God's Three Great Loves

by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

(Chapter 12 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Salvation is More than Being Saved)

There are three great loves in the heart of God.  The first of these loves is holiness.  If there is anything that God loves, it is holiness!  In Isaiah 6:3 it says, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts."  Now why does it say thrice that God is holy?  God is a threefold being; He is God the Father, He is God the Son, He is God the Holy Spirit.  God is saying, "Holy is the Father, Holy is the Son, and Holy is the Spirit."  In Revelation 4:8 it says, "Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty."  What does this mean?  Our almighty God is a threefold creature, and His name is called Holy—Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit.  Forty-one times in the Word of God our God is called the Most Holy.  Twenty times He is called the Holy One.  Thirty-one times He is called the Holy One of Israel. Twenty-four times in the Bible we find this statement: "Holy is His name."  The first love of God is holiness.

The second of God's three great loves is justice.  God loves justice!  In Acts 3:14 He is called “the Just.”  In Acts 7:52 God is called “the Just One.”  In Acts 22:14 God is called “that Just One.”  In Jeremiah 50:7 it says that the Lord is "the habitation of justice."  In Job 8:3 we read, "Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?"

The third great love of God—and this is the good one—is man!  These are God's three great loves.  Now I am not talking now about God the Father's three great loves.  I am talking about God the Trinity's three great loves!  Of course, there is no love to compare with the love the Son has for the Father, the love the Son has for the Spirit, the love the Spirit has for the Father, and the love the Spirit has for the Son.  I am talking about God as a Godhead now--three personalities in one Godhead.  Then I'm saying that the great love of that God is first, holiness; second, justice; and third, man.

All three of these walked with God in beautiful harmony in the Garden of Eden.  When God made man and fellowshipped with man in the Garden of Eden, God had with Him His three great loves.  He had holiness, He had justice, and He had man, but something tragic happened.  Man threw a monkey wrench in that beautiful fellowship that God had with His three great loves.  Man sinned.  You see, God gave man a will because God wanted man to be able to choose to love God.  God did not want some robots forced to love Him.  God wanted us to have a will that we might choose to love Him.

God is faced with a dilemma!  Here is His love-holiness, and here is His love-justice, and here is His love-man, but man, one of God's three great loves, has sinned!  God has a dilemma.  He cannot have all three!  God cannot have man, since he sinned, and justice and holiness.  The Word of God had said, "The soul that sinneth, it shall surely die."  "The wages of sin is death."  "Sin when it is finished bringeth forth death."  God had promised a condemnation on sin, and that condemnation was separation from God.  God can no longer have all three of His great loves.  If sin goes unpunished, and if God receives man back without sin being punished, then God loses justice, for justice requires punishment for sin!  If God were to say to Adam and Eve, "Come on back; all is forgiven," then man would not receive punishment for his sin and God would lose His justice, and if God loses His justice, then God loses His holiness, for if God is not just, God is not holy!

Now God has one choice of two: God can lose man and retain holiness and justice, or God can receive man back and lose His holiness and justice.  God chose to keep holiness and justice and lose man!  That is why God put Cherubims at the east of the Garden of Eden with a flaming sword.  That flaming sword was going round and round all the time.  Why was that flaming sword there?  It had to keep Adam and Eve from getting back to the tree of life, for if Adam and Eve had gotten back to the tree of life and eaten of it, they would have lived forever, and God would not have had His justice satisfied, and God would not be holy!  That is why nobody can get saved because he turns over a new leaf.  Turning over a new leaf does not satisfy the justice of God!  If God is not just, God is not holy, and if God is not holy, God is not God.  The very existence of the Godhead is dependent on His holiness.

A person walks down the aisle in a church.  He says, "I am going to do better!  I am going to turn over a new leaf!  I am going to live right.  I am going to quit my drinking!  I am going to quit my gambling!  I am going to quit my profane life!  I am going to quit my cursing!"  Then he turns over a new leaf.  If God said to him, "Okay, come on back," then God's justice would not have been satisfied because payment for sin would not have been made, and God would have lost His justice, and he who is not just is not holy because being unjust is the epitome of sin!  If God loses His justice, He loses His holiness, and if God let one sinner get to Heaven by turning over a new leaf, God would not be God, and God would not be just!

A person who walks down the aisle and says, "I want to get baptized," and gets baptized in order that it might help save him, cannot be saved!  If God saved one person because he was baptized, God would not be just; hence, God would not be holy; hence, God would not be God.

If one person came down the aisle and trusted the church, and if God let a person come to Himself and let him back into fellowship with his God because he belonged to the church, then God's justice would not be satisfied; and if God is not just, God is not holy, and if God is not holy, God is not God!

There is more to this than being a Baptist!  We say, "We Baptists believe in the security of the believer, in salvation by grace through faith."  There's more to it than that, brother.  It is not the Baptist church at stake; it is the deity of God at stake!  If God lets one sinner come to Himself apart from the penalty on sin being paid, God is no longer God and God has lost his justice, His holiness and His deity!

Remember, in the Garden of Eden there was blessed fellowship the justice of God, the holiness of God and man, but man sinned!  He left God.  God turned His back on man because God had to turn His back on man in order for God to retain His deity.  He had to be just.  You say, "Brother Hyles, we just don't see it that way.  We believe you can take the Holy Eucharist and go to Heaven."

You can eat the holy cow and not go to Heaven, buddy!  You are going to have to have God's justice satisfied.  Though God loves you, if He would let one person get back to Himself without the sin debt being paid, then God would not be God, and the sun would melt the earth, the moon would fall from its lofty position, the stars would fall from the sky and the universe would crumble!  There would be no universe and no God!  There is more to it than Baptist doctrine.  It is the very doctrine of the existence of the Godhead!  God says, "I cannot let man back if he decides to do better, for man has sinned! I love man.  I want him back.  I want him back, but if I take him back at the expense of justice, then I have lost justice. If I take him back at the expense of justice, I've lost holiness.  If I have lost justice and holiness, I have lost My deity.

Yes, God chose to turn His back on man; nevertheless, He loved man, and God said, "'Mere has to be some way that I can take man back and still keep justice and still keep holiness!"  Here is the core of the message. Do not miss this.

God the Son stepped forward in the foreordinate counsel of eternity and said, "Father, let Me make a suggestion.  Let Me go to earth.  Let Me become a man.  Let Me be born of a virgin.  Let Me live a perfect life.  Let Me fulfill the law. Let Me become righteousness and never sin.  Let Me then go to a cross and let Me take all the sins of all mankind and let Me place them upon Myself and charge them to My name.  Then let Me die on the cross, and then You turn Your back on Me, and You accept My payment as payment in full for the sins of man.  Then I will be buried and rise after three days and three nights, and then, Father, man's sin will be paid for, and You then can receive man back without losing justice; hence, without losing holiness!"

Let me tell you something.  We need to realize the bigness and greatness of our great salvation.  I mean, our salvation is based on God being God, and God cannot be God if He forgives one sin because a fellow goes to a confessional booth and asks the priest to forgive him.  If God would forgive one sin because the pope absolved the sin, God would not be God.  Why? Sin has to be paid for!

You say, "Now wait a minute.  The priest is paying for that sin."  No, the priest has his own sins to worry about.  There must be Somebody Who does not sin.  Somebody must pay the debt Who does not owe the debt.  Somebody must bear the price Who does not owe the price!

There is only One Who never sinned, and that is God Himself!  So God Himself came to earth, was born of a virgin, became a man, God incarnate and God in the flesh, and He lived here 33 years.  He never said a word He should not have said.  He never thought a thought He should not have thought.  He never trod a path He should not have trodden.  He never had a motive He should not have had.  He never saw that which was sinful to see.  No sin entered into Him, and even His bitterest enemies said, "Surely this was the Son of God!"  The one who guarded Him said, "Truly, I find no fault in Him."  I am saying that Jesus never sinned!  He Who never sinned went to Calvary.  He paid the penalty for sin, but He did not have to pay the penalty for His own sin, so He was paying the penalty for your sin and my sin!

Away with church joining for salvation; that does not satisfy the justice of God.  Away with baptismal regeneration; that does not satisfy the justice of God.  Away with communion salvation; that does not satisfy the justice of Almighty God.  Nothing could satisfy the holiness and justice of a righteous God unless the sin debt be paid.

The old song says this so beautifully.

"I hear the Saviour say,

'Thy strength indeed is small, Child of weakness, watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all.'

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe,

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."

Listen, you have to get the debt paid! The debt is the debt of death.

When God the Father turned His back on God the Son and Jesus cried, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" and saw the back side of God for the first time in eternity and had His fellowship with God broken for the first time, what was He doing?  He was taking your sin and mine and all the sins of all the whole world and was placing those on His account!  He then stood as a drunkard before God, as a harlot before God, as a thief before God and as a liar before God, and God the Father looked at His own precious Son and said, "Guilty!"  God saw Him as a sinner!  He Who was perfect became imperfect.  He Who was righteous became sinful! He Who was rich became poor.  He Who was God became man.  Why?  So He could pay our sin debt.

Now since the sin debt is paid, God can look to sinful man and say, "Man, I can now take you back, and if I take you back, I can keep My justice and My holiness too!"

Blessed be God, there is a way that God can have His three great loves restored to Him.  God must choose between man and justice and holiness, if man is a sinner.  God chose justice and holiness.  Now He says to man, "You can come back."  When Jesus Christ died on the cross, the lower point of the cross was pointing to the Hell from whence He saved us, and the top point was pointing to the Heaven to which He saved us, and the arms were extended to the east and west which said now anybody could come back and be received by the Father, but it must be inside the confinements of the justice of Almighty God!  Away with confirmation salvation!  Away with baby sprinkling salvation!  Away with baptismal regeneration salvation!  Away with communion salvation!  Fifty cheers for grace salvation, for by grace and grace alone, God in His own infinite wisdom devised a plan whereby man can get back to God and justice and holiness do not have to leave God!  Now God can receive man back, and blessed be God, there is a way that for eternity you and justice and holiness and God can live forever in perfect peace.

Now this is all contingent on one thing, and that is man's acceptance!  Do you understand how much God loved us?  God loved us so much that He could not take us back, because He would not have been God if He had taken us back.  If Adam and Eve had gotten back into the Garden and eaten of the tree of life and lived forever, they would have lived forever without the penalty for sin being paid.  It matters not who you are, you are not going to get to Heaven until your sin debt is paid!

I was on an airplane, and I sat down by a fellow and said, "Sir, in what kind of business are you?"

He said, "I'm an accountant, a CPA, a Certified Public Accountant. "

After awhile I started talking to him and said, "Could I tell you a story?",

He said, "What is it?"

I took a piece of paper. I said, "I want to talk to you about bookkeeping for a few minutes.  I want to put your name up here (His name was Joe).  I'll just put Joe Blow up here.  Okay, Joe, there is your name.  You have some sins charged against your name in Heaven.  I stole a baseball glove once when I was a kid.  Did you ever steal anything?"

He said, "Yes, I did."

So I wrote "stealing" there under his name on that piece of paper.  Then I said, "Joe, I said a bad word once when I was a boy. Did you ever say a bad word?"

"Yes, I did."

I wrote "cursing" on that piece of paper.  Then I said, "Joe, I have hated folks before, have you?"

He said, "Yes, I have."

I wrote "hatred" on that piece of paper.  "Joe," I said, "we will let these marks represent all the things that I have done and you have done.  You are an accountant, this is your ledger.  Because you're an accountant, you know this-the books must be balanced, but you cannot balance that.  The price on that is death or Hell (and I put the word "Hell" opposite his sins).  There you are.  You have a sin debt, but you have never paid it yet.  You will have to pay it someday.  Let me show you another piece of paper in the ledger."

I took another piece of paper and wrote "Jesus" at the top.  Joe watched me intently.  I said, "Joe, one time Jesus went to Calvary.  He suffered Hell, so I shall write over here, 'Jesus paid Hell'  Jesus must have had something He owed.  Joe, tell me something bad about Jesus."

He said, "What?"

I said, "Well, Jesus paid the payment; He must have had the merchandise.  Tell me something bad about Jesus."

He said, "I don't know anything bad about Jesus."  I said, "Tell me something good about Him."

He said, "Love," and I wrote "love" under Jesus' name.  He said, "Merciful," and I put "merciful."  He said, "Kind," and I put "kind," and we listed a lot of things about Jesus.

I said, "Okay, Joe, if there is no debt registered to Jesus but there is a credit, He doesn't need that credit, does He, because He has no debit?"

He said, "No.  He has a plus one."

I said, "Yes, and you have a minus one!  You have a debit and no credit!  Don't you think it would be a good idea for you to let Jesus transfer His credit to your debit?  He doesn't need it, and you've got to have it!  Do you know what He will do?  If you right now on this airplane would bow your head and look up to God and say, 'Dear God, I trust Jesus as my Saviour and put my hope in Him to take me to Heaven,' God would take your name off of this bad list and put Jesus' name on this bad list.  God would see Jesus as guilty of stealing, cursing, lying and cheating.  God would take Jesus' record here which says, "love, mercy and kindness," and God would put your name up here.  Joe, if you would receive Christ right now, God would transfer His credit to your debit, and you would have your sin debt paid and your books would be balanced, and you could go to Heaven to live forever!  Joe, that isn't all! If you did that right now, the moment you put your faith in Christ, God would take your record and tear it up-all those sins God would put behind His back and would remember your sins no more!"

Joe said, "I'm not very smart, but I am an accountant, and I know that's a good deal."  Joe bowed his head and prayed the sinner's prayer, and God Almighty looked down and saw His justice satisfied because Joe was trusting the payment of Jesus on the cross as his hope for Heaven.  When he did, then God was happiest of all.  God said, "Hallelujah! I got man back; I got old Joe back, and I got to keep My justice too, and I got to keep My holiness!"

This is a strange thing.  I have never said this before, but God likes being God!  He likes His job!  I had never said that in my life, but God likes His job.  He doesn't want to lose it, and so to keep His job of being God, He had to keep His justice, for if He loses justice, He loses holiness.  If He loses holiness, He loses His throne, and if God is cast off His throne, man has no hope!  Thanks be to God, the old account was settled long ago, for God in His mercy allowed His Son to come to earth, take upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh, and pay for sin in the flesh! Now anybody can be saved if he will look to Jesus and say, "Jesus, I don't deserve it, and I'm not coming with my good life because I tried and can't do that.  I'm not coming with the holy water, because that doesn't do any good.  I'm coming with the only thing that will satisfy the justice of Almighty God and thereby keep Him holy and thereby keep Him God. Jesus, I receive You as my Saviour by faith!  I'm not trusting what I do but what You did.  I'm not trusting my works, what I do, what the church does, what the priest does, what the preacher does, what the rabbi does or what the pope does! I'm not trusting what anybody does; I'm trusting what Jesus did."

When you trust Him as your Saviour, God in Heaven claps His hands and says, "Glory be! Glory be! Glory be to justice!  My justice was satisfied.  My holiness is still intact.  I've got man back now."  God, man, justice and holiness can live together forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.

Here we find the three great loves of God.  Everything is contingent on what you do with Jesus' payment for your sin.  God wants you back, but God won't take you back and lose His justice.  God would rather have His justice than you because the nature of God is justice.  God would rather have His holiness than you because the nature of God is holiness.

God said, "Okay, man is gone.  I've got a choice.  I can take man back and lose both of you, justice and holiness, or keep both of you and lose man, or I can think of some plan whereby if man will come to me by faith I can have you, justice, and you, holiness, and you, man!  Somebody ought to write a song comparable to "My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary" and "Jesus Saviour, pilot me over life's tempestuous sea," about the mighty, amazing plan of God whereby God Almighty could keep His justice and holiness and receive man back to Himself.  It is a marvelous plan!  It is the only plan through which God can take you back and have anything to offer you when He receives you back!


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