13. How do we know that?
By His Word, in which He declares His mercy to us in Christ, and assures us of His love toward us.
It is quite presumptuous to think that God loves us. After all, he is infinitely holy in all of his being (Ps. 99; Is. 6), and he is the standard of righteousness (Deut. 32:4). Yet to rely on God, we must believe that he is almighty and perfectly good, and that he, in fatherly, saving love, works that might and goodness for our favor. So how do we know that God loves us?
God has demonstrated his love to us in Christ, as it is written in the Scriptures (Rom. 5:6-8). For the apostle Paul, this was a truth that took his breath away. Who would give his life for a righteous person. Consider the recent presidential campaigns. Millions of people devoted their time and energy to one man, believing that this person was the best leader for our country. But would any of them take a bullet for him? The numbers would drop drastically. If very few would give their lives for a good person, how much lower would the numbers be of those who would give their lives for an evil person! How many people have volunteered to take the chair or the injection for someone on Death Row? Yet this is precisely what Christ did! He took the wrath of the Father upon himself so that we would receive the love of the Father for eternity.
This assurance was the motivation for Paul’s call to suffer (Rom. 5:1-5; 8:31-39), and it was the reason why the exiles could rejoice in their suffering (1 Pet. 1:3-9). God’s love is not for warm fuzzies; it’s for strong warriors. It’s for the faith that leads to suffering. It’s for the faith that honors God.