POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

Week 6 – Chapter 12 – God is Love

For the love of God floods our hearts – such is Packer’s paraphrase of Romans 5:5 – that the overarching love of God continually overwhelms and saturates the hearts of his children. Packer says this is the normal state of affairs of the Christian and revival is the work of God which restores this to the hearts of the church. [Brief tangent - Yesterday I was listening to a message on the Rise and Fall of the Evangelical Mind which had much to say about revival – mainly in discussion of the First and Second Great Awakenings, its methods etc. Let's say I think Jonathan Edwards' view of revival is more accurate than that of Charles Finney] God is Love – what are we to take this to mean? God is tolerant? God loves everything and all things? Packer begins the chapter to make certain the Love of God is understood as the love of God. The God who is the creator of the world, the judge in the flood, who called Abraham, who chastised his people by conquering captors…etc. The God who is love certainly can be and is a judge of the wicked. Packer makes this clear as he begins… Packer’s discussion of God being “Love” takes him first into parallel grammatical constructions in the apostle John’s writings…

God is Spirit God is noncorporeal (without a physical body), he is simple (no parts) and he is without passions which change on whim (qualified impassibility). I must confess that I love this kind of thing – clarity of definitions, about the most glorious of subjects. If God is without change, without body, with parts or division in himself, if he doesn’t float from emotional whim to whim than it is certain that his love is constant, his love is consistent with his other attributes, and his purpose in his love is not, as Packer says, fitful or fluctuating (Packer, 121) God is Light God’s is light – God is holy, altogether pure. This means that God’s love is a holy and fierce love. He does not love sin, and he seeks actively the holiness of those he loves. God is Love Just as God’s spirituality guarantees us certain things, and his light guarantees his actions are always holy – so too does “God is Love” guarantee that God, in all that he does, is loving. All things he is doing to and for his beloved are acts of love. Indeed, he does work all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Packer ends this chapter with a noble effort to give definition for the love of God. His effort, in my opinion succeeds mightily, with only a few questions left standing in my mind:

  1. God’s love is an exercise of his goodness – he exercise his goodness towards his creatures…
  2. God’s love is an exercise of his goodness towards sinners – grace and mercy to the unworthy – by his own Sovereign choice…
  3. God’s love is an exercise of his goodness towards individual sinners – yes, thank God, even us.
  4. God’s love for sinners involves him identifying himself with their welfare – here is where I had a question. Packer writes “He has in effect resolved that henceforth for all eternity his happiness shall be conditional upon ours” I think that I would choose other language to better express what Packer actually says in this section. God’s happiness is always pure and perfect, and he is not sad until our complete happiness is brought about. Perhaps his happiness is related to ours in that our happiness is guaranteed by him. So, God is not temporally unfulfilled until we are brought to complete and full beatification in Him…but his happiness is intricately and volitionally tied with our own. He is committed to it – it is part of his happiness – but not the sum or essence of it.
  5. God’s love for sinners was expressed by the gift of his Son to be their Savior – Oh, how wonderful the riches of the love of God – oh, how I forget so easily what this means.
  6. God’s love for sinners reaches its objective as it brings them to know and enjoy him in a covenantal relationship
Joy in him, joy in the intimate knowledge of God – this is God’s love to us – not that he makes much of us, but that he grants us the joy of knowing and making much of Him for his glory. Oh to know the infinite riches of grace, mercy and yes…the infinite love of our Father. I was simply broken and humbled by the reflective questions – the only answers I have as to why I am not more satisfied with Him is that I am an obstinate sinner, and as such, in need of his grace – every single day. Out…