Archive for January, 2016

03
Jan
16

What Kind of Love is This?

I recently received the following post on a discussion site I have been visiting. I thought it might be helpful to post it and the following answer here,

The negative way my rant may have come across as reveals my frustration as a believer who is struggling with who this God is. What sort of love is this that the God of the universe has to give the “love potion” to make us love Him. Is not true love freely given not manipulated?

There is no potion. There is God restoring a people to himself and granting us the ability to perform the function for which he designed us, i.e., to make his glory known. It helps to understand that the issues in salvation do not primarily concern man’s eternal destiny. The biblical evangelistic question is never “Do you want to go to heaven when you die”” The biblical question is whether you want to leave your life of sinful rebellion against God and live your life for his glory. Such a desire is not natural to any of us. If God left us all to our futile and self-destructive existence, he would be perfectly within his sovereign rights to do so. That he even allows us to live on his earth, feel his sunshine, drink his water, and that he gives to all life and breath and all things is incontrovertible evidence of his universal mercy toward his creation. If he allows us to draw one breath after we are born, he has granted us more than we deserve. But, he has not stopped there. He has not left himself without a witness but “gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our heart with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). He didn’t stop there. Though having clearly seen the evidence of his being and glory all around us, we have refused to glorify him and show him gratitude. We have become futile in our reasonings, our foolish hearts have become darkened and we have exchanged God’s glorious image for idols of our own making. We have decided that neither God nor his truth are worth knowing. We have squandered and despised the advantage of his forebearing patience that is calculated to lead us to repentance and have, in the hardness and impenitence of our hearts treasured up for ourselves even more wrath.

As if this were not enough, God has sent his uniquely begotten Son to die for his enemies. The Puritan, John Flavel asked “What is a child but a piece of the parent wrapped in a different skin? And what one of us would give the worst child that we have to die for our best friend. But God gave not his worst, not even his best, but his only Son to die not for his best friend but for his worst enemies” (free citation from memory). The death he died was to quote the Canons of Dordt, “. . .of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate of the sins of the whole world” (Second Head, Article 3). They continue,

And, whereas many who are called by the gospel do not repent nor believe in Christ, but perish in unbelief, this is not owing to any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves” (Second head, Article 6).

Immediately on completion of this redemptive work Jesus commanded his disciples to proclaim the good news of free pardon to men and women of all nations and to announce to them that if they would repent, he would abundantly pardon so that where sin had overflowed, God’s grace overflowed all the more. This is what the Canons of Dordt state about that proclamation.

. . .the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel” (Second Head, Article 5).

Additionally, God has sent his Holy Spirit to press the claims of the gospel on the sinner’s conscience, yet in spite of all this, sinners in a state of sinful nature “ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit” and consider “the word of the cross,” the gospel to be foolishness. This is a universal response. There is not a single one who by sinful nature seeks God. We desire salvation no more than we deserve it. Left in such a state, we would have all been doomed and God would have been absolutely justified had he left us to languish and perish in a pool of our own blood. But he has gone beyond all of this. He has determined that there will be a seed to serve him and has promised in accord with his electing decree to sprinkle clean water on us that we might cleansed from our sins. He has promised to remove our cold and hard hearts of stone and replace them with a hearts of flesh. He has promised to put a new spirit [disposition] within us and to put His Spirit within us to cause us to be obedient to his commands. This is no magical potent but the power of regenerating grace. Without such grace and mercy that is freely and sovereignly bestowed not only on undeserving sinners but on ill deserving sinners, not one sinner would have been delivered from the pit.

You asked “What sort of love is this. . . ?” It is marvelous, infinite, unmatched, unthinkable, love that God would stoop to redeem any rebel much less an incalculable multitude of recalcitrant dissidents all of whom would have persisted in their high treason to their own destruction. Paul wrote, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the GREAT LOVE with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, (by grace you are saved)” (Eph. 2:4-5).

Remember that if we think of God as only love, we will wonder why he doesn’t save everyone; if we think of him as infinitely holy, we will wonder why he saves anyone.
rseiver@icloud.com
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