glory; and kisses the daisy and fills its cup with gold, and puts energy and strength into its very heart. God loves the good, the true, the pure, but His love rises higher that it may come down lower; and He loves me — me. Do not grieve Him any longer by doubting it. God is love. Is — eternity lies within the compass of that little word.

(M. G. Pearse.)

I know what it means to love; but I have no conception what love is when it rolls in the bosom of an infinite God. I know what light is as it shines from my candle, but do I know what the sun is from that? I know what water is when I take a drop of it in my tumbler, but do I know the thunder of the ocean from that? I know that when I see God He will be wise; but how little do I know of the wisdom of God? I know that He will be a God of love, but oh! how little do I know of the extent and grandeur of that love! How imperfect are my slender ideas as means by which to fashion this supremest attribute of the infinite and eternal God. It is by these qualities that I know my God; but I know Him only by specimens — by small samples. My conceptions of Him are imperfect.

(H. W. Beecher.)

"God is love," was the motto on a weathercock. The owner on being asked "if he meant to imply that the love of God was as fickle as the wind?" replied, "No, I mean which ever way the wind blows, God is love; if cold from the north, or biting from the east, still God is love as much as when the warm south, or genial west wind refreshes our fields and flocks." Yes, so it is; our God is always love.

You have seen the stream that in summer was broad and flowing, in winter covered with a thick coating of ice; but God's love is a stream that never freezes. You have seen the fountains that in winter, when the springs were active, had an abundant supply of water, but when summer came with its drought, were dry; God's love, however, is a fountain that never becomes dry. You have seen the sun pour a flood of golden beams upon the earth through the live long day, and set in. darkness as night approached; but God's love is a sun that never sets. You shall see the world burning, and the stars drop from their orbits, and the heavens be rolled up like a scroll; but God's love lasts forever and ever.

(W. G. Pascoe.)

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