Submitted by Prof. Renihan
Years ago I endured (I don’t know a better verb to use) a discourse (it wasn’t a sermon) in a chapel service I attended while far from home. The speaker declaimed on John 3:16, treating it as if it were the only inspired text, fallaciously universalizing the love of God.He is on record as an opponent of the doctrines of grace, and so I suppose that it wasn’t surprising that he would so badly misread that text (and all of Scripture for that matter).
In my devotional reading, I came across a far better and Scripturally balanced exposition of the love of God–quoted the other day. Here is more from Benjamin Beddome. It gives great comfort to read this after the previous experience. Commenting on Jesus’ words in John 16:27 “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me”. Beddome develops 2 points: “These words present to us 1st, an amiable character, and, 2nd, a distinguished privilege”. He begins the second point with these words:
The Father himself loveth you; he hateth the workers of iniquity, and is angry with the wicked every day. With the froward he shows himself froward; but he loves all them that are lovers of Christ. Nay, in another place it is said, he loves them with the same love with which he hath loved Christ. He loveth Christ as a son. ‘This is my beloved Son,’ says he; and so he loves them. He loved Christ in the midst of all his afflictions and tribulations; when he smote him, hid his face from him, and suffered earth and hell to unite their power against him. And thus he loves them. His love to Christ was practical, unchangeable, and everlasting; and so is his love to the saints. This was the great thing in which Christ gloried. ‘The Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things which himself doth.’ ‘Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world.’ And this is the greatest thing in which the saints have to glory. ‘Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he knoweth me, that I am the Lord, which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, for in these things I delight.’ The greatest thing that a man can say is that he loves God, and God loves him. Now, this love is either secret, which he hath to the elect in Christ before they are called by grace, (and is founded upon no merit in the object, being free, unmerited, unsought, and undesired,) or manifestative, which follows upon calling . . . .
These are true and wonderful words from the great English Baptist preacher. In these truths the saints may take great comfort. But more and more, I am convinced that we must denounce Pelagianism and Semi-pelagianism for what they really are: false and misleading errors, often even heresies plaguing the church.