Found this…


Unconditional Love of God.
March 22, 2009, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Some food for today | Tags: , ,

First Piper and then a guy named David Powlison. Read ahead

John Piper:

There is such a thing as unconditional love in God, but it’s not what most people mean by it.

  • It’s not a saving love that he has for everybody. Else everybody would be saved, since they would not have to meet any conditions, not even faith. But Jesus said everybody is not saved (Matthew 25:46).
  • It’s not the love that justifies sinners since the Bible says we are justified by faith, and faith is a condition (Romans 5:1).
  • It’s not the love of working all things together for our good because Paul says that happens “to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).
  • It’s not the love of the most intimate fellowship with the Father because Jesus said, “He who loves me will be loved by my Father” (John 14:21). And James said, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
  • It’s not the love that will admit us into heaven when we die because John says, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). And faithfulness is a condition.

How then does God love unconditionally? Two ways (at least):

  1. He loves us with electing love unconditionally. “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world . . . for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4-5).

    He does not base this election on foreseeing our faith. On the contrary, our faith is the result of being chosen and appointed to believe, as Acts 13:48 says, “As many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

  2. He loves us with regenerating love before we meet any condition. The new birth is not God’s response to our meeting the condition of faith. On the contrary, the new birth enables us to believe.

    “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been [already!] born of God,” (1John 5:1). “[We] were born, not . . . of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).

Let us pray that thousands of people who speak of the unconditional love of God would discover the biblical meaning of what they say. If that happened many would find their feet on solid ground.

David Powlison:

He has an essay-turned-booklet, “God’s Love: Better Than Unconditional.”

Powlison suggests that people who use the term often have good intentions, wanting to affirm four interrelated truths:

  1. “Conditional love” is bad—unconditional is shorthand for the opposite of manipulation, demand, judgmentalism.
  2. God’s love is patient—unconditional is shorthand for hanging on for the long haul, rather than bailing out when the going gets rough.
  3. True love is God’s gift—unconditional is shorthand for unearned blessings, rather than legalism
  4. God receives you just as you are: sinful, suffering, confused—unconditional is shorthand for God’s invitation to rough, dirty, broken people

These are true—and precious. But Powlison offers several responses. (I can only summarize and paraphrase here—buy the booklet to see the arguments in full.)

First, Powlison suggests that “there are more biblical and vivid ways to capture each of the four truths just stated.” “People currently employ a somewhat vague, abstract word — unconditional — when the Bible gives us more vivid and specific words, metaphors, and stories.”

Second, it’s not true that unmerited grace is strictly unconditional. Jesus Christ opened a way for us to experience the biblical love of God by fulfilling two conditions: a life of perfect obedience to the moral will of God, and a perfect substitutionary death on our behalf. Powlison writes: “Unconditional love? No, something much better. People who now use the word unconditional often communicate an acceptance neutered of this detailed, Christ-specific truth.”

Third, God’s love is more than conditional, for it is intended to change those who receive it. “Unconditional” often connotes “you’re okay.” But there is something wrong with you. The word “unconditional” may well express the welcomeof God, but it does not well express the point of his welcome.

Fourth, “unconditional love” carries a load of cultural baggage, wedded to words like “tolerance, acceptance, affirmation, benign, okay,” and a philosophy that says love should not impose values, expectations, or beliefs on another. In fact, humanist psychology even has a term for it: “unconditional positive regard” (Carl Rogers).

Here is Powlison again:

We can do better. Saying “God’s love is unconditional love” is a bit like saying “The sun’s light at high noon is a flashlight in a blackout.” Come again? A dim bulb sustains certain analogies to the sun. Unconditional love does sustain certain analogies to God’s love. But why not start with the blazing sun rather than the flashlight? When you look closely, God’s love is very different from “unconditional positive regard,” the seedbed of contemporary notions of unconditional love. God does not accept me just as I am; He loves me despite how I am; He loves me just as Jesus is; He loves me enough to devote my life to renewing me in the image of Jesus. This love is much, much, much better than unconditional! Perhaps we could call it “contraconditional” love. Contrary to the conditions for knowing God’s blessing, He has blessed me because His Son fulfilled the conditions. Contrary to my due, He loves me. And now I can begin to change, not to earn love but because of love.

. . . You need something better than unconditional love. You need the crown of thorns. You need the touch of life to the dead son of the widow of Nain. You need the promise to the repentant thief. You need to know, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” You need forgiveness. You need a Vinedresser, a Shepherd, a Father, a Savior. You need to become like the one who loves you. You need the better love of Jesus.

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