Saturday, November 07, 2009

A Lump on a Blog

Oh, this thing! What do that call this again? A blog, is it? Yes, I remember. I also remember having way more time to do things like this. Not so much anymore. Work, family life, things to do around the house, trying to stay healthy, reading things I need to read, etc., there just isn't much time left after doing things that need to be done. Oh, well. Neglecting one's blog isn't the worst thing in the world, I suppose. Maybe one of these days, I'll get back to making this place an interesting place for readers. Yeah... maybe one of these days.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Of God's Love

There is much confusion concerning God's love, what it is, what it isn't, upon whom does it rest, etc. The Hyper-Calvinist denies that God loves the reprobate in any way whatsoever, while the Pelagian and the Semi-Pelagian Arminian applies God's love equally to all mankind. One error they seem to hold in common, is that they do not understand what God's love is, and often consider God's love to be a passion, a feeling, like we men have. As a result, the Hyper-Calvinist cannot understand how God can be said to love, and not love, the same person. The Pelagian, and the Semi-Pelagian Arminian, likewise, cannot understand how God can love all mankind, and yet not love all mankind.

I have recently been reading James Ussher's Body of Divinity, and found this lovely section on the topic of God's love. It was so good, I needed to type it up and share it. To avoid copyright issues, I went and found an old copy of it and typed this up out of that, with a bit of my own formatting, including the way the Scripture references are typed).

Ussher will show that God's love is not a passion, that God loves all his creation in a way, and loves mankind especially in a way, and loves the elect especially in a way, and that from hence we have some things to think about and some things to apply in our life.

I hope this is edifying and enjoyable to the reader.

James Ussher, on the Love of God, excerpted from A Body of Divinity, or the Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion:

What is the Love of God?
It is an Essential Property in God, whereby he loveth himself above all, and others for himself, 1 John 4:16; Rom. 5:8; John 3:16; Titus 3:4; Mal. 1:2, 3.

What learn you from hence?
That we should love him dearly, and other things for him.

That we may the better know what the Love of God is, declare first, What Love is in our selves?
It is a passion of the Mind, whereby we are so affected towards the Party whom we love, that we are rather his than our own, forgetting ourselves to do him good whom we so love.

And is love such a thing in God?
No: the true Love of God is not such as our Love is.

What difference is there?
There is great difference two ways. First, In time: for Love was in God before it was in us, or in anything created; for he loved himself and us also before the World was, John 17:23. Secondly, They differ in nature and quality: for that Love which is in God is most perfect and pure, without passion; but in us it is imperfect, and matched with Passions, with impure Affections, and grief of the mind.

After what manner doth the Scripture express the Love of God?
In the Scriptures God doth compare himself to a Father and to a Mother loving their Children; to a Hen gathering her Chickens together under her Wings; to a good Shepherd seeking up his Sheep, and to divers other things.

And wherefore serve these Comparisons?
They are for our profit two ways. First, To shew us that God's Love towards us, is most vehement and sincere. Secondly, To make us bold in coming to him, and calling upon him. So for this Love Christ Jesus calleth us by all the Names of Love: as his Servants, his Kinsmen, His Friends, his Spouse, his Brethren, and by many names more: to shew, that he loveth us with all loves, the Father's Love, the Mother's Love, the Masters Love, the Husbands Love, the Brothers Love, &c. and if all Loves were put together, yet his Love exceedeth them all: for all could not do so much for us as he alone hath done.

If Love doth not signifie any Affection or Passion in God, as it doth in us: What then doth it signifie?
In God it signifieth three things most perfect. First, The eternal good Will of God towards some Body: for the Love of God (suppose towards the Elect) is his everlasting good Will, or his purpose and determination to shew them Mercy, to do them Good, and to save them, as in Rom. 9:11, 13. Secondly, The effects themselves of this Love or good Will; whether they be temporal concerning this Life, or eternal concerning the Life to come, as in 1 John 3:1. Thirdly, The pleasure and delight which he taketh in that which he loveth: and so it is taken in Psalm 45:7.

That things doth God love besides himself?
Besides himself, God loveth all things else whatsoever he made: but he loveth not sin and iniquity; for he never made it, as St. John saith, 1 John 2:16. Again, he loveth his Son, being manifested in the flesh; and he loveth his chosen Children for his Sons sake, with whom he is well pleased, Matt. 3:17.

Object. 1. The Scripture saith, That God doth hate all that work Iniquity: How then can God both hate and love one and the same Man?
In every wicked Man we must consider two things. First, His Nature. Secondly, His Sin. His Nature is the Work of God, and that he loveth: but his iniquity is not of God, and that he hateth.

Object. 2. God doth afflict his Children; therefore he doth not love them.
Whom he loveth he correcteth, (Prov. 3:12) and therefore he correcteth them because he loveth them; even as a Gold-smith tryeth his Gold in the fire, because he loveth it.

Whether doth God love all alike, or no?
No: he preferreth Mankind before all his other Creatures; for which cause God is called Philanthropos, that is, a Lover of Men. And this appeareth by three effects of his Love.
First, He made him according to his own Image; that is, in Righteousness and true Holiness, Gen. 1:26; Eph. 4:24.
Secondly, He made him Lord over all his Creatures, Psalm 8:5, 6.
Thirdly, He gave his own Son to death for his ransom.

Doth God love all men alike?
No: for he loveth his Elect better than the Reprobate. For the Elect he calleth effectually by his Spirit in their Hearts, when he calleth others but by the outward Voice of the Gospel, &c.
Again, amongst the Elect themselves, some are actually Wicked, and not yet reconciled nor called; as was Paul before his Conversion. But the rest are called and already made holy by Faith in Christ, as Paul was after his Conversion. And of these, he loveth the latter sort with a greater measure of love than the former, as the Scripture testifieth, Prov. 8:17.

What manner of Love doth God bear to his Elect?
It hath three adjuncts or properties. First, It is free without desert.
Secondly, It is great without comparison.
Thirdly, It is constant without any end.

How is the Love of God said to be free?
It is free two ways. First, Because nothing caused God to love us, but his own Goodness and Grace: and therefore St. John saith, that his Love was before ours, 1 John 4:10.
Secondly, It is free, because God in loving us, did not regard any thing that belonged to his own Commodity: for, as David saith, Psalm 16:2, he hath no need of our Goods; but only to our own Salvation he loved us.

Wherein doth the Greatness of God's Love appear to his Elect?
It appeareth two ways. 1. By the means which God used to save us by, that is, the death of his Son: and so St. John setteth forth his Love, John 3:16; 1 John 3:16, when he saith ου'τω, that is, So, (as if he should say, so vehemently, so ardently, so earnestly, so wonderfully) did he love us, that for our Salvation he spared not his own only begotten Son, but gave him to the death of the Cross for our Salvation.

What else doth set forth the greatness of God's Love unto us?
The consideration of our own selves. For he did not only give his only Son to death for us, but it was for us being his Enemies. And this Circumstance is used by the Apostle to express the same, Rom. 5:7, 8.

Where find you it written, that God's Love is constant and perpetual?
That is manifestly shewed in these Scriptures following, Hos. 11:9; John 13:1; Rom. 11:29. For as God is unchangeable in His Essence and Nature; so is he unchangeable in his Love, which is his Essence and Nature: and therefore is God called Love in the Scriptures, 1 John 4:8.

What use must we make of God's Love?
First, It filleth our hearts with gladness, when we understand that our God is so loving, and Love itself: and what is this but the beginning of eternal Life? if eternal Life consists in the true knowledge of God, as our Saviour Christ saith, John 17:3.

Secondly, Out of knowledge of this Love, as out of a Fountain, springeth the Love of God and our Neighbor. For St. John saith, He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is Love, 1 John 4:8.

Thirdly, When we consider that God loveth all his Creatures which he made, it should teach us not to abuse any of the Creatures, to serve our Lusts and beastly Affections. For God will punish them which abuse his beloved; as he punished the rich Glutton, which abused the Creatures of God, Luke 16.

Fourthly, We are taught to love all the Creatures, even the basest of all, seeing that God loveth them, and for the love he beareth to us he made them: and we must (if we love them for God's sake) use them sparingly, moderately, and equally or justly. To this end we are commanded to let our Cattle rest upon the Sabbath day, as well as our selves: to this end we are forbidden to kill the Dam upon her Nest; and to this end we are forbidden to muzzle the Mouth of the Ox which treadeth out the Corn, Deut. 25:4; 1 Cor. 9:9.

Fifthly We are taught from hence to love Mankind better than all other Creatures, because God doth so: and therefore we must not spare any thing that we have, that may make for the safety of his Body, and the salvation of his Soul. And for this cause, we are commanded to love our Enemies, and to do them good; because our good God doth so.

Sixthly, From God's Love, we learn to prefer the Godly Brethren, and those that profess sincerely the same Religion that we profess before other Men: because God's Love is greater to the Elect, than to the Reprobate: and this doth the Apostle teach us, Gal. 6:10.

Seventhly, Whereas God's Love is freely bestowed upon us, this teacheth us to be humble, and to attribute no part of our Salvation to our selves, but only to the free Love of God.

Eighthly, From hence ariseth the certainty of our Salvation. For if God's Love was so free and great when we were his Enemies, much more will it be so, and constant also to us, being reconciled to God by Jesus Christ, Rom. 5:10.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

An Intervention for Christopher

Below is an attempted intervention for delusional atheist Christopher Hitchens, held by William Lane Craig, Douglas Wilson, Lee Strobel, and Jim Dennison. Not all of the arguments from the theists on the panel were wholesome or helpful, for example -- the appeal to man's free will, and God's need to have it so. But overall, this intervention for Christopher is a good indicator of where the debate lies between today's theists and the "new atheism." If you don't have the time to listen to the whole thing, you wouldn't miss much by skipping ahead to about minute 115:35 and listen to Dr. Craig sum up the whole discussion.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This Just In: Cuthbertson Serves Communion

"On August 23, 1752, the country's first Covenanter minister, John Cuthbertson, presided over the first communion in the New World at Junkin Tent -- a few rough benches in the shade of a tree -- in New Kingstown.

"Hundreds in horse-drawn wagons came from miles away to attend the service."

Yes, this is in the news.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Today 3/19

It's Thursday, and I have off of work today. That usually never happens. My co-worker needed a switch, and I'm always happy to oblige. It's nice having a day off in the middle of the week. However, it does mean that I have to work the next two days. Work has been pretty stressful lately, as the downturn in the economy has meant that the mental health treatment business if booming. It's fascinating to me how it can be that so many can be struggling while others seem to thrive. I guess this is one of those Ecclesiastes type "under the sun" mysteries of life. I spent some time last night chatting with a friend about spiritual things. I enjoy that. I really enjoy that. It's satisfying to me to know that some of the things I've learned about God and life and sorrow and marriage and everything can be of some use to others. The Lord be glorified.

This post sounds like a diary entry. I guess that's ok to blog like that, right?