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God’s Eternal Love

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 13, 2024 12:01 am

God’s Eternal Love

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 13, 2024 12:01 am

Our love is bound by time--there's a moment when it begins. But God's love is different. Today, R.C. Sproul explains that we experience God's redeeming love by being included in the eternal love that the Father has for His Son.

Get R.C. Sproul's Teaching Series 'Loved by God' for Your Gift of Any Amount: https://gift.renewingyourmind.org/3222/loved-by-god

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Before God ever made a world, He already existed. And what the Scriptures make clear is that as He existed from all eternity, there was already in His nature from all eternity the attribute of love. It's remarkable when considering the love of God to realize that because God is love, as we learned yesterday, His love is an eternal love. It's not something He became.

It is who He is. This is the Tuesday edition of Renewing Your Mind, and this week R.C. Sproul is helping us consider in depth what the Bible teaches about God's love.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Advertisements are filled with messages about love, and often what's promoted is a cheap and worldly version of love. The result can mean that as God's people, we carry some of that thinking into our own understanding when we read about the love of God in Scripture, which is why a series like this one from R.C. Sproul is so helpful. Since God's love is an eternal love, what was the object of God's love before the world was made?

Here's Dr. Sproul. The Bible does not say that pride goes before the fall. What the Bible says is pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before the fall. And I should be aware of that because one of the games we play at Ligonier is we play trivia whenever we warm up for these lectures.

It's usually baseball trivia, but sometimes we'll do other things from the past. And my pride was sorely wounded because in the first lecture I made a serious mistake about Elmer Gantry. I attributed the role of Sister Sharon Falconer to Shirley Jones, when in fact it was played by Gene Simmons. I don't know how I did that. There's no way I can correct it is to apologize now in this lecture for what I did in the last one. With that done now, and I picked myself up from destruction and from the fall, let's continue with our study now of the love of God, whose great love is such that even His tender mercies covers my errors like that. I said in the first lecture that it's very important that we understand the love of God in conjunction with the other attributes of God, and I mentioned briefly the holiness of God and that God's love is holy love. The next attribute that I want to speak of with respect to the love of God is that God's love, as God Himself is, is eternal. When we talk about God's being eternal, we're talking about something greater than the simple duration of His existence. When we say that God is eternal, we are saying with that that God is self-existent. That is, that God has no beginning. He derives His existence or His being from no other source, but rather He has the power to be in and of Himself. And I've said many times that my favorite theological term, my favorite technical term in theology, is the word aseity. And I've said that this word sends chills up and down my spine when I contemplate the nature of God, and this simply means that God is self-existent, that He has His being in and of Himself.

He's not dependent upon anything outside of Himself for His own life or being. So, what we're saying is there was never a time when God did not exist. There is no point at which God begins. We read the opening page of Scripture, and it says, In the beginning, God. There's an enormous contrast right there between us, the world, and the Creator, because when it says, In the beginning, what it is saying is that this world is not eternal. This world has a beginning. We have a beginning because having a beginning is the sign of the creature. But it doesn't say, In the beginning, God began, but it says, In the beginning, God created, which means that before anything was created, God was already there.

This calls attention to His eternal self-existence. But before God ever made a world, He already existed. And what the Scriptures make clear is that as He existed from all eternity, there was already in His nature from all eternity the attribute of love, so that God didn't become a God of love at the time of creation, but He has always been a God of love. Well, if that's the case, and if there was nothing else besides God from all eternity and before the world was made, we'd have to ask the question, What then was the object of the divine love?

What was the object of God's affection from all eternity? And that's a very complicated question, and it has something of a complex answer, because when we think of creation, we make a distinction in the Bible between creation and redemption. God creates His world in a state of goodness. The world is plunged into ruin through the fall of the human race, and then the rest of Scripture after the third chapter of Genesis chronicles for us God's work of redemption by which He is salvaging His people from this enormous collapse of the fall. But before there was a creation, before there was redemption, there was God. And God before the creation knew about the fall, and He knew that He was going to execute a plan of redemption. So from all eternity, God has had a plan of redemption, and that plan of redemption included within it God's understanding of His triune character and of the work of redemption that would be carried out among all three members of the Godhead.

And so in theology, we talk about the covenant of redemption, which refers to a covenant that God makes not with us, but the covenant that God the Father makes with God the Son and with God the Holy Spirit from all eternity. We read that it is the Father who sends the Son into the world. But when He sends the Son into the world, He sends the Son into the world because the Son has agreed from all eternity to come into the world.

It's not like that the second person of the Trinity was reluctant to enter into our fallenness to affect our redemption. But from all eternity, He was pleased to do the will of the Father. And so this agreement reaches back before creation between the Father and the Son, that the Father would send the Son, and the Son would willingly descend from heaven and take upon Himself the cloak of a human nature, subject Himself to humiliation, become a servant obedient even unto death in order to redeem His people. And so His role in redemption was to accomplish the task that the Father sets before Him. And then the role of the Holy Spirit from all eternity, the Spirit agrees with the Father and the Son to apply the work of Christ to God's people so that the work of redemption is not simply the work of the Father or simply the work of the Son or simply the work of the Holy Ghost. It is a Trinitarian work, just as the work of creation is a Trinitarian work. The Bible tells us God creates the heaven and the earth, but He does it through the eternal Son, who is the firstborn of all creation. And even in the account of creation, we see that it is the Spirit who hovers over the water and brings the light out of the darkness. And so creation and redemption are both works brought to pass by the divine Trinity.

And the point is that they are in agreement about this from all eternity. Now the Bible tells us also that one of the things that motivates God from all eternity to implement a plan of redemption is His love for His creation. It's because God so loves the world that He gives His only begotten Son. It is out of His eternal love that the plan of redemption is born. But we would be mistaken if we thought that the primary or the exclusive object of the love of God were the world or were the people whom He is pleased to redeem. It's certainly true that God loves us, and it's through His love that He has sent Christ, as John told us, to be a propitiation for our sin.

But the primary object of the Father's affection is the Son. And that's something that is often overlooked in our study of the Scriptures. And we need to draw our attention back to the many times that the New Testament speaks of the love of the Father for the Son.

Because though it's absolutely true that God loves us, we need to remember that He loves us in the Son. We are included in Christ and that the whole work of redemption is a work in which we are seen by the Father as belonging to the Son. And it's because of His great love for His Son that we are included in redemption. Let's look for a moment now at the second letter of the Apostle Peter in the first chapter beginning at verse 16. Here's what Peter said, for we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the excellent glory. This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

Now there's no doubt about what Peter is remembering here when he writes to his friends. He's referring back to the episode in the life of Jesus that took place very near the end of His earthly ministry where He had withdrawn from Jerusalem, had traveled north with His disciples. And after the Caesarea Philippi confession and just a few days later, He was transfigured on the Mount of Transfiguration in the very presence of Peter, James, and John, who were eyewitnesses of the appearance of Elijah and Moses with Him as the garments of Christ were transformed into this glowing, brilliant light that was lighter than the noonday sun. And the very appearance of Christ changed, and Peter wanted to build a booth and stay there forever, and they were overwhelmed with the sense of the glory and the majesty of Christ, where, as it were, the brilliance of His divine nature broke through the cloak of His human nature and was revealed before the eyes of His close disciples. And they heard the voice audibly from heaven where God was saying, this is my beloved, this is my beloved Son, the same voice that had spoken out loud at the time of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River when the dove descended visibly from heaven as a sign or symbol of the descent of the Holy Ghost to anoint Christ for His earthly ministry.

Again, the heavens opened, and the voice of God spoke audibly, this is my beloved Son. So we see in the New Testament the recurring theme of Jesus as the one who is beloved of the Father. In fact, the apostles see this as a natural consequence of the intimate relationship in the Godhead between the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. And yet at the same time, the Scriptures speak of God's love for us, an eternal love for us that is rooted and grounded in the Father's love for the Son.

This is not so clearly self-evident as the love of the Father is for the Son. And in fact, this love for us evokes apostolic astonishment by those in the New Testament who contemplate it. We see that again if we return to the first epistle of John where we heard the word that God is love. Earlier in the text in the third chapter of 1 John begins with these words, Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God. Therefore the world does not know us because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure. You notice the tone of astonishment and of amazement that John expresses here when he says, Beloved, what manner of love is this? What kind of love is this that we should be called the children of God?

He can't get over it. It's not something that he just takes for granted that anybody who's a creature by the Creator is automatically a child of God. He understands that to be counted a member of the family of God is a privilege that is granted by grace and by grace alone, and it is the greatest privilege that any mortal could ever experience. And again, the New Testament labors the point that our being called the children of God as an expression of the amazing and incredible love of God is rooted and grounded in our adoption. We are not by nature children of God. The Scripture labors the point that by nature we are children of wrath.

By nature we are children of Satan, but it's by adoption that we are then regarded the children of God. I think the greatest passage that articulates this is found in Paul's letter to the Romans in chapter 8, beginning in verse 9. In chapter 8 of Romans, beginning in verse 9, Paul says this, "'You are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.'" Now notice that what Paul has said earlier that by nature we are flesh.

We have none of the Spirit of God in us by our biological birth. But you are not, he says to the believers in Rome, in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, and he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Now here it comes. Therefore, brothers, we are debtors not to the flesh to live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live, for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. To be a son of God is not natural.

To be a son of God is supernatural. And no one who is unregenerate, no one who lacks the presence of the Holy Ghost in his soul is accorded the privilege of being a son of God. But all who are indwelt by the Spirit of God are numbered in the family of God. And he goes on to say this, for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God, for you did not receive the Spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father.

And the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children then heirs, heirs of God, join heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together. One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament that I think powerfully illustrates this principle of adoption has to do with the story of Mephibosheth. If you remember Mephibosheth, he was the lame son of Jonathan, who was lame in both legs. If you remember the uncommon love that David had for Jonathan and Jonathan had for David, Jonathan's love for David was so great that Jonathan was willing to give up his natural dynastic claim to the throne of his father, Saul, that David might be anointed king. And Saul pursued the life of David. Jonathan helped David escape.

So great was their bond of love between them. And then we read of that fateful battle where Saul is killed, and not only is Saul killed, but Jonathan is killed as well. And the message is brought back to David, and David cries, oh how the mighty are fallen.

And he says, tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Eschilon, lest the people of the enemies would rejoice in this destruction of his beloved friend. And the generals of David were so zealous to protect David from any interference of his coming to the throne that they slayed all of the relatives of the family of Saul to make sure there were no pretenders to the throne left. And in the midst of that, this lame son of Mephibosheth escaped.

His nurse carried him off. And David then sent out a decree asking the question, is anyone left from the house of Saul? Anyone less from the family of Jonathan? And he had his guards go through the nation, searching every nook and cranny, and they found the child Mephibosheth and brought him to the palace. And Mephibosheth was terrified because he thought he was being brought to David to be executed. And what did David do? He said to Mephibosheth, you are part of my household.

You will eat at the king's table every day. And he elevates Mephibosheth basically to royal status in his own empire. Why? Not because David had any love for Mephibosheth. He didn't even know Mephibosheth. But he honored Mephibosheth, and he rescued Mephibosheth, and he showered blessing upon blessing upon Mephibosheth.

Why? Because of his love for Jonathan. Because David loved Jonathan, he virtually adopted Mephibosheth to be a part of his house. And that's what God has done for us because of his love for Christ. He has adopted us into the royal family and has made us heirs with Christ, joint heirs with Christ, as God loves us because of Jesus. We are beloved of the Father because he's beloved of the Father, and we ought never to forget that. He is the one who is the apple of the Father's eye. And for his great love that the Father has for the Son, he gives gifts to his Son, which are you and me who are adopted into his family. What an incredible love that is, and what a privilege that we have been adopted into the family of God.

That was R.C. Sproul on this Tuesday edition of Renewing Your Mind from his series Loved by God. You can own this 11-part series when you give a donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org or when you call us at 800 435 4343. As our way of thanking you for your support, we'll send you the 11-part DVD and give you digital access for life to the messages and study guide. Better understand the holy love of God when you request your copy today at renewingyourmind.org. Would you like a daily reminder of each episode of Renewing Your Mind and a link to easily listen? Then I encourage you to simply visit renewingyourmind.org slash email and enter your email address and you'll hear from us every morning. Depending on your translation, the Old Testament often refers to the covenant love or loving kindness or the loyal love of God. And that'll be our topic tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-13 03:06:10 / 2024-02-13 03:14:25 / 8

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