This Week's Focus Passage

The Love of God

This Week’s Focus Passage: Mark 10:21

‘And Jesus looking upon him loved him.’

Much is made of the love of God, even to the discountenancing of the multitude of our God’s other perfections, or attributes. We could anticipate a response such as ‘how is it possible to make too much of the love of God?’ We readily sympathize with that response. Yea, how is it possible to make too much of any of the blessed perfections of our God? Nevertheless, we are aware, not only of the possibility but of the actuality, of an imbalance toward one attribute at the expense of others, or of another blessed attribute. For many years now; centuries, there has been an imbalanced attention riveted upon the love of God, almost to the exclusion of the totality of His many glorious attributes. The proponents of this extreme emphasis toward the ‘God is love’ theme, of course, migrate immediately to the Scripture references in John’s first epistle, chapter four and verses 8 and 16, where, of course, the Holy Spirit has inspired the beloved apostle to pen these exact words that, indeed, God is love. Now we know that John never intended this glorious and profoundly true statement to be emphasized to the exclusion of any of the other perfections of God. John’s intention, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, was to inculcate the reality that the love of God received will naturally, or should we say super-naturally, induce believers to love one another. This is how it will be found when the context is taken into consideration, and not left out. It is clear what John intended when verses 8 through 11 are kept in the context:

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

It seems that the Scripture for our focus passage this week has also suffered under the exaggerated impression that God loves all persons equally; that He loved this young man even though the young man would not relinquish his worldly goods to follow the Christ. Even Arthur W. Pink seems to have misjudged this passage. This extremely helpful expositor of the Word of God—not infrequently having been labeled a hyper-Calvinist by his detractors—held the view that this young man must have come back at some point in unrecorded history to embrace Christ as his Lord and Savior, based upon the fact that ‘Jesus looking on him loved him.’ The suggestion is that God, or Christ the God-man for that matter, could not in any way love an individual that did not love Him. Perhaps many are led to think in this way because they have brought God down to man’s level, whether they are able to realize or not that they have done so. It seems that they imagine that because men are not prone to love someone who doesn’t love them, that God is not able to accomplish that either. God’s incredibly great attributes are limited by thoughts of men’s puny attributes.

We have no way of knowing whether this young man ever returned at some later time and became a follower of Christ or not. We don’t know because we are not told, and what God does not tell us we cannot know. But the point is not whether he returned or not; the point is whether the fact that ‘Jesus looking on him loved him’ determines that he certainly must have returned and embraced the Savior of the World. The Scriptures employ the word ‘love’ 306 times in both the Older and Newer Testaments. They employ the word ‘holy’ 563 times; nearly twice as often as ‘love.’ Indeed, God is holy. He cannot lie. ‘He is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look upon iniquity,’ Habakkuk 1:13. When Jesus the Son of God began preaching, He began by saying, ‘Repent ye, and believe in the gospel,’ Mark 1:15. This perfectly holy One cannot savingly love one who will not repent and believe in the gospel. We distinguish between a saving love and the general love that God has for His creatures. Jesus indeed has taught us in what is commonly called His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ that we are to behave as sons of our Father who is in heaven. He said in Matthew 5:43-48:

Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.

This is how God loves all men; He showers them with sunshine and rain: He does them good. Is this not the way we are to love our neighbor and be ‘sons of your Father who is in heaven;’ to do them good when it is in our hand so to do? When we see a neighbor with a need, and offer assistance in whatever way we may be able to assist, are we not imitating our Father doing good to all men? If another in the image of God suffers a breakdown with his automobile on the road, and we stop to help, are we not ‘making sun’ and ‘sending rain’ on the evil and the good?

This is how we are to show love to our fellow man; when it is in our hand to do good for them, to do it. Paul speaks of this in his epistle to the Church in Galatia, ‘So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of faith.’ 6:10. This is perfectly analogous to demonstrating the love of God even as God Himself does so demonstrate that love. He is good to all men though they are not good to Him. He does good to all men though they hate Him; hate His Word; hate His people, and will not ‘have this man to rule over’ them. Yet God does not keep from them the sun or the rain; He blesses them with these primary needs; He shows love.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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