THE LOVE OF GOD
by Don Fortner
God’s redeeming love is Particular and Distinguishing.
Those who declare that God loves all people alike,
the saved as well as the damned, greatly tarnish the love
of God, reducing it to a fickle, helpless, frustrated passion.
But that cannot be. The love of God is like himself, from
everlasting to everlasting, immutable and sure. “Nothing
is more absurd than to imagine that anyone beloved of
God can eternally perish (A. W. Pink).
God's love is Effectual and Saving.
When Paul says, nothing “shall be able to separate us from
the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” the word
“us” refers to God’s elect, those sinners who are actually
saved by his grace. There are some people in this world
whom God does not love. The Scriptures state that fact in
clear and unmistakable terms (Ps. 5:5; 11:5-7; Jn. 3:36; Ro. 9:13).
And there are some whom he does love. They are his elect,
those who are chosen of God, redeemed by Christ, and called
to life and faith in him by the Holy Spirit. To tell sinners that
God loves them regardless of their relationship to Christ is
either to assure them that God will save them without Christ,
or to imply that God is weak, mutable, helpless and frustrated.
Surely, God will save those whom he loves if he is able to do so.
And he is able to do so! God’s love is more than a sympathetic
passion. It is his determination to save. Because the love of God
is in Christ, nothing can separate us from his love, for nothing
can separate us from Christ!
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because
God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might
live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but
that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
-- 1 John 4:9-10
The love of God has been, and forever is, manifested and revealed
to sinners in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ as the sinners’
Substitute. Here are three characteristics of God’s love, which
set it apart from any other thing that is called “love”.
1. THE LOVE OF GOD IS FREE AND UNCONDITIONAL.
God’s declaration concerning the manifestation of his love to
his elect is this -- “I will love them freely" (Hos. 14:4).
That simply means that God’s love toward us is an unconditional,
unqualified, unmerited, and uncaused love. God does not love
his elect because of anything amiable and attractive in us.
He says, “Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated,” and that
before either had done anything good or bad, “that the purpose
of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of
him that calls” (Rom. 9:13, 11). Not even the death of Christ
caused God to love us. Christ’s death as our sin-atoning Substitute
is the result of God’s love for his people (John 3:16; 1 John 4:10).
2. THE LOVE OF GOD IS ETERNAL.
He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3).
Try to get hold of this. As God the Father loved his Son from
eternity, so he loved his elect from eternity. And as the love of
God is in Christ, God’s love for Christ and his love for us is the
same! Only faith can grasp this blessed truth. It is higher than
reason and emotion. God loves his elect in Christ. As he beholds
his people in his dear Son, he loves us as he loves his Son,
delights in us as he delights in his Son, and is pleased with us
as he is pleased with his Son. This is exactly what our Savior
declares in his great, high priestly prayer in John 17:23.
3. THE LOVE OF GOD IS IMMUTABLE,
IRREVOCABLE, AND INDESTRUCTIBLE.
God’s love is not like man’s love. God’s love does not change,
ever, under any circumstances or conditions. Having loved us
from eternity, he will never call back his love in time. There is
nothing we can do to destroy, or even lessen, the love of God
for us (John 13:1). We did nothing compel God to love us;
and we can do nothing to repel God’s love. The love of God is
not dependent upon, or regulated by our faithfulness to him (Mal. 3:6).
The freeness, eternality and immutability of God’s love to us in
Christ means that our everlasting salvation is a matter of absolute
certainty. Nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of
God, which is in Christ Jesus.”
"Because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the
oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, has the Lord brought
you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of
bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” - Deut. 7:8
Love is seen in its deeds. And we know the love of God by the
gracious operations of his love which he has performed on our
behalf. All the acts of God’s grace performed for his people in
time are expressions of his love for us from everlasting.
THE VERY FIRST ACT OF GOD’S LOVE, AS IT IS
REVEALED IN THE BIBLE, IS ELECTION AND
PREDESTINATION (Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Thess. 2:13).
No one believes in the love of God who does not believe in election.
And no one can talk about the love of God in Bible terms who does
not talk about predestination. Election and predestination are eternal
acts of God’s amazing love toward hell deserving sinners such as we are.
Secondly, THE LOVE OF GOD IS REVEALED IN THE
REDEMPTION OF OUR SOULS BY THE DEATH OF
OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST (Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:10; 3:16).
We read the love of God clearly spelled out in the precious blood of
Christ. The love of God is not fully revealed and made manifest in
Christ’s incarnation, nor his example, nor his doctrine, nor his prayers,
nor even his life of righteousness, but only in his blood. Had Christ
done everything else and left this undone, had he not poured out his
life's blood unto death for the atonement of our sins and the redemption
of our souls, we could never have known the love of God, which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord. But because he died for us, his love is made manifest.
“Amazing love! How can it be,
That You my God should die for me!”
Thirdly, THE NEW BIRTH, BY WHICH WE HAVE BEEN BORN
INTO THE FAMILY AND KINGDOM OF GOD, IS THE
RESULT OF GOD’S LOVE TOWARD US FROM ETERNITY.
Our regeneration came in “the time of love” (Ezek. 16:6-8). The effectual
call, by which we were given faith, was the fruit of God’s love (Jer. 31:3).
And our adoption into the family of God was the work of our heavenly
Father’s eternal love (1 John 3:1).
Fourthly, OUR PRESERVATION IN GRACE IS THE WORK
OF GOD’S LOVE (John 13:1; Isa. 43:1-4; Jer. 32:38-40).
“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it”
(Song of Sol. 8:7). God’s love toward his elect is invincible and
unquenchable. There is no possibility that it will expire.
The black waters of our sin cannot extinguish it.
And the floods of our unbelief cannot drown it. With men,
nothing is stronger than love. His love for us overcomes every
obstacle that might stand in the way of our everlasting glory.
Every sinner loved of God from eternity was redeemed by
Christ at Calvary, shall be called by the Spirit in time, and
shall be saved forever.