Do you know what real love is?
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).
In this passage from the Bible, the apostle Paul celebrates the love of God. This is a far-reaching and lavish love beyond anything we can imagine. God's love for us is the most overwhelming concept in Christianity, and the greatest news a person could ever hear. Let's explore this love by considering what the Bible says about it.
God's Love Has No Cause
The verses above show that God's love for us is causeless. Since we are "ungodly" and "sinners," a holy God can find nothing to love in us. We may find each other lovable to some extent, and of course we have no trouble loving ourselves. But God does not find us lovable. Why? Because He is a perfect and holy God, and we are ungodly sinners. He requires nothing less than perfection, and yet even our best behavior and our kindest deeds are tainted and ruined by our sin (see Isaiah 64:6).
That's why Paul says that we are "without strength." We are morally helpless, and altogether powerless to do anything to please God. We are without strength to overcome sin, helpless before Satan, and unable to live righteously.
Can you see now why God's love must be causeless? We are sinners who disobey God whenever we please. And since each act of disobedience is an act of hostility, we are actually God's enemies. We are the very opposite of Him, absolutely unlovable. But God loves us! Who can understand this love?
God's Love Knows No Bounds
It is even more amazing to realize that God's love for us knows no bounds! Since our sins so offend Him, we would understand if God's love to us were weak and unenthusiastic. Yet God loves us deeply. All of the gifts that God showers upon us (like health, food, family, and fulfillment) prove that. But God's love goes far beyond such gifts. His love for us is so great that when the right time came, Christ died. God gave us His Son, the greatest treasure of His heart. He gave up His Son to torture and to death for us.
Human love knows nothing even close to this. As Paul notes, at rare moments in history good men have sacrificed their lives for others. Very rarely, people have willingly died for men whom they respected — generous, kind, upright, and admirable men. But nobody dies for an enemy. Nobody gives up his life for a vile person. Nobody but God.
God's Love Provided Salvation
No matter how much God loves us, we can be sure of this: He would never squander His Son for no purpose. God would never have given up His Son to death unless something great would come of it — something great for you and me. God's love provided salvation. Christ died for the ungodly — for us. His death was not a display of love that shone brightly for a while and then fizzled out.
The gospel is the good news about what God's love has provided for us. The simple principle behind salvation is substitution. Christ died for us — in our place, instead of us. He bore the punishment that sin deserved; He died the death that God required. And today, God offers to save you by applying the work of Christ to your personal situation.
God compares this good news to a great feast, and He says, "Come, for all things are now ready" (Luke 24:17). You say, "I have never accepted God's invitation, but I see my need for salvation as a sinner. I would like to be saved. But how? I know how to eat a feast — I just pick up a knife and fork and start. But I don't know how to receive salvation." The Bible answers your question. "What must I do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:30-31). God simply asks you to trust His Son as your Savior. Receive Him by a simple act of trust and dependence. Come to Christ personally sorry for your sins, personally trusting Him as Savior, and personally submitting to Him as Lord. Christ Himself will save you — if you are willing to depend on Him alone.
But what about those who refuse? God has said, "Not one of those men who were invited shall taste of my supper" (Luke 14:24). Those who refuse Christ will be separated from God in hell for all eternity (Revelation 20:15).