The beloved John wrote, “We love him because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). “By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us” (1 Jn. 3:16). “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son, the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:7-10).
God’s love is astonishingly indescribable. Even so, his love is limited in that it cannot force anyone to be saved from his sins. That is the beauty of God’s love. He has created us to be morally free in choosing right and wrong.
According to Mark, “Now as Jesus was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before him, and asked him, `Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ So Jesus said to him, `Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, God. You know the commandments.’ . . . And he answered and said to him, `Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.’ Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, `One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me.’ But he was sad at this word, and went away grieved, for he had great possessions” (10:17-22).
Notice Jesus’ love for this man. But even his love was not enough to remove the requirements necessary to be pleasing to God. He had to make an individually responsible choice. It was a choice we all must make. “But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).
There are those who deny the necessity of water baptism for the forgiveness of sins. They proclaim their absolute truth in God’s incorruptible love. Yet, they often forget that his love is incorruptible and cannot simply disregard such things as the command to be baptized for the remission of our sins (Matt. 3:13-17 vf; 28:18-20 ff; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-14; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
God’s love is magnificently beautiful and pure. It is most powerful and majestic. Even so, despite the beauty and power of God’s love, it cannot save us by itself. We must love Him too. And, if we love Him, we will keep his commandments (Jn 14:15 f; 1 Jn 5:3). Jesus commanded everyone who wants to be saved to believe and be baptized in order to be saved. He that believes not shall be condemned (Mk 16:16). Christians are commanded to continue in the doctrine of Christ and his apostles (Acts 2:42 f; 2 Jn 9). If we are faithful in this unto death, we shall be saved by the love of God through His Son Jesus Christ (Rev 2:10 f; Jn 3:16).