Posted tagged ‘God’s love’

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

August 29, 2011

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.

 

The Love of God in Christ Jesus Our Lord

November 12, 2010

1. Even though John chapter three is about the new birth, the death of Christ is still the main thing in 3:14-17. And this is because God’s love for the world of the elect is defined by God’s love.

I John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Romans 5:8 God shows us His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us

John 10:13-15 the hired man cares nothing for the sheep…I lay down my life for the sheep

2. The result of Christ’s death is new birth and also justification. There is no word “justification” in John chapter 3, but two words point to the idea of justification. Eternal life in v16 is about a verdict, not about an ability given to believe.

The other word pointing to justification in verse 17 is “saved”; I take this as about justification because in context of the verse it’s the opposite of “condemned”, not the opposite of “corrupt” or “unable to believe”

God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world would be saved though Him (Christ, not the Holy Spirit)

We can over-react the confusion of new birth and justification by saying that the new birth is not the gospel. I don’t want to over-react. The new birth is part of the gospel, one of the blessings promised by the Son in the gospel.

Regeneration is not only how we come to believe the gospel. It’s self-involving; how the elect come to believe the gospel is in the gospel itself. So is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.

But the new birth by the Spirit and the indwelling of Christ is not all the gospel. The first and main thing about the gospel is Christ’s death and then justification by that.

To give one analogy. Is election part of the gospel? Some would say no, it’s only what causes you to believe the gospel. But that is wrong. Because election is not only the decree that the Son will give the Spirit to some to believe. Election is that those in Christ were not chosen apart from Christ’s death which is God’s love. Again, it’s self involving: without telling them who is elect, the gospel the elect come to hear talks about Christ’s death for the elect.

Remember the end of Romans 8?—“nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I’m shouting. I’m tired but happy.
Did you hear what Jesus said to me:

your sins are all taken away
all
taken away
all taken away
all my sins

Does God Love you, or Are you Reading Other People’s Mail?

September 15, 2010

We can’t say: I know that God is in love with me. We can’t say: I know that God is in love with you. We need to ask: are you in the new covenant yet? Are you born again yet? Have you been justified yet?

Are you reading other people’s mail? How do you know if God loves you?

Surely we know that God will not start loving a person. Either God already loves a person or not. Surely God will not start loving a person conditioned on that person doing something or accepting something.

We do love each other that way, and we should. Choosing a husband is all about being a “respector of persons”. But God does not love a person based on a regard for what that person has done or will do.

How then do you know if you are one of the ones God loves and for whom Christ died? Do you believe the gospel? Do you know what the gospel is?