“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love.” (1 John 4:16)
It is said that the most quoted verse in all the Bible is the passage in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Surely that is a magnificent testimony to the love God has for us, and without it none of us would know God. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
But God “loved righteousness, and hated iniquity” (Hebrews 1:9). How is it that God “commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)? “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Human love is usually reciprocal. That is, we love if and when we are loved in return. Yet those of us who are twice-born are commanded to love each other, and the godly husband is expected to love his wife like the Lord Jesus unilaterally loved the church. But that kind of love is not normal—it is God’s love in us. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:7).
The English word “love” in its various forms appears over 700 times in the Bible. The vast majority of those references do not attempt to describe God’s love. They focus either on our responsibility to “love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5) or “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:8).
Evidently, we experience God’s love when we are saved and are under obligation to show it as we “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). HMM III