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A Difficult but Glorious Doctrine

April 20, 2011

Men of God in the Morning (MGM) is currently reading through The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson.  Coinciding with our preaching series on Sunday mornings, this subject has really struck a chord in our conversations and heart.  Not only have the sermons from 1 Cor. 13 been personally challenging, but so too has Carson’s book, as I am reading it again with the input and insights of the brothers.  Carson is reminding us that God’s love is both amazing and arduous.  One important aspect we discussed this past Tuesday is that context is key to understanding the meaning of this doctrine, which has such a large breath in the Scriptures.  We were reminded that just as the preeminent theme of real estate is location, location, location; similarly the preeminent theme in interpretation is context, context, context.  Never is this more true than with the love of God.

For example, Carson suggests five ways in which the Bible speaks of the love of God.  According to Carson, “This is not an exhaustive list, but it is heuristically useful.”

1. The peculiar love of the Father for the Son, and of the Son for the Father (Jn. 3:35; 5:20; 14:31).

2. God’s providential love over all that he has made (Gen. 1; Mt. 6)

3. God’s salvific stance toward his fall world (Jn. 3:16; Eze. 33:11).

4. God’s particular, effective, selecting love toward his elect (Dt. 7:7-8; Mal. 1:2-3).

5. God’s love is sometimes said to be directed toward his own people in a provisional or conditional way – conditioned, that is, on obedience (Jn. 15:10; Jude 21).

When seeking to understand this difficult but glorious doctrine, it is important that we seek to understand it within the context is it described and defined in the Scriptures.

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