There are many descriptions of God in the Scriptures but the two most succinct ones are found in 1 John 4:8 “God is love” and 1 John 1:5 “God is light.” Do these words help us to understand God? The answer can be yes, or no, depending on what we understand them to mean. As with everything, we tend to define terms according to our own individual human experiences and ideas. This we must not do.

When studying about God it is very important that first we go to the Scriptures, the word of God. Secondly, that we let Scripture define its own words and terms. When we do the contrary, we may run into trouble and come to conclusions that are completely opposite to what was originally intended. For instance, words such as “sin,” “iniquity,” “lawlessness,” and terms as “the wrath of God” or “God’s strange act”—all such terms are Scripture terms, and we must allow the Scriptures to define them.

We also must keep in mind as we read the Scriptures that there is a “grand central theme” running through the Bible—the great controversy, the war, the polemic between Michael and “the great red dragon,” and that this warfare has had a direct impact on how we see God and which side of this war we ourselves are standing:

The Bible is its own expositor. Scripture is to be compared with scripture. The student should learn to view the word as a whole and to see the relation of its parts. He should gain a knowledge of its grand central theme—of God’s original purpose for the world, of the rise of the great controversy, and of the work of redemption. He should understand the nature of the two principles that are contending for the supremacy, and should learn to trace their working through the records of history and prophecy to the great consummation. He should see how this controversy enters into every phase of human experience; how in every act of life he himself reveals the one or the other of the two antagonistic motives; and how, whether he will or not, he is even now deciding upon which side of the controversy he will be found {CT 462.1, emphasis added}.

Notice this statement: “He should understand the nature of the two principles that are contending for the supremacy, and should learn to trace their working through the records of history and prophecy to the great consummation.” What are these “two principles contending for supremacy”? How do they enter “into every phase of human experience”? How are they “antagonistic” towards each other? Have we missed something about this great controversy? From this quote it appears that these two principles are the central issue here, so we are going to explore them in detail as we progress. We will start with God and His principle, which is one of the “two antagonistic motives” mentioned above.

How do we define the very words used to explain God? What is love? What is light? What do these words mean according to the Bible?

In the New Testament the word “love” comes from the Greek word agape. Agape has been translated in some Bible versions as “love” and in others as “charity.” Agape is the word that Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament writers used when referring to a particular kind of love—a love peculiar to God. This love is completely different from the types of love most of us are familiar with. We will study this word soon, but for now, we want to dwell on the fact that God is love—God is agape love.

As we examine the statement “God is love,” we notice that the Apostle John’s syntax is very telling. He says, “God is love.” He does not say, “God has love.” To be love is very different from to have love. This is a significant distinction, and John’s use of the language indicates he is trying to bring to our attention that love, agape love, is God’s very essence, and not merely one of His attributes.

Agape love is the very essence of God’s being. Thus, it is also the eternal moral law by which He rules His entire creation. God’s law of love is His supreme, unchangeable law from eternity past. Why is that?

God is the Creator of all things and therefore He is above all things. As the Creator, He has the right to not only construct the hardware of His creation but to determine its operating systems and set its parameters, the rules by which it operates. Whatever God creates reflects who He is—His creation expresses His heart and mind and reveals His character. Since agape love is His very essence, there is nothing greater than agape. Therefore, nothing can surpass the absolute supremacy of God’s law of agape love. God imbued all His creatures with the ability to live eternally—but that is possible only when they conform to agape love.

Some of us are confused by the distinction between God’s essence and His attributes. If His essence is agape love, then what are His attributes? God’s attributes are a reflection of His love; they are the different ways in which His love becomes visible. His attributes are the outworking of His character, His essence, His law of love; thus, they must always be in harmony with His essence of agape love.

The Bible says that God is immutable, unchangeable. Malachi 3:6 states “For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore, you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob;” and Hebrews 13:8 reads, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Immutability is one of God’s attributes. These verses tell us that God always acts and reacts according to His character of agape love. Thus God’s character is singular, not dualistic.

Since God does not change, this means that He must always remain true to His character of love, even when faced with evil. If God is immutable then He can never operate outside the parameters of love. That means His law of love also does not change. And since God is eternal, so is His law of love. These are the ultimate truths about God.

One could say God is pure agape. But saying “pure agape” is redundant be- cause by definition agape is pure, unadulterated, uncorrupted, unmixed. In the Bible, God’s purity and singleness of character is defined by the word “holy.” In both the Hebrew and Greek languages, this word means to be clean, morally clean, without impurity. Biblically speaking then, this is the opposite of the word “corrupt,” the very word that characterizes Satan’s principles.

Only God is holy. His character is single, unadulterated and without mixture. Thus, as a God of agape love, the Creator cannot use opposing, or mixed principles—that would be an oxymoron. In other words, God cannot be one way one moment and a different way the next, or He would be inconsistent, unreliable, untrustworthy, and changeable. God does not have a split personality in which good and evil are mingled. “Purity” sets God apart from all of us who have “eaten” of the mixture contained in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

This idea of purity is also expressed in the Bible through the meta- phors of light and darkness. The Scriptures say:

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).


The words “light,” “purity” and “holy” all express the same thing about God: that His character is constituted of a singular motive, which is agape love.

Most of us would agree that God is immortal, indestructible, and omnipotent. The Hebrew Tetragrammatons YWHW and JHVH mean “self-Existent” or “Eternal.” We tend to take this for granted and don’t usually question it. But have you ever wondered why God is immortal?

Jesus said something very interesting that might shed some light on this:

…every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand (Matthew 12:25).

According to Jesus, if a kingdom is divided “against itself” it will be “brought to desolation”—it will come to an end. If God is immortal, then it is logical to conclude that His kingdom will never be brought to desolation. Thus we can also conclude that since God’s kingdom will never be brought to desolation His kingdom must not be “divided against itself” in any way. Could it be then, that this is where God’s secret of immortality lies? Could it be that God is immortal because His kingdom is not “divided against itself ”?

This is an extremely important concept. “God is light and in Him is no dark- ness at all,” means that in no way whatsoever is He divided between light and darkness, that is, He never operates by a contradictory duality. He is light only, at all times and in all circumstances. As we proceed, it will become evident just how important it is to understand what “divided against itself” means. For now, we will simply say that God’s undivided-ness is what constitutes His per- fection, as the word “perfection” is biblically defined (we will shoe later on what this word means according to the Bible). Again, we must not define words by our own interpretation, but allow the Scriptures to define them.

To summarize then, being “holy,” “pure,” “clean,” “light,” “undivided” and having absolutely “no darkness at all,” are different ways to describe God’s single, uncorrupted character of agape love. And these are just a few of the ways the Bible uses to draw our attention to this fact.

So we ask ourselves, why is God so focused on drawing our attention to this facet of His character? Could it be that this is the vital key to truly understanding Him and seeing His beauty?