This Week’s Focus Passage: Jeremiah 31:3 ‘Jehovah appeared of old unto me, Yea, I have loved thee wi
This Week’s Focus Passage: Jeremiah 31:3
‘Jehovah appeared of old unto me, Yea, I have loved thee with an
everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’
We are not able to forbear, including at the outset, a lengthy citation from the commentary on the book of Jeremiah, by that notable pastor and preacher, Dr. John Gill. Admitting the source of our information on the Doctor is from Wikipedia; nonetheless, we proceed with this brief sketch of his life and his Christian activities.
“John Gill (23 November 1697-14 October 1771) was an English Baptist in Kettering, Northhamptonshire, he attended Kettering Grammar School where he mastered the Latin classics and learned Greek by age 11. He continued self-study in everything from logic to Hebrew, his love for the latter remained throughout his life.
At the age of about 12, Gill heard a sermon from his pastor, William Wallis, on the text, “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9). The message stayed with Gill and eventually led to his conversion. It was not until six years later that he made public profession when 18.
In 1748, Gill was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity by the University of Aberdeen. He was a profound scholar and a prolific author.
John Gill was the first major writing Baptist theologian, his work retaining influence into the 21st century. Gill’s relationship with hyper-Calvinism in English Baptist life is matter of debate. Peter Toon has argued that Gill was himself a hyper-Calvinist, which would make Gill the father of Baptist Hyper-Calvinism. However, Tom Nettles and Timothy George have argued that Gill was not a hyper-Calvinist. Gill’s works are still highly regarded by Primitive Baptists and related groups.
John Gill’s comments upon the passage of Jer. 31:3; a focus verse, follow:
“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; not only of old, or a good while ago, but from all eternity, and with a love that will always last, and does, notwith-standing dark and afflictive providences; for this love is like himself, sovereign, unchangeable, and everlasting: I have loved thee; I, who am the great God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; a God of infinite purity and holiness; do whatever I please in heaven and in earth; and am the Lord that changes not: have loved; not love only now, and shall hereafter: but have loved, not for some time past only; but from all eternity, with the same love I do now; thee a transgressor from the womb, and know to be so beforehand; thee now openly, and in an applicatory way, through the evidence of the Spirit: with an everlasting love; a love from everlasting, which does not commence in time with faith, repentance, and new obedience; these being the fruits and effects of it; but was from all eternity, as 1appears from the eternal choice of the persons loved in Christ; from the everlasting covenant made with them in him; from the constitution and setting up of Christ as their Mediator from everlasting; and from the security of their persons and grace in him before the world began; and this love will endure to everlasting, without any variation or change; nothing can separate from it. The evidence of it follows: there-fore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee; out of a state of nature; out of Satan’s hands; out of the pit wherein is no water, the horrible pit, the mire and clay; unto Christ, His Person, blood, righteousness, and fulness, by faith to lay hold upon them; unto His church, and to a participation in the ordinances and privileges of it; to nearer communion with God, and at last will draw to eternal glory. This is the Father’s act, and to Him it is usually ascribed: it chiefly regards the work of conversion, and the influence of divine grace on that; though it also includes after-acts drawing: it supposes weakness in men; is the effect of powerful and efficacious grace; and is done without offering any violence or force to the will of man, who is drawn with, and not against his will. This is an instance of the love of God; a fruit and effect of it: it is love that draws a soul to Christ, and is the cause of its coming to Him; it is love that reveals Him to it; and causes it to come to Him; love is then manifested and shed abroad in the heart; a cord of it is let down into it, and with it the Lord draws; it is not by the threats of the law, but by the declarations of grace in the Gospel; the cause of drawing is love, and the manner of it is with it. The Targum of the whole verse is, “Jerusalem said, “of old the Lord appeared to our fathers, prophet, “say unto them, lo, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore have led you with goodness.” It may be rendered, I have drawn out, or, extended, lovingkindness to thee; see Psalm xxxvi. 10.”
Psalm 36:10, extols the same gracious realities; given the superscription: For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of Jehovah. And then reads: Oh continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee, and thy righteousness to the upright in heart. The excerpt, cited above, from Gill’s Commentary on the whole Bible, clearly demonstrates, it seems to us, the mind and heart of one the firmly held to a belief in the Absolute Sovereignty of God in all things. Many professors of religion, even true professors of Christianity have, not infrequently, charged those holding, with Gill, that belief. These folk hold to a teaching known as synergism, rather than monergism, namely, that salvation is a combined effort of God and man. It is believed, by these folk, that God cannot, or would not, demand something of men, that they are unable to do. In other words, when Christ, in preaching the gospel of the kingdom, said to His hearers, in John 8:24, I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, laying down His life for the salvation of His people, is absolutely required. And yet, this same Teacher, born in Bethlehem, has also informed them, in John 6:44, No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day. Jesus has commanded men to do something that they are unable to do, that is, apart from God. Many claim that God would be unrighteous if He demanded of us what is not possible for us to do.
Augustine famously declared, “And my whole hope is only in Thy exceeding great mercy. “Give what thou commandest, and command what thou wilt.” He demands faith in Christ; He is the Giver of faith in Christ, even as He promised in the New Covenant. Many holding on to the Sovereignty of God have been labeled as ‘Hyper-Calvinists,’ [what does that even mean?]. Having heard such denouncements against John Gill, in years past, from sources we thought worthy, we accepted them; now with regretful questions, regarding such. See Proverbs 18:13,17.
He that giveth answer before he heareth, It is folly and shame unto him, and, He that pleadeth his cause first seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him out.
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
More in This Week's Focus Passage
October 15, 2021This Week’s Focus Passage: John 6:44 ‘No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him
October 9, 2021This Week’s Focus Passage: Jeremiah 31:3 ‘Jehovah appeared of old unto me, Yea, I have loved thee wi
September 18, 2021This Week’s Focus Passage: Isaiah ‘For this is as the waters of Noah unto me.’