There is more than one way that we may come to know that God is Love; but ultimately there should be an experience of personal
revelation leading to a choice which can become personal conviction; this also confirmed by the authority of people (and books etc) that
personal revelation tells us is valid.
It seems to me that the clear and repeated (and new, clear, unambiguous) message of Jesus in the
Gospels is that 'God is love' first-and-foremost; and that love is
primary; and I think the rest of the Bible needs to be understood by
that principle - even when (as in the Old Testament) the people of the
time sometimes understood it differently.
The main reason I have
come to favour and believe Mormon theology, is that it has gone further
than any other to base itself upon God being essentially loving (including being prepared to
follow-through the necessary implication that this must mean a
less-than-omnipotent God); and how this implies a universe ultimately based-on relationships between personages/ agents; and I can see how this has
worked-out and continues to unfold in practice over the past 180 years.
Now that I am personally convinced of
the nature of God as love; then whenever I come across something in
life, history or the Bible which seems to contradict this (such as the
descriptions of Hell which apparently make it into everlasting and agonizing
punishment inflicted on Man for the sins of Adam and Eve - i.e. God inflicting infinite and total punishment for a finite and partial transgression) then I know
that this is a human misunderstanding of what is really going-on.
Even when I cannot (at present) think of a
coherent alternative explanation which preserves the essentially loving
nature of God; then I trust that there is such an explanation: if only I knew
more and was more intelligent.
As an immature and rather weak and only partly-good child of God I
cannot expect to know everything; nor can anybody.
But we can all trust our loving Father; and
indeed only a (wholly) loving Father is worthy of total trust - even
if His powers necessarily are limited and constrained; and even if He may be capable of mistakes.
Over the long run of eternity, because God does indeed love us wholly, and is indeed of immense power and
intelligence (immense being too small a word!) - He will heal us of any
and all sufferings and sorrows (heal us, but not make it as if we
never had suffered).
I don't really understand how Christ's
atonement did this for us (I cannot imagine the process; I have not had
that revelation) except that Christ's incarnation, death and
resurrection was done for us - for our healing; but also it was done for Christ's
own ability to heal us. Christ had to become Man in order to be able
to heal us, somehow it enabled him to do what could not otherwise have
(But not because of satisfying the demands of divine 'justice'! That is a silly and cruel
pseudo-explanation, although often well intentioned.)
Anyway, at some deep
level of how reality 'works', personally undergoing the sequence of incarnation, death and resurrection
was necessary to Christ's power to save us.) It seems clear that it is also
necessary that if we hope to follow Christ, we too must go through this
But the whole thing is voluntary, chosen, at every major step.
So if (having died) we do not wish to follow Christ and become his friend - then we
can have (or can experience) an impersonal and seemingly-timeless bliss
in absorbed awareness of the good-ness of ultimate reality (i.e. Nirvana) - for as long
as we wish to experience it, which might be forever.
I assume that some
people (some pre-mortal spirits) chose this fate instead of choosing to be incarnated on
earth, and I think we too can - after having experienced incarnation and
death - decide to return to this Nirvana 'state of being (but perhaps as
resurrected Men rather than discarnate spirits) instead of progressing
further in divine-human relationships - we can, as it were, choose to
live in a state of abstract love, rather than personal love.
This is not
what God hopes from us as an ideal; otherwise there would not have been any reason or necessity for incarnation, death and resurrection(and I think this aspect of mortal life as therefore having been 'futile' is sensed by Nirvana seeking religions).
But our loving Heavenly Father would not 'force upon us' a
relationship with him which could only truly be chosen, and with the only alternative being Hell.
God, as our wholly-loving father, deeply and wholly wants us each to
be happy; so He allows us to choose this Nirvana despite that this choice negates the reason for us originally having chosen incarnate mortality - while hoping always that at some point
in eternity we may choose to 'wake-up' and resume spiritual progression
as a resurrected person living in loving relationships with other resurrected persons.
(That's how it seems to me - in very broad principle; but the details are filled-in by reasoning, and are surely more-or-less inaccurate.)