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GOD’S LOVE TO HIS PEOPLE
“Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that Thou bearest unto Thy people.” — Psalm 106, 4.
Here we have one of the prayers of the Psalmist. It is a very large prayer; the largest which a mere man ever offered up to God for himself. Some may ask for some particular blessing, such as reconciliation with God, pardon of sin, or other such blessings. But the Psalmist, taking a wide view of the favour, or love, of God, opens his mouth wide, to drink in of the infinite ocean of that love. The love of God is compared to a fire, that hath a most vehement flame. (Song. 8, 6). When you come home cold, how are you to get warm? By sitting near a big fire? The love of God is such a big fire that although you would be shivering and freezing with cold, if you get near it, you will soon get warm. It was when the Psalmist drew near to the love of God that he prayed: “Remember me, Lord, with that love which Thou bearest to Thine own.” In speaking from these words, as the Lord may enable me, I shall call your attention to four things: —
(i). The love of God.
(ii). The objects of His love.
(iii). The fruits of His love, and
(iv). The Prayer: “Remember me, with that love which Thou bearest to Thine own.”
(i). The Love of God
(1). We note that the love of God is everlasting. Without a break from eternity to eternity. As it is infinite we cannot get at the beginning of it; nor shall we see the end of it. It is like God Himself, from everlasting to everlasting; from the past eternity it runs on without a break through time and continues to all eternity. It cannot be broken. Did not the sin of man break it? If anything could break the love of God, sin would do it; but sin did not break it. God still loved His people, notwithstanding that they sinned; but, although sin did not break the love of God, it put a stop, for a short time, to its flowing forth to its objects. Before it could flow forth, a new way would require to be opened up, and that way was the way of blood — that is, the Blood of Christ. The blood sacrifice which Abel offered up was a type of the blood of Christ, and, as soon as this way by blood was opened, the love of God began to flow forth, and it continues to flow to its objects ever since, and shall continue to flow for ever and ever.
(2). The love of God is unchangeable. The love of His people to Him is, during their time in this world, changeable. It is like the sea that flows and ebbs; but the love of God is like Himself, who says: “I am Jehovah, I change not.” Did He love His people with unchangeable love, when they were unconverted? Yes, it was His love that surrounded them in their unconverted state, and protected them from death coming near them, till they were changed by His grace. There is such a thing in God as a love of complacency, and He did not then love His people with that kind of love; but He loved them with the love which is the source of salvation. The love which is the source of salvation sees nothing in sinners why God should love them. But, in the case of believers, there is something in them to draw forth a love of complacency, and that is His own image in them. With regard to this love of complacency, God loves some of His people more than others of them. Among men, parents love some of their children more than others of them, and although they love all their children, they love with a greater love those of them that are obedient to them, while they cannot love so much those that are disobedient.
(3). God loves freely. That is, you cannot buy or merit His love. Love is of such a nature that it cannot be bought. If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned” (Song. 8, 7). Did not Christ’s death buy God’s love? No. Christ’s death was not the cause of God’s love, but the effect of it, as Christ Himself told us: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” (John 3,16). If Christ did not buy God’s love, how can we expect to buy it? Although Christ did not buy the Father’s love, He, as already stated, opened up a way for it to flow forth to its objects.
(4). God’s love is sovereign. He loved some of the human race, and did not love the rest of them. This is a solemn thought, but it is a fact. He was not under any obligation to love any of the human race. He might have left them all to perish, as He left the angels that kept not their first estate. It depended upon His own sovereign will, and those whom He loved shall be under unspeakable obligations to Him for loving them, while He left others of their fellow creatures to perish in their sins.
(ii). The Objects of His Love
These, before their conversion, are known to God alone. They are unknown to men, and to angels,until they are effectually called, and, when they are effectually called, they are known not only by God’s people, but by the unconverted. “All that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.” (Isaiah 61, 9). In a certain parish in the Highlands there was a Godly man of the name, Little Lauchlan. A minister met a boy from the district in which that man lived. The minister asked the boy, “Are there good people in your district?” The boy said, “There is one good man there.” The minister asked, “Who is that man?” The boy answered, “Little Lauchlan.” (He was little in stature, but great in grace). The minister asked the boy, “How do you know that Little Lauchlan is a good man?” The boy said, “I see him every morning, when he sends his cattle to the hill, kneeling down to pray beside a dyke, before he returns home.” Then the minister asked him: “Are there good women in the district?” The boy said: “No.” The minister asked how he knew. The boy said that almost every day he heard them quarrelling among themselves. That boy, though not converted himself, could make a distinction between good and bad people. By their fruits they shall be known. Another mark by which they are known is that they love God, and their love to Him is the effect of His love to them; as they themselves declare: “We love Him because He first loved us,” and as God manifested His love to them in such a wonderful manner as to give His Son to be the propitiation for their sins, so they manifest their love to Him in keeping His Commandments. They are called, justified, adopted, and sanctified in this world. They love God’s word; His people, with brotherly love; and they love their fellow sinners, with compassionate love.
(iii). The Fruits of His Love
(1). One great fruit of God’s love is His eternal purpose of salvation. Although His purpose of salvation is as eternal as His love, we deem it proper to give the precedence to His love, because it is the great source from which salvation flows.
(2). Another great fruit of God’s love is the revelation which He has given us of His purpose. We have that revelation in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Although God purposed to save sinners of the human race, we would be ignorant of it, if He had not revealed it.
(3). Another great fruit — the greatest — is His sending His only begotten Son to the world, in our nature, to execute the Fathers’ purpose, and especially to work out everlasting redemption by his obedience unto death.
(4). The preaching of the Gospel, by means of which sinners are saved, is another precious fruit. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, whether Jew or Gentile.
(5). The gift of the Holy Spirit to convince and convert sinners, is another great fruit. The Gospel is a means, but the Spirit is an agent that works effectually by means of the word of the Gospel.
(6). Ministers of the Gospel are another fruit of God’s love. They are spoken of as gifts from God. The Psalmist, addressing Christ, regarding His ascension to heaven, says: “Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive: Thou hast received gifts for men: yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.” (Ps. 68, 18). The Apostle Paul speaks of ministers as a gift from God. He gave some, Apostles; and some, Prophets; and some, Evangelists; and some, Pastors and Teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4, 11–13). Gospel ministers are a gift from God, and a fruit of His love, howsoever much they are despised and persecuted in an evil age. The greatest preacher was despised and rejected of men. And he told the Apostles: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15, 20). But they count the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of this world.
(7). Divine chastisements are another fruit of God’s love, “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth … but if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons.” (Heb. 12,6–8).
(8). The means of grace are a fruit of His love. In New Testament times these means are few — the Word, the two sacraments, and prayer, all which are made effectual unto salvation to the elect.
(9). The fellowship of saints on earth is a fruit of God’s love, together with their fellowship and felicity throughout eternity.
(iv). The Prayer
“Remember me, O Lord, with the favour [or love] that Thou bearest unto Thy people.” The Psalmist would be quite content if God remembered him with the love which He bears to His people, for he was sure that that love would bring him to heaven. He would have nothing to do with the love of God, according to the Arminian view. According to that view some, yea many, whom God loved are lost in hell. Even Arminians admit this. According to their view the love of God is not everlasting, yet Scripture says it is. The Psalmist was made a partaker of God’s love before he uttered this prayer. But he felt his need of being remembered with that love again. For he was still imperfect, and poor and needy as all the Lord’s people are, during their time on earth, and, as all spiritual blessings flowed from that great love, there was room for this prayer.
In conclusion, some of you, who are the Lord’s people, may be in doubt as to whether God loved you or not; but if you cannot say that God loved you, you may say with the Psalmist: “Remember me with the favour [or love] that Thou bearest to Thy people.” And, even the unconverted may pray the same prayer, and, if you are sincere in uttering this prayer, you will use the next petition: “O visit me with Thy salvation.” The two petitions are intimately connected. God’s love is the efficient cause of salvation, and salvation is the effect of God’s love. As God is rich in mercy, so is He rich in love. The late Rev. Donald Macdonald, used to say, when speaking of God’s love:
“There are many tons of it in heaven.” He experienced what he said, for the Lord poured down into his soul a large quantity of that love from heaven. He often fainted under its weight, but, now in glory, he is full of it, and there is no room or need for this prayer in the place of perfect felicity. Although many professing people, and even ministers, speak of God’s love to the exclusion of His other attributes, they are as ignorant of it in their own experience as the moles which live under the earth. The Apostle John was so full of God’s love that he exclaimed in admiration:
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” (1 John iii, 1). The love of God, shed abroad in the heart, is the motive power which actuates His people to obey Him, and to serve Him, and to serve Him with their bodies, and spirits, which are His. (1 Cor. vi. 20). Amen.
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Bekijk de hele uitgave van dinsdag 1 juli 1969
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Bekijk de hele uitgave van dinsdag 1 juli 1969
The Banner of Truth | 20 Pagina's