From our two previous articles on Matthew 5:44-45, we have seen that neither God nor Christ prays for or blesses their reprobate enemies but that both God and Christ do good to their reprobate enemies. Though we say that just as God does not pray for nor bless His reprobate enemies so He does does not love them, others say that God not only does good to His reprobate enemies but He also loves them.
How are we to decide which view is correct? First, one could argue from the analogy between what we are called to do (44) and what God does (45). But since we are called to do two things (pray for and bless our enemies) which God does not do for His reprobate enemies, it cannot be proved that God loves His reprobate enemies. Second, we could look more closely at what God is said to do in verse 45: "he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." The "evil" and the "unjust" surely include those who are reprobate. Causing the sun to rise and the rain to fall (in moderate amounts) on the reprobate is doing good to them (cf. Acts 14:17), but it does not prove that God loves them. God gives earthly "prosperity" to "the wicked" (Ps. 73:3)—something which requires sunshine and rain—but this is "surely" His setting them in "slippery places" before He casts "them down into destruction" (18). Though God gives them good things in His providence, He "despises" them (20) as "corrupt" sinners (8). Third, since the passage itself does not prove whether or not God loves His reprobate enemies, this will have to be settled on the basis of other biblical texts and doctrines. To quote a couple of relevant verses, Romans 9:13 declares, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated," and Psalm 11:5 teaches that "the wicked and him that loveth violence [God’s] soul hateth."
But what of our calling? We are to love, bless, do good to and pray for our enemies who curse, hate, despitefully use and persecute us (Matt. 5:44). Loving our enemies is not fellowshipping with them in their sin (II Cor. 6:14-18) but desiring and seeking their good physically and spiritually. Out of love, we do good to our enemies by helping them in whatever way we can, including greeting them and being friendly towards them (Matt. 5:47). Out of love, we pray for them, that is, we ask God to save them from their sins and grant them eternal life through Jesus Christ, if it be His will. Our calling to bless our enemies does not mean that we actually confer blessedness upon them; only the Triune God can do that. Nor are we to declare that they are blessed by God, for they are living under His curse (Prov. 3:33; Gal. 3:10). Blessedness is only found in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:14). Thus we bless our enemies by pointing them to Christ and calling them to repent and believe. As frail creatures made from the dust, as guilty sinners redeemed by grace and as rational-moral beings before God’s holy law, this is our calling towards our ungodly fellow creatures and neighbours. In loving, blessing, doing good to and praying for our enemies (Matt. 5:44), we show ourselves to be the children of our heavenly Father who does good to both just and unjust by giving them the good gifts of rain and sunshine (45).
- Volume: 9
- Issue: 23
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851