ome of you may have thought I forgot about the conundrum I have posed in my own writing way back when the Chan video was causing the internet to start checking baptisms and requiring detailed statements of faith. (That was like 2 weeks ago). For those who have forgotten what I said, here’s what I said:
So the command is Love. You love people. You have to love that person – you have to give to them, and you have to do for them, and you have to be honest with them, and on and on through all of Leviticus. You have to love them – that’s the Law.Some of you, I am sure, lost sleep over this. Because, you know, if we have demeaned God by saying we give Him something He didn’t have before, we don’t have a reformed soteriology or we can’t really be monergists or some such other thing – there must be a heretic in there somewhere.
And this love is for their benefit, not for your benefit. This is the thing which kills me about this discussion. You (a person) don’t love them to be self-fulfilled: you love them so that they get something they didn’t have before. When we say, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”, we are saying, “God loves us by giving us something we couldn’t have without Him.” Love is not self-fulfilling: love is pouring yourself out for the good of someone else.
Now, let’s put one thing on the back burner before we go forward: the meaning of “love God” given this definition of Love. The really smart readers who are already mad at me for saying Love is glorious and gives Glory to God are already typing on this subject, and I will come back to it after I do the “common language” thing. Are we giving something to God He didn’t have before when we love God? Stay tuned.
Please: let’s all go back to having a good night’s sleep. One of the great statements in the NT on this subject comes as Paul closes the letter to the Ephesians. And he says it almost off-handedly:
- Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.
The peace they ought to have ought to be the peace the Father and the Son give. The faith they ought to have ought to be the faith the Father and the Son give. And, for the purpose of what we’re talking about here, the love they ought to have ought to be the love the Father and the Son give.
And this point is underscored boldly as Paul also offers them “grace” if they “love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.” Now, is human love “incorruptible”? When does the Bible ever call human love or the product of the human heart “incorruptible”? Never. Not ever once.
So the love we give back to Christ but be the Love God has already given to us. That is: we do not give something to God He never had or couldn’t get. We give, as is always true, what God has already given us. This love is from God, and belongs to God, and ought to come back to Him.
And that’s really the point here. Even going back to my oldest example of Jonah and what God does to sinners and why Jonah is mad-to-death over the matter of Nineveh, God has poured out love to the whole world. I was listening to an S. Lewis Johnson MP3 yesterday, and he was doing an hour on John 3:16, and he made the statement that the worst error anyone ever made – the common knowledge – about John 3:16 is that this verse says God loves everyone exactly the same way.
He’s right. This verse doesn’t say that. But it does say that God loves the world, and has given a special benefit of that love to all believers. God loves the whole world. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. God showed love by delivering Christ to the Cross so that the offer of repentance is made clearly and irrefutably. but it is one kind of love to actually make the offer, and another to actually save.
You have the love of God shown to you in Jesus Christ, and in the mercy upon mercy God provides to you every day. God is showing you love right now – the same kind of love He showed to Nineveh. Receive it and show it back to Him – do something about God’s mercy today. Believe that His Son is the ultimate and final act of mercy, and that if you admit your sin to Him, and turn away from your human love of things to a divine love of the Creator who made you, He will not turn you away.
He loves you. Right now. Show Him the love He is showing you.