GOD'S PARTICULAR LOVE
Whatever is revealed to us in the Word of God we accept as truth. In fact, we can only know God in truth by way of revelation. There is no finite mind capable of scientifically or philosophically determining the truth concerning God. It is by faith that we come to know Him; faith in the revelation He has given of Himself.
We know that God is love. The Bible says so (I John 4:8,16).
We know that God loves the world. The Bible says so (John 3:16).
We know that God loves some in a way that distinguishes them from the rest of the world and creation. The Bible says so (Malachi 1:2,3 and Romans 9:13).
There is a distinction made in Scripture between God’s love for the world and His love for those who called out of the world. Generally, when the Bible speaks of God’s love, it is expressed as a distinguishing love, peculiarly directed to a specific group of persons who are identified. As the Apostle writes to saints in various locations, he repeatedly refers to either God or Christ loving them and giving Himself for them. For example: Ephesians 2:5,6, But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;); Eph. 5:1,2, Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us...; 2 Thessalonians 2:16, Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace.
The Apostles understood the unique nature of God’s love for His people. Paul encourages saints with God’s love for them (2 Corinthians 13:11) and prays that they might increase in their comprehension of that great love (Ephesians 3:16-19). Jude exhorts saints to keep themselves in God’s love (Jude 21). John, above all the Apostles, communicated the great depths of the love of God for blood cleansed saints (Revelation 1:5,6; I John 4:10). If there is no difference between the love of God for the world in general and the love He has for His people, then of what peculiar comfort would such assurance of God’s love be to His people?
When a father speaks of his love for his children or a husband toward his wife, the children and wife are comforted by the unique nature of his love for them. He loves them in a way that is unique from his love for all others. He may love other children, but not in the same way he loves his own children. He may love other women (neighbors, sisters in Christ, and even enemies), but not in the same sense that he loves his wife. It is interesting that we find no fault with a father or husband who expresses a distinguishing love for his own, yet take issue with the thought that God loves some in a way that he does not love all.
God’s peculiar, electing and redeeming love is demonstrated as He chooses. The Apostle Paul argues for this truth in Romans 9:10-13, And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (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;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. Why did God love Jacob and hate Esau? Did Jacob deserve that love? It might make more sense to our finite minds that God would love Esau and hate Jacob. But God is sovereign in the expression of His love. He is not controlled by the worthiness or unworthiness of His creatures.
It is the same for all who are the recipients of God’s redeeming love. God’s choice of those He loves is determined by Him - by Him alone! When God makes His love known to a rebellious sinner, rest assured that it was because He wanted to, not because the rebellious sinner was found worthy. This was the very reason given for His love for Israel instead of other nations (Deuteronomy 7:7,8). When God said, Jacob have I loved, He was expressing His purpose to show favor toward a particular people. Why? The reason is hidden in the infinite mind and heart of God, who is love!
Why would God send forth His only Son to live under the law, under the restrictions of time, in a sin cursed world, rejected by His creatures, and ultimately to be crucified upon a cruel cross? What possibly could have been the motivation for such an incredible gift toward rebellious sinners whom He created? Surely the answer must be found in love: that self-emptying quality that seeks the good of another who has no ability to repay! God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son! Why did He give? Because He loved! Why did He love? Because that is who He is.
This message of God’s peculiar love and the impact this knowledge ought to have upon the recipients is the burden of the prophet Malachi to the sons of Jacob. Malachi argues that this special love should have been the great motivation for distinguishing worship and service. If they had truly understood God’s electing love for them they would have been moved toward loving obedience. They did not understand or appreciate God’s special love.
There is far too little preaching today about the peculiar love of God for His people. Most preachers speak of God’s love in universal terms and leave all sinners believing that God’s love is equally upon one and all. The believer fails to appreciate the unique nature of God’s love for him. The result is a lack of appreciation and humble thanksgiving to a holy God who chose to love him when He could have justly hated him and left him to the destruction of his rebellious heart.
Since God loves, not because of anything deserving in us, then should we not be overwhelmed in our lives to give our very best in worship and service to Him? A proper view of God’s love will not leave us careless and indifferent toward Him and His righteousness. On the contrary, we will find great satisfaction in keeping ourselves in His love and seeking to do His will in all of life.
God’s love is so great and so particular that He chastens those He loves in order to produce in them that holiness and righteousness that is part of who He is (Hebrews 12:6). He wants His children to resemble Him! He treats us in a peculiar way from every other creature, because He loves us!
And a final thought of great comfort is that nothing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39). He will never quit loving those whom He loves. His is an everlasting love, therefore nothing in us or outside of us will ever be able to separate us from His great love. Be encouraged dear child of God by continually thinking upon your Father’s great love for you!
Kyle White, Pastor