A Reformed View of God's Love
John Knox wrote; "You make the love of God common to all men, and
that we constantly do deny." Why did he write that? He wrote it because
he knew that...
Love is one of God's attributes, along with holiness and
Love is an attribute of God (1 John 4:8,16; Romans 5:8).
Holiness and righteousness are equally attributes of God (Josh.
24:19; Ps. 99:5; Rev. 4:8; Psalm 145:7; Acts 17:31).
God cannot love sinners without justice being fully satisfied (Ex.
34:7). God does love some sinners because Divine justice and mercy meet
in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on their behalf (Psalm 85:10; Rom.
God does not need to love any sinner.
There is nothing about us sinners that moves God to love any one of
us (Ps.l4:l-3; 144:3; Gen. 6:5; Rom.3:10-19).
God's own good pleasure is what moves Him to have mercy and show love
to any particular sinner (Eph.l:5/9, 11; Rom.9: 15,16; Exo.33:19;
Election is the fountain of God's love for sinners.
Before the foundation of the world. God has set His love upon some
sinners in unconditional election (Jer.31:3; 2Tim. 1:9; Eph.l:4).
Electing love gives the elect to Christ, and Christ to the elect, as the
gift of love to save the elect (Johnl7: 6/11; Eph. 1:4). At the same
time God, to show the glory of His justice, leaves others in their sins
as objects of His righteous hatred (Matt. 11:25-26; Rom. 9:13,15,18,
God's love always saves.
Because the elect world is loved in Christ (Eph.l:3ff).
Because Christ was given to die on the cross to save the world of
elect sinners (John 10: 11, 26-29: John 3:16; Rom. 5: 8; 2Tim. 1: 9,
Because God's love, flowing from election, produces effectual
calling, justification and glorification (Romans 8:28-31; Jer. 31:3; I
Peter 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:9).
God loves the elect - God hates the reprobate.
God loves the elect eternally, unchangeably, and savingly (Jer. 31:3,
Mal. 3:6). God justly hates the reprobate (Rom. 9:13,18, 22; 2 Peter
The hatred of God is sovereign and righteous. Sovereign in that God
passes by for no other reason than his own good pleasure. Righteous
because God hates them as guilty sinners and purposes that, in the way
of their own sins, they should be condemned and damned.
It is NOT true that God loves all sinners, but hates their sin.
Sin can not be separated from the sinner, because it is the nature of
man that is sinful (Psalm 51:5; Jer. 17:9; Matt.l2:34-35; Luke 6:
The Bible speaks of God being angry with, and hating the wicked, that
is people who do wickedness (Ps. 5:4-6; 11:5-6; Prov. 16:4).
The proposition is true only of God's elect for God loves them in
Christ (Rom.5:8-10; Eph.2:l-10). God loves them because He predestinated
them unto the adoption of children in Jesus Christ, and He has satisfied
His justice against them and their sin when Jesus died in their stead on
the cross of Calvary. And, God loves them in such a way that they ALL
are all united to His Son for justification, sanctification and
glorification - being brought to live unto God, confessing always: "The
life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and
gave himself for me" (Eph.l:4-5, Gal. 2:20).
God is not actively loving non-elect men when he gives them good
things in this life, like money, health etc, or even when He sends them
the gospel to hear.
Prosperity is no sign that God's loves this or that particular sinner
(Ps. 73:18-19; Luke 12:20, 21).
Hearing the gospel preached is no sure sign that God loves this or
that particular sinner (Matt.l3:10- 15, 22:14; 1 Peter 2:8; 2
A sinner may be assured that God loves him/her only when there is
evidence of that love having produced saving faith in their life. In
other words. God's electing, redeeming love, is manifest in their lives
through true faith and repentance (1 John 4:19).
The Biblical and Reformed faith teaches that God's love flows to His
elect, and His elect alone, in and through Jesus Christ.
Rev. Chris Connors