[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The love of God - Decent and with Character, not Hypocritical or Brutal

by Rose~

The love of God is so amazing to me. Ever since I heard of his great love for sinful mankind when I was presented the gospel 20 years ago, I have been amazed by it. This is why I have a difficulty with the idea that God only loves a certain, preselected group. This is why I have difficulty with the idea of a limited atonement, a limited internal gospel call, unconditional election etc… It just flies in the face of so many Scriptures that teach of the all encompassing quality of God’s great doing in love for mankind.

I love the love of God! Here is perhaps my favorite hymn on the subject.

Forgive me if it seems I am picking on Calvinists, but I find it odd that they hold to these limited ideas of God’s love. I have read and heard where they say that God does not love the non-elect. They say that God chooses many for wrath and His love is withheld from them; He did not die for them; He did not come to save them. The gospel is useless to them because they have not been chosen to be the sheep of God. I have been told that when God says “Jacob have I loved and Essau have I hated,” that this somehow indicates that before these INDIVIDAULS broke out of the womb, one was condemned … and the other blessed ... for no other reason than the preference of God.

Like I said, I don’t mean to pick on anyone, but I read this last night:

“John was always committed to truth, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but it is not enough. Zeal for the truth must be balanced by love for people. Truth without love has no decency; it’s just brutality. On the other hand, love without truth has no character; it’s just hypocrisy.”
(John MacArthur, Twelve Ordinary Men, page 106)

I started to think. God has told the truth to the world by giving His Son, His Spirit, His Word, His church. We look at people and tell them the gospel message. We are His ambassadors to tell them the truth. Going back to the Calvinist ideas ... if all are not loved by God, then His truth is without decency, as John McArthur states: “Truth without love has no decency…”

However, if you take these passages literally, the love of God for all men, His enemies, is apparent:

…God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
God’s love is in truth and His truth is in love, for He has shown no partiality in His offer of salvation. His loving truth is neither brutal nor hypocritical. It has both decency and character. Just as Peter said in Acts 10:

34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. (Acts 10)


  • Another great post Rose. I also find the concepts of Determinism to be an offense to God's great mercy in Christ Jesus. There is no way to be elect outside of Him.

    By Blogger Kc, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 10:03:00 AM  

  • Good thoughts.

    I think most Calvinists maintain that God loves everybody, though this seems a rather strange kind of love.

    God Bless


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 12:56:00 PM  

  • Rose,
    If the preeminent trait of God is Love, why did He not override the demands of His Holiness and Righteousness and simply love Adam and Eve when they sinned? How did it come to be that through that one man, Adam, ALL men became accursed?
    Paul foresaw the very argument you make:
    Romans9:11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
    12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

    Paul asks your question:
    14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?
    and answers
    God forbid.

    Some try to make the following verses into a Theodicy (defense of God), but Paul held no such concept. God has no need of defense. He is ALWAYS righteous and just.
    Should we see his choosing some and not others as "unloving" it is because we can only comprehend love from the human viewpoint.

    Those who believe that God chose them while knowing there is no possible deserving of such have an even larger conception of the
    true love of God.
    (And do not forget- not ONE of those who remain unchosen has any desire to be so. In fact, they hate God and want nothing to do with Him.)

    By Blogger Malchymist, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 1:35:00 PM  

  • correction on verse cited
    Paul asks your question:
    14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?

    (and he answers his own question)

    God forbid.

    -I lost the html tags :^(

    By Blogger Malchymist, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 1:40:00 PM  

  • Malchymist,
    I did not say the preeminent trait of God is love, although John does say that God IS love. But I know - God is Holy, Just and Loving.

    I don't see Romans 9 as determinig that these individuals were predestined for salvation/hell. I see that passage as a predetermination of the nations that arose from those men and how God would providentially deal with them. See, you're sort of making my piont for me. How you're using that passage is how many of the predeterminists I run do ... and I just don't think that fits into the context, nor does it gel with other Scriptures.

    No, no, this is not my question:

    "Is there unrighteousness with God?"

    My question is:

    "Isn't the Calvinist idea of God's dealings unrighteous and contradictory?"

    I don't see the unrighteousness on God's part at all.

    What do you do with the four verses that I posted at the bottom of this post?

    1. Do you explain away the word "world" to mean "world of the elect"?

    2. Do you see partiality with God?

    AND here is my most important question:

    3. Do you think God loves the "non-elect"?

    Hey, thanks for the comment and thanks for your answers that I hope are forthcoming.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 3:00:00 PM  

  • Actually I was a Baptist for a long time before anybody told me what being a (supposed) Calvinist meant.
    The two things every Baptist knows is that God chose them and once saved, always saved.

    It is difficult for me to figure out how to explain anything that does not acknowledge the fact that God chose me.
    I am one of the "elect," the "called out," as was the context set in Romans 9:11.
    It is the context throughout the whole of Scripture.
    That means that while it may not have been "your" question, it is always the question.

    1. While I personally would explain fully (not away) that "world" means "elect" in certain ways, that is not really the issue at hand. That's one of those other "letters" (L).
    2. Of course there is partiality with God, He deals with sinners in one way and saints in another.
    But in Acts 10 Peter says, "He shows no partiality" to accept "whoever fears Him and works righteousness."
    ("Saints"? -could a lost person work righteousness?)
    3. Yes He loves the "non-elect."

    Now I would ask you,

    1. Did God choose you or did you choose Him?

    By Blogger Malchymist, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 4:20:00 PM  

  • KC,
    Thanks for visiting, brother. We think alike again!

    The love of the cross is not included in their idea of love for the "non-elect." That would be the point of my words. Are you trying to contradict me? ;~)

    Everywhere I see that God chose me (and other believers) in Christ. Was I in Christ before I heard His word and received Him? No.

    No, I did not choose Him - which is the straw man beaten down by the determinist - but I responded to His great love. He made it clear that He had done all that is needed for salvation out of love for the sinner. I am a sinner. Therefore I can KNOW that this was done for me and that God loves me. It is not a matter of choosing Him, but of receiving Him. Choosing and receiving are two very different concepts to me.

    I am a Baptist too!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 6:15:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Earl, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 8:34:00 PM  

  • Good post and good use of that verse from Acts.


    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Thursday, September 14, 2006 11:17:00 PM  

  • Rose~, some Calvinists argue that certain benefits, mostly relating to Common Grace are derived by the non-elect from the love displayed in the cross.

    I expect some Calvinists probably argue that God shows His love to the non-elect trhough the cross, even though they are not actually saved through it.

    As earl would probably point out, not all Calvinists are of the A.W. Pink school.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, September 15, 2006 12:15:00 AM  

  • Earl,
    I read your comment before you deleted it. I am sorry if it seems I had mischaracterized the C. Position. I did not mean to do this! You see, I guess I have a little bit of a limited exposure. May of those I have talked to would indeed say the things that I have written in my post. I suppose then that my bone to pick is with them and that particular school of thought. It is funny that Matthew brings up AW Pink because I did read this type of thing in one of his books; I can't remember the name of it.
    You are so much more of a reasonable person, and I am glad that you believe God loves the non-elect. I am not sure how, but I am sure you could explain it to me.
    I am sorry if I offended you.

    I wasn't talking about peripheral benefits of the cross, but the sacrificial, agape love that God displayed when He laid down His life. That being said, I recognize that not all C. are as stark in stating the logical conclusion (I can't help it ... I have to call it that ... it seems like the logical conclusion to me) that God does not love the non-elect, if TULIP be true.

    I love EARL!

    HK Flynn,
    We miss ya lady! Thanks for the comment.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, September 15, 2006 11:45:00 AM  

  • Malchymist:

    you write:
    Should we see his choosing some and not others as "unloving" it is because we can only comprehend love from the human viewpoint.
    In what alternate reality, on what plantet, and in what circumstances can it be called love to send someone to hell you could have saved?

    Malchymist writes:
    Those who believe that God chose them while knowing there is no possible deserving of such have an even larger conception of the
    true love of God.
    It is odd that someone would have such a larger concept of God's love that they were chosen and when they come to the realization that their parents or children died without Christ (because God did not choose them)


    I really love how you used John MacArthur's words (which are quite appropriate) to make your point. Great job!


    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, September 15, 2006 2:20:00 PM  

  • Rose, I ask your forgiveness for my deleted comment. I was wrong to post it, that is why I deleted it. I'd like to say it was in part because I was working late the past few days, and I was put out by work, having to miss a time with my family in being with them on a planned family trip. But you know what, tiredness, personal irratation of my current situation, lets down the guard of my heart to express what is really in my heart. What I bring out is not good treasure. There is wickedness in my heart. The warped pride of wanting others to see how my side is right, how others should see how wonderful my views are. Isn't that arrogant of me? It sure is. And to complain to your about what you rightfully should do because of what you see was sinful on my part. Please forgive me.

    A brief comment on your post. Matthew touched on some of my thoughts. But I confess. I don't have God figured out. I see the Bible teaches God ordains all there is, that this is intimately tied up with God's foreknowledge and God himself, and it cannot be seperated. But at the same point, we can't seperate God's love, our repsonsibility, God's holiness. This God is a scary God that I can't control with my doctrine, but yet God demonstrated his love in the gruesome death of his son. Can I make all the ends meet and tie it together in a nice bow? No, I can't. I tip my hat to other's who have figured out God. I honestly don't have God figured out.

    I do know this. My initial response cracks open just a little bit of how wicked my heart is. I distort doctrine, backbite people, do all sorts of things unbecoming of a Christian. Given the propensities of the little tiny bit I see in my heart, I've come to realize that I am guilty of infinitely offending the almighty God of the universe. God has no obligation to rescue me, and really, although I really don't like to think so, I deserve death and hell. I also see in me that I am lazy, put myself first, am rude to others, and push God aside, and that following my tendencies, I would never come to God on my own. All I can say is that God brought me into his kingdom, in spite of all my sin and wretchedness.

    For me, God's irresitable drawing makes sense, and that it is all God's work. As I look into my soul and read the scriptures, I can't come to any other conclusion. I work to try to discover how all this fits together. there are a few aha's for me. I can see that the logical outworkings aren't pretty. I am a fallable human being trying to make sense of God's wonderful grace.

    By Blogger Earl, at Saturday, September 16, 2006 12:06:00 AM  

  • Earl,
    Your comment wasn't that bad! Gees, you just said you are tired of mischaracterizations. If you really felt I had mischaraterized your particular point of view, then I am glad you would point it out. I do appreciate this comment from you, though. I agree ... I can see many bad motives and sinful undertones in many of my own thoughts and actions. It makes me all the more thankful that Christ has laid down His life for me. I wouldn't stand a chance on my own, even on my best day!

    Hey, I don't have God figured out either! We have something in common! It is so refreshing to read you say these kinds of things. I love you, brother.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, September 16, 2006 5:15:00 AM  

  • Hi Antonio,
    I was sort of wondering about some of the same things you asked M.

    I really wasn't looking for JMac's words to use this way, but I couldn't help but notice this - it just jumped out at me. I guess I have a little bit of a preoccupation with my perplexed head-scratching at the TULIP doctrines.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Saturday, September 16, 2006 5:19:00 AM  

  • DF said, "...not all Calvinists are of the A.W. Pink school."

    I say AMEN!

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at Saturday, September 16, 2006 9:22:00 PM  

  • Matthew,

    i agree with your first comment that it would be a "strange" kind of love. The same that advocate that there is a love for the non-elect seriously distinguish that "love" with the love God has for the elect.

    But my question for them would be:

    what kind of love has the rain fall on their crops, allowing them to eat and be satisfied for 70 years (a mere vapor) and then sends them to hell without any chance whatsoever of rescue?

    So whether the Calvinist says that there is no love for the unelect or there is some "love" for him, it arrives at the same result:

    God ultimately "hates" him and sends him to hell apart from any chance whatsoever of rescue!

    And Matthew, you say that "most" Calvinists. I have seen many state that God in fact does not love the unelect. So my experience is the opposite of yours.


    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, September 16, 2006 10:18:00 PM  

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