For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. – I Corinthians 13:12,13
One of the greatest lessons the true Gospel of Free and Sovereign Grace teaches the elect of God is the multifaceted lesson of love. It was in love that God predestined His people for adoption (Ephesians 1:4,5). It was love, a love beyond any human measure, for His people that held the Savior, Christ Jesus, to the cross (John 3:16; Galatians 2:20)! It is in love that Christians are called to perform acceptable works God has “prepared beforehand, that they should walk therein.” The great Law of God having been fulfilled completely in Christ’s finished work and being set free from the law of sin and death, it is the love of Christ alone which motivates us toward the high and holy and away from the base and unholy. Beloved, “the love of God controls us!” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Motivated by His great love for His People God saves us in Christ, the greatest expression of love the universe will ever know. Now, motivated by that great love for us, God’s people are drawn to love Him through the Spirit’s empowered reply of faith, a faith which “works in love.”
But, what is love? Contaminated by a myriad of influences, perhaps the sappy romanticism fueled by 19th century poetry coupled with an unhealthy diet of “anything goes” Hollywood films, love has morphed into a mere emotion abiding loosely and lightly on one’s sleeve. Love is measured not by one’s commitment of life to another. Oh no! Love is stoked only by how good another makes you feel! Butterflies and moonbeams, shivers down the spine, and the fluttering of the heart have somehow become valid indicators of love’s presence. Of course, the absence of these emotions signals the waning or absence of love. Phrases like, “I’ve fallen in love,” or “I’ve fallen out of love” betray the subjective nature of the fallen world’s revised definition. In short, love is whatever or whoever makes us feel a certain way. Of course, when those feelings wane, love itself has ceased and the search for something or someone else begins. In the process, the law of diminishing returns shows up in force, making the quest for Hollywood’s perversion of love more and more like an ever more steep barefoot uphill winter climb. What love is this?
Imagine if popular culture’s definition of love was shared by God? Cringe in terror with me for a moment to consider the outcome of that tragedy! God’s love for us would be conditioned on how warm and fuzzy we made Him feel! His love would shine down on us only when the conditions were met. Considering what the Scriptures teach us concerning our law-breaking guilt, something tells me that no one would ever be loved by God if God loved people the way popular culture defines the term!
The Wesleyan/Arminian heresy is wrought with this very peril. God’s love is wrongly said to be for all humanity without exception. Yet, in their devilish scheme, they are swift to qualify one error with yet another. Arminians believe only those who appropriate saving grace by an exercise of their own faith will ever experience the full measure of God’s love in the eternal state. In other words, there is some condition which must be met in order for God to fully love an individual. For all of those countless souls who refuse to appropriate God’s love in salvation, the mighty King of Heaven is left dealing with His unrequited love for those He casts into outer darkness. Talk about poetic tragedy!
But the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 three of the most essential words in the entire New Testament concerning love. In verse 8 Paul writes, “Love never ends.” From these words the vast difference between God’s love in Christ and the shifting sands of mere earthly infatuation and conditionalism are laid bare for all to see. God’s love in Christ is immutable, never changing. His love abides. His love is not conditioned on anything wrought by the hands of his redeemed people. His love in Christ prepared a place for His own. His love is the steadfast commitment to safely and securely lead His elect people to life everlasting!
Beloved, think deeply on the finished work of Christ, God’s labor of undying love in the person and work of Christ Jesus on behalf of poor sinners like you and me! This is love. Love that shall not fail to do that which God has purposed to perform. Oh that God would teach our hearts anew the great lessons of love in the finished work of Christ’s accomplished redemption, a redemption conditioned solely on the perfect offering of our Lord Christ. May we be strengthened in faith and hope as we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s perfect expression of divine love.