Graeme Goldsworthy on God’s Attributes

God has been revealing himself within the whole process of biblical history. His character is not presented as a series of abstract ideas, such as holiness, omnipotence, righteousness and so on. Rather, God reveals himself in the midst of his deeds that he himself interprets by his Word. From his activity as creator, judge, covenant-maker and redeemer, we learn the meaning of words like, holy, almighty and righteousness as they apply to God.

(Graeme Goldworthy, According to Plan, 189)

It may seem to be cutting things a little to fine, but the distinction is an important one. God is not defined by his attributes. God defines his attributes.

Perhaps one of the reasons “God is love” is so often misused is because many people wish to define “God” by their (mis)understanding of “love.” God’s word, and God’s actions described and demonstrated in his word, define the true meaning of love.

Wilhelmus á Brakel on the vehement love of God

Oh wondrous love! God, who is love, sets his infinite love in motion to cherish with love such persons who in themselves are hateful, despicable, and condemnable. This love is not generated by the desirability of the object, but it originates within Himself, being desirous to love and to love specific individuals. Observe the following concerning this love: “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3); “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us” (Eph. 2:4). This love is so great, vehement, and incomprehensible that the Lord Himself exclaimed in amazement, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).

Love was the origin of eternal election;
love sent Jesus into the world to be their Surety;
love drew them out of the world to Him, translating them into the kingdom His love;
love radiates continually upon them;
love preserves them;
love brings them to glory;
and love engenders a perfect union with, and love for, Him.

This would not be credible if God Himself had not said this. Since God does say this, however, we now wish to believe and acknowledge this, rejoice in this, and be engaged in adoration. We wish to give Him glory, and being ignited by His love, to love Him in return. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).