Have you ever wondered what Acts 10:44 means when it says, “the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the word”? The Greek word, which is here translated, fell on, means to embrace fervently. To say the Holy Spirit fell on those who heard, is to say that He passionately embraced them. Do you know what it’s like to be hugged by God?
If that’s hard to imagine, think of how the father greeted the prodigal son. Luke uses the same word in Acts 10 as he does when telling the story of the prodigal’s return:
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Lk 15:20)
The father in the story fell on the prodigal in the same way that the Holy Spirit fell on those who heard – in a passionate embrace. Jesus told us the story of the prodigal to give us a vivid insight into how God the Father relates to us. His love is not cold and distant, but passionate and close. In his excellent book The Lost Secret of the New Covenant, Malcolm Smith describes it in terms of a bear hug:
“When we say that God loves us, we must never think of that in terms of a cold statement of doctrine; we must understand that the Holy Spirit is God in the act of loving us, embracing and enfolding His arms about us. The Holy Spirit is God running to us, flinging His arms around us, and passionately loving us.” (p.195)
The most important thing you need to know about God, is that He is love (1 Jn 4:16). Love is not just an emotion that He experiences from time; He is love and His love is not like ours. The normal human expression of love, eros, is a reaction to loveliness. It is love inspired by the beauty of another. But this type of love is found nowhere in the New Testament and it is not how God loves. He loves with spontaneous agape love. This love originates within God’s heart and no one can know it without knowing Him (1 Jn 4:19).
It is entirely consistent with God’s loving nature to give bear hugs to unlovely, unworthy people! It is essential that you grasp this. If you cannot conceive of God wrapping you up in His mighty arms of love, then you will never be able to grasp His goodness, His grace, and His lovingkindness toward you.
In The Lost Secret of the New Covenant, Malcolm Smith says some wonderful things about the love of God. Here are 15 of my favorite love quotes from that book:
Top Malcolm Smith quotes on the love of God
1. “He set His love upon us before we were born, and therefore with no reference to our behavior or works whether they were good or evil.” (p.62)
2. “Agape is not wakened or created by the beauty of its object, but arises spontaneously from the heart of God. It is therefore a love that cannot be earned or deserved… His love for us originates in who He is, not in our being loveable.” (p.59)
3. “‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Jer 31:3)… An everlasting love is an unconditional love.” (p.62)
4. “The declarations and promises of God’s forgiveness in the Old Testament sprang from the heart of the God who is everlasting, unconditional love. He did not begin to be a loving and forgiving God after Jesus died.” (p.183)
5. “His covenant love is greater than the covenant. It explains when the human breaks covenant that His heart of lovingkindness still reaches after them and will not let them go.” (p.45)
6. “You were conceived into the love of God in the womb. You were birthed into the arms of His love. You are the object of His love here and now, simply because you exist.” (p.64)
7. “He loves you not only because you are here, but also you are here because He loved you into existence.” (p.24)
8. “The decision to create us in the light of what we would do is God’s telling us that He would rather die than live without us.” (p.184)
9. “Preaching the Gospel, we are announcing the news of the revelation of who God is and how He feels about us. We stand on the street corners of the world shouting the news that God is not the way we thought He was – He loves us!… This is the greatest news in the world.” (p.57)
10. “The Gospel declares the incredible news that our relationship to God is not based on ‘if’ and ‘then’ but rather on ‘because’ and ‘therefore’.” (p.60)
11. “He makes covenant not to create lovingkindness, but in order that we might see that His heart is lovingkindness from eternity.” (p.43)
12. “All of our whining that He could not love us does not stop Him from loving us!” (p.72)
13. “It is a shock to many who would settle for a life of serving God that, above all else, He fervently desires our friendship. He desires us infinitely more than we desire Him.” (p.279)
14. “The love of God… is the magnetic north of truth by which we fix our position as we stumble lost in the wilderness of the world… To know that His love for us depends on Him and not on us is the beginning of the way out of our futile, meaningless lives and religious despair.” (p.62)
15. “While we are in a frenzy of doing for Him, we are in grave danger of missing the whole point of the Gospel – which is being with Him… He has many servants but few friends!” (p.284)