When God loves it is God first willing to reveal Himself toward an unworthy creature, not in his wrath (which the creature deserves) but in his love (which the creature is unworthy of receiving).
When speaking about God it’s always crucial to remember that we are speaking about He who is incomprehensible, the infinite One of Whom finite language cannot fully describe or define. Thus, theologians have rightly stated that most language concerning the Being of God is analogical, rather than univocal; there’s no one to one equivalency between the words we use to describe God and the reality of who and what God is in and of himself. And yet, though our words fall short, we cannot not talk about God. We follow Augustine in how he began his Confessions that though there are not words enough to fully express the truth of who God is, “Yet woe to them that speak not of Thee at all.”
When it comes to speaking about who and what God is, it hardly gets more difficult than when speaking about his so-called “affections”, “passions” or even the so-called “emotional” life of God. When we’re told that God so loved the world, are we to understand the way in which God loves to be roughly synonymous with how people love? Traditionally, Christians have said no, the two are not entirely synonymous. John Owen could rightly say that “It is agreed by all that those expressions of repenting, grieving, and the like, are figurative, wherein no such affections are intended as those words signify in created natures, but only an event of things like that which proceedeth from such affections.”
Classically, orthodox Christians have affirmed the truth of God’s impassibility, the understanding that God is without passions. Consider chapter 2 and part 1 of the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith which states that “The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; whose subsistence is in and of himself, infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions…”
So what exactly is meant by passions? What are affections, or emotions for that matter? And why have Christians throughout the ages been so adamant that God does not have passions? We’ll define some terms in a moment, but it’s good to say upfront that what’s being protected in the doctrine of Divine Impassibility is any creatureliness or finitude within the Godhead. If being impassioned or passible is an inescapable component of created creatures, then to be Divine must mean that God is impassible. Joel Beeke puts it this way: “Impassibility is an aspect of the biblical distinction between the eternal Creator and his creation that guards his divine transcendence. God’s creation changes and perishes, “but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end” (Ps. 102:27).”