God is love (1 John 4:8, King James Version). He is also all-powerful (Genesis 18:14; Luke 18:27; Revelation 19:6) and all-knowing (Psalm 139:2-6; Isaiah 40:13-14). Love inherently depends upon the presence of others and cannot be rightly revealed by one being alone. Love, when expressed in the presence of one, can only be directed to the self and would only produce pride, or self-love. Therefore, a God of love cannot exist alone.
In a sense, God is like a family — a Godhead composed of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And together, the three Persons of the Godhead are united in purpose, in power, and in perfect love (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:17). The relationships between these Three are very important, as we shall soon see.
When two beings are considered together, only two relationships exist. For example, God the Father (A) loves the Son (B) and the Son loves the Father or, simply put, A loves B and B loves A. Such relationships between two individuals cannot by themselves reveal love, for the only standard necessary to maintain relationships between two individuals is one of mutual fulfillment. A gives B something in exchange for something else in return.
Theoretically, two all-powerful and all-knowing beings could disagree while in such a relationship and still maintain perfect balance. (The eastern concept of dualism, where good and evil stand balanced in diametric opposition, is one such example.) The presence of agreement or disagreement between two perfectly matched beings does not matter in the long run, for one would never outmatch the other. As a result, there is no net difference between perfect opposition (one good being versus one bad being) and perfect cooperation (two good beings working together). The balance of the relationship would look the same. So even in a relationship between two beings, love still cannot be revealed. However, something changes when three are present.
Where two beings require only two relationships, the presence of three introduces an order of complexity. With three Members in the Godhead – the Father (A), the Son (B), and the Holy Spirit (C) – the number of relationships to be considered increases to twelve: A loves B, B loves A, A loves C, C loves A, B loves C, C loves B, A and B together love C, C loves A and B, A and C love B, B loves A and C, B and C love A, and A loves B and C.
Not only are the relationships between three all-powerful beings much more complex, but any disagreement among the three Persons of the Godhead potentially leads to imbalance, for any two could conspire to oppress the third (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). Consequently, any oppression occurring from such imbalance is incompatible with love, for the oppression of one's freedom hinders one’s freedom to express love. In other words, God would loving if He imposed His will on others or if His own will was involuntarily restricted. God avoids such oppression by voluntarily adhering to a standard of moral law committed to avoiding imbalance. Love within the Godhead, therefore, requires the existence of a law, and the existence of said law would, by extension, necessitate the proper administration of law – justice. Consequently, God must act as a Judge in order for love to exist.
Love and the Law
Truly, love can only exist within the law (Romans 13:10, Galatians 5:14). Hence, "the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (James 2:8). All other laws derive from this. This "Golden Rule" is the basis on which love exists. Freedom is not limitless, allowing one to run rampant over others. Under the Golden Rule of love, one must voluntarily limit the will only to such expressions that one would willingly receive, leading to the subjugation of the self. In other words, love is humble (1 Corinthians 13:4). When expressed through the spirit of humility, one’s love maximizes the freedom of everyone in the family in such a way that one’s own freedom is maximized in return.
This is the fundamental difference between a couple and a family, and one of the beauties of marriage. A couple in a relationship can selfishly operate on the basis of mutual satisfaction without the need for humility. However, parents operating on the same basis of mutual satisfaction will neglect their children. In order for a family to thrive, parents must humbly submit their own desires – they must sacrifice – in order to accommodate the needs of their children.
The existence of a law does not, however, make God inferior to His law. God's law is the transcript of His character, allowing Him to express to the fullest extent His righteousness and love. "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). All that is light – all that is righteousness – abides within the boundaries of God's law. Of necessity, God’s “commandment is exceeding broad” (Psalm 119:96) for it to contain the total expression of freedom and love by God Himself. Think about it. Every righteous thought, feeling and action by every angel, every creature and even God through eternity past, present, and future falls within the boundaries of God’s law. This paradox of Infinite Love existing within boundaries is a mystery which will be our science to explore in the ages to come.
Returning to the definition of love, we can now say that love is the righteous expression of God's will in a way that seeks to reproduce the free response of that same love in others. When operating within a perfect system of justice, love can then beget love in an unending cycle of giving and receiving (1 John 4:19). In short, love creates.
It is, therefore, not surprising to see contained within the message carried by the first angel of Revelation 14, a prompt that recalls our minds to the love of God as expressed through His justice and mercy:
“Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters (emphasis supplied).”
In this passage, we see the two ways in which God relates to us. God is love: He is at once our Judge and Creator.
Ken Mindoro seeks to glorify God through his music, writing, photography, teaching, and medical ministry. He has a special interest in studying the Great Controversy theme and how it functions as the skeleton framework on which hangs all biblical fundamental beliefs. He enjoys playing the saxophone, clarinet, and xaphoon and serves on medical mission trips with his wife, Audrey, and their son, Kaelen.