God is love. Love is not just a virtue of God, but it is God Himself. Love is the essence of His person, nature, and character.
When I make a statement such as "Love is the essence of His person, nature, and character," it is important to understand what is meant by those terms. Over the next few blog posts, I hope to explain what is meant by "person, nature, and character." Today's blog post will focus on "God is Person." There are three essential qualities of personhood: intellect (i.e. mind), sensibility (i.e. emotion), and volition (i.e. will).
As a person, God has the power of understanding. God is aware of Himself. A basic characteristic of personality is self-awareness, the ability to know oneself. When God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM" (Ex. 3:14), God was describing Himself according to His own perception. He exists in Himself and is aware of who He is. God is said to know and have known (cf. Gen. 18:19; Ex. 3:7; Acts 15:18). The infinite wisdom and knowledge of God are clearly taught in the Bible (cf. Jer. 39:19). The Bible also pictures God remembering (cf. Gen. 8:1; Ex. 2:24), which implies classifying that which He knows because He is a rational and orderly God (cf. 1 Cor. 14:40).
As a person, God has the capacity for and ability to express emotion (cf. Gen. 6:6; Jn. 3:16; Ps. 103:8-13; Ex. 3:7-8; Jn. 11:35; Ps. 7:11). Since God is perfect, His feelings are pure in their source and perfect in their expression.
As a person, God has the power and freedom to do as He chooses (self-determination). Personhood is associated with freedom. There is nothing that makes God do or be anything. God is free to follow the direction of His nature (cf. Rom. 9:11; Heb. 6:17; Job 23:13). Animals do not have personhood; they act out of instinct. Persons make rational or volitional choices. The ultimate act of personality is the power to make rational decisions that give self-direction to one's life.
When we consider the essence of God's personhood is love, we are suggesting that God is fully aware of who He is (i.e. love), He can express His love perfectly, and He freely chose you as the object of His love!
(NOTE: The content of this blog post is exactly the type of subject matter we are studying on Wednesday nights through CLASS 203: Systematic Theology from 6:15pm until 7:15pm.)
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Dr. Chris Dortch has been in vocational ministry since 1993. His blog is aimed to "equip the saints for the work of ministry."