Herman Hoeksema

Now the question arises: if love is the bond of perfectness, how it ever possible that God should love us, who are by nature dead in trespasses and sins?

The first question is and can be answered only by the fact of God’s eternal election. God from everlasting conceived of His people as perfect before Him in Christ Jesus our Lord, and as such He loves them with an eeverlastinglove: “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jer. 31:3. Therefore, “the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto the children’s children.” Ps. 103:17. Jacob hath He loved from eternity, for this was said unto Rebecca before the children were born, neither had done good or evil, that the purpose of God according to the election might stand. Rom. 9: 11-13. Moreover, “whom He did foreknow (that is, with a divine, causal, and eternal knowledge of love) He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son,” He also called, justified, and glorified. Rom. 8: 29, 30.

For He blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, “according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him.” Eph. 1:3, 4. It is in love that He predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will. Eph. 1:5. We must remember that God is immutable, and immutable also is His love. God does not fall in love; He loves eternally. And this does not merely apply to His divine Self-love, but also to His people in Christ Jesus.
What does this imply?

First of all, that eternally God willed to reveal Himself in that which we might, humanly speaking, call the very highest of His divine being and life, His love. In the second place, that therefore from eternity He divinely and sovereignly knew, that is, conceived and willed a people that would be the object of His delight and love and what would taste and acknowledge His love and have their delight in Him. In the third place, that therefore He conceived of this people in His eternal counsel as perfect, even as He is perfect: for love is the bond of perfectness, and God cannot love that which is imperfect, sinful, and corrupt. In the fourth place, that He eternally knew His people, not merely as perfect, but as perfected through the deep way of sin and grace.

For in order that His love might be manifested all the more gloriously, and they might taste the blessedness of that love more fully and deeply, God determined in His eternal counsel that His people should reach the highest perfection in the way of in and by the power of grace. They are therefore eternally before Him in His divine counsel, not as corrupt, neither merely as perfect, but as the perfected, the redeemed and delivered out of the world, the adopted children, washed from their sin, called and justified and sanctified and glorified. Thus it is in Rom. 8:29, 30. Hence, it is necessarily so that the object of this love of God are the elect, and the elect only. And again, it follows that God beholds His people eternally in Christ Jesus as their Head, Whom He ordained as such, and to Whom He gave His people.

Well, then, if we thus conceive of the people of God, of the object of the love of God, we can understand that love is the bond of perfectness, that it requires a perfect subject and a perfect object, and that nevertheless God can love His people though in time they are sinful in themselves, children of wrath as are also the others. For thus we read in Numbers 23:21: He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel; the Lord His God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.” He knows them, beholds them eternally as perfected in Christ through the way of sin and death, and as such they are the eternal objects of His immutable love.

Herman Hoeksema
The Triple Knowledge, III: 331-333


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