Humbling Orthodoxy

The doctrine of God’s divine election of unworthy sinners is a humbling truth. Or to use Spurgeon’s words, “a sense of election causes a low opinion of self.” That is the bullet point under which the following quote from Spurgeon comes to us, as recorded in a sermon delivered on July 1, 1888:

Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth.

Why does God love me?

At some point every Christian has frankly evaluated their own sin and has stood amazed by the grace of God. This leads us to ask the question: Why would God send his pure and eternal Son to be smudged and murdered at the hands of vile sinners—for me? Or said more directly: Why does God love me?

The answer to this question is simple and profound.

In a sermon on John 3:16, Puritan Thomas Manton (1620–1677) answers the question this way—

Love is at the bottom of all. We may give a reason of other things, but we cannot give a reason of his love … Why did he make so much ado about a worthless creature, raised out of the dust of the ground at first, and has now disordered himself, and could be of no use to him? We have an answer at hand: Because he loved us. If you continue to ask, But why did he love us? We have no other answer but because he loved us, for beyond the first rise of things we cannot go. And the same reason is given by Moses, Deuteronomy 7:7–8: “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people; but because the Lord loved you…” That is, in short, he loved you because he loved you. All came from his free and undeserved mercy; higher we cannot go in seeking after the causes of what is done for our salvation.*

Similarly, in his devotional treasure, Light and Truth, Horatius Bonar’s (1808–1889) writes that God does not love us because of Christ’s work on the cross. Bonar writes—

This free love was not produced or purchased by Christ’s death. That love existed before in all its largeness and freeness. Christ’s death did not increase that love. It was wide as the heart of God, and could not be increased. Christ’s death did not make the sinner a more suitable object for that love. The sinner was loved before; and it was love to the sinner that made the Father send the Son: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” That love rested on the sinner before. His circumstances as a sinner, so far from quenching God’s love to him as a creature, increased it; for they added all the amount of misery, and gloom, and exposure to eternal ruin, which called up that profound and unutterable compassion which a father feels toward a prodigal child that has ruined himself. Nothing in us, nothing in the world, nothing in heaven or earth, nothing in man or angel produced the love of God. It was uncreated, unbought, undeserved, and unfathomable. God loved the sinner because He was God, and because the sinner was a sinner. That is the end of the matter.**

God loves you because he loves you.

This is a simple question with a profound answer.

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* Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton (Solid Ground, 2008), 2:340-341
** Horatius Bonar, Light and Truth (Dust and Ashes, 2002), 3:12

God’s Love

In a sermon on John 3:16 (“God so loved, that he gave…”), Puritan Thomas Manton makes the following point on God’s indescribable love towards sinners in sending His Son:

“Love is at the bottom of all. We may give a reason of other things, but we cannot give a reason of his love. God showed his wisdom, power, justice, and holiness in our redemption by Christ. If you ask why he made so much ado about a worthless creature, raised out of the dust of the ground at first, and had now disordered himself, and could be of no use to him, we have an answer at hand: Because he loved us. If you continue to ask, But why did he love us? We have no other answer but because he loved us; for beyond the first rise of things we cannot go. And the same reason is given by Moses, Deuteronomy 7:7–8: ‘The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people; but because the Lord loved you…’ That is, in short, he loved you because he loved you. All came from his free and undeserved mercy; higher we cannot go in seeking after the causes of what is done for our salvation.”

–Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 2:340–341.