4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. 5 It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, 6 it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. (1Cor13:4-8a)
The previous post focused on love as being the supreme human quality (13:13); here we affirm its divine origins and consider whether God’s love is the same in nature as our own. The Apostle John wrote eloquently about the subject in his epistles, especially his statement that “Love is OF GOD, and everyone who loves is born of God and has knowledge of God whereas he that does not love does not know God, for God IS love” (1Jn4:7,8). It also needs to be affirmed that human love is the same IN NATURE to that which God possesses, having been displayed to perfection in the earthly ministry of Christ. When asked by disciple Philip to “show us the Father and it will satisfy us”, Jesus’ replied, “Have I BEEN WITH YOU ALL THIS TIME and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father ?” (Jn14:9). This affirms that even during His earthly ministry, Jesus was the exact image of His Father (Heb1:3). And that image related to nature, not appearance – “being the image of THE INVISIBLE GOD” (Col1:15). Likewise, when God created man “in His own image”, that must also relate to nature. Of course, in man’s case that image has become tarnished by sin, but in the Christian at least it is being restored. For following Jesus’s retort to Philip, the Lord went on to say in the next verse, “For I am in the Father and the Father is in Me”. But the Christian can say, “I am in Christ and Christ is in me”. And if something of Christ’s nature is not already reflected in our lives and behavior, we are none of His.
The nature of God’s love
The quality Paul describes when he writes “Love is patient, love is kind” etc. (v4) whether human or divine, cannot by its very nature be selective or exclusive. A loving earthly father may have a special affection for his wife and family but will show kindness and tolerance towards all, FOR THAT IS HIS NATURE; likewise our Father in heaven. Equally, the instincts that a Christ-like person should possess concerning what he or she knows to be right and just are not mere human reasoning but the outworking of a God-given human spirit. And instinctively, all right-minded people know in their hearts that it would be cruel and hateful to punish a living creature for not doing what it is innately incapable of doing, let alone banish its soul to eternal misery. And yet traditional (Augustinian-derived) Western theology implies just that concerning the Creator’s intentions towards much of humanity – the only explanation offered being that the divine nature is entirely beyond human comprehension and comparison. But as we have just shown, that contradicts the teaching of Christ concerning Himself as God-incarnate, and His beloved apostle John’s teaching concerning the nature and origin of love. Apart from which, if you do not already partake of the divine nature YOURSELF, you cannot be a Christian (2Pet1:4). For it is not God’s nature but His WAYS that are currently incomprehensible (Rom11:33-34). Consequently, it is no surprise that anyone reviewing human history and perceiving the world around them poses the question: “How could a loving God possibly allow such suffering and injustice to prevail so extensively and enduringly?” Well, Paul and the writer to the Hebrews in particular have dropped clues (Rom8:20-21; Heb2:10), whilst the book that these posts are promoting fills them out in more detail according to what I understand the Spirit to have revealed to me on the subject.
In terms of doctrine, satanic agencies that hate God and resent his plans for humanity know that it is virtually impossible to love, delight and whole-heartedly worship One whose nature appears to oppose the noblest instincts of one’s own. The best one can do is to offer praise to such a Being for electing to be merciful TO ME, even if, as in my case, the majority of people I have ever loved and known must face a lost eternity “to satisfy God’s perfect justice” or “in view of God’s holiness” as if that holiness did not primarily comprise the sublime quality we have been considering. It is no wonder such a perspective has been rejected or watered down by so many. Aware of God’s loving nature, especially as it has been revealed in Jesus, many mistakenly assume that human beings have the innate capability of responding to the Gospel and that God wishes as many as possible to do so. In both respects, this is a contradiction of the teaching of Jesus (Jn6:44), Luke (Acts13:48), John (Jn1:13) and more comprehensively, the epistles of Paul. As was the case with God’s choice of Israel in the Old Testament, Christian salvation has been prepared for those appointed to it and God’s sovereign choice in the matter is on the basis of unmerited grace. That is virtually impossible to reconcile with the equitable and loving nature of the Divinity presented in the bible in the context of the traditional Western binary all-of-grace soteriological model. Hence the prevalence of Arminian dilution or liberal wholesale rejection of the bible’s irrefutable teaching on election. But all makes perfect sense within the broader providential context I have been outlining, affirming Paul’s own description of God’s elect as those “redeemed from all iniquity, purified to be CHRIST’S OWN SPECIAL PEOPLE, filled with a zeal to do good works” (Tit2:14). As such they become the agents of God’s loving purposes for the world, not the sole beneficiaries.
However extraordinary God’s strategy may appear, especially the seemingly avoidable admittance of sin and suffering into the world, God’s will, whether perfect or permissive, is bound to be motivated BY LOVE. As hinted at in the two cryptic verses referred to earlier, human sin and its resultant suffering have actually been a positive, providing the grist required to raise mere children of dust to a glory that is likely to transcend the angels (previous post). Allowing Satan his victory at Eden was actually the ultimate expression of divine love in view of God’s foreknowledge of the cost to Himself and His Son in remedying the situation. It also paved the way for the humiliating defeat of His enemy, who having lost his exalted place in heaven through his resentment of God’s plans for humanity has actually facilitated their development through the suffering he has inflicted upon them (Heb2:10 again). And the remedy needed required God’s Word to take on HUMAN flesh – by Whom the world could be redeemed and individuals sanctified to become “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, suffering with Him in the present in order to be glorified with Him in the future” (Rom8:17). Albeit feebly and inadequately, “The Little Book of Providence” goes on to expound God’s kindly intentions towards every member of the human race who can demonstrate by their love that they are in John’s words born of God (1Jn4:7), and by their acts of compassion that they already serve “Christ” (Mt25:37-40). I am careful to differentiate such “sheep” from those just referred to above who according to Christ “shall sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with My Father in His throne (Rev3:21). Such unspeakable glory could hardly be reserved for the proverbial “world and his wife”, but it is for Christ and His (Rev19:7).
Why should there be such a disclosure at this time? I believe it is hinted at in Revelation (chapter 10), and more explicitly in the ex-canonical book of Enoch (Charles edition ch93:10 & ch104:11-13). An earlier post explained how that writing was regarded as inspired by many in the early Church and how its opening verse suggests it was never intended as a reference source for the Church throughout her history but for Christians living in the last days, hence its exclusion from the biblical canon. I would not dare presume that I or my writing directly pertain to these references, for prophets are generally clear that they are what they are, whilst I have received no such assurances. Yet if the venture is of God and genuinely Spirit-inspired it will prosper in due course. Alternatively, it may pave the way for someone clearly anointed to the task who can communicate effectively and with divine authority – a true “Elijah” that shall restore all things (Mt17:11), “turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk1:17). That is to complete the task that John Baptist could never fulfil through no fault of his own. It was simply not his time in view of the Father’s secret plan for the Gentile nations that Paul outlined in Eph3:1-11 and referred to again in Rom11:11-12, the dispensational and providential implications of which have not been grasped (the focus of my first book, but reiterated in condensed form in the second, available at the link below).
But why should such a prophet be needed in anticipation of Christ’s SECOND coming, and how could polemical writing like mine, finding as it does error in every quarter, contribute to a united Church or the unified gospel presentation the world needs to hear prior to Christ’s return? Mt24:14(NASB) may offer a clue, the key phrase being “this gospel”, i.e. the demands and rewards of heirship to God’s Kingdom that Jesus and His disciples had been heralding. Also, some final thoughts from my first book:
“Reconciliation (of the churches) could never be accomplished from a one-sided position of “Told you so” but rather by the acknowledgement of ERROR BY ALL PARTIES. Such would be an effectual predisposition for the separated children in the churches to be reconciled with their Catholic/Orthodox fathers in the Faith, whilst the Jewish Fathers of the Faith may be reconciled with their Gentile children of the Kingdom who had been grafted in to provoke them to jealousy (Rom11). Prevarication may prolong what the Church and the world have to endure (Mal4:6b) so woe to any who would engender it by their failure to acknowledge error, frustrating the process of reconciliation. With such a warning were the Scriptures of the Old Testament dispensation concluded” – [Extract from “Fellowship of the Secret” – chapter 7] ***********************************************************
THE LITTLE BOOK OF PROVIDENCE” – Paperback, e-book and free PDF HERE
Author’s Facebook page HERE
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