About that time another refrain became popular: “God is love.” It’s one of the few Bible verses quoted with regularity by those who aren’t even sure God exists…but if He exists at all, He must be love. From there it’s a small step to claiming that since God is love, nobody will go to hell because a loving God would never let that happen.
Even parts of the Bible seems to support these statements. We read in I John 4, “God is love” (v. 8, 16), and “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (v. 18).
So is it true that our loving God will not punish us for our sin? Not so fast…
We sometimes forget that God is not just love, He is holy, too. His attributes can never be separated. Love and holiness. Someone once said that the love of God cannot accept what the holiness of God cannot tolerate. All the love in the universe will never make up for the stench of our sin that rises to a holy God.
There is a coming judgment. It’s not politically correct to say so, but John wrote in that same passage, “This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus” (v. 17). It’s not love that spares us from judgment, it’s what love did that spares us from judgment.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).
Love gave. Love gave.
Love reached down in the person of Jesus Christ, stepped into the darkness of a creation marred by sin, and paid the price for our sin.
God is love…and we don’t have to face the judgment that awaits all sin. Because God became a baby in a manger who grew up to be a man on a cross, we need never fear again. The perfect love of God – the perfect love that is God – has cast out fear forever.
This is why I can say with a full heart,
Are you celebrating this Christmas with the assurance that you have responded to God’s love?