God Does Not Woo Sinners—“If We Don’t Love Him Back, then Christ’s Love Amounts to Nothing?”

Since nobody much talks about elect and non-elect, the truth that Christ died for His sheep cannot be understood as denying that Christ died also for goats. So the Arminians tell us.  But what about the Neo-Calvinists who will not talk about election when they are talking about Christ’s death and love?

When they will only say, “if you put your trust in Him,” and will not spell out the antithesis between sheep for whom Christ died and goats for whom Christ did not die, they doubletalk about God’s love. On the one hand, everyone listening to them is regarded as one of the “us” who Christ loves. On the other hand, listeners are being warned that Christ’s love depends on them “putting their trust in”.

At issue here is not only the extent of Christ’s love but the nature of Christ’s love. If Christ’s love is often unrequited, then even His love for those who love Him back is of a very different nature than the biblical love which never lets go of  those God gave His Son.

It does no good to say that God took the initiative, or even that God loved the unlovely. In our own relationships, one of us often takes the first step. But if the other person does not respond , it amounts to nothing.

Think about that. I say it quite seriously. If Christ’s love is an initiative which depends on our response, then Christ’s love amounts to nothing. Galatians 2:20 does not say that the Son of God loved you and gave Himself for you. Nor does the text give clergy the authority to extrapolate that God loves you and gave Himself for you. Rather, the next verse says “if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” If Christ’s love depends on you keeping the law to put your trust in Him, then Christ’s love amounts to nothing and His death was for no purpose.

God loves the unlovely. In our relationships, we love (and try to woo) the lovely. We become lovely to those who are lovely to us. In the same way, the false gospel depends on our becoming more lovely. If we don’t become lovely enough to at least put our trust in the love of the false Christ of the false gospel, then that love fails. What good is a love for the unlovely which depends on them becoming lovely at some point? A love which CAN amount to nothing always DOES amount to nothing.

I say this first because we are unlovely sinners who cannot respond to initiatives. If we think we can do one lovely thing to respond, then we presume that God is wooing us. We think God is appealing to the part of us which God finds lovely. So then, no matter what we say, we don’t really believe that God loves the unlovely. We can’t believe it.

Second, I say that a love which CAN fail amounts to a meaningless nothing, because such a love disregards the cross and the death by which Christ paid for the sins of the elect alone.  Neo-Calvinists think of election and definite redemption as two different things, because they think of love and propitiation for the elect as two different things.

Not so the Scripture! John 10 does not say that the good Shepherd loves the goats so that they can become sheep if they respond. John 10:12 says that “he who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” Notice the antithesis. The good shepherd does not act like the hired man. The hired man’s love amounts to nothing.

How do we know the Shepherd loves the sheep? “I lay down my life for the sheep.” Does this mean that the Shepherd dies as a representative of the sheep along with the sheep? No. The Shepherd is not only the leader, not only the first to die. The Shepherd dies as a substitute for the sheep. Because the Shepherd dies, the sheep do not die. So John 10 does not separate Christ’s love and Christ’s death. Christ loves those for whom He dies. Christ dies for those He loves.

So what’s my point? Did Christ love and die for everybody? No, He did not. John 10 makes this clear and simple. It does not say, “If you put your trust in and believe.” John 10:26, “But you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice.” It’s not, if you put your trust in me, then you will become my sheep. Ok, Ok, the Neo-Calvinists reason, we also believe in election. We too know that John 10:29 tells how “My Father has given them to me”. We just don’t happen to talk about that when we are talking about Christ’s loving and dying.


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3 Comments on “God Does Not Woo Sinners—“If We Don’t Love Him Back, then Christ’s Love Amounts to Nothing?””

  1. markmcculley Says:

    quotation from a Reformed free offer two wills guy—“Jesus presents himself to all people as shepherd, Hen to chicks, ‘come unto me you who are weary and heavy , not snuffing out a broken reed, Our response to God’s proposal is not born of some ‘naked sense’ of the majesty of God, but rather to our cursed situation and our need . Is there more to God than Fatherly love? Sure, but in maintaining the creator-creature distinction, Christ in the courtship phase presents Himself in His loving, comforting, assuring, wooing appeal to us as his lost and prodigal children. It’s the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. ”

    Isaiah said

    He has blinded their eyes
    and hardened their hearts,
    so that they would not see with their eyes
    or understand with their hearts,
    and be converted,
    and I would heal them.

    John 12: 41 Isaiah said these things because Isaiah saw His glory

  2. Mark Mcculley Says:

    “God the Son procured His Father’s favor” (Sonny Hernandez, High Calvinism, p 91)

    This is wrong. It’s backwards. God’s favor for the elect resulted in God’s redemption given by God the Son In His death as satisfaction of God’s law.

    God’s election is not based on God’s foresight of Christ’s death for the elect.
    Christ’s death for the elect is based on God’s favor to the elect in Christ.

    God’s election is not because of God’s justice
    God’s election shows God’s nature
    it’s not only God’s justice but also God’s sovereignty that show God’s nature


  3. Mark Mcculley Says:

    Bill Parker–What is Salvation, 29 –I”t is not the doctrine of election
    that bars sinners from salvation and going to heaven. It is man’s
    unbelief that keeps them from being saved.”

    Mark puts to question—is it man”s unbelief of the gospel that condemns them? Or were all sinners already born condemned?

    If you think the elect were never condemned, how can it be said that
    it’s unbelief of the gospel that causes the non-elect to be condemned?
    Many who never heard any gospel to reject are already condemned.

    Parker, later on p 29, “The truth of election does not teach that some
    sinners want to be saved ….

    One, “ they don’t want to be saved” does not change the fact that God never had any love or grace or provision of grace for the non-elect. This non-election will in fact keep any non-elect person from being saved.

    Two, the problem is that many of the non-elect want to be saved but
    not by means of God’s gospel. They want to find out that they are already justified before and without any faith in the true gospel. They want justification before God without any repentance from the false gospel.

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