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September 16, 2020 4:00 am
God loves in a way that is consistent with his full glory in God's saving purpose and God's love is tied to God's glory, not man's. It is tied to God's purpose and not man is tied to God's desire is not man's.
God's will not might not seem particularly controversial, but the simple phrase God is love can be challenging when you consider that he also judges people even sends them to hell. So how can God be loving and yet punish people for eternity and how can he be a God of grace and still allow evil in the world. John is answering those questions and much more.
In his current series on grace to you. It's a biblical look at the love of God and with that, let's get to the lesson. Here's John MacArthur. When we announce were going to speak about the love of God. Most people would think, well, that's a fairly simple, straightforward, direct, subject one that would be easy to understand, easy to treat. I think we have found in going through this concept of the love of God that it has some profound mystery and it has some depth to it. The taxes are greatest intellectual and even our greatest spiritual capacities. At the very beginning when we started the series on God's love.
I said to you that to say to people that God loves the world, is simple but to accept that statement as fact is not so simple. There are some probing, disturbing and often unanswered questions that plagued the minds of anybody who thinks deeply about the idea that God loves the world, for example, if God is love and loves the world why is the world such a place of tragedy were so many people suffer so severely. If God is love and loves the world why does he allow disease and death. And why does he allow eternal hell. If God loves the world why does he let people perish and why is he there punish her.
God loves the world and why didn't he develop a plan to save the world. If God is a loving father. Loving father of all humanity. Who cares so deeply, why doesn't he act like a human father would act who would never allow his children to make a choice that could destroy them if he could overrule it or prevent it. These kinds of questions are deep questions and when people struggle for an answer it very often leads them to some seriously wrong conclusions.
These very questions have driven people to universalism. That is the idea that in the end everybody will be saved. That'll solve the problem. God does love, and in the end he'll just save everybody.
These questions have led some other people do what is called annihilation is the God loves the world so much he could never punish people forever in hell. So the believers will go to heaven and the unbelievers will just go out of existence, and there will be no conscious punishment at all these kinds of questions not only driven people to universalism and isolationism they have driven people to hyper- Calvinism saying that basically God loves his elect and hates everybody else feels no compassion for any other than those who are his. By virtue of a divine decree and is content to send people to hell is he is content to send some to heaven and others, have solved this problem by being driven into Arminianism. Arminianism is a theological perspective that basically says man is sovereign and that God can't really determine what is going to do just leaves it up to man under God does love everybody and certainly wishes everybody would get saved but everybody won't. So God's as disappointed as anybody else would be who would like to see that happen, universalism or annihilation is him or hyper- Calvinism or Arminianism are not biblical responses to this very very important issue of God, loving the world we have to turn to the Bible to learn the truth and we can understand the problem clearly, we can understand what is at stake here. We can't fully comprehend all of its implications, but at least we can understand the problem. If we can't fully grasp the solution we have to go to the word of God and we go to the word of God. What I try to do is to simplify what it teaches about God's love into three propositions. Proposition number one God's love to the world is unlimited in extent, it is unlimited in extent God so loved the world he does love the world, there is an unlimited love of God which extends to all men and manifests itself in common grace, compassion, warnings, and the gospel invitation and that is God's unlimited love God's love to the world and is unlimited in extent, that is, it extends to the whole world, but the second proposition that was essential for an understanding of God's love is this God's love is limited in degree.
He does love the world enough to give them common grace and compassion and warnings in the gospel invitation, but he does not love them. The way he loves his own beloved God has to the world is bounded by time and space is temporary. It is temporal it turns to hate for those who reject him and ultimately he will cast those people into eternal judgment. His love for the world is not like his love for his own in John 13 one it says having love those who were in the world who are his own beloved them unto perfection. We love them ice tell us, having loved his own ice tell us what does it mean perfectly fully comprehensively completely to the limit to the max to the last eternally. All of that God has a love for the world that is limited in extent when compared to the love that he has for those who are his own and so we've looked at that unlimited love of God toward the world. We've looked at that limited love that God has toward his own.
That takes us to the third and perhaps most significant question and that is how do we answer all of those initial queries. How do we understand the difference between the way God loves the world and the way he loves his own. On what basis does he do that. Why does God have a different love for some folks than other folks all bound up in his own purposes own will, his own desires own decree that leads us to the third proposition, God's love to the world is qualified by the demands of his glory. God's love to the world is qualified by the demands of his glory that is to say that.
However, God loves, he will love in a manner that is absolutely consistent with who he is with his glory.
I want to address that this morning with you because it is an absolutely essential truth to understand because God loves the world, does not mean that he is obligated to be an unqualified lover of everybody equally. That is not the case is not a prisoner of his own love, nor is he a prisoner of man's desire for that love or of man's reasonings about that love God does not have to love everyone the same no matter what no matter who just because people expect it, or men think it's fair or equitable.
So I say again because God loves does not mean he is obligated to be an unqualified lover of all people equally.
Obviously he is not loves the world in one sense he loves his own in a far greater way we say it another way, because God loves does not mean that his love is separated from his other attributes.
It does not mean that that love exists, as it were, in isolation from everything else as if it was untouched unmodified and unmixed and unaffected by holiness, wrath, righteousness, judgment, and every other attribute.
God is neither the jailer nor to see the prisoner of any of his attributes. Each of them acts not independently but in perfect harmony with all the others if God then is to glorify himself.
He must put all of his attributes on display and whatever his love accomplishes can in no way obliterate his other attributes. Whatever his mercy and grace and kindness and goodness and tender heartedness achieved cannot obliterate what will be made manifest by his hatred, his anger, his wrath, his vengeance and his justice. All of God's attributes have a place in the demonstration that he carries out through the purposes of creation so we can simply say this but God love us in a way that is consistent with his full glory. God loves in a manner that is consistent with his full glory.
God glorifies himself by manifesting all of his person and God's saving purpose and God's love is tied to God's glory, not man's.
It is tied to God's purposes, not man's. It is tied to God's desires, not man's. In God's will, not me. If you understand this one great surpassing truth about God, it's going to answer all those difficult questions that I posed at the beginning if you only understand this year. On the way and that is the simple truth. Although it is profoundly revealed and much of it on known to us. The simple truth is, God does whatever manifests the fullness of his glory.
Whatever puts his glory on display and his glory is the sum of all of his attributes. God cannot in doing one thing cancel out something else. God's glory is the issue and I want to lay that foundation down is well as I can for you to understand it, so turn to Psalm 31. This is not like a sermon but more like a Bible study, but it's very important to understand this if are going to deal with these hard questions and Psalm 31.
The psalmist is coming before the Lord and talking about God's power and salvation and deliverance and he he says basically that there is obviously trust in God's ability to save and deliver and rescue and help and strengthen, but that's not what I want you to focus on what I want you to focus on is the reason why. Let's start with verse one in the O Lord. I've taken refuge.
Let me never be ashamed and I righteousness deliver me inclined are near to me, rescue me quickly beat out a mere rock of strength the stronghold to save me, for thou art my rock and my fortress. Now you have a lot of statements there in your righteousness. Deliver me.
Listen to me, rescue me, be my rock via stronghold, save me your my rock you're my fortress, all repeating God's saving, delivering, rescuing work, and when he's done with all that he says in verse three, for thy name's sake. Thou wilt lead me and guide me. Whatever you do in my life.
God is not so much for me as it is what for you is for the sake of manifesting your glory in order that people might see that you are God in whom we can take refuge that you are a God of righteousness that you are a God who hears that you are a God who rescues but you are strong, but you are a Savior that you are a leader and you are a guy doing God to put yourself on display. That is the prayer of unknowing St. not for my sake but for your sake that is the reason for everything that God might display his glory before the Angels and all creation. So whatever God does is not going to be because the majority of evangelicals devoted him to do it is not going to be because it seems the most rational and the most reasonable thing to do or we think it's the most equitable. It will be done without regard for what we would desire, but with regard only to that which would be consistent with the display of God's glory. And whenever you see for thy name's sake. The concept of God's name is just an embodiment of all that he is when you remember confronting Moses he said my name is I am that I am in other words, my name is who I am. So God is going to display who he is and what he does. He is a God of salvation and he is a God of judgment. He is a God of grace and he is a God of vengeance. He is a God of mercy, and he is a God of justice and he will display all of that because that puts his name in a place to be respected, revered, honored and worshiped and Psalm 79 and I'm giving you just a few brief samples, a small little sampling of many verses that address this, but in Psalm 79, nine psalmist here is crying out to God to because he fears the destruction of Jerusalem that is a historical notation on the Psalm. He says help us all. God of our salvation.
And then this for the glory of thy name and deliver us and forgive our sins, for thy name's sake.
That is always the issue. Do what is consistent with who you are. Do what is consistent with your glory with your name with the manifestation of your character, your nature, your attributes in Psalm one 4311 is another very brief comment for the sake of thy name, O Lord, revive me for the sake of thy name, O Lord, again that is always at issue so we can't go to God and say look, Lord. Now we were trying to figure out how you are to treat this world and we think it wouldn't be fair for you to let some people go to hell because that's not very nice. And that's not loving and so we like to suggest to you a view called universalism and just ask you if you'd please adapt that to your plan and let it happen or we might say to God, you will like that idea of a conscious punishment of the ungodly, forever. And so we would like to suggest to you that that we've taken a vote and we vote for annihilation is or Lord. We think the whole thing shouldn't resolve itself in your character because that puts too much pressure on you, so we would like to suggest Arminianism and just let man be completely responsible for whether he Savior lost and that way he can bear the whole brunt of the deal and it doesn't reflect on you at all, but what we want and what we desire is not the issue. We are the pot and he is the potter we are the created and he is the creator. We are the maid and he is the maker and where here because he put us here and he's in charge of everything and everything that he does will be a consistent reflection of who he is and if you understand that you are on the path to resolving all the difficult question because the answer to whatever might seem to you to be inequitable or unfair or difficult or hard to understand is that it must in the end bring God what glory delegate Daniel chapter 9. I want to give you a couple of illustrations that I think will be most helpful to you in Daniel chapter 9 Daniel is praying a marvelous prayer. One of the model prayers of Scripture.
He is anticipating that God is going to deliver his captive people out of Babylon back to their land because God promised that he would, after 70 years, so he reminds himself when reading Jeremiah the prophet that the captivity was for 70 years and 70 years is nearly up so he starts to pray to the Lord.
Verse four he calls him out the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant in loving kindness for those who love him and keep his commandments.
And then he launches into this this confession we have seen in verse five, committed iniquity acted wickedly rebel turned aside from your commandments ordinances and keep talking like that all the way down verse 11 all Israel is transgressed by law turned aside not obeying my voice so the curse has been poured out on us along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses servant of God. For we sinned against Ella stop you right here. First of all what Daniel is saying is this God you punished us severely dispossessed from their land slaughtered in the assault became carried off into captivity.
They have been severely punished and they have been living in idolatry.
Prior to that time. So the punishment of God was a just punishment.
God, then by showing that idolatry is a severe sin worthy of destruction has glorified his name. It magnifies the holiness of God doesn't when he has a holy reaction against idolatry and Daniel would agree to that, that what you've done to these people they deserve, and it does not impinge on your glory at all to do it and exalt you and honors you and glorifies you that you have judged this iniquitous and wicked people with a severe judgment because it tells us how holy you are.
So God is glorified in the judgment. God is glorified and having showed that idolatry is a severe sin worthy of destruction that magnifies his glory.
But now God does promise that he's going to restore his people to the land and the prophet is now going to say God glorify yourself now with your mercy isn't either/or, it's both.
And so he prays in this prayer for the Lord to bring the people back go down to verse 17, Daniel nine. So now our God.
Listen to the prayer of thy servant into his supplications and here it is for thy sake, oh Lord, let thy face shine on thy desolate sanctuary that is again on Jerusalem and on the mount where the temple was oh my God, incline thine ear and here open thine eyes and see our distillations in the city which is called by thy name, but we are not presenting our supplication before the account of any merits of our own, but on account of thy great compassion, O Lord, here, O Lord, forgive all Lord listen and take action. For thine own sake.
Oh my God for you put your grace on display.
Put your mercy on display. Put your restoring power on display. That's the point, you've glorified yourself in your wrath now glorify yourself in your mercy and Isaiah 49, three God said you are my servant Israel, in whom I will show my glory. And he did. He showed his glory and judgment, and he shouted in mercy.
He shouted injustice, and he shouted in grace shouted in vengeance and he shouted in forgiveness.
You cannot isolate God to just one attribute. You can't make God the prisoner of one attribute he is glorified in the full range of his glorious nature and Daniel is saying God do this for your own sake, do it. The glorify yourself. Look at Isaiah for a moment. Chapter 48 Isaiah chapter 48, and here we find the same kind of perspective. Verse nine. Here God says. Isaiah 48, nine, for the sake of my name. I delay my wrath. How interesting. God shows his glory in his judgment, his wrath, he shows his glory in his mercy, his grace and he also shows his glory.
Injustice patients in delaying wrath and he says for my praise. I restrain it for you. In order not to cut you off.
You can glorify me for my justice.
You can glorify me for my grace and you can glorify me for my patience.
Verse 11. Here's the key for my own sake, for my own sake. I will act.
That's the key you auto underline that and never forget it. Whatever God does, he does for his own glory for my own sake, for my own sake. I will act. I cannot let my name be profaned in my glory. I will not give to anyone else.
I will do whatever my glory dictates I must do in my glory is a glory manifested in wrath is a glory manifested in forgiveness is a glory manifested in restraint and patience. Whatever it is I will do it if it's consistent with my glory.
We could sum it up by saying God has an un-swerving commitment to act for his own glory.
You're listening to Grace to you with John MacArthur today. He highlighted the rich nature of the love of God. That's the title of his current study, the love of God. John teaches each day on this broadcast and he also serves as Chancellor of the Masters University and seminary in Southern California note today John, you said that God does what ever manifests the fullness of his glory, and so with respect to the love of God, is it fair to say that whenever God shows his love. The only thing that matters is that he's receiving the glory.
I can imagine some people being confused about that. Thinking that somehow it's wrong or selfish for God to demonstrate his love, primarily in order to glorify himself. The only time it's wrong would be if you didn't deserve it right because the Bible evinces this honor to whom honor is due right respect those who are over you in the Lord, show them honor know the Lord has even told us that if we are faithful to him, we will receive a reward of for those things that are deserved honor is the right response and since God is the ultimate one who deserves all honor and all glory is only right to give him that glory. In fact, not only do we not give him too much credit. We are abysmally short of even giving him the credit that he deserves wheat with we don't have the capacity to do it in these bodies in this life and that's one of the things that people don't think about when they think about heaven, but the reality of heaven is finally I will be able to give God all the glory that he deserves, of which my glorified person is capable my ability to glorify God is limited. Now it's not what it used to be growing in grace and the knowledge of Christ and glorifying him more as sanctification continues in my life but I'm a far cry from the capacity that will belong to all of us in his presence so glorifying God is the right thing to do because God is so absolutely worthy, remind you again today that this send all kinds of other insights and truths are available in the book the God who loves you need to understand the love of God.
It's a common subject. You going to deal with in dealing with nonbelievers. There are answers to their questions about the love of God, God who loves is the book it's available you can order it from grace to you right and for times when you're dismayed by circumstances or you wonder how God could save a sinner like you, this book provides great encouragement showing you God's unfailing love for his children to get a copy of the God who loves for yourself or to give to a friend contact us today. It's available for $13 and shipping is free to order, call 855 grace or visit our website TTY.org, the God who loves makes an ideal resource for family devotional sort to read with someone you're discipling again to order, call 855 grace or shop email@example.com and when you finish reading the book. Let us know if it deepen your relationship with your love for God would also love to know if you been spiritually enriched or strengthened by John's teaching on the radio by an article you read on our website and especially if the Lord is use this ministry to bring you or someone you know to faith in Christ. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What's more, that's email@example.com or if you prefer regular mail right to Grace to you. Box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412 now for John MacArthur in the entire grace to you staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Keep in mind you can watch grace to you television this Sunday on direct TV channel 378 or check your local listings for channeling times and also join us tomorrow for another half hour unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on grace to you