How Do We Know the Bible Is God's Love Letter to Us?
How Do We Know the Bible Is God's Love Letter to Us?
Heather Riggleman Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Maybe, for you, the Bible isn’t recognizable as God’s love letter because of books like Hosea or Leviticus and Numbers. Who wants to read about a prostitute or hundreds of rules, or digest stories of how someone lost their lives because they disobeyed God?
What Does it Mean that Bible Is God's Love Letter?
When Chris went off to college, he moved two hours away, but he may as well have been halfway across the world. After all, these were the days of dial-up internet and extra-long phone chords. Naturally, he picked up a pen and began writing letters on wide college-ruled paper. Every day after school, I would rush home and run straight for the mailbox. Anxiously, I would sift through the mail looking for his chicken scratch penmanship and when he did send a letter I was glued to the sidewalk as I read his words. Oh, how he made my teenage heart go “pitter-pat” as he shared his deepest thoughts and expressed his love for me. I had never encountered that kind of love until God welcomed me into His family as His beloved daughter. As I thumbed through the crisp, thin, silver-lined pages of my first Bible, the words I consumed were God’s love letter. Like Chris’s letters, I looked forward to my daily time in the Word.
Today, God’s first love letter to me sits ribbon-bound on a shelf. The cover is threadbare, the binding is tattered and torn. Needless to say, I read the Bible to pieces from cover to cover. In those early days of toddling around in my newfound faith, I realized how the Bible was God’s letter to all of His children because it’s filled with His eternal, undying love for us. It tells of how He came up with a plan to rescue the world from evil after we messed it all up. And how He longs to adopt every last one of us as His children. It goes on to show us how He demonstrated that love for us and He took the time to tell us how to protect our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Like a proud and protective papa, the Bible is filled with the plans He has for our lives weaved in with words of wisdom with instructions for our daily lives.
How Can We See Love Written All over the Bible?
Maybe, for you, the Bible isn’t recognizable as God’s love letter because of books like Hosea or Leviticus and Numbers. Who wants to read about a prostitute or hundreds of rules, or digest stories of how someone lost their lives because they disobeyed God? But we if take the time to read through these books, we find the author sharing how His children strayed. We read how their actions brought consequences. And we read how it broke God’s heart. We also learn there’s an adversary who wants nothing more than to see God’s children suffer. But here’s the plot twist, God does something out of this world to save us all as He sends His one and only Son to take our place on the cross and redeem us from evil. After the protagonist, Jesus arrives on the scene, letters are sent to churches with specific instructions to guard our hearts and how to reach the rest of our brothers and sisters who are lost. But this is where the waters get murky. We must be careful not to make the central story about us; it’s about God. When we read a letter, the letter we receive isn’t about us—it’s about the author. It contains accounts of historical events, thoughts, observations, and feelings of the author. We find the Bible is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, correcting, and training up in righteousness so we can be angled mirrors reflecting heaven to all of God’s children.
The truth is this—the Bible isn’t about you, it’s about God’s love for you. While the Bible is clearly written FOR us, it can’t be said that every verse and passage is written TO us.
What Does the Bible Say about God's Love?
Depending on which version of the Bible you read, the word love has been recorded 791 times in the NRSV and 745 times in the ESV. From Genesis to Revelation, we learn of a God who was motivated by love to save the world. His greatest sacrifice was through Jesus Christ and He never required us to be worthy to receive it. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Our understanding of love is flawed, weak, and incomplete because we are human. God’s ways are higher than our ways but the more we look at Jesus, the better we understand true love. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
His great love for us teaches us that we are to love others the way that God loves us, like a family (1 Peter 2:17). As reflect His selfless love, we reflect God’s love to a lost and dark world. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). He instructs us to love our enemies too (Matthew 5:44).
If we were to highlight a few verses about God’s love for us. It would sound something like this:
Dear Beloved Child, (1 John 3:2).
I want you to know just how much I love you (John 3:16).
I’ve loved you from the beginning, long before knew me or loved me (1 John 4:19).
You are a crown of glory in my hand (Isaiah 62:3).
I know everything about you. Even from a distance, I know what you’re thinking and doing (Psalm 139:1).
I know when you sit down and when you rise up (Psalm 139:2).
I am familiar with all your ways (Psalm 139:3).
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered (Matthew 10:29-31).
Because I fashioned you in my own image (Genesis 1:27).
In me you live and move and have your being (Acts 17:28).
Before you were even conceived, I knew you (Jeremiah 1:4-5).
I will never stop doing good to you (Jeremiah 32:40).
When I created this world, I had already chosen you (Ephesians 1:11-12).
Always remember you are not a mistake. You were planned for a purpose and each day of your life is written in my book (Psalm 139:15-16).
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26).
My thoughts toward you are as countless as the sand on the seashore (Psalm 139:17-18).
You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
I knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).
I promise to establish, root, and ground your life with all my heart and all my soul (Jeremiah 32:41).
My love is made complete when you receive my love, love me above all else, and love others (1 John 4:7-21).
I will make your righteousness to shine like the dawn (Psalm 37:6).
When you face darkness, trouble, or the paths in life get dark, I will be the light on your path (Psalm 119:105).
When you are tempted to sin, look for the way out that I will always offer (1 Corinthians 10:13).
I will rescue your true self from sin (Romans 7:14-25).
Resist the devil and submit to me (James 4:7).
Sometimes you will fail and that’s okay. Remember to turn to me. I am waiting for you with open arms, quick to forgive you and to give you another chance (Luke 15:11-31).
To help you in this life, I will give you precious gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, and all the fruit of my Spirit to fill your soul so your joy will overflow and you can share with others (Galatians 5:22-23).
When anxiety threatens to rise, when need floods your heart, remember how precious you are to me, and don’t worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34).
So give your burdens to me and let me give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
Talk to me when you’re anxious and let me put you at peace (Philippians 4:6).
I’ll comfort you in your time of sadness (Matthew 5:4).
I’ll collect all your tears in my bottle and record each one in my book (Psalm 56:8).
I will turn your weakness into strength (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
So call to me and I will answer you (Jeremiah 33:3).
Tune into your heart and you will sense my instructions (Psalm 16:7).
My plans are to prosper you and not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11),
To give you abundant life (John 10:10).
So show your love for me by loving those who are in need (1 John 3:17-18).
You are the light of the world so shine my light to those who are lost (Matthew 5:14).
Love Your Almighty Dad.
14 Ways to Hear God's Loving Words in Your Scripture Reading Today
Wow! How stunning and incomprehensible is His love for us! God is constantly telling us how much he loves us. We merely need to take the time to sit down in His presence and soak it up. Here are 14 ways to hear God’s loving words in your scripture reading today.
Renew your mind. Read the Word. Remember to read it in context.
Thank God for the blessings in your life. Practice gratitude daily. Make it a prayer.
Learn to recognize God’s voice above all others.
Read the Bible in context. Understand it was written for you, not to you.
Set aside time to just be with God.
Commit to consistency in being with God, being in His word.
Ask Him to give you a thirst for His Word.
Read the Bible like it’s a conversation.
Ask Him to help you be aware of temptations and ask for wisdom, strength, and discernment to flee from sin.
When you do sin, ask for forgiveness and a clean heart.
Ask Him questions about what you are reading. Ask for understanding. Ask for wisdom and understanding of the context.
Never make the Bible about you.
Keep a journal—it can be a prayer journal, a Bible study journal, or a daily gratitude journal.
Pray God’s Word.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/kieferpix
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.