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Sermon #104 — Romans Series`


Title:                           Jacob have I Loved


Text:                            Romans 9:13

Subject:                     The Distinguishing Love of God

Date:                          Sunday Morning — December 4, 2016

Reading:       Malachi 1:1-5



You will find the title of my message in my text — Romans 9:13.


(Romans 9:13) “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”


Jacob have I loved. — That’s the title of my message. That’s my subject. — Jacob have I loved.


(Romans 9:13) “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”


Blest sons of Jacob, chosen race,

Our God’s the God of sovereign grace! —

He will perform what He’s begun:

He’ll save His chosen, ransomed ones!


Though rocks, and hills, and mountains fall,

And darkness overshadows all,

Whate’er our plight, whate’er our lot,

Our God’s the same. — He changes not!


Our comfort often ebbs and flows;

Our God no variation knows!

Though Jacob’s sons unfaithful prove,

God loves us with unchanging love!


Four Reasons


My purpose in preaching is fourfold. These are the things that inspire, motivate, and direct me in preaching the gospel. I am not an ambitious man. I do not crave prosperity, fame, popularity, or even approval. But I do crave these four things. I am ambitious for these four things.


1.    The Salvation of God’s Elect — I want you to know the Lord Jesus Christ. I want you to enter into that great salvation which God has provided and accomplished for sinners in Christ. That is the reason I constantly point you to Christ and urge you to trust him. How I pray that some of you will come to Christ this hour and find in him the joy and peace of righteousness, forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.


“There is a fountain filled with blood

Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;

And sinners plunged beneath that flood

Lose all their guilty stains!


“E’er since by faith I saw the stream

Christ’s bleeding wounds supply,

Redeeming love has been my theme

And shall be till I die!”


2.    The Comfort and Encouragement of God’s Saints — Whenever I prepare a message and prepare to preach it, the words of God ring loud in my ears, — Comfort ye, comfort ye my people.” I know that you who believe carry many burdens as you seek to live for the glory of God in this world. Inward sin, worldly cares, trials of faith, and your many temptations are constant burdens to you. I want so much to encourage your faith, comfort your souls, and strengthen your hearts. So I constantly remind you that…

Š      Your “warfare is accomplished! We are more than conquerors in Christ!

Š      Your “iniquity is pardoned! God “hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” Our sins, which are many, have been fully, freely, eternally forgiven through the precious blood of Christ.

Š      You are blessed! We “have received of the Lord’s hand double for all [our] sins!” He has both forgiven us and blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ. We are now the sons of God!


Back in the late 1800s, a man whose name is unknown spent many, many years in an insane asylum. After he died, as the room was being prepared for another unfortunate inmate, these words were found scratched on the wall of his room…


“Could we with ink the oceans fill,

And were the skies of parchment made.

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade.

To write the love of God above

Would drain the oceans dry.

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.”


Apparently, he had some days, perhaps just hours or even brief moments, when his mind was sound. At such a time, in unimaginable circumstances, he found comfort for his heart and soul in the love of God our Savior.


3.    The Edification of God’s Church — I know that it is my responsibility to feed you with knowledge and understanding, to instruct you and teach you the blessed doctrine of the gospel of the grace of God. As good health, physical strength, and bodily comfort depend upon good, nourishing food, so spiritual health, spiritual strength, and spiritual comfort can be gained only by feeding your souls upon the doctrine of Christ. ——— But above all else, when I preach the gospel of Christ, I desire and seek…


4.    The Glory of God — I want to glorify God in my preaching. And I want us to glorify God in our hearts and lives. To that end it is my responsibility to show men and women what it is to live by faith, governing our lives by the Word of God. — Nothing motivates like love! Nothing motivates godliness like the love of God. Nothing motivates devotion and the consecration of our lives to God our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, like “the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5). — “The love of Christ constraineth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). — Oh, how I wish I could preach the love of God as it ought to be preached!


If I am to glorify God in my preaching, I know that my attitude has to be right. It does not matter how sound, orthodox, and theologically accurate my doctrine is, if my attitude is wrong, my doctrine is wrong. Harsh doctrine is false doctrine! Yet I know this, too: if I am to glorify God in my preaching, I must preach the truth. It is my responsibility as God’s servant to proclaim the truth of God in plain, unmistakable terms. And it is my responsibility to expose, denounce, and repudiate any doctrine that would diminish God’s glory and contradict the gospel of his free and sovereign grace in Christ.


With these things in mind, I want, by the Spirit of God to proclaim to you the wonderful, blessed message of Romans 9:13. I want to talk to you about the love of God. Here the Lord God declares, “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” You will find those words written in the 1st chapter of the Book of Malachi. — “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.


Esau Hated


The word “hated” in Romans 9:13 does not imply a positive hatred, which involves contempt, anger, and wrath. Rather, it is, as John Gill rightly observed, a “negative hatred, which is God’s will not to give eternal life to some persons, a neglect of them, taking no notice of them, passing them by when he chose others. So the word ‘hate’ is used for neglect, taking no notice.”


This is the way our Lord used the word in Luke 14:26. — “If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” We are not commanded to treat our families and our own lives contemptuously, with anger and wrath. But we must, as we seek to follow Christ, give no consideration to our earthly relationships. We must pass by them and choose Christ. That is what the word “hated” means in our text. God passed by Esau, giving him no consideration. His only consideration was for Jacob. God loved Jacob. He considered Jacob. He chose Jacob. The wonder of this text is not that God “hated,” or passed by, Esau. The amazing, wonderful thing is that God loved Jacob.


He says, “Jacob have I loved!” That is what I want us to look at this morning. Any honest interpretation of Romans 9 must recognize that in this text Paul is using Jacob as a representative of all God’s elect, and Esau as the representative of all who are not among the elect, the reprobate of the world.


Two Groups


There are but two groups of people in this world. The whole human race is divided into just these two groups. In the Book of God these two groups are called…

Š      God’s Elect and the Reprobate

Š      Vessels of Wrath and Vessels of Mercy

Š      Those Appointed to Salvation and Those Appointed to Condemnation

Š      The Woman’s Seed and the Serpent’s Seed

Š      Shem and Japheth — and Ham

Š      Sheep and Goats

Š      Wheat and Tares

Š      Israel and Edom

Š      Jerusalem and Babylon

Š      Jacob and Esau.

Between these two groups “there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from” one to the other cannot do so (Luke 16:26).


The Lord God declares — Jacob have I loved.” That is my subject.

The 9th chapter of Romans was written to show us that the purpose of God, according to election, stands upon the footing of grace alone, and that it is not in any way determined by, or dependent upon, our works. And, the grace by which we have been chosen, redeemed, and called, springs from the love of God for Jacob, that is to say, his elect.


Proposition: The love of God is his eternal benevolence, “his everlasting will, purpose, and determination to deliver, bless, and save his people” (Augustus Toplady).


Love is both an attribute of God’s Being and an act of his goodness.


Divisions: Now, as we think about this declaration for the mouth of God himself, “Jacob have I loved,” I want to show you five things.

1.    God is love.”

2.    But God does not love all men.

3.    God’s love for his own elect is a special, distinguishing, sovereign, saving love.

4.    All the works, benefits, and blessings of grace which we receive and experience in Christ are deeds of his great love for us.

5.    How we ought to love God our Savior!


God’s Attribute


1st— I want us to see that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8, 16).


(1 John 4:8-16) “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (9) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (11) Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (12) No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. (13) Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. (14) And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (15) Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. (16) And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”


John does not tell us that the God of heaven and earth is a loving God, or a God of love. He says, “God is love!” Love is an attribute of God’s Being. Because God is love, God must and will love. But we fall into grave and serious error if we attempt to measure and understand God’s love by our own.

Š      Our love is a passion to be loved. God’s love is a determination to bless and save.

Š      Our love is caused by something worthy of love in the ones we love. God’s love is caused by his love.


“God’s love is not drawn out by our being loveable, but springs up like an artesian well, from the depths of his nature.” — Alexander MacLaren


When I was in college, my theology professor tried to teach us that because “God is love,” there was a great vacuum in his infinite heart, because there was no one for him to love, and that he created man so that he might have someone to love. But such reasoning would make the Creator dependent upon his creature for satisfaction, delight, and completion. That is nonsense! God did not create us because he needed us. He created us because he loved us! God’s love is independent, holy, and pure. Whatever God’s love is, it is not like us. It is like him! I have no idea what all that involves; but I know this —


1.    The Lord God loves himself. — God’s holy, blameless, pure love finds satisfaction in himself. The three Persons of the Godhead have eternally loved one another in mutual happiness and satisfaction. The Father loves the Son. The Son loves the Father. The Father and Son love the Spirit. And the Holy Spirit loves the Father and the Son. The Holy Trinity dwells together in perfect love, loving one another purely, perfectly, blamelessly, with complete devotion.


2.    God, whose love is holy, cannot love anything, or anyone that is not perfectly holy. — Perfect love cannot fall upon anything but perfection. Holy love cannot fall upon anything but holiness. Pure love cannot fall upon anything that is not pure.


A man may pity a suffering hog. But he cannot love it. He cannot be devoted to it. He cannot give himself to it. Love requires compatibility. And there is no compatibility between the man and the hog. Even so, God cannot love sinful man, for there is nothing in fallen man for God to love, nothing in us that is like God, holy and pure.


Yet, our text declares, “Jacob have I loved!” Jacob, like us, was a fallen, sinful man. How could the holy Lord God love Jacob? How can God love us? There can be but one answer ———


3.    God loves fallen, depraved sinners in Christ and for Christ’s sake. — Nowhere in the Bible is God said to love a man, outside of Christ. Nowhere in the Bible is a man assured of God’s love, apart from Christ. God loves his Jacob’s mediatorially.

Š      He loved Jacob before he became a sinner, in Christ.

Š      He loved Jacob though he was born in sin, in Christ and for Christ’s sake.

Š      He loved Jacob, though he often sinned after he was saved, in Christ and for Christ’s sake.


4.    God’s love for Jacob never changed, because God never changed (Malachi 3:6).


God is love.” — We rejoice to know that. But we must never measure God’s love by our love.

Š      God loves himself.

Š      God’s love is holy.

Š      The only way the holy Lord God can love sinful men and women is in Christ, the Mediator between God and man. — God never loved a man, did anything for a man, revealed himself to a man, or accepted a man apart from his Son, the one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus! — “God is love.” — That’s my first point. —— But…


Not All


2ndGod does not love all men. Read Romans 9:13 again. — “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” — The whole world, both religious and profane, assumes and declares that God loves all men, without exception. But all the talk of men about God’s universal love is nonsense! Any reasonable person, whose mind has not been perverted by the influence of Arminian, free-will, works religion, must recognize how absurd it is to suggest that God loves all men.

Š      Did God love those multitudes whom he swept off the earth in the flood?

Š      Did God love the degenerate Sodomites upon whom he rained fire and brimstone from heaven?

Š      Did God love Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their followers, whom he swallowed up into hell?

Anyone who imagines that God loved those lost multitudes might well pray to be forever hidden and excluded from the love of God! — Perhaps, you are thinking, “Bro. Don, What can possibly be wrong with telling people ‘God loves you!’”


For one thing — To declare that God loves all men, without exception, is to speak in direct contradiction to God himself. He said, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” He said to Moses, “I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” God did not say to Pharaoh, “For this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my love in thee.” He said, “Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”


When the Bible addresses unregenerate, unbelieving men and women, it does not say, “Smile, God loves you.” It warns them of his anger, wrath, and justice (Psalms 7:11-13; 11:4-7).


(Psalm 7:11-13) “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. (12) If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. (13) He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.”


(Psalm 11:4-7) “The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men. (5) The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. (6) Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. (7) For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.”

Not only does the assertion that “God loves everyone” contradict the Word of God, it also has very serious implications. I am not shadow boxing. I am not making an issue where there is no cause. To say that “God loves everyone” is to bring serious implications against the character of God. The common doctrine of God’s universal love, like its companion, universal redemption, would rob God of his glory and break up the very foundation of our faith.


Š      If God’s love is his will, desire, and determination to save those whom he loves, then those who proclaim universal love make his love a frustrated passion, and declare that his will, desire, and purpose toward many is frustrated, because many are lost. — That cannot be. The thought of such a thing is intolerable. What kind of God is a frustrated, defeated God — (Isaiah 14:24; 46:9-10)


(Isaiah 14:24) :The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.”


(Isaiah 46:9-10) “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, (10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”


Those who proclaim the universality of God’s love, unless they deny the eternal punishment of the wicked, make God a mutable, changing, vacilitating Being. — The famous Arminian preacher, founder of the Christian Missionary Alliance denomination, A. W. Tozer, made these statements about the love of God…


“God must love and will love man until hell has erased the last trace of the remaining image (of God in him). Men are lost now. But they are still loved of God...I believe that God now loves all lost men...(But) the day will come when lost man will no longer be loved by God Almighty...I believe the time will come when God will no longer love lost human beings.”[1]


Will-worship Arminians would have us to believe that God loves all men before they are born, loves them as long as they live, no matter what they are or do; but as soon as they die, he stops loving them and casts them into hell in his wrath and fury. Or else, they tell us that he loves them still and helplessly weeps over the damned, because he could not save them!

Š      A changeable god is no God at all (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17).

Š      A helpless god is no God at all (Psalms 115:3; 135:6).

Š      A frustrated god is no God at all (Isaiah 14:24-27).


I know that God is good to all men in a providential way (Psalm 145:9); but, God’s providential goodness to all men is the result of his special love for his own elect. God sends the sunshine and the rain upon all men, both the righteous and the wicked. But he sends those things to his elect, for the good of his elect (Romans 8:28). Other people receive the benefits of God’s providential blessings only because they live in the same world with God’s elect.


Many argue that God’s providential goodness to the wicked is proof and evidence of his love for all men. But the argument will not hold water. If you turn it around, you would have to say that when righteous men suffer drought, famine, pestilence, and war because of God’s providential judgments upon the wicked nations in which they live, those providential judgments would be proof of God’s wrath upon his own elect! As I said before, all the talk of men about God’s universal love is nonsense! To say that “God loves everyone” is to reduce the love of God to nothing but a fickle passion! — Universal love is meaningless love!


Five Questions


Thoughtfully consider these five questions, and you will see that the notion of God loving all men is as contrary to reason as it is to Holy Scripture. If God loves all men...

1.    Why are some not elected to salvation? (Matthew 22:14)

2.    Why do many never hear the gospel?

3.    Why did Christ refuse to pray for some? (John 17:9)

4.    Why do many perish under the wrath of God, without mercy?

5.    What does the love of God have to do with the salvation of anyone? — Nothing!


Distinguishing Love


3rdGod’s love for his own elect is a special, distinguishing, sovereign, saving love (1 John 4:10).


(1 John 4:10) “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”


John declares, “He loved us!” And the “us” God loves are all believers, past, present, and future! “He loved us,” who are chosen, redeemed, and called by his almighty grace. In this text John tells us four things about God’s love.


1.    God loves sovereignly! — “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” God loved us when there was nothing good to be seen in us and nothing good to be said for us. There is nothing that compelled God to love us but his love. In his infinite goodness God says, “Jacob have I loved!” Our God is infinite, immutable, and sovereign, and so is his love. He loves whom he will, because he will. And he loves them eternally.


2.    God loves sinners! — “He loved us!” — Eternally! — Freely! — In Christ! — I preach fully, without reservation, unlimited love, boundless mercy, and infinite grace to the vilest of men. We have nothing in us worthy of consideration. We deserve the utmost extremity of his wrath. But, “he loved us.” Who can express the infinite magnitude and fulness of those words?


3.    God loves sacrificially! — He “sent his Son!” Donald Grey Barnhouse said, “God’s love is not lazy good nature, as many think it to be and so drag it through the mud; it is rigidly righteous, and therefore Christ died.” God gave his darling Son to suffer and die upon the cursed tree for his elect, whom he loved with an everlasting love.


4.    And, God loves savingly! God loved us before the world began. But in order for us to be reconciled to God, justice had to be satisfied. Therefore, our loving heavenly Father made his Son to be the sin-atoning, justice-satisfying “propitiation for our sins.” Through the substitutionary death of Christ, all the sins of God’s elect were washed away. He put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:26). “Herein is love!The love of God for us is much more than a helpless passion. It is his saving commitment and determination toward his elect. As Toplady put it, God’s love is “his everlasting will, purpose, and determination to deliver, bless, and save his people.”


Benefits of God’s Love


4thAll the works, benefits, and blessings of grace which we receive and experience in Christ are deeds of his great love for us (Jeremiah 31:3).


(Jeremiah 31:3) “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”


God does not love in word only, but in deed and in truth. You cannot separate his deeds of grace from the objects of his love. All whom he has loved with an everlasting love, experience his grace. And all who experience his grace, he has loved with an everlasting love. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). When we can measure the deeds of his love, then we can measure the depth of his love, but not until then. (Ephesians 3:14-19).


(Ephesians 3:14-19) “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (16) That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; (17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”


The love of Christ...

Š      In its breadth, spans eternity!

Š      In its length, encompasses the whole earth. God has his elect in every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue!

Š      In its depth, reaches down to the darkest, most loathsome dregs of depraved, degenerate humanity.

Š      In its height, lifts sinners from the gates of hell to the very throne of God in heaven.


The love of God in Christ for his elect is a love that passes knowledge! It can be understood only by those who have experienced it. And, it can be described only by its deeds. Because he loved us with an everlasting love, the Lord God...

Š      Chose us to be the recipients of his grace before the world began (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

Š      Predestinated all things to secure our everlasting salvation (Ephesians 1:3-5, 11).

Š      Gave his Son to die as our Substitute to satisfy his justice for us (Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:16).

Š      Preserved us in the days of our rebellion unto the time of our calling. (Jude 1).

Š      Called us from death and sin to life and faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5; Ezekiel 16:6-8).

Š      Keeps us by his grace (Romans 8:35-39).

Š      Protects us from all evil (Isaiah 43:1-5).

Š      Rules the world for us! There is nothing God will not do and give for the people he loves!

Š      Will present us faultless before the presence of his glory (Ephesians 5:25-27).


Devotion Demanded


5th — I have only one more thing to say — How we ought to love our great God and Saviour!


“Love so amazing, so divine

Demands my soul, my life, my all!”


I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). — As God’s love is the determination of his heart to bless and save us, so, if we love him, our love is the determination of our hearts to serve and glorify our great God.


(2 Corinthians 5:14-15) “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: (15) And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”


How would you like to know that you have an interest in the love of God? — Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God is shed abroad in your heart (Romans 4:25-5:11).


(Romans 4:25-5:11)Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (11) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”








Don Fortner








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[1] The Tozer Pulpit, Volume 8, pp 23-25