God's Discriminating Love (Q&A)
Hi John, Thanks for all the great resources you have on Monergism.com. I've ordered resources in the past and have found them very helpful. I have especially been enjoying Art Azurdia's series on The Revelation. In fact, I'm rethinking Revelation now.
I was researching a subject today that I haven't been able to find much on. That is God's personal love for his individual people. It's been a struggle for a while with me. Verses that come to mind are "I will make with THEM an everlasting covenant..." "For God so Loved the WORLD..." "...as Christ loved the CHURCH..." There's plenty out
there from the "God has a wonderful plan for you" perspective. I'm a little gun shy of that view, but thought you'd be able to point out some reformed resources that would help. Or, just shoot back a couple scriptures. I don't want to take up too much of your time and I appreciate what you do through Monergism.
Thanks for your great question. A very good place to start looking at this subject is to read John chapter 17 which is the high priestly prayer of Jesus to the Father for His people. It is modeled on the high priest of Israel in the OT praying for atonment for the people of God prior to atonement. The Priest would pray for Israel, not the surrounding nations. Jesus did the same here: He prays, "I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours." This is just prior to his death and so it reveals that He is dying for the same ones he prays for and he does not pray for all.
As for God loving the world, indeed He loves the world in spite of its evil and rebellion against Him, but words like this does not mean he loves all people in the same way without exception, rather He loves all persons without distinction as in Revelation 5:9 which says "...for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" In other words, Jesus was telling the Jews that his love was not confined to physicial decendents of Abraham alone but on all people everywhere without distinction. He purchased people for God OUT OF every tribe, nation, language, people. He did not purchase all of them - only those he set his affection on in eternity. "In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will" (eph 1:4, 5). He did not do this for all people. But one thing is certain, he did not select us because we were better or because he saw something more worthy in us, but according to his good pleasure. For what higher reason in the universe is there than God wills it???
It regarding John 3:16. Most people get so fixated on the one verse that they fail to look at its context. Just after it says that whoever believes in him has everlasting life it says but men loved darkness and will not come into the light but those who come into the light show the work of God wrought in them. The whole passage is about the new birth - that we can neither see nor enter the kindgom without it. The Spirit like the wind goes where it pleases, says the passage, and so is eveyone who is born of God.
Since you like Art Azurdia, here are three sermons in MP3 where he deals with some of the issues you are speaking about.
Did Jesus Pray for You? John 17:20 by Art Azurdia
The Discriminating Love of Jesus Christ John 13:1 by Art Azurdia
"The Gift God Gave" John 3:16 by Art Azurdia
Hope this helps