“GOD IS LOVE”

Wayne S. Walker

“…God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God…” (1 Jn.
4.16)

     INTRO.:  A song which emphasizes the love that God has had for us is
“God Is Love” (#412 in “Hymns for Worship Revised” and #256 in “Sacred
Selections for the Church”).  The text is anonymous, and the original
source is unknown.  It has been attributed to Charles Wesley (1707-1788).
  It has been attributed to Charles R. Hurdith (1839-?).  And it has been
attributed to Howard Kingsbury with a date of 1876.  The only thing of
which we can be sure is that the earliest known publication of it was in
the 1849 “Hymns and Spiritual Songs” edited by David Millard and Joseph
Badger.

     We also know that the text was apparently arranged and the tune was
composed both by Edmund Simon Lorenz (1854-1942).  It first appeared in
his 1886 “Notes of Triumph for the Sunday School.”  A minister with the
United Brethren, Lorenz, who was born in Stark County, OH, spent most of
his adult life in Dayton, OH, where he founded the Lorenz Publishing
Company.  Many of his hymns, such as “Wonderful Love of Jesus” and “Thou
Thinkest, Lord, Of Me,” have appeared in our books, and he provided music
for several others, such as “Give Me The Bible” and “So Tender, So
Precious.”

     Among hymnbooks published by brethren for use in churches of Christ
during the twentieth century, the earliest appearance of “God Is Love”
that I can find is in the 1935 “Christian Hymns” (No. 1) edited by L. O.
Sanderson.  After that, it was used in the 1948 “Christian Hymns No. 2”
and the 1966 “Christian Hymns No. 3” also edited by Sanders; the 1963
“Abiding Hymns” edited by R. C. Welch; and the 1963 “Christian Hymnal”
edited by J. N. Slater.  Today it is found in the 1971 “Songs of the
Church,” the 1990 “Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed.,” and the 1994 “Hymns
of Faith and Praise” all edited by A. H. Howard; the 1978/1983 “(Church)
Gospel Songs and Hymns” edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 “Praise for
the Lord” edited by J. P. Wiegand.

     The song mentions several things that are true about God’s love for
us.

I. Stanza 1 says that God’s love is worthy of our praise
“Come, let us all unite to sing, God is love!  Let heaven and earth their
praises bring, God is love!
Let every soul from sin awake, Each in his heart sweet music make, And
sing with us for Jesus’ sake, For God is love!”
  A. God wants us to sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord: Col. 3.16
  B. One reason for this singing is to praise our God who is love: Heb.
13.15
  C. However, this is possible only for those who from sin awake: Rom.
13.11, 1 Cor. 15.34, Eph. 5.14

II. Stanza 2 says that God’s love made our redemption possible
“O, tell to earth’s remotest bound, God is love!  In Christ we have
redemption found, God is love!
His blood has washed our sins away, His Spirit turned our night to day,
And now we can rejoice to say That God is love!”
  A. The story of God’s love should be told to earth’s remotest bound: Mk.
16.15-16
  B. One very important part of this story is that we can have redemption
in Christ: Eph. 1.7
  C. The reason that this redemption is available is that our sins can be
washed away by Jesus’s blood: Rev. 1.5

III. Stanza 3 says that God’s love brings joy to our lives
“How happy is our portion here, God is love!  His promises our spirits
cheer, God is love!
He is our sun and shield, Our help, our hope, our strength and stay, He
will be with us all the way, Our God is love!”
  A. Because of what God has done for us in Christ we can rejoice in the
Lord: Phil. 4.4
  B. One component of this joy is the exceedingly precious promises that
God has given us: 2 Pet. 1.4
  C. And one of these precious promises is that He will be with us all the
way: Heb. 13.5-6

IV. Stanza 4 says that God’s love will take us to heaven
“In Canaan we will sing again, God is love!  And this shall be our
loudest strain, God is love!
Whilst endless ages roll along, We’ll triumph with the heavenly throng,
And this shall be our sweetest song, Yes, God is love!”
  A. Canaan represents heaven in that just as Joshua led the Israelites
into the physical promised land, so Jesus leads His people to the eternal
promised land: Heb. 4.8-10
  B. Even now the hosts of heaven are singing strains of praise to Christ:
Rev. 5.11-12
  C. And when this material universe shall have come to an end, the
redeemed of all ages will join with the heavenly hosts to sing an endless
song of praise to God for His love: Rev. 14.1-3

     CONCL.:  The chorus encourages us to continue singing praise to God
for His love:
“God is love!  God is love!
Come, let us all unite to sing That God is love!”
While we certainly understand that God is more than just love, because
the Bible teaches us about both the goodness and the severity of God, the
fact is that everything which God does, even when He chastens us, is done
out of love.  Therefore, there is no greater or grander them that can
occupy our minds and our tongues than that “God Is Love.”

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