WHAT IS GOD’S AGAPE LOVE
The Knowledge Of God
Proverbs 1:7 states:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. But fools despise wisdom and instruction (emphasis added).
Proverbs 9:10 further explains this particular knowledge and wisdom:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (emphasis added).
Jesus confirms the importance of having a correct knowledge of the true God, and it is His will that all of us might know the only true God from the false god:
And this is life eternal, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent (John 17:3; emphasis added).
At the present time, our knowledge of the Creator is skewed, for we view Him through the lens of sin and Satan’s lies. Further, our human understanding of His character has been perverted by six thousand years of estrangement. A true knowledge of God can best be acquired as we go back to the very beginning, to the time when a flawless knowledge of His character existed. The cross reveals God’s eternal, unchangeable character as it was from eternity. Jesus Christ on the cross gives us the revelation of God as He was from the beginning because He was the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
Who is the ultimate revealer, the perfect revelation of God: the Old Testament or Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ, for,
He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God (1 Peter 1:20, 21). Whoever transgresses [GOES AHEAD] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds (2 John 9-11; emphasis added).
For what purpose was the Son of God manifested? The apostle John tells us that He was manifested so that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
From eternity, before the foundation of the world, Jesus Christ already had in Him what was manifested at His first advent. What is it that was manifested in Him two thousand years ago and that has direct application to us who are living at the end of this age, these last days?
At His first advent Jesus Christ gave the perfect revelation of God’s character, a revelation that was nonexistent in its fullness until then. For those of us who are living at the end of time and who passionately desire to know God with no defilement whatsoever, we are to believe in God through no one else but Jesus Christ. That is the only way anyone can know Him. We, who through Him believe in God, will know with certainty that God is agape love and that He is not, as some believe, a manslayer, or one who kills.
If we believe that God is love and that He also kills, then, on that basis we will sanction or be involved in killing, especially as far as our enemies are concerned. Then, according to Jesus Christ, we will be doing the desires of our father the devil. In John 8:44, manslayer/killer characteristics are definitively and definitely applied to the devil by Jesus Christ and not to God the Father:
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning.
This revelation from Jesus Christ exposes the lie that is so commonly believed: the lie that God is love, but also a murderer. As we have seen, God’s rule of law is the opposite of the death principle. The death principle is literally the taking of life, and it belongs to Satan’s rule of law, the law that is represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Tragically, the majority of the human race believes that the death principle is God’s principle when in reality it is Satan’s principle. The eternal truth about God’s agape love principle has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10).
It was God’s purpose to remove these false concepts regarding His character by giving us Jesus Christ. God, the life giver, gave the pure revelation of His love through His Son, a love in which death has absolutely no place. Jesus came to us from the Father with the message of life and immortality, and He will give us that immortality after the resurrection:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me the sufferings of the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:7-10).
What has God given to us in Christ Jesus before time began? The gift given to the human race is the knowledge that we are accepted by Him not according to our works of good and evil, which gives us a spirit of fear, but according to God’s own purpose and grace, which He now has revealed. What has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ is the truth about God’s character which was already in Christ Jesus before time began.
Paul’s statement, by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, would be a blatant lie were God to be both Creator and destroyer. How can Jesus abolish death if death is a part of the character of God? Isn’t God’s character eternal and unchanging? Further, since the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, death is still unquestionably a reality on planet earth, is it not? Every human being believes that he is going to die. Everyone thinks he will experience death, so how has Jesus Christ abolished death?
There is only one way in which Jesus Christ has abolished death. Jesus Christ has abolished death, past tense, by revealing to us that God is not the cause of death. When we believe the truth about God which has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, then the statement that He has abolished death will be fulfilled. Only Jesus Christ has revealed the truth about God’s character, which is that He does not take life; thus Jesus has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
The Wisdom Of God And The Wisdom Of This World – Divine Wisdom Is To Know God’s True Character
We have looked at the verses in 1 Corinthians chapter one, which distinguish between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world. In these verses the apostle Paul succinctly and cogently encapsulates the two antagonistic principles that confront humanity. The cross is the measuring stick he uses, and is the one event that separates humanity into two groups of people with two distinct views. Let us look deeper into what Paul, who received his knowledge of God directly from Jesus Christ, has to say regarding divine wisdom:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
The message of the cross and the wisdom of God are one and the same thing, as we shall shortly see.
For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (1 Corinthians 1:19, 20).
God made foolish the wisdom of this world, but how?
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:21; emphasis added).
Notice how clearly it says above that the world, through its own wisdom did not know God. This is even more visibly seen when we behold Jesus Christ. The world did not recognize Him as the Messiah because He was not in harmony with the wisdom of the world, which is based on the principle of good and evil.
As Jesus did not operate by the principle of good and evil, He therefore was not known for who He was, for the world expected a punishing and violent Messiah who wreaks vengeance on sinners.
For the Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:22-25; emphasis added).
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).
If the world had known the wisdom of God, they would not have used violence against anyone, much less with the Son of God! How ironic! The wisdom of God has been hidden and is still hidden by the principle of good and evil, which blinds us to God’s wisdom of unconditional love.
But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).
As we are progressively enlightened by the truth of God’s love, we receive the Spirit that is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things are revealed to us only by God’s Spirit, the Spirit of His unconditional love. No human heart, by the wisdom of the world, can know the depth, the height, the breadth of the love of God.
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:13-16).
The perfect understanding of God’s character of agape love, as manifested on the cross, is the foundation of divine wisdom. The mind is the vault where this perfect knowledge regarding God’s character must be deposited. The mind that has a flawless understanding of God’s character as it was revealed on the cross, to the extent that it is possible to have a flawless and unblemished understanding within our sphere, is the throne room for God’s divine wisdom:
Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you (1 Corinthians 3:16)?
Those who have a correct understanding of God’s character, an understanding that is based on the revelation given by Jesus Christ, are truly the temple of God and are the subject of the following verses written by the apostle Paul:
You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is of the heart (2 Corinthians 3:2, 3).
As much as a perfect understanding is humanly possible in our sphere, this perfect knowledge of God can be attained through only one Person, Jesus Christ. He is the foundation for all correct understanding and interpretation of the Scriptures. Speaking of the Scriptures, Jesus said: these are they which testify of Me. It is apparent, therefore, that an understanding of any scripture that does not harmonize with the character of God as revealed by Jesus is an adulterated understanding, and will affect our relationship with Him and others.
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life (John 5:39, 40).
This passage makes it apparent that the Scriptures are there to witness to the character of Jesus, who in turn reveals the Father. When in our reading of the Bible we are confronted by what appears to be a dichotomy, we are to go directly to the revelation given by Jesus Himself. Better yet, it would be wiser to look at the Scriptures through the lens of Jesus Christ from the very outset.
Jesus told us that this knowledge, which He came to give us of His Father, is also eternal life:
And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).
The Pre-Fall Revelation Of God: The Cross
As stated at the beginning of this chapter, the cross gives us the pre-fall revelation, as Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). When John says that the lamb was slain from the foundation of the world, he is stating that even though the cross event took place only two thousand years ago, the intent to die for the world was already in God’s heart before the foundation of the world, because God’s love and character never changes, and He is the same now as He was then. The cross then, was simply the carrying out of His pre-existing principle of unconditional, everlasting, unending love:
Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people (Revelation 14:6; emphasis added).
The everlasting gospel is nothing else but the good news of God’s infinite, unchanging unconditional love for every single human being, and it is everlasting because it is the essence of God.
Agape Love Is The Very Essence of God
In the Bible we are told that God is love (1 John 4:8). It is important to note that John said God is love rather than saying ‘God has love.’ The use of the first person of the verb ‘to be’ indicates that love is His very essence and not merely one of His attributes. His essence is further represented in the Scriptures as light, which in turn is tied with the word life, so that love (agape), light (phos), and life (zoe), are key terms used in describing His character. God’s essence of agape love is selfless, self- sacrificing, unconditional, infinite, because it is not based on the goodness of the one loved, but on the perfection of the Lover. While people are still in their sinful depraved ungodly condition, God’s agape love has accepted them. agape love is demonstrated thus:
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 towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:6-8, 10).
It is vital for us to understand that God’s agape love is the very essence of His Being. His character, His essence, is the one and only supreme rule of law, the sole principle by which He has always and ever will govern the universe.
All of God’s attributes are a reflection of His essence of agape love. No circumstances can cause God to react in a way that is different to his character of agape love. It does not matter how evil are the circumstances God is confronted with, yet He remains constant to His own character, the rule of law of agape love. God will never operate outside the parameters of His agape love principle.
God and His agape love essence are inseparable, constant, and immutable. Since God is immutable, His essence, this rule of law, is also immutable. The principle of agape love is eternal because it is the very essence of God, and God is eternal.
God And His Essence Of agape Love Are Inseparable
Every action and reaction of God, in all matters, is governed by and is a reflection of His timeless principle represented by the tree of life. This timeless principle of His agape love is eternal because it is the very essence of God, and God is eternal. God does not operate outside of the parameters of His agape love principle. God and His essence of agape love cannot be separated and both are constant and immutable.
Agape love is pure
Thus we may state that the essence of God is absolutely pure agape love. But even to use the phrase ‘pure agape love’ is a misnomer, for agape love has no form of adulteration by any other contrary principle. Hence, by definition, agape love is unadulterated and pure. In contrast to Satan’s principle of good and evil, God’s essence of agape love positively cannot be a hybrid containing both good and evil.
It must remain extremely clear that the one and only true God of the universe does not have these two antithetical principles embodied and mixed in His character. If humanity is worshipping a hybrid God of good and evil, then they are not worshipping the one and only true God of the universe.
As arbitrary punishment is non-existent in God’s law of agape love, there is therefore no arbitrary punishment in God. Every action and reaction of God in all matters is governed by, and is a reflection of, His timeless principle of agape love, which was represented by the tree of life. God’s pure essence of agape love, the sum total of His character and His being, is immortal and indestructible.
God would not be immortal, indestructible, and omnipotent if He possessed the kind of power that can destroy all opposition with a blink of an eye. It is only due to His nature of agape love, which has no form of destruction in it, that He is immortal, indestructible and omnipotent.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ did not occur by any arbitrary act on the part of God. When Jesus died on the cross, He died because He had lived by the pure principle of agape love. It was only because He lived and died by His innate principle of agape love that He was able to resurrect Himself through the life which was in Himself. Not a particle of the principle that Satan had introduced in the universe was found in Jesus and that is why Jesus was able to rise again. The domain of death could not hold Him in the grave:
I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me (John 14:30, emphasis added).
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrew 4:15; emphasis added).
Had Jesus acted or even thought at any point by Satan’s death principle of good and evil, He would have remained in the grave, and the human race would have been left in bondage to Satan, without the hope of eternal life:
And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep [died] in Christ have perished (1 Corinthians 15:17-18).
There is only one ultimate truth from God about Himself, and it pertains to who He is, to His very essence, to His character as God. Truly, God is agape love, and all His other attributes are but a demonstration of the core of His being. Even though God has given us this ultimate truth about Himself, we have succumbed to Satan’s deceptive falsehood that God’s character is a hybrid of good and evil, and with this falsehood we are kept in ignorance, living without a perfect understanding of His essence.
Obviously, the hybrid god that humanity is erroneously worshipping is a god of good and evil. This god acts by Satan’s principle represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But if we look closer, we will see that this god is not the true God, for the true God can never act by two opposing, antithetical sets of principles.
What has really happened is that we have overtly professed and promoted this synthesis as being of God by attributing to God those character traits that belong to Satan. God can never operate by good and evil, for it is contrary to His character, His essence. We have popularized and promoted the character of God as having a purported nonexistent union of agape love and good and evil.
However, the moment agape love, the principle signified by the tree of life, is mixed with anything else, it is no longer agape love, and it is no longer the tree of life principle. When we claim that God is agape love and yet also believe that He in anger arbitrarily punishes sinners for their evil activities, we have failed in understanding agape love. This combination is not agape love at all. It is simply the principle of good and evil.
What Is agape Love?
Agape love is that love in which there is no selfish agenda involved in performing good deeds toward others. It is that love where everything is done for the betterment of others at one’s own expense, even to the extent of dying for others. When Jesus said, But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:44, 45), He was defining agape love.
We have further instruction from Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13 regarding agape love:
agape love is patient, agape love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Does not act unbecomingly, it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered. It does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth. agape love bears up under anything and everything that comes. It is ever ready to believe the best of every person. Its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it endures everything without weakening. agape love never fails, never fades out or becomes obsolete, it never comes to an end (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, taken from different versions).
In essence then, agape love is not focused on self but on others, and is unconditional. The death of Jesus on the cross is the ultimate revelation of agape love.
The Events In The Garden Of Eden Give Us Clues Regarding God’s agape Love
When we study the events that took place in the Garden of Eden, we note that it is clearly stated that both trees were in the midst of the Garden, one representing God’s principle and the other representing Satan’s principle. We understand that in the Garden, the tree of life represented God’s principle for the governance of the universe, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represented Satan’s principle for the governance of the universe. These are undoubtedly two antithetical principles, one from God and the other from Satan. The first represents God’s character and how He governs; the second represents Satan’s character and how, with force and violence, he has been executing his way of governance. Jesus made an allusion to the use of force being ascribed to God’s kingdom when He spoke of those who use Satan’s violent methods as a means to enter the kingdom of God:
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force (Matthew 11:12).
Agape Love In The Garden Of Eden—Freedom Of Choice
It is important to realize that both trees, one representing God’s principle and the other representing Satan’s principle, were in the midst of the Garden of Eden. God does not, nor can He ever, usurp the autonomy he has given to individuals. Inherent in His character of agape is to give absolute freedom to everyone, and that includes His adversary. Although this God-given freedom did result in allowing maximum harm to enter into the universe, and it still continues to allow evil even today, it is indispensable to agape love.
Satan unquestionably had this freedom when he convinced one third of God’s sinless angels to accept his rule of law over God’s law of agape love. He also had this liberty in the garden with Adam and Eve. His freedom remained intact throughout, even though he had plans to inflict the maximum harm on God, Adam, Eve, and all of God’s creation. Satan would go to any extent in order for his rule of law to prevail. Thus it is extremely important to notice that even though he was promoting a destructive principle, he still had the freedom to do it, freedom that only agape love can give.
As we contemplate on these thoughts alone, they speak volumes about God’s character. Only the God of agape love and no other God could grant such freedom. Such volition has inflicted ultimate fatality in the universe, and has prevented God from spending eternity with many of His beloved children. As long as God is the sovereign ruler of the universe, agape love will eternally exist, even if the freedom it allows results in ultimate harm being personally inflicted upon God Himself.
The war over God’s rule of law of agape love and Satan’s principle of good and evil will eventually end, and inevitably there will be a victor and a vanquished. But God’s sole power in this war is His law of agape love, and that love will overwhelm and overcome all evil without the utilization of force.
The freedom of choice that God has given us is as sacred as God Himself is sacred. In love, God has given us the freedom to choose life or death, blessings or curses. By the freedom of choice God has given us, we are ultimately responsible, through our choices, for the results that are inherent in those choices. Moses informs us that there are no arbitrary acts of God in rewarding good deeds and punishing evil deeds. Inherent in the choices we make are the paths of life or death, blessings or curses (See Deuteronomy 28).
Agape Love Gives Freedom And Equal Access Even To Adversaries
Inherent in God’s essence of agape love are found two foundational principles, and it is critical that we understand them. The first, which we have seen above, is that agape love gives freedom of choice to all. Note again that this freedom is given even to enemies who can harm us and our loved ones.
The second foundational principle of agape love is that it gives equal access, and again, even to those who are considered enemies or adversaries. Satan, the arch- enemy of God, has been freely given equal access to put forward his principle represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus illustrated the principle of equal access by the parable of the wheat and tares:
The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn”’ (Matthew 13:24-33).
At the time of harvest the truth will stand, while all that is false will come to its end. We must ask God to help us to discern between truth and error. Unless we know the truth, we will unfortunately succumb to Satan’s deceptions and be the tares, which look very much like the genuine. We will get the tares confused with the wheat by believing that Satan’s principle from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is actually God’s principle.
Agape love in the Garden of Eden—Equal Access
If we look closely at the two trees in the midst of the garden, we will see that God is trying to communicate to us something of profound spiritual significance and importance about Himself, especially about His character of agape love.
When we come to comprehend the significance of this revelation, under the unction of God’s Spirit, it will permit us to grasp an aspect of God’s agape love to which we were totally oblivious before. But without the anointing that is needed for comprehension this will appear utterly idiotic to our minds, because what God did is something only He and those who have the mind of God would do. No one with the carnal human mind would ever permit such a thing to take place.
God gave Satan access to Adam and Eve, knowing that what he was going to do would be catastrophic. He also gave Adam and Eve the freedom that would allow them to come into contact with Satan. And He gave Satan freedom of access to them.
As one continues reading, it will be noticeable to what extent God, under His rule of law of agape love, gave Satan access to Adam and Eve and vice versa. First we see God allowing Satan to have his principle in the Garden and then we see Him giving Adam and Eve equal access to the two trees. Adam and Eve are also given the freedom to choose either to obey God, and thus continue to eat from the tree of life, or to disobey Him, and thus cease to eat from His tree.
In the second case, if, and as soon as the couple chose to disobey God, their obedience would be given to Satan and they would eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The two ways for living were available to them, and they had complete liberty to choose either God’s way or Satan’s way.
God’s agape love could not deny Satan equal access nor could this agape love deny Adam and Eve the freedom to choose for or against God. Two trees were presented to them, and their choice would determine their fate and the destiny of the human race.
It is noteworthy to point out here that it was in God’s very own Garden of Eden that Satan was allowed access to the couple!
The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the Garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2: 8-9).
The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Here, from the biblical perspective, were clearly demarcated the two antithetical principles, and only one of the two was to be utilized for the governance of God’s universe. One led to life and the other to death, and it is imperative that under no circumstances this distinction be misunderstood or compromised.
God, the Creator, had visibly separated these two antithetical principles and warned the couple as to the consequences of disobeying Him. The physical position of the two trees in the middle of the garden reveals that God had given Satan a level playing field. Both trees were equally accessible to Adam and Eve. By their position in the garden it can also be concluded that God did not place Himself in an advantageous stance over Satan before Adam and Eve sinned, but gave him an equal footing. Thus, both God and Satan had equal accessibility to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as revealed by the presence of the two mutually exclusive principles represented by the two trees.
Agape Does Not Use Force Or Violence
If God gives freedom of choice to all his creation, then it becomes obvious that God does not use force or power to make anyone conform to His ways. Along with the freedom He gives, He also first counsels; then allows the choice to be made either for or against His counsel. As Lucifer decided to rebel, God’s methods of dealing with his rebellion became visible as He warned Lucifer of the consequences of his choices. The same behaviour is seen as He counselled Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God could have blocked Satan from ever having any contact with them, or He could have shielded Adam and Eve completely from Satan’s influence, but He did not. God could have placed the prohibited tree in a secluded, inaccessible location, but because His love always allows for individual choice, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was located in the center of the garden, right next to His own tree of life. The couple was safe only as long as they followed His counsel to not eat of the forbidden tree. The only power God had in this situation was the power of His love, which Adam and Eve disregarded as they chose to go against His warning.
The use of power, as it pertains to God, has been grossly misunderstood, as has the power of human choice. The choices we make have clear consequences and even God could not spare the world from the consequences of Adam and Eve’s choice.
In Hebrews 2:1-3 we are told that every choice we make has a consequence, and God, because of His principle of agape love, has to honor it:
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.
When the God of agape love is worshipped, His true followers do not use intimidation, coercion, manipulation or violence to defend their faith or the God of their faith. The more God’s truth is challenged, attacked, defied and subjected to intense scrutiny, the more agape love, and agape love only, will prevail against those attacks. If God’s followers use any violence at all in order to defend God and His truth from those that go against it, they prove by their actions that they have an incorrect or limited understanding of God and His character.
Likewise, were one to road-block any proselytizing that is contrary to what one believes to be God’s truth, or that one feels is out to curtail God’s truth, one would be acting out of harmony with God’s principles of freedom and equal access. Such methods of opposition are in themselves an indication that those who use them are not acting according to God’s principle of freedom. By the same token, the use of any form of force or of any underhanded method to present God’s truth is out of harmony with God’s principles as well.
God’s agape Principle Is Clearly Seen By How He Dealt With Lucifer And Adam And Eve
God’s principle of love was revealed by how He dealt with Satan and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
He did not use any force to stop Satan from proselytizing, nor did He use any force to stop Adam and Eve from being convinced by Satan’s horrendous accusations against God. How could this possibly be God’s way of dealing with such evil, and why does He do it this way? The absolute truth about the true God, as seen in His dealings in the Garden, is that God’s character does not allow him to react to evil with evil. Nothing could be more evil than the law Satan had at first introduced in the universe, and yet, the same freedom he was granted then was now given in the Garden as well.
By looking at how God dealt with Lucifer, we can see that all who choose to oppose God’s truth are given ample liberty to advance their views without fear of intimidation or punishment coming directly from God. Under no circumstances must it be assumed, however, that God does not warn about the consequences of disobeying Him. What are these consequences, and how are they carried out? The consequence of disobeying God is that by doing so, we place ourselves in Satan’s domain, from where all punishment, pain, suffering and death arise.
Peter’s Dream Reveals God’s Attitude Toward Every Human Being
The focal point of Jesus’ message is that to become sons of your Father in Heaven we must know that He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
This is also confirmed in the words of Peter to Cornelius, his family and friends, in Acts 10:28:
Then he said to them, ‘You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.’
Peter made this statement after the vision in which he saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, ‘Rise Peter, kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.’ And a voice spoke to him again the second time, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common’ (Acts 10:11-15).
Because Peter was so ingrained with the wrong understanding of God’s character, this message had to be repeated three times: This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again (Acts 10:16).
However, it is apparent from what Peter says in verse 35 that even after this dream Peter does not completely understand what Jesus was trying to convey when He said that God makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. In verse 34 Peter realizes that God shows no partiality between Jews and Gentiles. But in verse 35 he qualifies the type of Gentiles that God accepts: But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.
God treats those who live outside of His principles in benevolent ways that are beyond anything the human mind can imagine. His love transcends the principle of good and evil and does not use any form of force, coercion or destructive actions in order to achieve its objective.
It is by adopting His ways that His true followers glorify the true God of the universe. Meanwhile, those who refuse to believe in the God of agape love are left alone to exercise their freedom of choice and to choose whatever way they want to worship. That would not be possible were God the hybrid God that He is perceived to be. Were He the kind of God that mixes love with force, He would call for the annihilation of all those who are considered or perceived as heretics and who do not conform to His ways.
There Is No Fear In agape Love Because agape Love Does Not Arbitrarily Punish
There is no fear in love: but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4: 18, 19).
There is not an iota of anything in God and in His agape love that generates fear. The Bible is emphatically clear and certain in this respect. God could never be revered and appreciated for His agape love if He ever acted in any way that would cause even a minuscule amount of fear in us toward Him. Should we respond to Him with any such fear, then we will never have agape love for Him.
It is only God and His agape love alone that can cast out any and all fear we have acquired from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This fear originates from Satan, because fear has to do with punishment, torment. There is no possibility of anyone being made perfect by God through agape love if fear is involved in the relationship with Him. It is hopelessly impossible and unrealizable for us to respond to God in agape love unless He has first shown us that He is agape love. Once we are shown His agape love, there will not be a trace of fear of punishment from Him engendered in us.
God’s Rule Of agape Love Contains No Arbitrary Reward And Punishment
It is extremely important for us to understand that under the supreme rule of law of agape love there is no arbitrary reward for doing good and no arbitrary punishment for doing evil. The rewards that are found in the path of blessings are inherent in the choice to obey God. These blessings are not an arbitrary act of reward, but are inherent in the choice to obey God’s kingdom principles. This fact must be resolutely understood and accepted, or else we will believe Satan’s deception that God is an arbitrary judge.
God’s principle of agape love is immutable and transcends the capriciousness that governs the god of arbitrary reward and punishment; this god is influenced by the positive or negative reactions to his directives. Such volatility is foreign to the God of agape love, for God is not governed by changes of mood. His infinite love is unmovable, and He operates only within the principle of agape love.
Rather Than Punish, agape Love Takes Punishment Upon Self
And they overcame him [SATAN AND HIS PRINCIPLE OF PUNISHMENT] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death (Revelation 12:11; emphasis added).
Those who have the same love as Jesus Christ has, will take all punishment upon themselves, even if it means that they will be killed. They will not use any violent retaliatory method to defend themselves. This is the ultimate revelation of agape love. The tree of life is emblematic of God’s character of agape love, the life- giving Creator of the universe. This principle was demonstrated supremely by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Because of His agape love, He took all the fallout for sin from Satan’s domain upon Himself. Inherent in His character of agape love, as the cross has revealed, there is no semblance of any form of destructive work towards both lost sinners and their environment.
So then we may ask: how will the sinner perish at the end if God does not destroy them? We are told that Satan and all of his followers will experience the ultimate death in the lake of fire, which is the second death. As soon as we read that, we automatically assume that God literally picks up Satan and sinners and throws them into a literal lake of burning fire. At the same time, Christians also believe that Jesus died the second death in our place.
Was Jesus in a literal lake of fire? Or is the lake of fire a symbolic figure to express the torment and anguish that is caused by separation from God, the life source?
Sinners who do not accept the God of love that was shown on the cross will suffer the same mental anguish from the domain of good and evil that Jesus suffered on the cross. They will die the death that He had shouldered for them, the death from which He hoped to spare them. The same burning fire, which is the weight of sin and its guilt, that burst Jesus’ heart and caused Him to consider Himself completely cut off from the Father, will also burst the sinner’s heart.
However, to be even more precise, they will not experience the same anguish that Jesus had on the cross, because He took even that upon Himself. Additionally, since they do not have the same love for the Father as Jesus had, they will not experience the same torment that Jesus experienced as He felt separated from God. The more love one has, the more one suffers when separated from the loved one. Since they have no love for God, their mental anguish will not be caused by the pain of being separated from Him. The pain they will experience will be the physical pain of losing life, since they will be separated from the life source. They will also be crushed by the guilt that is inherent in the principle of good and evil, without hope of relief.
As Jesus exclaimed the words Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46) His faith in God was unshaken, even if it meant that He would be eternally separated from the Father. This love shown on the cross for humanity is the meaning of His death, and sheds light on the words: My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me (Matthew 27:46)!
Why is it that a moral God does not use any method of destruction to punish sinners for their evil acts? If He did, God Himself would be partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s morality is His agape love that was demonstrated on the cross when He took upon Himself the total punishment for all the effects of sin from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God Did Not Destroy Satan Because He Is agape Love
Since God does not destroy His enemies, Satan was not destroyed for his blatant rebellion against God’s government. Had He destroyed Satan He would have been in transgression of His own law of agape love, and since agape love is His character this cannot happen, for God does not act contrary to His own character.
If God had the dual character represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, He would have destroyed Satan. All who would have observed this act would have developed an inbred fear for God, and obedience to God would have arisen out of fear. This would have been a violation of His principle of agape love. Any destructive activities such as death would be a breach of His principle of giving life.
The termination of life is foreign to the God of the universe. Because extermination of life is foreign to the God of the universe, the life-giving unitary principle of agape love is symbolized by the tree of life. The demise of Satan and all of his followers will be discussed as we proceed in this polemic about God’s agape love.
The Difference Between Worldly Love And agape Love
Before moving forward in our understanding of God’s character, we must comprehend the difference between God’s agape love and the conventional worldly meaning of the word love. We must comprehend the vast, limitless difference between the two if we are to understand God’s character.
From a purely spiritual perspective, as it refers to the essence of God, these two words have no common meaning. They may appear to have some linkage, but biblically, according to the cross principle, this conjoining of human love and agape love is the height of deception.
Our ignorance in not differentiating between the two will deceive us, for it is in this area that subtle and deliberate deception is being used. This deception involves the world and its worship of God. This ignorance has ensnared and captivated the minds of humanity. Under this deceptive falsehood, someone other than the God of agape love is being worshipped. This fact cannot be overemphasized, and it must be stated with absolute clarity: the deception that is being used to conceal the irreconcilably vast difference that exists between agape love and the worldly meaning of love is overpowering.
Satan, the antagonist of God, wants us to remain in ignorance regarding the difference between agape love and the worldly meaning of love. Confusion between the two, is the means by which he achieves his overwhelming deception. Deception is his consummate arsenal by which he has cheated both God and humanity of true friendship, fellowship and worship. Unless this deception is exposed and denounced, Satan will in effect be the object of humanity’s worship, which is his ultimate aim. Our failure in not comprehending the difference between agape love and the conventional meaning of the word love is also compromising and neutralizing our understanding of God’s character, and is responsible for the demonization of God.
At this juncture we will attempt to define the vast difference that exists between love and agape love. The reader is requested to keep in mind that agape love is God’s love for all, even for those who are degenerate and, in our eyes, unworthy of such love.
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, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:6-8, 10; emphasis added).
The common idea of human love is always dependent on the beauty or goodness of its object. It loves its own, such as friends and family, or those who are good to others; this is not agape love, but human sentiment:
- Sentiment deals with feelings, emotions, and attitudes.
- Sentiment can provide the basis for establishing a relationship.
- Sentiment is superficial and unstable.
- Sentiment yields to circumstances.
- Sentiment is Satan’s substitute for Love.
- Sentiment is unforgiving and selfish.
- Law or principle does not govern sentiment.
- Sentiment strives to control others.
- Sentiment grasps and exercises arbitrary power out of fear of losing control.
- Sentiment is a tool of pride.
- Sentiment falters in the face of stress and tension.
- Sentiment collapses in the face of emotional chaos.
Agape, on the other hand, controls feelings, emotions, and attitudes by the principle of agape love. agape provides the basis for an unconditional commitment:
- Agape is durable, dependable and will never break a relationship.
- Agape survives and transcends circumstances.
- Agape is heaven’s plan for human relationships, and has the principle that overcomes the unreliability of sentiment.
- Agape is generous and forgiving.
- Agape is law and principle at work, governing the life.
- Agape seeks to control self and not others.
- Agape grants power without fear.
- Agape wins over the power of pride.
- Agape survives the forces of stress and tension.
- Agape endures emotional chaos.
When we compare God’s love with the so-called love that is present in the realm of good and evil, we see that they are two antithetical principles. agape love, from the tree of life, is a life giving principle; the ordinary meaning for the word love comes from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This love or sentiment, comes from Satan’s principle of good and evil, and it takes life.
The Cross Reveals agape Love
One sole event is the ultimate revelation given for us to truly understand agape love: the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Without this divine manifestation, this demonstrable fact, this benchmark revelation, we would have been left in darkness about God’s true character.
However, the death of Jesus on the cross is an impotent and meaningless event unless we understand the agape love that was demonstrated there.
The cross principle was originally given in the Garden of Eden and was represented by the tree of life. One may ask how the death of Jesus could possibly be an example of the tree of life principle since the event appears to be contrary to the principle, as one demonstrates death and the other addresses life.
It was the principle in Jesus’ heart as He died on the cross that represented the tree of life; it was the self-sacrificing agape love of God, the divine love that is willing to give up all, even Himself, for the sake of others. The selfless principle embodied in the tree of life is the exclusive, sole antidote to the selfish death principle of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that has impacted the whole world.
Thus, the principle of God’s agape love for the human race is demonstrated by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, as He died for the sins of the entire human race. In His death God’s agape love is authenticated. The power of the resurrection was within the nature of this unique agape-based-death on the cross. Innate in this benevolent death was the power of life, and correspondingly, the resurrection from death.
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, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5: 6-8).
Only Jesus Can Save Us From Satan’s Principle Of Good And Evil
When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they in effect gave dominion of the world to Satan; they became Satan’s subjects, and Satan became the prince of this world (John 12:31). All of us born from Adam and Eve have inherited their condition. Therefore we all have Satan as our spiritual leader and ruler. All of us genetically were in the loins of Adam before we were even born. All of us were already in Adam when he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The principle represented in this tree is in us genetically, and our minds are in bondage to Satan’s rule of law for governance. Thus, only Jesus Christ is able to change us back into the image of God:
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24)!
Jesus Took The World Back By agape Love, Not By Force
Jesus took upon Himself the consequences of the death principle from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, consequences that we had inherited in Adam. Jesus revealed that the principle from the tree of life was ours by inheritance in Him. While we were still anchored in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil principle and belonged to Satan, Jesus Christ died for us and gave us the tree of life principle. So in Christ Jesus we all now have the tree of life principle. As in Adam we all inherited the death principle, so in Christ we all have inherited the life- giving principle. We personally were not actively involved in choosing either one of these two situations.
The way we are actively involved in these two established realities is how we respond to them now. Now that we know the issues at hand, we can choose to live in Adam, under Satan’s principle, or choose to live in Christ under God’s principle. The choice is still ours to make, whether we live by God’s rule of law or by Satan’s rule of law.
Why Obey God
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself (John 12:32).
The agape love of God is like a giant magnet that draws, not forces, people to obedience. Once the power of God’s agape love attracts someone, they begin to respond to Him in a positive way. Jesus knew that the demonstration of His love on the cross, where He was lifted up, would attract and draw us to Himself. What an incomparable difference exists between obeying God out of love, and obeying Him out of fear!
What Are The Consequences Of Disobeying God
When we disobey God we choose to disenfranchise ourselves from God’s supreme law of agape love, and we position ourselves in Satan’s domain of good and evil. When God’s agape love is accepted as the ruling principle in one’s life, then one is reconciled to God. God is always reconciled to us. Our minds and lives can never be reconciled to God if for any reason agape love is not the governing principle in our lives. When one chooses not to have agape love, then automatically one has moved into Satan’s domain of good and evil. In this domain are all the different methods of punishment for all the different categories of evil, and pain and destruction ensue.
Agape In The Human Dimension
How can God’s agape love be demonstrated by humanity in a very obvious way in the horizontal dimension, that is, toward each other? The answer is simple: by how we treat our enemies. Jesus tells us in His own words what was and is the prevailing principle of the world and what God’s principle is:
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven, for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax-collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:43-48).
When we react to our enemies in love, choosing to die rather than inflict harm on them, even if they, with determination and insatiable hatred are on the warpath to destroy us, then we will be demonstrating agape love. Never anyone spoke with such authority, with such simplicity, with such an insight into the character of God, as did Jesus Christ. In the above directive Jesus Christ has said all that needed to be revealed to us about God.
By this pronouncement He has unveiled all erroneous beliefs about God’s character and His ways, which have clogged the human understanding since the time Adam and Eve sinned. Because of this revelation from Jesus Christ we can now experience a break-through in our cognition of God’s character. The proof that God is that way was demonstrated on the cross:
For if when were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:10).
From a human perspective this love of God appears to be the epitome of foolishness, but from the divine viewpoint it is the power of God:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Under the good of the rule of law represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, enemies are to be destroyed before they can do us any harm. Some would go as far as to say that it is totally immoral to tell someone to love their enemies. Under no circumstances whatsoever can it ever be justified, in Satan’s principle of good and evil, that enemies be loved as Jesus instructed us to do. Under good and evil it makes no sense to love one’s enemies, or bless those that curse us, or do good to those that hate us, much less pray for those that spitefully use us and persecute us. Rather, it is the survival of the fittest mentality, promoted by the principle of good and evil, that is the rule for how we gain victory over our enemies. In that system, if we are to prevail and survive, we must use all optimum retaliatory weaponry in order to overwhelm the power of the enemy.
The whole world, under the banner of religious belief, is using violence in its perceived and deceived thinking against so-called enemies. The foundational reason for such violence is based on their belief-system about the god of violence in which they believe. Satan, who deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9), has caused this deception about God to abound in the religions of the world, thus spawning the carnage prevalent currently and throughout history.
Love your enemies is the ultimate revelation that could be given into the character of God, showing how God treats all those who are in opposition to Him. Thus, the greatest revelation of God’s character is demonstrated by how He treats those who are categorized as evil, sinful, rebellious enemies. When Jesus instructs us to love our enemies, we may deduce that this primarily has first a direct application to Himself and to God the Father. The Father and Jesus Christ already have this rule of governance in their character of agape love, and that is why Jesus Christ directs us to do the same:
You have heard that it was said, ‘an eye for a eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also. You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5: 38-39, 43, 44- 45).
Once again we must reiterate that God would not ask us to do something that He Himself does not do. Before asking someone to conform to any rules of behaviour, we must first ourselves conform to those rules. We must be innately in possession of them and believe in what we are advocating ourselves; otherwise we would be called hypocrites. Jesus Christ places God as the quintessential example to be followed because agape love is of God and is a reflection of His character. According to Jesus Christ, God wants us to treat other people in the human family, especially those who are our enemies, with agape love, because God is like that Himself. God wants us, as His children, to reflect His character of agape because that is how He treats those that are in opposition to Him. In His eyes, what constitutes perfection is stated in the Sermon of the Mount. This is the spiritual understanding of perfection:
That you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on just and on the unjust. …Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5: 45, 48).
Light Destroys Darkness
When good is done under the principle of agape love, then the tree of the knowledge of good and evil principle ceases to prevail. This light, God’s unconditional love, destroys darkness.
Our Selfishness Does Not Change God’s agape Love
The Benevolent Benefactor’s attitude does not change toward the beneficiaries even if their compliance stems from selfish reasons with the goal of attaining a desired reward. Our selfish motivations have not impacted or altered God’s attitude towards us, the beneficiaries of His gifts, and that is purely because He is agape love. When Jesus created the earth, He made all things in a state of perfection, but it was His sustaining and upholding power that continually made and still makes life possible. This is confirmed in the book of Hebrews, which states:
…He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His [God’s] glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power… (Hebrews 1:2-3).
It is by the word of His power that Jesus constantly provides life to all living things. After sin entered the world through Adam, God did not remove the energy and life-giving force necessary in the upkeep of creation. The slow death of the planet began with a wrong choice and continues to this day because of wrong choices. By these wrong choices we counteract the sustaining power of God and nullify it. But we need to clearly understand that God not once removed the Word that upholds all things. Jesus told us that He sends the rain and the sunshine on all, regardless of who we are, and even as we destroy the earth to the point of extinction, He still continues to bless the world through every possible avenue still open to Him.
Had God withdrawn any part of His sustaining upkeep, the planet would have self-destructed from the first moment that sin was introduced. God will continue to send all the blessings He possibly can, until the last ray of His love is blocked or rejected by a world gone awry.
But even then, God’s agape love continues unabated, for one day He will renew and restore all things to its original splendour:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1).
Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful’ (Revelation 21:5).
God’s agape Love Is Unchangeable
It must be noted that God’s agape love for sinners, whether individually or corporately, does not change. For that matter, God’s agape love does not alter even for those malefactors who live by the obvious evil that arises from the principle of good and evil:
“For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob” (Malachi 3;6).
The Path Of Blessings Is agape Love, The Path Of Curses Is Good And Evil
Moses clearly delineated the two paths available to mankind:
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live (Deuteronomy 30: 19).
He also explained the outcome of each path:
Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God…But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you (Deuteronomy 28: 1, 2, 15).
Paul also states the same principle in Galatians, in a passage that contains the identical context of cause and effect. Cause and effect is a fixed law that certifies that whatsoever we sow we will also reap:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Galatians 6: 7-9).
What If God Operated By Good And Evil?
One could say that all of the tragedy in the world could have been avoided, had God not been a God of agape love. If God had followed Satan’s rule of law for governance and exterminated Satan, the originator of evil, we would not have been exposed to all the mayhem that overwhelms our world.
Would this have solved the root cause of the problem of evil? If God had annihilated Lucifer, one would think that He would have temporarily achieved a positively resounding result. But on the basis of eternity it would not have eternally eradicated evil, for God Himself would have been evil. God would no longer have been the God of agape love but would have been a very different being. He would have been the ultimate dictator, the ultimate controller of all beings, and the universe would have been literally hell because no one could have escaped His capricious control. In essence, He would have been what Satan accused Him of being. What a blessing that God is agape love!
A Divided Kingdom Cannot Stand
As already seen, God does not contradict Himself or go against His own essence because if He did, He could no longer be the God of agape love but a god with the dual character traits represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One aspect of this duality would promote good, not agape love, and would be in conformity to the good from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The other aspect of this duality would be in conformity to the evil, again, not agape love, from the same tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and He would meet evil by taking life in the manner and way of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These character traits are in violation of God’s essence of agape love, which was represented by the tree of life.
Agape Is Selfless And Self-Sacrificing
When good is done under the principle of agape love, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil principle ceases to prevail. When there is no selfish agenda involved in performing true good, when everything is done for the long-term betterment of others, even at one’s own expense and even to the extent of dying for others, this is agape love.
When Jesus said, But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust He was teaching us God’s method of good, He was explaining agape love, He was revealing the kingdom of God.
Can agape Love Punish?
When we look at God as if He belonged to the domain of good and evil, we see His character from a distorted perspective. For instance, one out of the many attributes of His character as a Creator God in this belief system of good and evil would be that He is love. But within this distorted perspective, He cannot be agape love as well. In love, but not agape love, He can be a benevolent, good God; but He would be so only to those who are His obedient followers. In this paradigm, the other aspect of His character is revealed to those who are disobedient to His commands and live contrary to the dictates of His counsel. For this group of rebellious people God becomes malevolent, wrathful, the destructive God of His creatures and creation. In this perverted belief system, God’s destructive acts are not categorized as evil because it is universally known that God cannot do any acts of evil. The Christian adherents in this belief system claim that God is agape love and in agape love he punishes evil. But agape love and punishment are contradictory to each other.
The death of Jesus Christ on the cross confirms God’s agape love. By His death on the cross, which He suffered for all the sins of humanity, comes the confirmation that God does not use punishment as a deterring mechanism for sins. Here agape love reveals that Jesus Christ personally paid for all the punishment for sin, and that God does not directly punish anyone. Punishment does happen, but it comes from the domain that is opposite to the principle of the cross.
In the belief system of good and evil, where God is placed into the mold of good and evil, these two aspects of good and evil, thought to belong to God’s character, are not mutually exclusive character traits. According to this belief system, these two character traits of love and force both belong to God. This way of thinking portrays a God who accepts and arbitrarily rewards all the good that is done in life and a God who rejects and punishes arbitrarily for all the evil that is done in life. Many believe that, when coming from God, these two opposing behaviours are not mutually exclusive, but on the contrary, comprise one activity of love. Most of the world looks at God like this and believes in this God.
Agape Love Is Unconditionally Self-Giving
The entire human race is actively participating in the principle represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What is empirically evident is proof positive that God’s principle of agape love is not believed and practiced on earth. If all of humanity believed and practiced God’s agape love, the results would be totally opposite to earth’s prevailing condition.
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and confined is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).
The tree of life principle is the very essence of God. It is His immutable, unconditional, self-sacrificing agape love. There were no conditions attached in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. It was unconditional, self-sacrificing and universally applied. There were no stipulated conditions that had to be fulfilled before the merits of Jesus Christ’s death for the sins of humanity could be appropriated:
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, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness (Romans 4:5).
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
The God of agape love did something first and foremost before He received any positive response from sinful humanity. God gave of Himself to the sinners, to the ungodly, to the world, to the entire sinful human race. He gave Himself unconditionally and self-sacrificially. Before we had to do anything. While we were still evil, wicked, ungodly enemies of God, Christ died for us.
This ungodly circumstance in which we found ourselves did not cause God to destroy us; on the contrary, He came into our midst in the person of Jesus Christ and rescued us from Satan’s domain. We can only subjectively receive this salvation when we internalize and believe in the God who gave His life for us while we were yet ungodly, undeserving and living in enmity toward Him.
Which Faith Is Accounted For Righteousness?
When we believe in this agape love of God for the ungodly, this particular faith is accounted for righteousness:
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness (Romans 4:5).
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:10).
Therefore as through one man’s offence [THAT IS, ADAM’S OFFENCE], judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation even so through one Man’s [THAT IS, JESUS’ CHRIST’S], righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life (Romans 5:18; emphasis added).
How clearly it is stated in this verse that, through Adam, who partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, judgment came, resulting in condemnation! Did condemnation come from God? No! Immediately afterwards we read that through Jesus Christ came the free gift of justification. Does God first condemn so that He later may justify? No, condemnation came from the domain of Satan’s principle of good and evil, and justification comes from God.
If We Believe God Punishes, We Nullify The Cross
Evil circumstances do not change God’s attitude, because His agape love is unalterable. Even though the evil deeds of evil-doers affect Him with abject pain, nonetheless He still does not utilize punishment as a penal deterrent. Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world and took all the punishment for sin upon Himself. This act is proof that He is not the One who is responsible for punishing sin. The cross confirmed and demonstrated this fact.
God’s agape love, with no latitude for any misunderstanding, fulfilled with absoluteness the moral justice for the sins of the world by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. When we believe that God punishes evil people for their evil deeds, the supreme revelation of God’s agape love on the cross is completely denied, and what transpired on there is made null and void.
God’s truth, mercy, justice and righteousness all are embodied in the principle that is confirmed and demonstrated by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. This principle is validated in the two references below:
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face (Psalm 89:14).
Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed (Psalm 85:10).
By Choosing Violence We Place Ourselves Under Satan
We have seen that God is agape love and that He does not arbitrarily punish evil acts, but takes all the punishment due for evil acts upon Himself. The cross has unequivocally confirmed this verity. Violence is an indispensable element of evil, and God does not use violence as punishment on hardened rebellious sinners. This is not the work of God but the work of Satan. By rejecting God’s principle and accepting Satan’s principle in our lives, we, by our own freedom of choice, place ourselves in Satan’s domain and reap the results of our decisions.
Satan has to sustain his rule of law; therefore arbitrary punishment is an indispensable right arm of governance for him. As long as one remains under God’s supreme rule of law, there is no punishment from within that principle. When one removes oneself from being under the protection of God’s agape love, one has chosen to be a party to Satan’s principle. From within the principle represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, one is subjected to punishment.
Agape Love Existed From Eternity And Will Continue To Exist Forever
Before Lucifer’s rebellion, no discordant principle existed in the universe. Ezekiel 28:15 tells us that Lucifer was perfect in his ways from the day he was created, till iniquity was found in him. All created beings enjoyed perfect harmony and communion with God under His rule of agape law.
The Bible tells us this state of existence will materialize again at the end of the great controversy when Jesus will rule with an iron sceptre: And He will rule them with a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27.) The rod of iron represents the everlasting and life-giving principle of agape love, which is as strong as iron. God’s principle will be universally recognized and accepted for eternity, and the principle of good and evil will be rejected and forever extinguished, for affliction will not rise up a second time (Nahum 1:9).