THE RICHES OF GOD’S LOVE TO HIS ELECT
First, For the greatness of this act of love taken up towards us. It is so great, as all the acts of love, all the manifestations of love, the transient acts of love, the fruits of love, that God shows and manifesteth to eternity, they are not all enough to express that love which He took up in the first act, when He began to love us, and all serve but to commend and manifest that love. And then,
Secondly, For the time. If you ask when He first began to love,—which also sets out the greatness of it,—it was FROM EVERLASTING! This word in the text, ‘hath loved us,’ or, ‘he loved us,’ reacheth to eternity; so in Jer. 31:3.
“For His great love wherewith He loved us!” Us, saith He, not OTHERS. We were children of wrath as well as others, but ‘for the great love wherewith he loved us,’ and not others, for He hath not quickened ALL, but He quickeneth all that He loveth,— He hath ‘quickened us together with Christ.’ He loved US, not ours, nor for anything in us. He loved US, not indefinitely,— that is, ‘I will love some of mankind,’— but He hath loved us DISTINCTLY, fixing His attention upon those persons He fixed His love upon, and laying forth all the mercies and all the fruits of love upon them, eyeing their PERSONS.
There is but one thing more, and it is a great thing, and I confess I did not observe it a long while in the text, but still took the words to have run thus, ‘for the great love wherewith He loved us;’ but I find it is, ‘for His great love wherewith He hath loved us.’ There is a great emphasis in that word HIS. He saith not simply, as He might have done, because that God greatly loved us, or, because of a great love He bore us; but he doubles it, ‘for the great love wherewith He loved us;’ and not only so, but, ‘for HIS great love wherewith He loved us.’
My brethren, there is a love proper to God, which is a DIFFERING KIND OF LOVE from that in all the creatures; HIS LOVE, as the text hath it here. As his goodness is another kind of goodness than what is in the creatures, so is his love. There is none that hath tasted of this love of his but say that it is a differing love from the love of all the creatures; and the difference is found more by TASTING AND BY FEELING OF IT THAN IT IS BY SETTING OF IT FORTH; as it is in wines, ‘Thy love is better than wine, and thy loving-kindness is better than life:’ both of which are better discerned by taste and feeling than set out by any expression.
Indeed, God doth compare his love to what is in the creature, to set it out to us, because we apprehend it by such comparisons; as when he saith, ‘Like as a father pitieth,’ or loveth, ‘his children, so the Lord loveth them that fear him.’ And, ‘If a mother forget her child,’ &c. But yet, notwithstanding, ‘the love wherewith he loved us’ is of another kind from all these. In I John 3:1, ‘Behold,’ saith the Apostle, ‘what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us!’—he speaks in respect of one fruit of it,—such a love, for the kind of it, as no man, no creature, could bestow upon us. In Hos. 11:9, where, giving the reason why that He loving his people they are not destroyed, He saith, ‘I am God, and not man.’
It is spoken in respect of His love clearly, for it comes in there upon a conflict with Himself; when He had been provoked beyond the bounds and measure of pardon, yet when He comes to punish, He finds His love not to be as the love of a man. ‘My heart is turned within Me,’ saith He, ver. 8, ‘My repentings are rolled together: I will not return to destroy; for I am God, and not man.’ My love is of another extent, of another kind, than the love of man. And so when He speaks of mercy, in Isa. 55:8, 9, ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord: for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ It is HIS love, so saith the text here.
God’s love for us is a love for NOTHING IN US. The love that one creature bears to another is still for something in them; but the love of God, if it be His love, a love that is proper unto Him, must needs be FREE: and that not only for this reason, which is usually given, and is a true one too, because that His love is from everlasting, and nothing in the creature in time can be the cause of what is in God from everlasting; but for this reason likewise, because that only God can be moved by what is in Himself, He can love no otherwise but from Himself. The creatures love because things are lovely, and there must be motives to draw out that love that is in them; but when God loves, He loves as from his own heart.
There is nothing in us, no, not in Christ, that should move God to love us; though indeed to bestow those things that God bestows upon us, so Christ is the moving cause. ‘Jacob have I loved,’ saith He, and that before he had done any good or evil. So that, as no evil in him did put God off from loving him, so no good did move God to love him. In 2 Tim. 1:9, there is one little particle that I establish this upon, ‘Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to HIS OWN PURPOSE and grace, which was given us in Christ before the world began.’ Mark: ‘according to His own purpose,’ which is the thing I fix your attention upon in that place; that is, as the Apostle explains it, Eph. 1:9, ‘which He purposed in himself,’ or ‘from Himself’— a purpose merely taken up in or from Himself. And therefore you shall find the phrase in Scripture to run, that as He loves us out of His own purpose, so for His own sake. ‘Not for YOUR sakes do I this, but for MY OWN NAME’S SAKE!
God’s love for us is a love that is firm and absolute, UNCHANGEABLE and INVINCIBLE; and such a love it became God to bear us, if He would love us, for that properly is His love. ‘Put not your trust in princes,’ saith the Psalmist; they will all fail; the men perish, and their thoughts perish; yea, sometimes their thoughts and affections die to their greatest favourites, before they die themselves. But His love is firm and absolute, it is unchangeable and invincible, and this because it is His love. Mal. 3:6, ‘I am the Lord, I change not;’—that is, If I be God, and whilst I am God, I will not cease to love you, I will not change —’therefore it is that ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.’ His love is as immutable as His being. I will not be God, if I be not your God, and love you; He secures it with His Godhead. ‘I am the Lord,’ saith He, ‘I change not; therefore ye are not consumed.’ In Rom. 9:11, speaking of the election of Jacob, He saith, ‘that the purpose of God according to election might stand:’ it is a great word that; he fixed it upon such a basis as might stand forever!
THE LOVE OF GOD
Frederick M. Lehman
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.
Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky
Praise the Lord! – M.J.