Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dr White in a contemplative mood!

 I really enjoyed the following post from James White. Well worth contemplating for sure.
This is some good writing.

Ecumenical theological pretext. Manhatten Declaration.

There has been a lot of buzz over this document, particularly because some Protestants with good repuations have signed it.
Personally, knowing who the men behind it are, I see it as the tiltle of this post.


What I find mildly amusing however, is that some of the men who would oppose my High Calvinism are not out shoving 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 down everyones throat as the standard definition of what the gospel is.
No! They are now shouting out Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the Bible alone and all for the glory of Christ alone!

Funny that. As James White often say's. "Inconsistency is the hallmark of a failed argument!"

Something tells me that if we make the above passages in 1st Corinthians definitional of just what the Gospel is, then of course all kinds of "believers" can sign these ecumenical documents. Makes sense.

I just find it interesting that many reformed believers when arguing against those of us who defend Particular redemption, now use our more "narrow" definitions of the gospel rather than the more generic ideas they promulgate when arguing against Particular atonement.....Strange eh?


Friday, December 18, 2009

Divine Sovereignty and Quantum Indeterminism

From the web page of Reasonable Faith by Dr William Lane Craig.

Does anyone have the desire to unravel this Molinist perspective?  If I can muster up the desire, I may have a crack at this man made philosophy, for that is what it is. It certainly has nothing whatsoever to do with the God of Scripture, that's for sure!

The funny thing is, the whole system seems to beg so many more questions including similar ones that are expressed against the reformed Biblical view! It is mind numbing to read the following, but if you have an interest in God's Sovereignty and His decree, and if you have an interest in Human free will etc, then here you go, enjoy!
But, anyone wish to critique it? Something for the new year maybe!

Dear Dr Craig,

I just have a question concerning quantum mechanics, God's foreknowledge and God's foreordination.

Given that quantum events are genuinely indeterminate, do you think it is possible for God to know the outcome of these events without controlling them? And is it possible for God to not only know, but also to foreordain, the outcome of certain quantum events without controlling them? And if so, how?

Any help on this issue would be great!

Thanks a lot,


Dr. Craig responds:
Great question, Lucy! The answer is: Yes, via His middle knowledge! Let me explain.
Christian theologians have traditionally affirmed that in virtue of His omniscience God possesses hypothetical knowledge of conditional future contingent events. He knows in advance, for example, what would have happened if He spared the Canaanites from destruction, what Napoleon would have done had he won the Battle of Waterloo, how your neighbor would respond if you were to share the Gospel with him.

Hypothetical knowledge is knowledge of what philosophers call counterfactual conditionals, or simply counterfactuals. Counterfactuals are conditional statements in the subjunctive mood. For example: "If I were rich, I would buy a Mercedes;" "If Goldwater had been elected President, he would have won the Vietnam War;" "If you were to ask her, she would say yes." Counterfactuals are so called because the antecedent and/or consequent clauses are typically contrary to fact: I am not rich; Goldwater was not elected President; the U.S. did not win the Vietnam War.

But sometimes the antecedent and/or consequent clauses are true. For example, my buddy, emboldened by my assurance that "If you were you ask her, she would say yes," does ask the girl of his dreams for a date and she does say yes.

Christian theologians have traditionally affirmed that God does, indeed, have knowledge of true counterfactuals and, hence, of the conditional future contingent events they describe. What theologians disputed, however, was, so to speak, when God has such hypothetical knowledge. The question here doesn’t have to do with the moment of time at which God acquired His hypothetical knowledge.

For whether God is timeless or everlasting throughout time, as an omniscient being He must know every truth there is and so can never exist in a state of ignorance. Rather the "when" refers to the point in the logical order concerning God's creative decree at which God has hypothetical knowledge.

Post-Reformation theologians argued about the logical placement of God's hypothetical knowledge. Everybody agreed that logically prior to God's decree to create a world, God has knowledge of all necessary truths, including all the possible worlds He might create. This was called God's natural knowledge. It gives Him knowledge of what could be.

Moreover, everyone agreed that logically subsequent to His decree to create a particular world, God knows all the contingent truths about the actual world, including its past, present, and future. This was called God's free knowledge. It involves knowledge of what will be. The disputed question was where one should place God's hypothetical knowledge of what would be. Is it logically prior to or posterior to the divine creative decree?

Catholic theologians of the Dominican order held that God's hypothetical knowledge is logically subsequent to His decree to create a certain world. They maintained that in decreeing that a particular world exist, God also decreed which counterfactual statements are true. Logically prior to the divine decree, there are no counterfactual truths to be known. All God knows at that logical moment is the necessary truths, including all the various possibilities.

On the Dominican view God picks one of the possible worlds known to Him by His natural knowledge to be actual, and thus subsequent to His decree various statements about contingent events are true. God knows these truths because He knows which world He has decreed to be real. Not only so, but God in decreeing a particular world to be real also decrees which counterfactuals are true.

Thus, He decrees, for example, that if Peter had been in such-and-such circumstances instead of the circumstances he was actually in, he would have denied Christ only two times. So God's hypothetical knowledge, like His foreknowledge, is logically posterior to the divine creative decree.
By contrast Catholic theologians of the Jesuit order inspired by Luis Molina maintained that God's hypothetical knowledge is logically prior to His creative decree.

This difference between the Jesuit Molinists and the Dominicans was not just a matter of theological hair-splitting! The Molinists charged that the Dominicans had in effect obliterated human freedom by making counterfactual truths a consequence of God's decree. For it is God who determines what a person would do in whatever circumstances he finds himself.

By contrast, the Molinists, by placing God's hypothetical knowledge prior to the divine decree, made room for human freedom by exempting counterfactual truths from God's decree. In the same way that necessary truths like 2+2=4 are prior to and therefore independent of God's decree, so counterfactual truths about how people would freely choose under various circumstances are prior to and independent of God's decree.

Not only does the Molinist view make room for human freedom, but it affords God a means of choosing which world of free creatures to create. For by knowing how people would freely choose in whatever circumstances they might be in, God can, by decreeing to place just those persons in just those circumstances, bring about His ultimate purposes through free creaturely decisions. Thus, by employing His hypothetical knowledge, God can plan a world down to the last detail and yet do so without annihilating human freedom, since what people would freely do under various circumstances is already factored into the equation by God.

Since God's hypothetical knowledge lies logically in between His natural knowledge and His free knowledge, Molinists called it God's middle knowledge.
On the Dominican view, then, there is one logical moment prior to the divine creative decree, at which God knows the range of possible worlds which He might create, and then He chooses one of these to be actual. On the Molinist view, by contrast, there are two logical moments prior to the divine decree: first, the moment at which He has natural knowledge of the range of possible worlds and, second, the moment at which He has knowledge of the proper subset of possible worlds which, given the counterfactual propositions true at that moment, are feasible for Him to create.

The counterfactuals which are true at that moment thus serve to delimit the range of possible worlds to worlds feasible for God.

For example, there is a possible world in which Peter affirms Christ in precisely the same circumstances in which he in fact denied him. But given the counterfactual truth that if Peter were in precisely those circumstances he would freely deny Christ, then the possible world in which Peter freely affirms Christ in those circumstances is not feasible for God. God could make Peter affirm Christ in those circumstances, but then his confession would not be free. Some possible worlds will not be feasible for God to actualize because actualizing them would require that other counterfactuals be true rather than the ones that are—and that is outside God’s control.

So on the Molinist scheme, we have the following logical order (letting the circles represent possible worlds):

Once you grasp the concept of middle knowledge, Lucy, I think you’ll find it astonishing in its subtlety and power. Indeed, I’d venture to say that it is one of the most fruitful theological concepts ever conceived.

I’ve applied it to the issues of Christian particularism, perseverance of the saints, and biblical inspiration; Tom Flint has used it to analyze papal infallibility and Christology, and Del Ratzsch has employed it profitably in evolutionary theory.

What begs to be written is a Molinist perspective on quantum indeterminacy and divine sovereignty. For quantum events (if we assume for the sake of argument that indeterminacy is real) are, like human free choices, contingent events. There are, therefore, in addition to counterfactuals of human freedom, counterfactuals of quantum indeterminacy. For example, “If there were a radioactive isotope having such-and-such properties, it would decay at time t.” If statements about indeterminate free choices are either true or false, there’s no reason why counterfactuals of quantum indeterminacy should not be similarly true or false.

In fact, in scientific discussions of something called Bell’s Theorem, which concerns measurements made on paired particles too widely separated to be in causal contact with each other, counterfactuals like “If the position of particle A had been measured instead of its velocity, then the position of particle B would have taken on a correlated value” are usually assumed to be true. Scientists have sometimes remarked that discussions of the counterfactuals involved in Bell’s Theorem often sound like the recondite arguments of medieval theology!

So if counterfactuals of quantum indeterminacy are either true or false, that implies that God’s middle knowledge will include knowledge of just such true propositions. He knows, for example, that if He were to create a physical object in a certain set of circumstances, then specific quantum effects would indeterminately ensue.

I think now you can see the implication: by taking into account counterfactuals of quantum indeterminacy along with counterfactuals of human freedom, God can sovereignly direct a world involving such contingents toward His desired ends. Sometimes, these two types of contingents can become interestingly intertwined: for example, God knew that if a grad student in physics waiting in the lab for some event of quantum decay would be delayed going home that evening, he would meet a girl in the hallway whom he would get to know and eventually fall in love with and marry!
So, given quantum indeterminacy, a robust theory of divine sovereignty and providence over the world will require appeal to God’s middle knowledge. For more on this see my book The Only Wise God.

Monday, December 14, 2009

From brave women to outragous!

This female lawyer seems to be saying that if Arab men sexually harass us Muslim women, then in order for young Jewish women to be our "equals" we must pass laws to allow sexual harrassment of Jewish women, but if we would just expel them from our lands then we do not even need such laws.
All this whilst trying to vindicate with a straight face that hardly any Muslim countries have laws to protect against sexual discrimination, but yet it's men have lofty morals! Some crazy mixed up stuff indeed.

Brave women in the New World!

 I was recently thinking about how weak the average modern man has become through the breaking down of gender roles and identification, and how brave many women are today, especially those Christian women trying to live with weak and almost faithless men, and then I came accross this woman, an ex Muslim, albeit a champion of secular ideals, but man is she brave!

Friday, November 27, 2009

I will try to be brave!

Anyone who knows me or reads this blog already is very aware how much I love and promote Dr James White, a man of God whom I believe is at the very cutting edge of Christian Apologetics, and a man who God has used in my own understanding and appreciation of genuine Christianity. I love this man.

Now, having said that, the good Dr has just responded on his blog to certain comments made by Dr R Scott Clark regarding the whole matter of Infant Baptism. It is an interesting read.

Some of you may well know how I used to energetically and quite boldly defend the "Credo" position, and in fact use all the same arguments that Dr White and some other Reformed Baptists use in defence of that position. But, some of you know that I had a rather sudden change in my views, whilst actually in mid debate upon the subject, which resulted in me fully embracing the "Paedo" position. It was all a rather major shift in so many ways, and there is even a cost that can come with such a change.

I have wrote here all about how that change came about, but I have not really been anywhere as vociferous in defending my new views, not because I am not confident in them nor persuaded from Scripture of my position, but because I have had the luxury of being on both sides of the issue and hence have a very real appreciation and new found patience that I did not previously have with regards to those who held an opposite view.

I am so thankful that Dr White so often speaks warmly of those who hold my views, and am so appreciative of the fact that he does have genuine unity and fellowship with men who hold the "Paedo" position.

I cannot really comment on how Dr White may be reading Dr Clark, but I will say that perhaps Dr Clark does seem to suggest a few things that I know would rub any Baptist the wrong way.

I also think that Dr Clark has said too much in a few of those comments and would suggest he clarify some of his assertions, particularly the quotes Dr White makes comment upon.

But I would also like to say a few things about Dr White that I feel should be said. I am nowhere convinced that the "tradition" card nor the "inconsistent hermeneutic" card holds much water at all.

I will not take the time to demonstrate that here at this moment, but perhaps in another post.

I appreciate that Dr White really and truly makes the effort to be "consistent" and I really do appreciate his mindset upon that principal, given that he does bring an apologetic defence to so many differing views and such a wide range of errant theology.

For that, I take my hat off to the good Dr, but I do not think he is justified with his use of certain rhetoric when refuting the "Paedo" view.

On the emotional level, I know it really irks Reformed Baptists when some Reformed men will not even allow the name "Reformed" to be legitimately used, and I am very sympathetic to the Baptists in that regard, as I used to constantly get accused of that charge when I was a Reformed Baptist myself, but I have come to see, that this thing called "consistency" is even at the heart of that dispute which I am sure Dr White should be able to appreciate or at the very least discern!

I have said on record that Reformed Baptists are "Reformed" in their Soteriology, and for that we stand toe to toe, and that is the simple truth, and it is the highest and most precious unity that we must hold and continue to cultivate. However, to be "reformed" in the historical and Covenantal sense has a meaning and pedigree that no Reformed Baptist can avow, and that is just the way it is.

As a Reformed Baptist, I regularly defended my views against Paedobaptists, and even joined with them to refute Dispensationalism which I strongly oppose, and then one day, mid debate, I actually came to see that part of my hermeneutic, just part mind you, had more in common with Dispenationalism than reformed thought. It actually shocked me to tell you all the truth and I am more than happy to elaborate the point if anyone asks.

Ever since, I have been coming to see the richness in Covenant Theology, and yes, trying to facilitate this great principal of Semper Reformanda, "always reforming", and it is a day by day process.

Maybe if I have the time I would try to enlarge upon this important topic, and do so in a spirit of grace and charity, in the hopes of trying to bring about more unity if possible and if it please the Lord.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What did Jesus actually accomplish on the cross?

Who did He accomplish it for?

Who did Jesus die for? If we were to ask this question of Christians today, most would not hesitate for a moment to say, "everyone, of course!"

However, it may be something of a surprise to learn that this has not always been the majority view amongst Christians, and that the question actually needs a great deal of thought.

Let me start by saying that all Christians should rightfully affirm the infinite worth of Christ's work on the cross. "The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world. This death is of such infinite value and dignity because the person who submitted to it was not only really man and perfectly holy, but also the only-begotten Son of God, of the same eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, which qualifications were necessary to constitute Him a Savior for us; and, moreover, because it was attended with a sense of the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin." Canons of Dort - Second Head of Doctrine, Articles 3 and 4. The value of Christ's death on the cross is infinite. That cannot be underlined enough!

Yet when we ask such questions as "what was God's intention in sending His Son to die on the cross?" we have to think about what the cross actually does for people, and for what kind of people.

For example, when Jesus was dying on the cross, many people in human history had already died. In fact, not only had they died, but they were either in expectation of heavenly bliss (such as those in Abraham's bosom - Luke 16:23) or the dreaded expectation of divine, eternal punishment for their sins. This being the case, we need to ask, "What would Jesus death actually achieve for people who were already lost, with no hope of eternal life?"

And, would Jesus actually be bearing the sins of all these people awaiting an eternity in hell, when He knew it would do them no good?

If He did bear the punishment for all the sins of all people, then why would those in hell be bearing the punishment for their sins? Surely punishment for sin should not be handed out twice - one time on the spotless Lamb of God, and a second time on the people in hell.

These are not the only questions we need to be asking. We need to think about the Old Testament types and shadows, which point forward in time to portray the work of the Perfect Savior when He came. For instance, what exactly did the sacrifice made on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) actually do for those outside of the covenant of redemption? What exactly did it do for the Hittites, the Jebusites, or the Amalekites? Did the sacrifice actually pay for, and cover the sins of everyone in the whole world? And if it did do so, why would God still be angry with these other nations? If Divine wrath is satisfied by means of the lamb's propitiatory sacrifice for sin, then God's anger is averted, and He is happy rather than angry with people, right?

Well let's look at just some of the many scriptures that speak to this issue. When we do, I believe we'll notice something about God's intention in the work of Christ's cross.

Isaiah 53:4-11 ESV

4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

I am assuming that as Christians we would all agree that although this was written around 700 years B.C., this passage is a highly prophetic one, speaking of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ and His substitutionary work on the cross. Although there are many things that could be pointed out, please notice that Jesus is said to be "stricken for the transgression of my people," and that He is satisfied by what He achieves, in spite of the anguish of His soul, and that He makes many righteous in doing so, bearing their iniquities.

Whose iniquities does Jesus bear? Verse 11 tells us it is the "many" He makes righteous.

In the New Testament, we see a similar statement in the words of the angel to Joseph regarding Mary. Matthew 1:21 - "She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save His people from their sins."This prophetic promise again speaks of the Divine intention of the cross, and the fact that Christ would achieve this intention. Jesus will save His people from their sins.

Further on in Matthew we read Jesus' own words, "the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:28)In John 10:11, 14, 15, Jesus said,
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.... "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep."In the next verse He continues, "And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd." (John 10:16)
Here He speaks of those outside the Jewish fold, the Gentiles. Christ has many sheep amongst both Jews and Gentiles for whom He would lay down His life.

Clearly not all people are counted amongst Christ sheep, as Jesus goes on to say,

26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock.

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

30 I and the Father are one. (John 10:26-30)
In John 17, Jesus prayed, "I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. " (v. 6-10)

Jesus' intercession here was not for everyone in the world, but for those the Father gave to Him.

There are also Scriptures that clearly state that Christ gave Himself for His Church:

Acts 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

Eph. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church...

Here's a rather lengthy quote from Dr. John Piper, that's well worth considering. In commentating on the above verses he said, "There is a precious and unfathomable covenant love between Christ and His Bride, that moved Him to die for her. The death of Jesus is for the bride of Christ in a different way than it is for those who perish. Here's the problem with saying Christ died for all the same way he died for his bride. If Christ died for the sins of those who are finally lost, the same way he died for the sins of those who are finally saved, then what are the lost being punished for? Were their sins covered and canceled by the blood of Jesus or not? We Christians say, "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3). And we mean that his death paid the debt those sins created. His death removed the wrath of God from me. His death lifted the curse of the law from me. His death purchased heaven for me. It really accomplished those things!"

"But what would it mean to say of an unbeliever in hell that Christ died for his sins? Would we mean that the debt for his sins was paid? If so, why is he paying again in hell? Would we mean that the wrath of God was removed? If so, why is the wrath of God being poured out on him in punishment for sins? Would we mean that the curse of the law was lifted? If so, why is he bearing his curse in the lake of fire?"

He continues, "One possible answer is this: one might say that the only reason people go to hell is because of the sin of rejecting Jesus, not because of all the other sins of their life. But that is not true. The Bible teaches that the wrath of God is coming on the world, not just because of its rejection of Jesus, but because of its many sins that are not forgiven. For example, in Colossians 3:5-6, Paul refers to "immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed," and then says, "On account of these things the wrath of God will come." So people who reject Jesus really will be punished for their specific sins, not just for rejecting Jesus."

"So, we go back to the problem: in what sense did Christ taste death for their sins? If they are still guilty for their sins and still suffer punishment for their sins, what happened on the cross for their sins? Perhaps someone would use an analogy. You might say, Christ purchased their ticket to heaven, and offered it to them freely, but they refused to take it, and that is why they went to hell. And you would be partly right: Christ does offer his forgiveness freely to all, and any who receives it as the treasure it is will be saved by the death of Jesus. But the problem with the analogy is that the purchase of the ticket to heaven is, in reality, the canceling of sins. But what we have seen is that those who refuse the ticket are punished for their sins, not just for refusing the ticket. And so what meaning does it have to say that their sins were canceled? Their sins are going to bring them to destruction and keep them from heaven; so their sins were not really canceled in the cross, and therefore the ticket was not purchased."

"The ticket for heaven which Jesus obtained for me by his blood is the wiping out of all my sins, covering them, bearing them in his own body, so that they can never bring me to ruin can never be brought up against me again - never! That's what happened when he died for me. Hebrews 10:14 says, "By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." Perfected before God for all time, by the offering of his life! That's what it means that he died for me. Hebrews 9:28 says, "Christ also, [was] offered once to bear the sins of many." He bore my sins. He really bore them (See Isaiah 53:4-6). He really suffered for them. They cannot and they will not fall on my head in judgment."

"If you say to me then, that at the cross Christ only accomplished for me what he accomplished for those who will suffer hell for their sins, then you strip the death of Jesus of its actual effective accomplishment on my behalf, and leave me with what? An atonement that has lost its precious assuring power that my sins were really covered and the curse was really lifted and the wrath of God was really removed. That's a high price to pay in order to say that Christ tasted death for everyone in the same way."

Hebrews 10:

10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.

12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,

13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.

14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Did Christ's sacrifice perfect for all time everybody on the planet (past, present and future)? Surely not, unless we believe in universalism (that everyone will be saved).

In John 15, Jesus taught us that true love can be seen in laying a life down for friends:

13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

16 You did not choose me, but I chose you...

In Galatians 2:20, Paul wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Can a non Christian affirm that like Paul, he was crucified with Christ? Surely not!

The consistent theme of Scripture is the triumph of Christ's all conquering work of redemption. When we are given a glimpse into the heavenly anthems sung by the redeemed, we read, "And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:9-10)

Notice again the consistency of thought here. It does not say He redeemed everyone in every tribe, tongue, people and nation. Jesus, by His blood, actually redeemed people out of every tribe, tongue, people and nation.

The number of the redeemed is vast. Revelation 7:9-10 declares, "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"

Scripture is explicit then in saying that Jesus died for His people, His sheep, His friends, His Church, securing eternal life for them in doing so.

However, many object to this understanding of Christ's work on the cross, not because of the many clear texts that teach it, but because other verses seem, a least at first glance, to strongly deny this. For instance, 1 John 2:2, speaking of Jesus, states, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

I can certainly see how someone would use this verse to undermine all I have been saying above. Yet scripture, I believe, is not contradictory to itself. There is one Divine Author of Scripture and He does not contradict Himself.

So how are we to understand 1 John 2:2?

I have written elsewhere about the principles of correct interpretation of scripture. There is only one correct interpretation of scripture. Though there may be many applications of a verse, it only means what it was intended to mean when it was written.

1. Consider the Author - who wrote the book? (what was his background, language, culture, vocation, concerns, education, circumstance, what stage of life?)

2. Consider the Audience (why was the book written? who was the audience? what would these words have meant to its original recipients?)

I quote again Dr. James White, when he wrote, "Remember when you were in school and you had to take a test on a book you were assigned to read? You studied and invested time in learning the background of the author, the context in which he lived and wrote, his purposes in writing, his audience, and the specifics of the text. You did not simply come to class, pop open the book, read a few sentences, and say, "Well, I feel the author here means this." 

Yet, for some odd reason, this attitude is prevalent in Christian circles. 

Whether that feeling results in an interpretation that has anything at all to do with what the original author intended to convey is really not considered an important aspect. Everyone, seemingly, has the right to express their "feelings" about what they "think" the Bible is saying, as if those thoughts actually reflect what God inspired in His Word. While we would never let anyone get away with treating our writings like this, we seem to think God is not bothered, and what is worse, that our conclusions are somehow authoritative in their representation of His Word."

With this in view, we approach the First Epistle of John, which is a letter written to a primarily Jewish audience. So in 1 John 2:2, as in the rest of the letter, we have the Apostle John, a Jew, writing primarily to fellow Jewish believers in the Messiah. He writes of Jesus Christ being "the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only (Hebrews), but also for the whole world (the Gentiles)."

A third principle relates to the concept of considering the author's context. This refers to looking at all of a person's writings - John's writings, Paul's writings, Luke's writings, etc..

When we look elsewhere in John's writings we notice in his Gospel an exact parallel in John's use of words, which give us a great deal of insight as to what he (John) was referring to.

In John's Gospel, chapter 11, verses 51-52, John wrote these words, "he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad."

In chart form, the parallel with 1 John 2:2 becomes clear:

I believe therefore that rather than undermining the case for Christ's death for His elect sheep, 1 John 2:2 actually affirms it. When we understand the verse in its Johannine context (the writings of the Apostle John) then the correct interpretation becomes very clear.

In Hebrew culture, it is the father who chooses a bride for his son. In the same way, the bride of Christ was chosen by the Father, then given to the Son, and all in this number are without fail raised up to eternal life (John 6:37-39). The Son loses none of those given to Him by the Father.

A second objection to this, that needs to be dealt with are the words of Hebrews 2:9 which say,

"But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."

Surely "everyone" means everyone, right?

Well usually, yes, but not always. This in fact has to be determined by the context in which the words are spoken. For example, if a teacher asks his class of students, "Is everyone present?" he is not asking if everyone on the planet is present in the room, but rather all the students enrolled in the class. That's how the word everyone is used, and so it is the context in which the words are used that determine what is meant by the words. The question in Hebrews 2:9 is whether "everyone" refers to all human beings without distinction, or whether it refers to everyone within a certain group.

To determine the answer to that question, lets now read Hebrews 2: verses 9 and 10 together:

9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

Immediately after saying that by the grace of God Christ tasted death for everyone, the writer of Hebrews explains that God's intention or design in the cross of Christ was to "bring many sons to glory" (verse 10). 

The "everyone" of verse 9 refers to the "everyone" of the sons being led to glory in verse 10.

Verses 11 and 12 confirm this is indeed the context for the use of "everyone" (in verse 9):

11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,

12 saying, "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise."

13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Behold, I and the children God has given me."

Following the thread of these verses, the sons God is leading to the glory of heaven through the death of Christ are now called the brothers of Christ. It was for everyone of these that Christ tasted death.

Hebrews 9:15 declares, "Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant." According to this text who does it redeem? Answer: The called.

Christ's work on the cross achieved all of the Divine purposes for it. The intent of the design was not merely to try to save all, but when all was said and done, the plan could fail for many because of that stubborn thing called "free will," with the Savior sad for all eternity because many He died for received no benefit for all His labor. 

No, He died a satisfied Savior, giving Himself for His friends, for His sheep, for His people, for His Church, and fully accomplished the work of redemption for all in this number.

All who are particularists (who believe that not everyone will be saved - that some people will in fact spend eternity in hell) believe in some type of limitation to the atonement of Christ. The Arminian limits its power, for it only becomes effectual through man's cooperation; the Reformed person limits its extent.

As C. H. Spurgeon said, "The doctrine of Holy Scripture is this, that inasmuch as man could not keep God's law, having fallen in Adam, Christ came and fulfilled the law on the behalf of his people; and that inasmuch as man had already broken the divine law and incurred the penalty of the wrath of God, Christ came and suffered in the room, place, and stead of his elect ones, that so by his enduring the full vials of wrath, they might be emptied out and not a drop might ever fall upon the heads of his blood-bought people." (Sermon 310 - "Christ our Substitute - New Park Street, Southwark)

Elsewhere he preached, "I had rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than an universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of man be joined with it." (Sermon number 173 - Metropolitan Pulpit 4:121)

In another sermon, Spurgeon said, "Once again, if it were Christ's intention to save all men, how deplorably has He been disappointed, for we have His own evidence that there is a lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, and into that pit must be cast some of the very persons, who according to that theory, were bought with His blood. That seems to me a thousand times more frightful than any of those horrors, which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of particular redemption." (C. H. Spurgeon - Sermon 204 - New Park Street Pulpit 4:553)

This doctrine of the particular redemption or definite atonement of Christ, speaks of God's design in the atonement, and who it was God was intending to save when Christ went to the cross. Christ died as a substitute who bore the full weight of God's wrath on behalf of His people, paying the penalty for their sin. Christ intended to save His sheep and actually secured everything necessary for their salvation. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, thereby guaranteeing their salvation.

Barack Obama's Dream for a Secular, Non-Christian Nation

 Judgement is Nigh...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oh the contrast........



At last, a genuine debate between a Calvinist and an Arminian!

It is very hard to have a meaningful debate between Arminians and the Reformed View.
Personally, for years I have waited for such a discussion/debate with much dissapointment.
There has been talk of debate, but at every turn, it comes to nothing.

One side has been dying to debate the issues, and even has been providing solid reasons and defense in book form and discussion, and the other side has made much comment and bluster, but no real interaction with Reformed believers, taking a kind of high moral ground but full of empty rhetoric.

Maybe, just maybe, we can have a debate that really brings out the issues between Arminians and Calvinists, that actually deals with the heart of the issues and speaks to the truth of scripture.

Stay tuned.

Dr James White vs Dr Michael Brown 2010...............More info soon!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Life at the beach and Life itself!

Imagine you are on Holiday at some great Beach resort. You are lying down in a nice comfy chair and a drink in one hand and a newspaper in the other. As you look up from the "gossip guide", you take in the view all around you. All is well.
Your eyes fall upon a sign that reads the following, “This beach has the best Lifeguards in all of the Country”.
You think upon that statement and feel good about that, but as you are in no need of a lifeguard, the message does not really move you in any way, so you go back to your paper and relax....


Imagine that you are now swimming out in the nice cool water, thinking about what you were reading in the newspaper, but suddenly and without notice, you get a severe cramp and start to struggle.
You realize that you are further out than you thought and the movement in your body is worse.
You struggle and fight against your own body. You start to sink, and then all of a sudden, you remember that sign you read on the beach about the lifeguards being the best in the whole country.

What you read before so casually, has now become the best message you have ever read. It is your only hope.

Reader, that story is not just a story.

It is a story about how we all live our lives. We hear about a Saviour called Jesus, and we think that is a nice story, but we go on with our lives unaffected by Jesus.
Suddenly, without warning, every one of us shall answer to our creator, and the message we casually heard will be the most important news we could ever hear.

Are you interested in hearing the good news?
All God wants from you, is repentance towards Him, and simple faith in His Son Jesus Christ who died upon the cross for sinners like you and me.

Will you have Him, or will you continue to go your own way?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Family Bible Study worth repeating.....

Family Bible Study        1/16/2003
Young Relationships and Parental discernment.
by Mark Farnon....................................................

This brief study is definitely aimed at young people who desire to pursue relationships with the opposite sex that involve feelings of love and attraction. It is aimed specifically at those young persons who are without life experience and maturity.
Generally aimed at those under the age of 18 and in particular, those who are brought up in Christian homes with parents who seek to honour the Lord in all things.
Notwithstanding these specifics, there is a benefit also to a more general audience.

This message can also help any person contemplating relationships with the opposite sex.

First of all, I would like to mention the all too obvious tragedies of our present society.
Divorce, abortion, sexual immorality, youth suicide, single parenthood and a multitude of other related realities that are ever increasing in our midst. These situations produce broken relationships and ruined lives. No one can dispute these things.  Read.2 Timothy 3-1
That being said, it is with conviction that we as Christians do not play the ostrich about these matters and should therefore be most diligent in the addressing of these situations, and therefore we should be at the helm of offering positive and responsible actions which aim to provide and prevent such tragedies in our midst. 2 Corinthians 2:11

Of all people, we who profess faith in Jesus Christ, have been given the mind of Christ to discern and provide remedies to such social disasters. 1 Corinthians 2:16 Sadly, we are not thinking critically about such matters and as such fail to responsibly teach our children. It is sad to see many such Christians surprised and shocked when their own children become sad statistics to these ever present realities.
I remind Christian parents that your children are precious gifts from the Lord, and as such you are required to be responsible stewards of their lives.

It is our responsibility to teach and guide our children, Proverbs 22:6 but many today are allowing the world and popular opinion to be their tutors. This should not be so.
I write with a genuine concern to help address the often-tragic situations that young people get themselves into, due to the influence of the World and peer group pressure, as well as the natural feelings of entering into young adulthood.

As Christian parents we should give our attention to such things with great seriousness. It is our God given responsibility to teach our children about life.
Many parents have been victims of these tragedies themselves in their own youth 1Corinthians 6:11

Do we love our children enough to be firm and warn them of such feelings? Sadly, many Christians today are not thinking through these issues and the results are the same as what we see in the world. Broken relationships and hurt individuals.
Proverbs 29:15

To be loose about such issues is to court danger and be caught up in the spirit of the age. Ephesians 6:12

Let us love our children intelligently and seek the Lord’s wisdom in such matters.
To simply assume that our children will be protected from harm is sheer folly and lacks biblical discernment and responsibility. John 10:10 If we err on such issues let it be on the side of caution.
The alternative is everywhere to be seen. Statistics are real people, and the statistics are ever increasing at an alarming rate. 

To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Mark Farnon

When we try to instruct from God’s word we must do so with the fear of the Lord.
What is this fear of the Lord ?

Let me simply suggest that it will lead us into much wisdom and knowledge and enable us to be spiritually discerned.

  1. Job 28:28  And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’"
  2. Psalms 19:9  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
  3. Psalms 34:11  Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
  4. Psalms 111:10  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.
  5. Proverbs 1:7  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
  6. Proverbs 1:29  Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD,
  7. Proverbs 2:5  Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God.
  8. Proverbs 10:27  The fear of the LORD prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
  9. Proverbs 14:26  In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.
  10. Proverbs 14:27  The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.
  11. Proverbs 15:16  Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble.
  12. Proverbs 15:33  The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.
  13. Proverbs 16:6  In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.
  14. Proverbs 19:23  The fear of the LORD leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil.
  15. Proverbs 22:4  By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life.
  16. Proverbs 23:17  Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day;
  17. Isaiah 11:2  The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

In the subject of Human relationships the Bible has much to say. We would be wise to study it.

In the ordinary course of life, how do members of the opposite sex come to establish a relationship.
And when the Bible speaks about Relationship, What is it? And how can it be pursued?
How are we, as Humans supposed to go into a relationship. What type of a relationship is it to be?
What emotions are involved? Are we to be careful and disciplined about such relationships?
Are we to be ruled by our hearts?

God answers all of these things both in his word and it is even written in our conscience.
As the conscience becomes hard to the truth of God we see the result in the very world around us.
Broken relationships, Divorce, Sex before marriage, relationships of convenience to satisfy each other’s desires, rather than true biblical commitment and Love.

Let me get to the practical issues.

We humans enter into relationships for the very same reasons that God does. What do I mean?

God tells us that all relationships of love and attraction between the opposite sex are for the purpose of union that lasts for eternity, and not to be broken, and as such a picture of that Great Spiritual marriage between Christ as the Bridegroom and the Church as his bride. This is a great mystery of Love and sacrifice. Ephesians 5:32

The Scriptures use this very language.

Our views of relationships and marriage must be understood by this relationship between Christ and his Bride, that is all believers.
The understanding we get is for us to teach to all men and not just believers.

Here is the biblical teaching on this subject.

A relationship that is formed or is forming between two people of the opposite sex, who declare a mutual love for one another must always be viewed as that which leads to marriage. No other relationship in Scripture is encouraged. 
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." Eph 5-31

This does not mean that relationships between friends of the opposite sex are not real relationships.
They are a different kind of relationship. They are friends without the feelings of love that leads to marriage.
Sometimes this type of relationship can develop into the biblical ideal of relationship.

A man goes out and looks for a wife. In other words he freely chooses his bride. The bride is taken in by the man and falls in love with him. It is the man pursuing the relationship not the woman in the first instance.

That is why the whole history of mankind has generally been this way, except in those countries where they rejected the God of the Bible and decided to force people to marry or practise arranged marriages.

That is why we men say that women play hard to get!  It is the man’s role to pursue his bride. This is the way Christ himself seeks his bride. It is not the bride seeking Christ.
We need to be God centred in our thinking as Christians.

Today in this man centred world the opposite is true. Women chasing men. It is called the new morality. The progress of women. The empowerment of women. Women open their own car doors, pay for their own meals, and pursue their partners.
In all this they have been told that this is women’s liberation.

 It is a Satanic lie and not of Christian origin. It does not give liberty to women. It brings dishonour to women.

No man truly respects a woman who makes the first moves. It is I believe dishonouring for a woman to act like that. It may be old fashioned but it is biblical.

An incorrect view of men and women in light of how God created them is at the heart of these problems. Christians today are putting aside these God ordained roles of people. God knows best, but we are beginning to think and be influenced by the world, which in its rebellion against their creator thinks to be wiser than God.

 How many abortions are because of this behaviour of women? How many children do not have fathers by this behaviour? I know some of these people personally, and they are both in and out of the Church. This so-called “new morality” is destroying relationships and destroying the biblical teaching on Marriage and family. Even the church does not see this clearly. Modern statistics are frightening on these issues.

This new morality is not of God. It is of the Devil and humans.
The right way is our Lords way.

We have this wonderful freedom to choose our partners and yet we rebel against God doing the very same thing!
There is no more fiercely fought thing than the idea that God can elect a people for himself and leave others to themselves. Yet we do this in marriage!
He chooses his bride. He chooses his people.  We give this right to sinners but complain when God, who alone is holy, does the exact same thing!
Alas this is another subject for another time.

And those people, Christians, are knocked off their feet at his pursuing and choosing us. We can say the same as any wife on the earth, we love him because he first loved us.
Because he pursued us. He melted our hearts. This should be the confession of all earthly wives of their husbands. If it is not so, it should be so. I believe you can see this love in the marriages of unbelievers and certainly in the marriages of Believers more so.
And to us husbands, we need here to be imitators of Christ who is our model of what it is to be a HUSBAND. May God give us strength to be such.

Much could be said about this grand subject but let me just hone in on my purpose for this brief study.

We need to know what relationships are. What is their purpose? To take serious these things. To be wise about these issues and not lazy or indifferent.

What about young people?

Do not simply be led by your heart on these issues. Do not be deceived into pursuing such relationships without knowing the mind of the Lord on these matters.

There is no Scripture that even hints about relationships of love between young people in this context. It is God’s will that we try to be mature in our understanding about such important issues. These ideas about young sincere love come more from the writings of men such as Shakespear and the like, not from Scripture.

To be young is simply to not have this mature understanding due to lack of experience in life!  This is not to offend young people, it is simply stating the facts. It is therefore the God given responsibility to your parents to advise such things and for you to be obedient to their instruction.
Young immature love is not biblical love and the young people one-day will know this. Does that mean we simply let it run its course and stamp approval on it?

It is therefore necessary to advise and hinder such situations with the person’s best interest at heart knowing that it is the gracious mind of the Lord on the matter.
The young might say, well if it is harmless then why not just leave it alone?
It is just a phase! It is harmless! It will come to nothing!

Well, here is the heart of this message.
Love is not just some mushy kind of feeling that is harmless. Sentiment and emotionalism can lead to moral weakness. What we initiate leads to action. Action leads to situations and sometimes these situations end in despair and shame etc.

True love, biblical love comes at a cost.
The greatest love in the entire world cost the Son of God his life upon the cross.

The apostle Paul tells those who would follow Christ to count the cost of being Christians.

If we do not discipline our feelings by the standard of Gods wisdom, then we will walk in our own ways and our own understanding, which is SIN. A great offence against God.

If we call ourselves Christian, then I would suggest that we put our Love towards him instead of towards our own selves and our own hearts. This is one of the costs of being a true follower of Jesus Christ. You have a future yet to live! Live it wisely and seek to be in no hurry to enter into relationships that require maturity and patience.
It is natural for our self-esteem to be warmed, but do not be ruled by our hearts which often deceive us.

At such a young age we need to be instructed by parents who seek the Lord about these matters. This is a blessing that will reap rewards in your own future and hopefully in your own children’s future. This has not been happening in these last few generations of parents and now even of Christians who should know much better.
Ignorance is not innocence and neither is it bliss.

Think critically Christian parent, and cease from being influenced by this fallen and dark unbelieving world.
For your children’s sake I implore you to be mindful of these issues. Don’t simply say that The Lord will take care of these things. This is a problem amongst Christians who will not be responsible in these areas. We do commit these matters to the Lord but we also must act positively with what we know to be true. To do otherwise is to be willingly ignorant and careless and lazy.

The guiding principal that separates those who would follow Christ and the world and its brokenness and complete disobedience is the Love of God shed abroad in our hearts.
This love should propel us into action. Love is never passive, either in the one giving it or the one receiving it.

Unfortunately many parents today are passive and the balance needs to be restored.
I see today such an attitude of apathy being displayed not only in the World but in Christ’s holy Church as well. It grieves me greatly to see this.
Let the Lord give us much understanding on these issues or we may just become a statistic. Again I say this. Let us err on the side of caution and be vigilant.
Our children will one-day be most thankful. It may seem tough but it is truly wise.

Mark Farnon 2003
A father of five who needs much wisdom from the Lord and much help.
If we ask him for wisdom he will give it. We should seek his glory in these matters.


Flood of Noah...

Many Christians today think the Flood of Noah's time was only a local flood, confined to somewhere around Mesopotamia. This idea comes not from Scripture, but from the notion of 'billions of years' of Earth history.

But look at the problems this concept involves:

  1. If the Flood was local, why did Noah have to build an Ark? He could have walked to the other side of the mountains and missed it.
  2. If the Flood was local, why did God send the animals to the Ark so they would escape death? There would have been other animals to reproduce that kind if these particular ones had died.
  3. If the Flood was local, why was the Ark big enough to hold all kinds of land vertebrate animals that have ever existed? If only Mesopotamian animals were aboard, the Ark could have been much smaller.
  4. If the Flood was local, why would birds have been sent on board? These could simply have winged across to a nearby mountain range.
  5. If the Flood was local, how could the waters rise to 15 cubits (8 metres) above the mountains (Genesis 7:20)? Water seeks its own level. It couldn't rise to cover the local mountains while leaving the rest of the world untouched.
  6. If the Flood was local, people who did not happen to be living in the vicinity would not be affected by it. They would have escaped God's judgment on sin. If this happened, what did Christ mean when He likened the coming judgment of all men to the judgment of 'all' men (Matthew 24:37-39) in the days of Noah? A partial judgment in Noah's day means a partial judgment to come.
  7. If the Flood was local, God would have repeatedly broken His promise never to send such a flood again.
    Belief in a world-wide Flood, as Scripture clearly indicates, has the backing of common sense, science, and Christ Himself.


    The Unfathomable Love of God

    ...for those who have ears to hear

    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. (1 John 4:10).

    There are three things told us in Scripture concerning the nature of God.

    First,, "God is spirit" (John 4:24). In the Greek there is no indefinite article, and to say "God is a spirit" is most objectionable, for it places Him in a class with others. God is "spirit" in the highest sense. Because He is "spirit" He is incorporeal, having no visible substance. Had God a tangible body, He would not be omnipresent, He would be limited to one place; because He is spirit He fills heaven and earth. Second, God is light (1 John 1:5), which is the opposite of "darkness." In Scripture "darkness" stands for sin, evil, death; and "light" for holiness, goodness, life. God is light, means that He is the sum of all excellency. Third, "God is love" (1 John 4:8). It is not simply that God "loves," but that He is Love itself. Love is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature.

    There are many today who talk about the love of God, who are total strangers to the God of love. The Divine love is commonly regarded as a species of amiable weakness, a sort of good-natured indulgence; it is reduced to a mere sickly sentiment, patterned after human emotion. Now the truth is that on this, as on everything else, our thoughts need to be formed and regulated by what is revealed thereon in Holy Scripture. That there is urgent need for this is apparent not only from the ignorance which so generally prevails, but also from the low state of spirituality which is now so sadly evident everywhere among professing Christians. How little real love there is for God. One chief reason for this is because our hearts are so little occupied with His wondrous love for His people. The better we are acquainted with His love-its character, fullness, blessedness-the more will our hearts be drawn out in love to Him.

    1. The love of God is uninfluenced.
    By this we mean, there was nothing whatever in the objects of His love to call it into exercise, nothing in the creature to attract or prompt it. The love which one creature has for another is because of something in them; but the love of God is free, spontaneous, and uncaused. The only reason why God loves any is found in His own sovereign will: "The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved thee" (Deut. 7:7,8). God has loved His people from everlasting, and therefore nothing of the creature can be the cause of what is found in God from eternity. He loves from Himself: "according to His own purpose" (2 Tim. 1:9).

    "We love Him, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). God did not love us because we loved Him, but He loved us before we had a particle of love for Him. Had God loved us in return for ours, then it would not be spontaneous on His part; but because He loved us when we were loveless, it is clear that His love was uninfluenced. It is highly important if God is to be honored and the heart of His child established, that we should be quite clear upon this precious truth. God’s love for me, and for each of "His own," was entirely unmoved by anything in them. What was there in me to attract the heart of God? Absolutely nothing. But, to the contrary, everything to repel Him, everything calculated to make Him loathe me-sinful, depraved, a mass of corruption, with "no good thing" in me.

    2. It is eternal.
    This of necessity. God Himself is eternal, and God is love; therefore, as God Himself had no beginning, His love had none. Granted that such a concept far transcends the grasp of our feeble minds, nevertheless, where we cannot comprehend, we can bow in adoring worship. How clear is the testimony of Jer 31:3, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.’ How blessed to know that the great and holy God loved His people before heaven and earth were called into existence, that He had set His heart upon them from all eternity. Clear proof is this that His love is spontaneous, for He loved them endless ages before they had any being.

    The same precious truth is set forth in Eph 1:4,5, ‘According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him. In love having predestinated us.’ What praise should this evoke from each of His children! How tranquilizing for the heart: since God’s love toward me had no beginning, it can have no ending! Since it be true that ‘from everlasting to everlasting’ He is God, and since God is ‘love,’ then it is equally true that ‘from everlasting to everlasting’ He loves His people.

    3. It is sovereign.
    This also is self-evident. God Himself is sovereign, under obligations to none, a law unto Himself, acting always according to His own imperial pleasure. Since God be sovereign, and since He be love, it necessarily follows that His love is sovereign. Because God is God, He does as He pleases; because God is love, He loves whom He pleases. Such is His own express affirmation: ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated’. (Ro 9:19) There was no more reason in Jacob why he should be the object of Divine love, than there was in Esau. They both had the same parents, and were born at the same time, being twins; yet God loved the one and hated the other! Why? Because it pleased Him to do so.

    The sovereignty of God’s love necessarily follows from the fact that it is uninfluenced by anything in the creature. Thus, to affirm that the cause of His love lies in God Himself, is only another way of saying, He loves whom He pleases. For a moment, assume the opposite. Suppose God’s love were regulated by anything else than His will, in such a case He would love by rule, and loving by rule He would be under a law of love, and then so far from being free, God would Himself be ruled by law. ‘In love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to’-what? Some excellency which He foresaw in them? No; what then? ‘According to the good pleasure of His will’. {Eph 1:4,5}

    4. It is infinite.
    Everything about God is infinite. His essence fills heaven and earth. His wisdom is illimitable, for He knows everything of the past, present and future. His power is unbounded, for there is nothing too hard for Him. So His love is without limit. There is a depth to it which none can fathom; there is a height to it which none can scale; there is a length and breadth to it which defies measurement, by any creature-standard. Beautifully is this intimated in Eph 2:4: But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us: the word ‘great’ there is parallel with the ‘God so loved’ of Joh 3:16.

    It tells us that the love of God is so transcendent it cannot be estimated.

    “No tongue can fully express the infinitude of God’s love, or any mind comprehend it: it ‘passeth knowledge’ (Eph 3:19). The most extensive ideas that a finite mind can frame about Divine love, are infinitely below its true nature. The heaven is not so far above the earth as the goodness of God is beyond the most raised conceptions, which we are able to form of it. It is an ocean which swells higher than all the mountains of opposition in such as are the objects of it. It is a fountain from which flows all necessary good to all those who are interested in it (John Brine, 1743).”

    5. It is immutable.
    As with God Himself there is ‘no variableness, neither shadow of turning’, (Jas 1:17) so His love knows neither change or diminution. The worm Jacob supplies a forceful example of this: ‘Jacob have I loved,’ declared Jehovah, and despite all his unbelief and waywardness, He never ceased to love him. Joh 13:1 furnishes another beautiful illustration. That very night one of the apostles would say, ‘Show us the Father’; another would deny Him with cursings; all of them would be scandalized by and forsake Him. Nevertheless ‘having loved His own which were in the world, He love them unto the end.’ The Divine love is subject to no vicissitudes. Divine love is ‘strong as death... many waters cannot quench it’ (So 8:6,7). Nothing can separate from it: Ro 8:35-39.

    "His love no end nor measure knows,

    No change can turn its course,

    Eternally the same it flows

    From one eternal source."

    6. It is holy.
    God’s love is not regulated by caprice passion, or sentiment, but by principle. Just as His grace reigns not at the expense of it, but ‘through righteousness’, (Ro 5:21) so His love never conflicts with His holiness. ‘God is light’ (1 Jo 1:5) is mentioned before ‘God is love’ (1 Jo 4:8). God’s love is no mere amiable weakness, or effeminate softness. Scripture declares, ‘whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth’. (Heb 12:6) God will not wink at sin, even in His own people. His love is pure, unmixed with any maudlin sentimentality.

    7. It is gracious.
    The love and favor of God are inseparable. This is clearly brought out in Ro 8:32-39. What that love is from which there can be no ‘separation,’ is easily perceived from the design and scope of the immediate context: it is that goodwill and grace of God which determined Him to give His Son for sinners. That love was the impulsive power of Christ’s incarnation: ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son’. (Joh 3:16) Christ died not in order to make God love us, but because He did love His people, Calvary is the supreme demonstration of Divine love. Whenever you are tempted to doubt the love of God, Christian reader, go back to Calvary.

    Here then is abundant cause for trust and patience under Divine affliction. Christ was beloved of the Father, yet He was not exempted from poverty, disgrace, and persecution. He hungered and thirsted. Thus, it was not incompatible with God’s love for Christ when He permitted men to spit upon and smite Him. Then let no Christian call into question God’s love when he is brought under painful afflictions and trials. God did not enrich Christ on earth with temporal prosperity, for ‘He had not where to lay His head.’ But He did give Him the Spirit ‘without measure’. (Joh 3:34) Learn then that spiritual blessings are the principal gifts of Divine love.

    How blessed to know that when the world hates us, God loves us!