Friday, February 07, 2014

Understanding the Love of God-Part II

In Part I we saw how God has a particular and specific love for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and that He loves us with the same love with which He loves His Son. This is a familial love, a love that a father has for his own son. This familial love is not for those who are of the world, those who have not been adopted into the family of God, those who have not believed on Christ, His person and His finished work on our behalf. So let's see what else we can glean about this wondrous love of God.

His Particular Love is an Eternal Love

Remember when we were looking at the love of the Father for the Son and we saw that He loved both the Son and His own before the foundation of the world (John 17:24, Ephesians 1:4). This means that before time began God already loved us. God's love for us is from eternity past, so in the eternal mind of God there has never been a time when He did not love us. This fact should give all of us who belong to Him a security in our relationship with Him. It also highlights His unmerited grace in bringing us to Himself. Before we were born, and could do anything good or bad He already loved us with an everlasting love. His love for us has always been, it will always be, and everything connected with His purpose for us revolves around this eternal love with which He loves us. Why can we never be separated from His love, as was stated in Romans 8:32? Because His love for us will never cease! We see a picture of this in Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness." The Lord is talking to Israel in this passage, but in it we see pictured His eternal love for those who are His own. Think about what it means that God has always loved you with the same love with which He has always loved His Son. Because God loves us with the same love with which He loves His Son, He would no sooner let us go than He would His own Son. What a humbling truth! At a minimum it should fill your heart with thanksgiving and humble your soul.

Additionally, if you think about how Romans 8:29... for those whom He foreknew He predestined... and Ephesians 1:4-5...In love He predestined us to adoption as sons...go together, you will see that to be foreknown is synonymous with being foreloved.  So, in the foreknowledge of God for those whom He would predestine to salvation, there was also present an eternal love for those very people.  So those who are His own, whom come to Him by faith in His Son, have been known and loved by God for all eternity.

His Particular Love is an Electing Love

I commented earlier that to be beloved is to be the object of a particular love or the particular object of someone's love. We are the beloved of God, and therefore we are the particular object of His love (those on whom He bestows His love), and the object of His particular love (the same love with which He loves the Son, a familial love). But there is also something that goes along with being His beloved. Let's look at some Scriptures together to see what that is.

Ephesians 1:4b-5a In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:12a So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved....
II Thessalonians 2:13-14 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Thessalonians 1:4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;
Jude 1:1 Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:

Did you notice that God has only called beloved His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and those whom He has chosen beforehand for salvation. He calls no one else beloved.  Did you also notice the connection between love and predestination; being beloved and being chosen, called, and kept. Because we are the particular objects of His particular love (His beloved), He chose us out of the world unto Himself, and has given us to His Son. This particular love is a love of choice, not compulsion. He chose to set His affection upon us, and the result of this is His drawing of us to Himself. He loves whom He chooses and He chooses whom He loves, and those who are not loved with this particular love are not predestined for salvation, they are not chosen, called, or kept. We see that He only saves those on whom He has set His particular love, this eternal love, which is the same love with which He loves His Son.  This is all done in accordance with the kind intention of His will to accomplish His eternal purpose, which God the Father carried out in Christ the Son.

When we start contemplating this we soon bump the ceiling of our understanding. And that is okay. This causes many questions to come up, the foremost of which is, "Why did God choose to love me, and therefore save me, and not person X?" One day we will know fully as we have been fully known, but until that time we can be in rapt wonder of the greatness of the mind of God, and how incomprehensible His ways are. This truth is transcendent, one that is above and beyond us and our rational capabilities. Suffice it to say that there is enough here to cause us to bow low before Him in holy reverence and awe. It is truths like this that set God apart as God, and let us know that He is truly a God who is deserving of all worship.

His Particular Love is a Saving Love

Because we are loved with a particular love, God has chosen us, and because He has chosen us we are saved. To be loved with this particular love is to be chosen, selected out of the mass of humanity headed for hell, for salvation. The outcome of this love is our salvation, our deliverance from the penalty, power, and ultimately, the presence of sin. The wages of sin is death, and the consequence of sin is the just judgement of a holy God. However, we see this in Ephesians 2:2-7... But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus... Apart from the love of God we would not know salvation. In His choosing to love us our salvation was guaranteed and our eternal state was fixed. I am reminded of a statement by A. W. Pink to the effect that the crucifixion of Christ did not make our salvation possible, it made it certain.

II Timothy :8b-9 ...according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity. The love of God is most manifest in the person of Christ, and it is through the person and work of Christ that He has brought salvation to those whom He has set His great love upon. God's love for His beloved is in accordance with His eternal purpose which has been carried out in Christ. 

Christian friends, rejoice and be glad, be thankful and worshipful, that God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation. Marvel at the wondrous love with which you are loved by the Father. Give thanks to God for loving you so, for loving you with the same love with which He loved the Son, and for placing this saving love upon you.

Yes, there is a general love of God for all of mankind, and in God's love for mankind He has made salvation available to whosoever would turn from their sin, from seeking their own way, seeking their own desires, speaking their own word; and, in repentance and faith turn to the only One who can save, and ask Him to set His saving love on them.

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