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#39801 Tue Jun 03, 2008 6:55 PM
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BradJHammond said:
Do the majority here really say that God only loves the elect? If so that saddens me and I disagree with them. [color:"0000FF"]I suppose no one here has had to ever punish or hold accountable someone they love.[/color]


Brad,

I think that probably the majority on this discussion board do not believe God only loves the elect. Their are some also (myself) that believe God has never hated the elect just for the very reason you give about loving the WORLD for a father even when he is angry still loves his children.

Could you give me your interpretation of any references in a reformed creed that teaches God loves every human being?


Thanks,
William



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William #39802 Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:03 PM
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William said:

I think that probably the majority on this discussion board do not believe God only loves the elect. Their are some also (myself) that believe God has never hated the elect just for the very reason you give about loving the WORLD for a father even when he is angry still loves his children.

Could you give me your interpretation of any references in a reformed creed that teaches God loves every human being?


William,

If you'd like I could give you a list of Scriptures which I believe teach that God loves every human being, although I'd say its a pretty standard list and those who reject God's universal love have replies and alternative interpretations for each one of them. As for Reformed Creeds, I'm honestly not familiar enough with any of them to help you there -- I'm not aware that any of them explicitly reject the claim that God loves all men; but,I could be mistaken about that, and if I am, I'm sure someone will correct me.

Apart from the biblical passages which I believe explicitly teach that God loves all men, it is His common grace, the fact that He provides countless blessings to those who deserve only condemnation and death, that provides the best evidence. As David said, "the LORD is good to all, and His compassion is over all that He has made (Ps. 145:9)

Perhaps the best I can offer at this point is the following passage from Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology (emphasis mine):

Quote
Another objection to the doctrine of common grace is that it presupposes a certain favorable disposition in God even to reprobate sinners, while we have no right to assume such a disposition in God. This stricture takes its starting point in the eternal counsel of God, in His election and reprobation. Along the line of His election God reveals His love, grace, mercy, and long-suffering, leading to salvation; and in the historical realization of His reprobation He gives expression only to His aversion, disfavor, hatred, and wrath, leading to destruction. But this looks like a rationalistic over-simplification of the inner life of God, which does not take sufficient account of His self-revelation. In speaking on this subject we ought to be very careful and allow ourselves to be guided by the explicit statements of Scripture rather than by our bold inferences from the secret counsel of God. There is far more in God than we can reduce to our logical categories. Are the elect in this life the objects of God´s love only, and never in any sense the objects of His wrath? Is Moses thinking of the reprobate when he says: “For we are consumed in thine anger, and in thy wrath are we troubled”? Ps. 90:7. Does not the statement of Jesus that the wrath of God abideth on them that obey not the Son imply that it is removed from the others when, and not until, they submit to the beneficent rule of Christ? John 3:36. And does not Paul say to the Ephesians that they “were by nature children of wrath even as the rest”? Eph. 2:3. Evidently the elect can not be regarded as always and exclusively the objects of God´s love. And if they who are the objects of God´s redeeming love can also in some sense of the word be regarded as the objects of His wrath, why should it be impossible that they who are the objects of His wrath should also in some sense share His divine favor? A father who is also a judge may loathe the son that is brought before him as a criminal, and feel constrained to visit his judicial wrath upon him, but may yet pity him and show him acts of kindness while he is under condemnation. Why should this be impossible in God? General Washington hated the traitor that was brought before him and condemned him to death, but at the same time showed him compassion by serving him with the dainties from his own table. Cannot God have compassion even on the condemned sinner, and bestow favors upon him? The answer need not be uncertain, since the Bible clearly teaches that He showers untold blessings upon all men and also clearly indicates that these are the expression of a favorable disposition in God, which falls short, however, of the positive volition to pardon their sin, to lift their sentence, and to grant them salvation. The following passages clearly point to such a favorable disposition: Prov. 1:24; Isa. 1:18; Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11; Matt. 5:43-45; 23:37; Mark 10:21; Luke 6:35: ROM 2:4; I Tim. 2:4. If such passages do not testify to a favorable disposition in God, it would seem that language has lost its meaning, and that God´s revelation is not dependable on this subject.

P.S. Please forgive all of my "unnecessary personal pronouns." <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/coffee2.gif" alt="" />


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BradJHammond #39803 Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:14 PM
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Fair enough Mr. Hammond and thank you for your response. Perhaps I can make a reply tomorrow. D.v.



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BradJHammond #39804 Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:35 PM
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Brad,

As you might have expected, I cannot let this one slide!

1. The reason those of us who reject the premise that God loves ALL, i.e., every man woman and child without exception is that there is no biblical evidence to support it. And because that is the case of course we will have answers and explanations of those texts presented as representing that false premise. If you are so inclined, go ahead and bring them forth and I and others will consider them and offer a reason why they don't teach a universal love of God, i.e., God's love is universal and identical in its nature to all of mankind.

2. Logically, if there is but one biblical text which states that God does not love but one individual the premise that God loves all is disproved. Thus consider the following:


Deuteronomy 7:6-10 (ASV) "For thou art a holy people unto Jehovah thy God: Jehovah thy God hath chosen thee to be a people for his own possession, above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth. Jehovah 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 peoples: but because Jehovah loveth you, and because he would keep the oath which he sware unto your fathers, hath Jehovah brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that Jehovah thy God, he is God, the faithful God, who keepeth covenant and lovingkindness with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations, and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face."

Deuteronomy 10:14-15 (ASV) "Behold, unto Jehovah thy God belongeth heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth, with all that is therein. Only Jehovah had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all peoples, as at this day."

Psalms 5:5 (ASV) "The arrogant shall not stand in thy sight: Thou hatest all workers of iniquity."

Psalms 11:5-7 (ASV) "Jehovah trieth the righteous; But the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he will rain snares; Fire and brimstone and burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. For Jehovah is righteous; he loveth righteousness: The upright shall behold his face."

Proverbs 6:16-19 (ASV) "There are six things which Jehovah hateth; Yea, seven which are an abomination unto him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood; A heart that deviseth wicked purposes, Feet that are swift in running to mischief, A false witness that uttereth lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren."

Malachi 1:2-4 (ASV) "I have loved you, saith Jehovah. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother, saith Jehovah: yet I loved Jacob; but Esau I hated, and made his mountains a desolation, and [gave] his heritage to the jackals of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are beaten down, but we will return and build the waste places; thus saith Jehovah of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and men shall call them The border of wickedness, and The people against whom Jehovah hath indignation for ever."

Romans 9:13 (ASV) "Even as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."


3. In regard to the Reformed Confessions and their teaching of God's love, here are a couple of relevant statements from them:


Canons of Dordt - First Head of Doctrine
Article 7
Election is the unchangeable purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world, He has out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race, which had fallen through their own fault from their primitive state of rectitude into sin and destruction, a certain number of persons to redemption in Christ, whom He from eternity appointed the Mediator and Head of the elect and the foundation of salvation. This elect number, though by nature neither better nor more deserving than others, but with them involved in one common misery, God has decreed to give to Christ to be saved by Him, and effectually to call and draw them to His communion by His Word and Spirit; to bestow upon them true faith, justification, and sanctification; and having powerfully preserved them in the fellowship of His Son, finally to glorify them for the demonstration of His mercy, and for the praise of the riches of His glorious grace; as it is written: Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (Eph. 1:4, 5,6). And elsewhere: Whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Rom. 8:30).

Article 9
This election was not founded upon foreseen faith and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality or disposition in man, as the prerequisite, cause, or condition on which it depended; but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc. Therefore election is the fountain of every saving good, from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to the testimony of the apostle: He hath chosen us (not because we were, but) that we should be holy, and without blemish before him in love (Eph. 1:4).

Article 10
The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious election; which does not consist herein that out of all possible qualities and actions of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation, but that He was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain persons as a peculiar people to Himself, as it is written: For the children being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, etc., it was said unto her (namely, to Rebekah), The elder shall serve the younger. Even as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated (Rom. 9:11, 12, 13). And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).

The Canons of Dort, Second Head of Doctrine
The Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby - Rejection of Errors

Paragraph 7
Who teach: That Christ neither could die, nor needed to die, and also did not die, for those whom God loved in the highest degree and elected to eternal life, since these do not need the death of Christ.
For they contradict the apostle, who declares: Christ loved me, and gave himself up for me (Gal. 2:20). Likewise: Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died (Rom. 8:33, 34), namely, for them; and the Savior who says: I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:15). And: This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12, 13).

The Second Helvetic Confession - Chapter VIII
Of Man's Fall, Sin and the Cause of Sin
God Is Not the Author of Sin, and How Far He Is Said to Harden.
It is expressly written: Thou art not a God who delights in wickedness. Thou hatest all evildoers. Thou destroyest those who speak lies (Psa. 5:4 ff.).

The Larger Catechism, Question 110
Q110: What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it?
A110: The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments;[1] are, besides God's sovereignty over us, and propriety in us,[2] his fervent zeal for his own worship,[3] and his revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom;[4] accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations;[5] and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generations.[6]

1. Exod. 20:5-6
2. Psa. 45:11; Rev. 20:3-4
3. Exod. 34:13-14
4. I Cor. 10:20-22; Jer. 7:18-20; Ezek. 16:26-27; Deut. 32:16-20
5. Hosea 2:2-4
6. Deut. 5:29

The French Confession, Article XI
XI. We believe, also, that this evil is truly sin, sufficient for the condemnation of the whole human race, even of little children in the mother's womb, and that God considers it as such;[1] even after baptism it is still of the nature of sin, but the condemnation of it is abolished for the children of God, out of his mere free grace and love.[2] And further, that it is a perversity always producing fruits of malice and of rebellion,[3] so that the most holy men, although they resist it, are still stained with many weaknesses and imperfections while they are in this life.[4]

1. Psa 51:7; Rom. 3:9-13; 5:12
2. Rom. ch. 7
3. Rom. 7:5
4. Rom. 7:18-19; II Cor. 12:7

Article XVIII
XVIII. We believe that all our justification rests upon the remission of our sins, in which also is our only blessedness, as says David (Psa. 32:2).[1] We therefore reject all other means of justification before God,[2] and without claiming any virtue or merit, we rest simply in the obedience of Jesus Christ, which is imputed to us as much to blot out all our sins as to make us find grace and favor in the sight of God. And, in fact, we believe that in falling away from this foundation, however slightly, we could not find rest elsewhere, but should always be troubled. For as much as we are never at peace with God till we resolve to be loved in Jesus Christ, for of ourselves we are worthy of hatred.

1. John 17:23; Rom. 4:7-8; 8:1-3; II Cor. 5:19-20
2. I Tim. 2:5; I John 2:1; Rom. 5:19; Acts 4:12


There are many more references I could provide, but I think you get the idea. There are myriad statements concerning God hating a group of fallen men (reprobate) while loving others (elect) either explicitly or by logical inference. The same can be said of passages in Scripture.

3. And lastly, in regard to the quote from Berkhof's Systematic Theology of which I am quite familiar. There is not one single place where he states that God loves all men, equally or otherwise. What he does say is that God has compassion, divine favor, pity, acts of kindness, untold blessings upon all men. It is imperative that one understand the CONTEXT of Berkhof's argument in that place which is his polemic against hyper-Calvinism (Herman Hoeksema and the PRC being primary objects) and their adamant rejection of the doctrine of "Common Grace", which is classically known as God's beneficence upon all men, i.e., non-salvific kindness.

Thanks for your patience in wading through this longer than anticipated response.

In His grace,


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Pilgrim #39805 Wed Jun 04, 2008 1:13 AM
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First of all -- when did my post turn into an independent thread? I would not have posted a thread with this title; but, I will stand by what I have said.

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The reason those of us who reject the premise that God loves ALL, i.e., every man woman and child without exception is that there is no biblical evidence to support it. And because that is the case of course we will have answers and explanations of those texts presented as representing that false premise. If you are so inclined, go ahead and bring them forth and I and others will consider them and offer a reason why they don't teach a universal love of God, i.e., God's love is universal and identical in its nature to all of mankind.

I would agree that there are no passages that teach (or even imply) that "God's love is universal and identical in its nature to all of mankind" -- I have not said this and I do not believe it. My view is that while God loves all men, He does not love all men equally or in the same way, i.e., there are different degrees of divine love. Another way this is sometimes expressed is by referring to different kinds of divine love (I suppose one might also speak of different "senses" of divine love). There is the love of benevolence or goodwill, which I believe is universal in scope, i.e., extends and applies to all of mankind, and may be thought of as the lowest degree. I believe the ground of this love is the fact that God has created all men in his image (Gen 1:27), or as Berkhof puts it: "He loves His rational creatures for His own sake...He loves in them Himself, His virtues, His work, and His gifts (Systematic Theology, 71). While I prefer to just use the word "love" for this, you are free to substitute "compassion," "divine favor," "pity," or goodwill if you like. Then there is the love of beneficence, which again is expressed in some degree (though not necessarily equally) toward all men. This kind of love issues in or is expressed by what you (or Berkhof)refer to as undeserved "acts of kindness" and "untold blessings." And then, there is the love of complacency, which applies only to the elect -- to those in whom God delights, i.e., to those who are being conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

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Pilgrim said:

There are myriad statements concerning God hating a group of fallen men (reprobate) while loving others (elect) either explicitly or by logical inference

I have never denied that there are men (and probably fallen angels) that God hates. I believe it is no contradiction to say that God can love a man in one sense and hate him in another, and I think this is the only way to balance all of the biblical data. Again, allow me to quote Berkhof:

Quote
Are the elect in this life the objects of God´s love only, and never in any sense the objects of His wrath? Is Moses thinking of the reprobate when he says: “For we are consumed in thine anger, and in thy wrath are we troubled”? Ps. 90:7. Does not the statement of Jesus that the wrath of God abideth on them that obey not the Son imply that it is removed from the others when, and not until, they submit to the beneficent rule of Christ? John 3:36. And does not Paul say to the Ephesians that they “were by nature children of wrath even as the rest”? Eph. 2:3. Evidently the elect can not be regarded as always and exclusively the objects of God´s love. And if they who are the objects of God´s redeeming love can also in some sense of the word be regarded as the objects of His wrath, why should it be impossible that they who are the objects of His wrath should also in some sense share His divine favor? A father who is also a judge may loathe the son that is brought before him as a criminal, and feel constrained to visit his judicial wrath upon him, but may yet pity him and show him acts of kindness while he is under condemnation. Why should this be impossible in God?

Systematic Theology, 445


We may have a genuine disagreement here, or there may just be a lot of equivocation, i.e., using the same word "love" in different senses. I will let you make that determination.

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Pilgrim said:
There is not one single place where he [Berkhof] states that God loves all men, equally or otherwise. What he does say is that God has compassion, divine favor, pity, acts of kindness, untold blessings upon all men.


I hope that what I said in response to your first objection shows that I consider the ground of all of these things divine love. I think it is also correct to speak of them as acts of divine love. And it should by now be absolutely obvious that I do not think God loves all men "equally" or in the same way.


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This is an interesting thread, honestly the way I found the Highway was on my search for Objections to God's Sovereignty by A.W. Pink (a great read) and by the way, thanks for having great resources

I have never really gave this subject much thought until someone told me "God can have a love, hate relationship. You know kind of like your mama-in-law" although very crude I did get his point. His argument was God loves every man because we are all created by Him and in His image but also hates him because of the corruptness of his whole being. The opinion posed to me, after he walked off, was there is nothing in a sinner but sin so there is nothing there to love, therefore He only loves people who are in Christ and legally sinless

Being as I am still "on the fence" any references or writings concerning this matter are welcome

The Monergist #39807 Wed Jun 04, 2008 6:08 PM
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My position, in case you hadn't gathered it by now, is that God ONLY loves those sinners whom He has predestinated to salvation in Christ. For it was "in love" that He predestinated them. (Eph 1:4). Those who were not chosen to receive saving grace were predestinated to eternal damnation. They were not "loved" of God but rather "hated"; denied His good pleasure to save them. Personally I do not think that my view vs. Brad's view is one of semantics since I believe to use the word "love" in regard to the non-elect is indefensible and cheapens grace. The non-elect do receive God's beneficence, general blessings in temporal things, etc., but they are decidedly not objects of His love.

Secondly, there is a vast difference between God being angry/wroth with men and hating men. My understanding of the biblical teaching is that God's anger can be temporal and thus apply to all men without exception. However, when God is said to hate, it is representative of His eternal decree to pass by in regard to salvation or as it is better known as preterition. The doctrine of "Common Grace" is the outworking of God's beneficence upon all men regardless of their eternal end. And this is what Brad has correctly described. But again, I do not find anywhere in Scripture that teaches that God "loves" all men, for I believe God's love is strictly and magnificently salvific. It may be correct to categorize beneficence as a form of love, but to speak of God loving all men is confusing at best and heretical at its worst. I choose to avoid such problems and maintain the strict distinction between love & beneficence and hate & anger. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

In His grace,


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I agree with this post and certainly can go along with a strict distinction between love & the beneficence of the goodness of God as taught by Calvin and other Reformers.

The problem is Abraham Kuyper's view of common grace is much more than just beneficence, even though he was a good Calvinist and look what the church has done to it. Calvin college had a band of Lesbians perform at their college in the name of common grace.

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Pilgrim said:
My position, in case you hadn't gathered it by now, is that God ONLY loves those sinners whom He has predestinated to salvation in Christ. For it was "in love" that He predestinated them. (Eph 1:4). Those who were not chosen to receive saving grace were predestinated to eternal damnation. They were not "loved" of God but rather "hated"; denied His good pleasure to save them. Personally I do not think that my view vs. Brad's view is one of semantics since I believe to use the word "love" in regard to the non-elect is indefensible and cheapens grace. The non-elect do receive God's beneficence, general blessings in temporal things, etc., but they are decidedly not objects of His love.

Secondly, there is a vast difference between God being angry/wroth with men and hating men. My understanding of the biblical teaching is that God's anger can be temporal and thus apply to all men without exception. However, when God is said to hate, it is representative of His eternal decree to pass by in regard to salvation or as it is better known as preterition. The doctrine of "Common Grace" is the outworking of God's beneficence upon all men regardless of their eternal end. And this is what Brad has correctly described. But again, I do not find anywhere in Scripture that teaches that God "loves" all men, for I believe God's love is strictly and magnificently salvific. It may be correct to categorize beneficence as a form of love, but to speak of God loving all men is confusing at best and heretical at its worst. I choose to avoid such problems and maintain the strict distinction between love & beneficence and hate & anger. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

In His grace,


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One of the passages of Scripture that I find very difficult to reconcile with your view and that of Pilgrim (and others who agree with you) is Matthew 5:44-48. I know this has already been discussed and debated on another thread; but, since this one now has my name on it, I'll post here. I would like to hear some responses by those who adhere to "a strict distinction" between the "love & beneficence" of God to the following, particularly the bold or highlighted portions. It is taken from a report entitled "The Free Offer of the Gospel" submitted to the Fifteenth General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1948. The authors include John Murray and Ned Stonehouse.




Quote
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

(Matthew 5:44-48)



This passage does not indeed deal with the overtures of grace in the gospel. But it does tell us something regarding God's benevolence that has bearing upon all manifestations of divine grace. The particular aspect of God's grace reflected upon here is the common gifts of providence, the making of the sun to rise upon evil and good and the sending of rain upon just and unjust. There can be no question but all without distinction, reprobate as well as elect, are the beneficiaries of this favour, and it is that fact that is distinctly stated in verse 45.
The significant feature of this text is that this bestowal of favour by God on all alike is adduced as the reason why the disciples are to love their enemies and do them good. There is, of course, a question as to the proper text of verse 44. If we follow the Aleph-B text and omit the clauses, "bless them who curse you, do good to them who hate you," as well as the verb "despitefully use," the sense is not affected. And besides, these clauses, though they may not belong to the genuine text of Matthew, appear in Luke 6:27,28 in practically the same form. Hence the teaching of our Lord undoubtedly was that the disciples were to love their enemies, do good to those who hated them, bless those who cursed them, and pray for those who despitefully used them and persecuted them. And the reason provided is that God himself bestows his favours upon his enemies. The particular reason mentioned why the disciples are to be guided and animated by the divine example is that they, the disciples, are sons of the Father. The obligation and urge to the love of their enemies and the bestowal of good upon them are here grounded in the filial relation that they sustain to God. Since they are sons of God they must be like their heavenly Father. There can be no doubt but that the main point is the necessity of imitating the divine example, and this necessity is peculiarly enforced by the consideration of the filial relation they sustain to God as their heavenly Father.
It is just here, however, that it becomes necessary to note the implications of the similarity established and enforced as the reason for such attitude and conduct with reference to their enemies. The disciples are to love their enemies in order that they may be the sons of their Father; they must imitate their Father. Clearly implied is the thought that God, the Father, loves his enemies and that it is because he loves his enemies that he makes his sun rise upon them and sends them rain. This is just saying that the kindness bestowed in sunshine and rain is the expression of divine love, that back of the bestowal there is an attitude on the part of God, called love, which constrains him to bestow these tokens of his lovingkindness. This informs us that the gifts bestowed by God are not simply gifts which have the effect of good and blessing to those who are the recipients but that they are also a manifestation or expression of lovingkindness and goodness in the heart or will of God with reference to those who are the recipients. The enjoyment on the part of the recipients has its ground as well as its source in this lovingkindness of which the gifts enjoyed are the expression. In other words, these are gifts and are enjoyed because there is in a true and high sense benevolence in the heart of God.
These conclusions are reinforced by verse 48. There can be no question regarding the immediate relevance of verse 48 to the exhortation of verses 44-47, even though it may have a more comprehensive reference. And verse 48 means that what has been adduced by way of divine example in the preceding verses is set forth as epitomizing the divine perfection and as providing the great exemplar by which the believer's attitude and conduct are to be governed and the goal to which thought and life are to be oriented. The love and beneficence of God to the evil and unjust epitomize the norm of human perfection. It is obvious that this love and beneficence on the part of God are regarded by our Lord himself as not something incidental in God but as that which constitutes an element in the sum of divine perfection. This is made very specific in the parallel passage in Luke 6 :35,36 where we read, "And ye shall be sons of the Most High, because he is kind towards the unthankful and evil. Ye shall be merciful, as your Father is merciful." This word translated "merciful" is redolent of the pity and compassion in the heart of God that overflow in the bestowments of kindness.
The sum of this study of these passages in Matthew and Luke is simply this, that presupposed in God's gifts bestowed upon the ungodly there is in God a disposition of love, kindness, mercifulness, and that the actual gifts and the blessing accruing therefrom for the ungodly must not be abstracted from the lovingkindness of which they are the expression. And, of course, we must not think of this lovingkindness as conditioned upon a penitent attitude in the recipients. The lovingkindness rather is exercised towards them in their ungodly state and is expressed in the favours they enjoy. What bearing this may have upon the grace of God manifested in the free offer of the gospel to all without distinction remains to be seen. But we are hereby given a disclosure of goodness in the heart of God and of the relation there is between gifts bestowed and the lovingkindness from which they flow. And there is indicated to us something respecting God's love or benevolence that we might not or could not entertain if we concentrated our thought simply on the divine decree of reprobation. Furthermore we must remember that there are many gifts enjoyed by the ungodly who are within the pale of the gospel administration which are not enjoyed by those outside, and we shall have to conclude that in respect of these specific favours, enjoyed by such ungodly persons in distinction from others, the same principle of divine benevolence and lovingkindness must obtain, a lovingkindness, too, which must correspond to the character of the specific gifts enjoyed.


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We have found that the grace of God bestowed in his ordinary providence expresses the love of God, and that this love of God is the source of the gifts bestowed upon and enjoyed by the ungodly as well as the godly. We should expect that herein is disclosed to us a principle that applies to all manifestations of divine grace, namely, that the grace bestowed expresses the lovingkindness in the heart of God and that the gifts bestowed are in their respective variety tokens of a correspondent richness or manifoldness in the divine lovingkindness of which they are the expression.


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William #39810 Thu Jun 05, 2008 4:57 AM
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Before I go off to work. I want to state that I made edits to this post that never took.(content stayed about the same) Also I would like others to know that I did not make this an independent thread from the other Love of God thread. Have a good day.

Pilgrim #39811 Thu Jun 05, 2008 6:43 AM
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Pilgrim thanks for your input, I finally got around to reading Does God love the sinner and hate his only his sin? by John H. Gerstner (another great resource from The Highway) He more or less said what you said above.

I think my failure to make the distension between Gods love and His benevolence it what was causing my soreness from straddling the fence. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bash.gif" alt="" />

William #39812 Thu Jun 05, 2008 8:56 AM
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William,

Have a profitable work day! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

No, YOU did not move this thread from the "For Whom Did Christ Die?" thread . . . I did for obvious reasons, the main one being it was [Linked Image].

Moving this thread and merging it with the other similar thread is not possible with this version of the forum software, otherwise that is what I would have done. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/coffee2.gif" alt="" />

In His grace,


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BradJHammond #39813 Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:07 AM
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Brad,

I appreciate the quotes from "The Free Offer of the Gospel" by Murray and Stonehouse, which I am overly familiar with. grin

My response is simply I do believe that those two notables have erred in deducing that God loves all but in different ways. I can understand how they got where they ended up but I find it to be wrong when I look at the Scripture itself which clearly makes a distinction between God loving the elect in Christ before the foundation of the world and God being "kind, beneficent, long-suffering, generous, etc.," with the non-elect. Love, like grace in the Scriptures, I believe is reserved for the elect and them alone. Re: "Common Grace", I do hold to the truth of that doctrine but think the name is misleading at best. There is nothing "common" about God's grace for it is extended to the elect in order to save them from their sins in Christ Jesus. It seems rather dubious to insist that God loves those whom He has consigned to damnation and eternal punishment and of whom the Scripture says He hates. Linguistic and logical gymnastics I have never been good at. giggle

In His grace,


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Pilgrim #39814 Thu Jun 05, 2008 9:55 AM
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I find it interesting how we tend to think of God in human terms so often. I love the reformers and their theology is basically sound. We all probably respect Richard Baxter but know he was confused on the issue of election. I believe God is perfect in all His attributes, and if His love is not equal for all creation then He is no longer perfect in love. The effectual application of that Love, making the sinner aware of His love through the operation of the Holy Spirit, being regenerated and Justified are separate issues. I know I'll never convince others of this view, but be that as it may, I believe in a God who is perfect in Love and Justice, deciding upon who He will show mercy. I don't see how that can be considered heretical, it is humbly acknowledging a God who is far above our finite minds. I see no contradiction in my theological stance seeing God's love this way and yes, I used to think as you do. There are good arguments for both sides, I just have changed my view of the excellency of our Holy God.


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Matt. 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. KJV
BradJHammond #39815 Thu Jun 05, 2008 6:05 PM
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BradJHammond said:
One of the passages of Scripture that I find very difficult to reconcile with your view and that of Pilgrim (and others who agree with you) is Matthew 5:44-48. . . .

I usually don't copy a paste long articles because I believe most people don't read them out of principle nevertheless here goes. This is one I think is very good. One may find a lean towards hyper-calvinism depending on ones definition.


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Love Your Enemies (3)

From our two previous articles on Matthew 5:44-45, we have seen that neither God nor Christ prays for or blesses their reprobate enemies but that both God and Christ do good to their reprobate enemies. Though we say that just as God does not pray for nor bless His reprobate enemies so He does does not love them, others say that God not only does good to His reprobate enemies but He also loves them.

How are we to decide which view is correct? First, one could argue from the analogy between what we are called to do (44) and what God does (45). But since we are called to do two things (pray for and bless our enemies) which God does not do for His reprobate enemies, it cannot be proved that God loves His reprobate enemies. Second, we could look more closely at what God is said to do in verse 45: "he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." The "evil" and the "unjust" surely include those who are reprobate. Causing the sun to rise and the rain to fall (in moderate amounts) on the reprobate is doing good to them (cf. Acts 14:17), but it does not prove that God loves them. God gives earthly "prosperity" to "the wicked" (Ps. 73:3)—something which requires sunshine and rain—but this is "surely" His setting them in "slippery places" before He casts "them down into destruction" (18). Though God gives them good things in His providence, He "despises" them (20) as "corrupt" sinners (8). Third, since the passage itself does not prove whether or not God loves His reprobate enemies, this will have to be settled on the basis of other biblical texts and doctrines. To quote a couple of relevant verses, Romans 9:13 declares, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated," and Psalm 11:5 teaches that "the wicked and him that loveth violence [God’s] soul hateth."

But what of our calling? We are to love, bless, do good to and pray for our enemies who curse, hate, despitefully use and persecute us (Matt. 5:44). Loving our enemies is not fellowshipping with them in their sin (II Cor. 6:14-18) but desiring and seeking their good physically and spiritually. Out of love, we do good to our enemies by helping them in whatever way we can, including greeting them and being friendly towards them (Matt. 5:47). Out of love, we pray for them, that is, we ask God to save them from their sins and grant them eternal life through Jesus Christ, if it be His will. Our calling to bless our enemies does not mean that we actually confer blessedness upon them; only the Triune God can do that. Nor are we to declare that they are blessed by God, for they are living under His curse (Prov. 3:33; Gal. 3:10). Blessedness is only found in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:14). Thus we bless our enemies by pointing them to Christ and calling them to repent and believe. As frail creatures made from the dust, as guilty sinners redeemed by grace and as rational-moral beings before God’s holy law, this is our calling towards our ungodly fellow creatures and neighbours. In loving, blessing, doing good to and praying for our enemies (Matt. 5:44), we show ourselves to be the children of our heavenly Father who does good to both just and unjust by giving them the good gifts of rain and sunshine (45).
Rev.Angus Stewart


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