11 March, 2017

I John 4:8, 16—“God is love”


He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love (I John 4:8 KJV).

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (I John 4:16 KJV).


COMMON GRACE ARGUMENT:
According to these texts, not only is love said to be an attribute, perfection or principle of God, but these texts also teach that He is His attributes. This is an essential element of the Reformed doctrine of God’s “simplicity.” It is often supposed, however, that “God is love” therefore means that He is therefore naturally or necessarily inclined to love everybody (including the reprobate wicked). But does God really love those who are in hell? Can it really be said that God loves the devil? or even, the Antichrist? …


(I)

Rev. Angus Stewart

[Source: “God is Love!”http://www.cprf.co.uk/articles/Godislove.htm]

“God is love”—this is the ringing and heart-warming affirmation of holy Scripture (I John 4:8, 16)!

God is love because God is Triune, subsisting in three eternally distinct Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God did not start to love with the creation of men and angels. He has always loved for He is love in Himself eternally. In the Godhead, the Father and the Son love each other fervently in the Holy Spirit, the divine and personal bond between the first two Persons of the Trinity. The Son is eternally cherished “in the bosom of the Father,” as His “only begotten Son” who bears “the express image” of His Father (John 1:18; Heb. 1:3). What joy and security the Father and the Son have in their loving communion and friendship!

Since this love is God’s love, it is characterised by all the divine perfections. God’s love is not limited, temporal, changeable, unholy or weak. God’s love is an infinite, eternal, unchangeable, holy and all-powerful love—to echo Westminster Shorter Catechism 4.

Colossians 3:14 describes love as “the bond of perfectness.” This bond is absolutely perfect in the Trinity, for the two who love each other, the Father and the Son, are infinitely pure and beautiful, and the personal bond of love they have for each other is the wholly divine Spirit. What a perfect union consisting of covenant love and delightful fellowship!

But how does Jehovah love His chosen people who have fallen into iniquity and misery in Adam? How can a perfect bond of love exist between sinful and very imperfect humans and the thrice holy God who is possessed of all perfections?

The answer is that the Most High loves us in Christ alone. Only in Christ are we elected, redeemed, regenerated, called, justified, adopted, sanctified, preserved and glorified. Only in Christ can, and does, God love us with that perfect bond of divine love. In Christ we even share (in a creaturely way) in the eternal and blessed love of the holy Trinity! No wonder the apostle exclaims that nothing is “able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39)! This is the absolutely indestructible and unbreakable love of the almighty and gracious God for His covenant people, sealed in the blood of Jesus.

This is the wonder of the cross of Christ, for “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1)! Right through His life and death, and our lives and deaths, and through the endless ages of the world to come, the Son of God loves us unto the end!

Believing the Father’s particular and powerful love—supremely demonstrated at Calvary—the child of God turns from his sins in repentance and lives out of gratitude to his Creator and Redeemer for so great salvation. He loves the Triune God revealed in His Word, he loves the Lord’s people and he loves his neighbour for Christ’s sake. For remember, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (I John 4:8).


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(II)

John Owen (1616-1683)

[Source: Works, vol. X, p. 227]

That God hath any natural or necessary inclination, by his goodness, or any other property, to do good to us, or any of his creatures, we do deny. Everything that concerns us is an act of his free will and good pleasure, and not a natural, necessary act of his Deity, as shall be declared.


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(III)

More to come! (DV)




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