Sunday, January 25, 2009

love and hate

Too many make a false-dichotomy of God's love and His hate.

John Calvin wrote:

For this reason Paul says, that God “has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” (Eph. 1:3, 4). These things are clear and conformable to Scripture, and admirably reconcile the passages in which it is said, that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,” (John 3:16); and yet that it was “when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” (Rom. 5:10). But to give additional assurance to those who require the authority of the ancient Church, I will quote a passage of Augustine to the same effect: “Incomprehensible and immutable is the love of God. For it was not after we were reconciled to him by the blood of his Son that he began to love us, but he loved us before the foundation of the world, that with his only begotten Son we too might be sons of God before we were any thing at all. Our being reconciled by the death of Christ must not be understood as if the Son reconciled us, in order that the Father, then hating, might begin to love us, but that we were reconciled to him already, loving, though at enmity with us because of sin. To the truth of both propositions we have the attestation of the Apostle, ‘God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,’ (Rom. 5:8). Therefore he had this love towards us even when, exercising enmity towards him, we were the workers of iniquity. Accordingly in a manner wondrous and divine, he loved even when he hated us. For he hated us when we were such as he had not made us, and yet because our iniquity had not destroyed his work in every respect, he knew in regard to each one of us, both to hate what we had made, and love what he had made.” Such are the words of Augustine (Tract in Jo. 110).

God's love is true (and amazing!) but today over emphasized by those who focus on man's brokenness over his rebellion. To fully return to the Father we must realize both. Perhaps it is in reaction to an over-emphasis of God's judgement but as I listen to and read many today they seem to be in denial of God's wrath toward evil-doers (Psa 5.5; 11.4-5; Hos 9.15; Mal 1.2-3; Rom 9.13; Jn 3.36; Eph 5.6; Col 3.6; 1 Thess 1.9-10).

I even have friends estranged enough from God to see two different God's; the harsh, judgmental God of the O.T. and the kind, forgiving God of the N.T.. Some further pervert this by thinking of the Father as the judge and the Son as the lover (contrary to Rev 6.16-17).

It is precisely because God is love that He must hate evil and all who do evil! God gets angry at evil-doers (Lev 26.27-30; Num 11.1; Deut 29.24), even to the point of being sorry He made man (Gen 6.5-6) and hides Himself from us (Isa 59.2).

Now don't hear me saying God is a God of hate. He is somehow able to do what we cannot, that is He can love those He hates. So much so that He can sacrifice His own life for us (Ro 5.9) to deliver us from His very own wrath (1 Thess 1.9-10).

What I'm trying to say is that far too many have their personal definition of love and then try to ascribe that definition to God as if that is His only characteristic. The word love as such is only a word and this powerful word needs to be redeemed by returning to Scripture to be properly understood and embraced. In the light of God's truth His love becomes all the more beautiful when seen in contrast and harmony with His anger and wrath toward those who rebel against Him.

I prefer His version over the watered down definition I so often see today.

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