Gods love manifest in various way…
Number one, common grace. Common grace is an old term but it’s a good one, it means there are certain kindnesses and goodnesses that God does commonly and we see it in the world. If you question the love of God then you should look again at the world in which you live. You say, “Well there’s a lot of sorrow in the world.” Well the reason you recognize the sorrow is because there’s so much…what?…there’s so much joy. The reason you recognize the ugliness is there’s so much beauty. The reason you recognize the disappointment is there’s so much fulfillment. I mean, just look at the other side of it and understand that you are a fallen and unworthy sinner and God, the only reason God ever gives you anything to laugh at, smile at and love and rejoice with is because He is just a loving God. And though you are an unworthy sinner, He demonstrates His love even toward you and toward me as unworthy sinners. That’s called common grace.
In Matthew where we were earlier in that very same verse, chapter 5 and verse 45, our Lord Jesus continued the statement that He had made about God the Father loving and we loving as His children. He says, “Here’s the proof of God’s love, He causes His Son to rise on the evil and the good, He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” It rains on everybody. The sun shines on everybody. Flowers grow in everybody’s garden. Lots of people have lots of fun and lots of joy and lots of happiness and it has nothing to do with whether they know God or not, right? That’s just how it is in life.
In Acts chapter 14 you have another statement of common grace which is worthy reading. It starts in verse 15 of Acts 14 where Paul is talking to the pagans in Iconium. But he says in verse 17, the God who made the heavens and the earth and all of that, in verse 17 he says, He didn’t leave Himself without a witness, a witness to His love and His kindness because He did good gave you rains from heaven, fruitful seasons, satisfying your heart with food and gladness.
….it manifests itself in compassion…in compassion. It is a love of compassion. To say it another way, it is a love of pity. It is a love of broken-heartedness. It’s…it’s kind of a pathetic love. You know, you hear people say this, and I want to correct this because this is not true…you hear people say, “Well, you must be very special because God loves you.” I hear that all the time. That’s a psychological ego boosting that has nothing to do with the Bible, the Bible doesn’t say that.
God does not love you because you’re so lovable.
You are not, neither am I. We are despicable, vile sinners who if we are not saved by the grace of God will be thrown on the trash heap of eternity which is hell. We have no intrinsic value, no intrinsic worth, there’s nothing in us to love. God is not…you cannot say to people, God loves you, you must have high value, you’ve got to have some self-esteem, after all God loves you for what you are.
No. It is not the love of value, it is the love of pity for that which could have had value and has none. It is the love of compassion. It is the love of sadness. It is the love of pathos. It is the love that says, “Oh, if the image of God had not been so irretrievably marred.” It is universal pity, it is universal grief. God doesn’t have any pleasure in damnation. It grieves Him that the image of God has been so marred and wasted.
God loves by warning
Thirdly, there is not only the love of common grace and the love of compassion but there is the love of warning. One would be remised if he didn’t identify this. Nothing is more evident in terms of demonstrating God’s love than the replete warnings of judgment to come throughout the pages of Scripture.
I mean, if God really didn’t love mankind, then He didn’t have to warn him cause He didn’t care. But He does love and He does care and He does warn. Every single person who knows anything about Scripture knows it is filled with warnings about judgment, judgment, judgment, judgment, followed by hell, eternal hell, the Lake of Fire, punishment. Why? Because God loves men enough to warn them.
Jesus, Luke 13:3 and 5, both verses separated by verse 4 says exactly the same thing. He says this, “I tell you, unless you repent you will perish.” And that’s the message of the New Testament, and that’s the message of the Old Testament and that’s the whole message of the Bible.
There is a God, God is a holy God, He has a holy standard. If you don’t live up to it you are on your way to hell. Now there’s only one remedy and that is to come with a repentant heart and ask for forgiveness and plead for mercy which He grants you by virtue of Christ. But apart from that, you’re on your way to hell. That’s the message, be warned, be warned, be warned. God in flaming fire, 2 Thessalonians 1 says, will come with His holy angels taking vengeance on all those who know not Him and obey not the gospel. That’s love…that’s love that warns. Love is not just a cuddly emotion. Love is an honest concern about a person’s destiny.
…God’s universal love is demonstrated in His warnings. Throughout all of Scripture and throughout all of redemptive history, God has repeatedly warned about the consequence of sin, the inevitability of eternal judgment. Those are warnings out of the love of God who is not willing that any should perish and who has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
God’s unlimited love
…God’s love is unlimited in extent…God’s love is unlimited in extent. Secondly, God’s love is limited in degree. And thirdly, God’s love is ultimately directed at His own glory.
And Jesus Christ, though not sought by sinners, is nonetheless the official Savior of the world.
In John 5:40 Jesus said, “You are unwilling to come to Me that you might have life.” The prophet said, “Why will you die?”
Well this is God’s unlimited love. But there is a second proposition and it’s our proposition to discuss today and it is this, God’s love is limited in degree. You say, “What do you mean by that?”
What I mean by that is God’s universal love has its limits. First of all, let me suggest this to you, that when that universal love of God is rejected, when it is spurned, when it is denied, it turns to hate. You say, “You mean God reaches the point where He hates the ungodly?” I would never say such a thing were it not said in Scripture. In Psalm chapter 5, the fifth Psalm and verse 5 it says, “The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes, Thou dost hate all who do iniquity, Thou dost destroy those who speak falsehood, the Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. The Lord hates those who do iniquity.” In the eleventh Psalm and verse 5 it says, “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence, His soul hates.”
And in Psalm 139 and verse 21, “Do I not hate those who hate Thee, O Lord?” Verse 22, “I hate them with the utmost hatred.”
That’s why we have to say that while there is a sense in which God’s love is unlimited, there is another sense in which it is limited. His universal love is temporal. It is limited to time. It is not eternal. It is not complete. And I might add, it is not a saving love.
There are some people who would like to believe that God will just love everybody so much that ultimately they’ll all get saved. And if they don’t get saved, then He’ll take them to heaven anyway and forgive them on the other side of the grave. No…no, God’s love spurned turns to hate and God’s love universal becomes animosity and vengeance when it is rejected.
That’s what prompted the Apostle Paul to write in 1 Corinthians 16:22, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.” Literally, let him be damned. God’s love, His temporal love, His temporary love which is to all men spurned turns to hate.
God loves his own
There is no question, as I pointed out, that He loves the world in an unlimited sense, but He also has a special love for His own who are in the world. And how is that love defined? By this phrase, “He loved them to the end.” That is the descriptive that tells us what it means that He loves His own who were in the world…He loves His own who are in the world. And it is described as loving them to the end.
First of all, it can have the meaning of completely, eistelos unto completion.
Telosis the word connected to the word telousti(?) which Jesus said on the cross when He said it is finished. It means completely, perfectly, fully, comprehensively. Jesus loves the world but He loves, listen to this, His own…you should underline those two words because that’s what this is about, His own.
He loves His own perfectly, completely, fully, comprehensively. Let me say it simply, He loves His own as much as He can love. He loves His own to the complete extent of His capacity to love. He loves His own enough to make them equal to His Son, as far as redeemed humanity could bear any equality because He makes us joint-heirs with Christ to inherit everything that is His, and He makes us into His very image in our glory. And He lavishes us with all of the blessings of eternity. He loves us as fully and completely as a redeemed human could ever be loved by a God whose love knows no limits. That’s what eistelos conveys.
Uniqueness of God love for his own
Now when you try to grasp the uniqueness of this love, you’re looking for an illustration to grab and I want to share one with you this morning, and I’m not going to go beyond this, but it’s going to take some time to develop it. It’s worth the time. The best way to illustrate the different kind, the different quality, the different degree of love that those who are His own experience is to go to the Old Testament and look at Israel because Israel was His own people. And they provide for us a very good illustration.
“Know therefore,” says verse 9, “that the Lord your God He is God, the faithful God who keeps His covenant and His loving kindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments, but repays those who hate Him to their faces to destroy them. He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face.”
Now to see that pattern unfold in the most graphic terms of the whole Old Testament, go to Ezekiel 16. This is the longest chapter in Ezekiel’s prophecy. There are 48 chapters, chapter 16 is the longest. It is the most vivid.
It is the most dramatic. And it is the most forceful chapter in Ezekiel and one of the most dramatic in all of Scripture.
The Chapter that was banned from a public reading
Now let me give you some warning. It is very graphic. It is very distressing. It presents the nation Israel in such loathsome and sordid terms that rabbis within. And you can go all the way back to the Mishnah and Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurcanus and you find there a prohibition against reading this chapter publicly.
Why? Because it focuses devastatingly on the iniquitous character of Israel.
But the sad part of it is that the chapter is not about Israel’s iniquity, it is about God’s maintaining His love toward a grossly sinful people and not to read it by saving face disconnects you from the profoundest truth of all Scripture, and that is that God has set His love by His own will upon a certain people, chosen them and will redeem them.
Verse 62, “Thus I will establish My covenant with you and you shall know that I am the Lord in order…here it comes…in order that you may remember and be ashamed and never open your mouth anymore because of your humiliation when I have…what?…forgiven you for all that you have done, the Lord God declares.” Is that overwhelming?
I’m going to silence you, I’m going to reduce you to humiliation. How? By forgiving you. By forgiving you? Why didn’t He forgive Sodom? Didn’t choose them. Why didn’t He forgive Samaria? Never made a covenant with them.
You see, God loves whom He chooses to love, determines to make a covenant with those people, that covenant is the ever-lasting covenant made in eternity past within the trinity which works its way out in a redeeming purpose on behalf of those chosen people which redemption cannot be gainsaid nor can it be withheld. Sodom was destroyed and unredeemed, Samaria unredeemed, Israel worse than both and God forgave her.
Why is it that God would so forgive? Because He set His love on Israel…listen to this…and made Israel His own possession. They’re Mine, He said. And His love for them is very different in degree than that compassionate warning love that He has for the whole world. This love is perfect. This love is comprehensive. This love is complete. This love is saving. This love is eternal. It is this love that caused Him to lay down His life for His own.
And what it does is explain to us this unique love that God has for His own. He loves so He chooses and He will redeem whom He loves and chooses. It is an incredible chapter.
God loved Solomon
Solomon is a baby. Solomon doesn’t believe or not believe. The Lord set His love on him. But he was a child born of a sinful wicked union.
But the Lord loved him.
But when he grew up, I mean, he had hundreds of wives. A man is not only an adulterer who does that, he is a fool. And then he had concubines. Why…why would the Lord love him?
Because the Lord delights in loving sinners. He just loved him because He chose to love him.
People, that’s all you can say. For whatever purpose exists in the mind of God, He chooses to love whom He chooses to love. And whom He chooses to love He forgives and redeems…the rest are left to the consequence of their own sinful choices. So when we talk about God’s love, there is a love that is unlimited, but there is a love that is limited only to His chosen people.