God’s Love Narrowly Defined: It’s Christ’s Atonement
Today we have a guest blogger.
Matthew 5:43-48 says that God’s rain falls on the just and the unjust. Does that mean God loves the vessels of wrath in a sense? I don’t think so. God’s tornadoes fall on the just and the unjust also. I don’t think He is trying to say that God loves the vessels of wrath because it’s clear from Scripture that He hates them (Psalm 5:5, Psalm 11:5, Malachi 1:3, Romans 9:13)).
Also, God’s love in Scripture is defined by Christ’s atoning work on the cross for the elect alone.
The Sermon On The Mount has to do with God’s standards for
the elect. God Himself is not changing, but the standards for His children are. It is no longer an eye for an eye; “You have heard it said in the times of old,” but now I’m raising the bar for you. We should not hate our enemies as David did (Psalm 139:21,22).
Matthew 5:48 cannot mean that God is perfect because He loves His enemies. If God did not love any of His enemies, would that mean God is imperfect? No.
But if a Christian does not love His enemies, is she imperfect? Yes. Because she was given a command and she disobeyed. But God cannot be disobedient. God’s perfection is not measured by any human standard, and He is not bound to do everything He commands His creatures to do.
God always acts according to His own own nature. God always acts justly because God is just. But God does not always love any particular creature, and does not love the vessels of wrath.
Matthew 5:43-47 are commands for the elect. See also Luke 6:35,36 – “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is *kind* to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
I do not think it necessary to explain John 3:16 as D.A. Carson does, because the same definition for “kosmos” in John 3:16 must be inserted into John 3:17. “The world” through Him is the elect, not every person who ever lived.
Defining kosmos as every single person who ever lived in John 3:16,17 results in universalism and wouldn’t make any sense, since there are millions already dead who will die the second death.
Carson argues that it is too cut and dry to say John 3:16 is only a
reference to the elect, and this is why he calls his book, “The Difficult”
doctrine of the love of God. God’s love is supposedly too difficult
to narrow it down to the fact that God loves the elect alone.
Carson is only making something difficult that is in fact simply and clearly laid out in Scripture.
D.A. Carson argues that God loves everyone equally, but also
loves the elect in an extra special way.This so called “love” is a very short fuse that runs out as soon as the vessels of wrath breathe their last. What good is it for God to give you the whole world, and in the end, not save you from his hate and wrath?
God is not willing that any of His elect should perish, but that all the
elect come to repentance. God does not bring destruction upon the earth now because He is still gathering a remnant, and the vessels of wrath live while God gathers that elect remnant.
How could anyone see love for Edom expressed in Malachi 1:4? God lovingly tears down everything they try to build? God lovingly
has indignation against them? I can’t see it.
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