The Distinctiveness Of God’s Love For His Elect

Isaiah 43:3-4

            It is utter nonsense to talk about God loving all men. Sometimes men who are fearful of denying God’s total sovereignty and equally fearful of teaching it try to soft peddle the issue by assuring people that there is a sense in which God loves all men with a love of benevolence, though not with a love of complacency and delight. Referring to Psalm 145:8-9, they say, “God loves all men as his creatures,” just as he loves trees and toads. If men can get any comfort from the idea that God loves them like he “loves” a frog, maybe that should not be taken away from them; but that simply is not the teaching of Scripture. Psalm 145 is a psalm about the mercy of God, not the love of God. Mercy is anything other than hell. Love is something far better.

            God loves his elect distinctively. He does not love all men. I would not emphasize this issue, were it not for the fact that those who teach that God’s love is universal are guilty of three horrible crimes: (1.) They make the love of God changeable. (2.) They make the love of God meaningless. And (3.) they destroy the greatest motive there is for godliness and devotion (II Cor. 5:14). Try telling you wife that you love all women alike. See if that inspires her devotion to you!

            The Word of God tells us in the plainest terms possible that God’s love for his elect is a special, sovereign, distinctive, and distinguishing love (Isa. 43:1-5; Rom. 8:29; 9:11-24). The fact that God has sacrificed men and nations for the salvation of his people throughout the ages, and that he continues to do so, should convince any reasonable person of the distinctiveness of his love for his elect.

            God loves his people delightfully, too. I mean by that that God delights, takes pleasure in, and is complacent with his elect because of his love for them. God so loves us that he smiles on us perpetually, even when he appears to be frowning upon us. It is high time that all attempts to divide the love of God into categories, stages, and degrees be laid aside. They do nothing to help men and only obscure the glory and grandeur of our God. If God loves me, he delights in me. If he does not delight in me, he does not love me. Again I say, try telling your wife, “Honey, I really do love you. I wish you well. I want nothing but the very best for you, and am willing to do anything I can for you; but you do not please me. You are offensive to me. I do not enjoy your company. In fact, I really do not want to look at you.” Nonsense!

            Our God loves us as he loves his darling Son. That means he is well-pleased with us (Matt. 17:5). The Father and the Son are one; and the Son of God tells us that his “delights” were with us from eternity (Pro. 8:31). He could not have used a stronger word than this to express his love for us. The word “delights” expresses the most intimate, sweet, ravishing pleasure. Can you get hold of this? Our God so delights in us that he says, “Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse: thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes” (Song 4:9).

Don Fortner