“God is love only,” theology is pervasive in American Christianity. It isolates, for the most part, one attribute of our infinite God. The ramifications are far more profound than most Christians realize. Love only, produces a highly distorted view of God. Love is all we need was the doctrine of the Beatles, but it is not true according to the Scripture. “Faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love (1 Cor 13:13),” but greatest does not mean first.
“Truth first,” should be the slogan of every church because without truth, we are hopelessly lost in love…of different kinds. There is little or no room for reprobation, judgment, vengeance, wrath, hell, eternal fire when love is isolated. God is angry with the wicked every day (Ps 7:11). God hates those who do iniquity (Ps 5:5; 11:5). God does so much more than just love.
The Bible gives us the full revelation of what God has deemed best for us to know of Him. God is true (Rom 3:4). Jesus Christ is truth (Jn 14:6), and the Spirit of truth reveals all things to guide us into all truth (Jn 16:13). Not all love is true, so to put love first, one must ask, “Which love first?” When truth is first, there is no inquiry necessary. All truth is God’s truth. True love must be a subcategory of the truth.
The truth sets us free to love with true love (Gal 5:1). God is love, true love (1 Jn 4:8). God demonstrates His love by electing his people to salvation (Eph 1:4–5), with Christ dying for them (Rom 5:8). God actually saves the people He loves (Gal 3:13; Eph 5:25; 1 Pet 2:24). Thus, clearly, He does not love all people because all people are not saved. This is the truth about God’s love.
Men who put love first can easily distort truth. For example, a meme from a professed Christian, “Repost if you’d be okay if your friend came out to be gay. Let’s see how many gayphobic people we can weed out.” Really? The basis of this distortion is that God loves every person. We have seen from Scripture how this is not true. They further deceive others by declaring, “Christ died for everyone.” They presume this is His love for each person. Truly, love does not fail (1 Cor 13:8), but if all men are not saved, then Christ, who is God, who is love, has failed. Faulty interpretation of the Scripture invariably leads to bad theology.
Men put love first, instead of truth, so they might deceive people, in order to add numbers to their church growth movements. There is nothing like truth to separate men from the church. If a man despises the truth, it will be known of him. He cannot tolerate the truth of God’s Word. Some area of truth, preached from the whole counsel of God, will rub him wrong. Think of the rich young ruler (Mt 19:16–22), Christ Jesus loved him, but that man did not want the truth (at least on that encounter with our Lord), for he did not receive the irresistible grace that would save Him. Contrast him with Zacchaeus, who did not depart from the truth about himself, and the truth that he needed salvation. He received it by grace.
Love for the truth, means the truth about love will be embraced by those who walk in love, walking in truth (2 Jn 1:4). Diluted or distorted love wins the crowd, but the truth about love will divide the crowd. Truth first.
Truth is one, but love has many versions! If truth sets us free from lies, then true love, being truth, accomplishes much. False love, fake love, and any other kind of love is ready to deceive. The church is not immune to the lies about love. Therefore, the church needs truth before love.
Once the church embraces the Word of truth, it receives true love to do all of its good work. We must be careful not to sever love and truth because God is one; God is love; and Jesus Christ is truth.
Our issue here has been the distortion caused by love first, instead of truth first. We have seen the simplicity of truth and the complexity of love, being distorted. For truth to be distorted, it simply becomes a lie. For love, it is complex and confused without truth.
Thus we can conclude that love and truth must dwell together. To put love first, and almost exclusive from other attributes of God, is dangerous. To put truth first invites love to be tested by truth, to determine that it is true love. This is the love of God, and we must speak the truth about it.
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 17, 2021