written by Reverend Diane Ury
When my children were small, they frequently asked crazy hard questions about the world and life. Often, I would enter into their thoughts with the reminder, “The one thing we do know is that God is always good, and He is always fair. So, starting there for sure, let’s think about this together.”
“Good and upright is the Lord; therefore, He instructs sinners in His way. He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth” (Psalm 25:8-10). God is Holy Love.
Everything we know about belonging to Jesus and living in God’s ways flows out of what the Triune God has revealed about Himself in His Word. From its beginning pages, the Bible clarifies that God is intimately loving as He formed created reality and that there are specific boundaries He designed within the cosmos. All of this He declared to be “very good” – exactly as He intended. God alone is the authority of boundaries for what is “good and evil” (Genesis 2:17).
God is Holy. Basically, this means He is the Creator, and His essence is not a part of creation. That is why some people say holy means “other.” God is transcendent. But He is not far away; He is distinct from everything that exists because He created it all. Therefore, nothing can manipulate Him. God makes the decisions about what is true. That makes me feel very safe because if I’m confused about what is good or evil, God is outside my chaos, and He is unchanging. God is faithful and has not left us in the dark about these things. No matter how unsure our thinking might be, we cannot change what He has stated in His Word.
I’ll never forget when I realized that God did not make arbitrary decisions about what is “good and evil.” God did not one day randomly appoint standards for what is truth, justice, goodness, mercy, righteousness, etc. God didn’t sit in heaven and wonder, “Hmmmm. Now that right there is going to be true, but this isn’t. And I think doing this is good, but that behavior is going to be called unrighteous.” No. Each quality is who God is! God is truth. God is justice. God is mercy. At that moment of understanding, I was overcome with relief. All these character traits have their source in the being of a personal God. They’re unchanging, loving, and right!
God pours His own nature into His commands. He is the Source from which all that is holy and right flows. His being and His actions are one. What He is and what He does are the same.
His commandments are a revelation of His nature and a promise to us, who follow them, of what He can make our nature become! Not only is God holy, but God’s people are to be holy (Numbers 16:3). “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). God’s desire is not for us merely to obey what He wills, but to do what He is!
God is Holy. And God is Love.
God is the Trinity – a communion of three distinct divine Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Even before God created anything, within this Triune Life there was mutual, other-oriented love between these Persons. That is why the Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). This reality is much more powerful than the idea that “God is loving.” Caring more about others than He does about Himself is not simply the way God acts; it’s Who He is.
As Christians, I can’t think of anything more important than this for us to be absolutely sure about. What this means is that in the Bible—our only authority for life—every single thing God has done flows from His Love. All that He commands, even if it cuts against our natural inclinations, flows out of His loving understanding of what is best for us.
Jesus has made a way for us to live abundantly. “Abide in My Love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My Love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His Love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:9-11).
Salvationists live within the joy of knowing that God is Holy Love. Without discrimination, we offer the world this complete Savior. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before Your face. How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O Lord, they walk in the light of Your countenance” (Ps. 89:14-15). His standards of righteousness never change. His lovingkindness and mercy are the essences from which justice and truth flow. He desires only what is good for everyone. His commands are guides to walk in His ways, which are always and only for everyone’s best, keeping us from the evil that would sneak in to destroy us. Holy Love is the design of our Creator and the only way for us to flourish.
All of us can become people of Holy Love. Wouldn’t our world be so grateful if we did? “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is Love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in them. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:16-17).
Give your whole life to Jesus, and He will fill you with His Life of Holy Love!