Covenant Reformed News
July 2017 • Volume XVI, Issue 15
The More-Loving-Than-God Argument (4)
With this News, I conclude my answers to a reader who wanted responses to questions put to him in support of the notion that God loves absolutely everybody.
Question 5: “Do you believe God only really cares for a few individuals? If He does, then so should you ... or else you will not be like Him.”
I think this question, to be understood, requires an additional sentence: “If God loves only a few, to be like Him, we should also love only a few; but that would be contrary to God’s command to us to ‘love all men.’” We will assume that this is part of the question.
Though I have already answered this question, I will repeat what I said. God does not love merely “a few;” He loves the world for which Christ died and the world that believes in Christ (John 3:16)—“a great multitude, which no man could number” (Rev. 7:9).
Again, it is clear from Scripture that God loves His elect church and hates the reprobate wicked (e.g., Ps. 5:5). Further, we are to love our “neighbour;” nowhere does God command us to love all men absolutely. We are to love our neighbour for we do not know who are elect and who are not. We are to love our neighbour by preaching the gospel and witnessing to him, for God uses these means to save His elect and to punish those who reject the gospel, “whereunto also they were appointed” (I Pet. 2:8). If we know that our neighbours are truly elect, we still bring the Word of God to them to teach them, encourage them, comfort them, etc. They are one with us in the household of faith and we do all we can to assist them in their sometimes difficult path.
Question 6: “What if your son is a reprobate? If God desires and intends for him to end up in perdition, and you, being a Christian, who loves his neighbour, want him to be in heaven, are you making yourself more loving than God?”
This is a very strange question. Scripture is clear that God has eternally and sovereignly elected His church. He has also, to manifest His justice, sovereignly determined that some should perish because of their sin. We do not know who are elect and who are reprobate: God does (Rom. 9:1-24).
Hence, we are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves. We are to do this because God uses our witness, in connection with the preaching of the Word, to save His elect. We witness because we want the elect to be saved and we do not always know, especially outside our family and church, who are elect and who are not.
When we bring up our children, we witness to them (for they too are our neighbours) and do so in our faith in the God who has promised to save us and our children. We know too that the doctrine of sovereign predestination also cuts through family lines. That is, we know that God has not promised to save all our physical children. In the covenant lines, there are “Jacobs” but there are also “Esaus” (Rom. 9:10-13).
Covenant parents’ greatest pain is seeing their children forsake God’s ways and live in the world. As one father, who had a son killed in a car accident and a daughter who went astray, said to me, “Pastor, it was easier to go to the cemetery.”
But covenant parents pray every day, “Thy will be done.” God’s will is absolutely determinative for them. When they see their child go astray, they pray, with earnest cries, that he or she may repent. But if that is not the will of God, they bow before Him who does all things for His own glory and confess Him to be God alone. So David wept bitterly over Absalom his son, and Paul expressed his heart’s desire that all Israel be saved, when he knew that this was not God’s will (Rom. 9:1-5; 10:1-2).
Prof. Herman Hanko, emeritus PRC Seminary
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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