The Perfect Bloody Antidote To Valentine’s Day

(This is a “Valentine’s Day” re-post from the late great blog “Enabled by God.” May she RIP)

The more I study the scriptures I have had memorized since VBS, the more I am convinced of my ignorance of them. In my adult life I have often been guilty of neglecting the Sunday school stories of old: Noah and the Ark, Moses and the Red Sea, Jonah and the Whale, etc. This apathetic attitude overflows into the New Testament Scriptures too. My neglect is displayed specifically in what is probably the most celebrated verse in modern time: John 3:16. Sure, I can quote it frontwards and backwards and say all the doctrinally correct things about it, but rarely does this verse resonate deeply while striking me at the core.

You may feel the same way. But we are in jeopardy of neglecting a multifaceted jewel that should leave us awestruck, not smugly content. We should not approach John 3:16 lightly, as Spurgeon said, “like children, playing marbles with God’s diamonds.”

“For God so loved….”

We can never get over that truth. We can never “get past it” and on to deeper more substantial matters. If we believe we can God have mercy on our souls. There is still an untouched uncharted ocean that still dwells within John 3:16. This love that God loves with is an “agapao” love, or the highest form of love. It is the most emphatic love one can express. It’s not just that God loved the world, it is that he intensely loved the world. And the force of the word is coupled with way he loved (so loved), literally meaning, “God intensely loved the world in this way….”

God is a God who loves. That means He feels. He knows devotion. He knows affection. He knows heartache. He has emotions. Stop reading, turn the computer off, and let that settle within your soul. The transcendent One is an emotional being. Though human emotional makeup is so twisted with sin and prone to instability, we have emotions only because our gracious Originator had them first. And it is He who has granted them to us.

The Father is neither stoic nor unstable with His emotions. God’s emotions are perfect. His love is a perfect love (1 John 4:18). His hatred is a perfect hatred (Psalm 5:5). He even possesses a perfect jealousy (Exodus 34:14). When He loves, He does it with a precise intensity and purpose. He’s not a distant watchmaker or some general taskmaster living in a cloud of unknowing. He burns with perfect passion. He delights to love; and He delights to manifest this love to the world.

“For God so loved the world…”

This love was meant for the world. Not for Jews only, or Americans only, or the Reformed only. There are some intriguing ways to break down the word “world” here, which in the Greek is “Kosmon.” It could mean just the elect from all over the world (particular view), or it may mean every man, woman or child who ever lived on earth (most common view). A compelling article on the biblical usage of “Kosmon” can be found here. For now, lets take “world” in its most ordinary sense. That would mean the world God loves with such intensity is the great totality of fallen mankind. It’s incredibly provocative that a holy God would love such ones. It’s compelling because the great totality of fallen mankind is one mired and twisted mass of unlovables. If we seriously doubt this then just glance at the evening news, supermarket tabloids, or bathroom mirror sometime.

“For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son….”

This is a love grounded in action. For an infinitely less significant analogy imagine this: You are a powerful King and you beckon your only son and heir of your throne for a mission. You tell him this:

“There is something I want you to do for me: I have some enemies that deserve to die, and I want you to go and die in their place, so that they can have eternal life and inherit my kingdom.”

That’s what the Father and Son did at the cross; and incalculably more than that times a million millions.

We dwell too little on how undeserving we are of such a divine arrangement. My son would stay home safely in my arms forever before I would ever imagine sending him to die for even a thousand martyrs or missionaries. But the Father’s love was too great. God sends his son to die not for the righteous, but the blatantly unrighteous. His love is altogether not like any we have experienced. There is no category for this love in the human realm of categorizing.

This is one reason of many that universalism is a fatal and foolish heresy. A god who saves everyone regardless of unrepentant rebellion doesn’t need to send His own Son to atone for sins. If you are an atheist, Muslim, cultist, or open blasphemer of God it matters not to the universalist. This god saves all regardless of righteousness. But it cost this god nothing to save hell deserving sinners. As a result, this god is worse than worthless. He not only fails to give anything real in grace he also fails to judge anyone in righteousness.  It costs the false god of universalism/sentimentalism nothing to love humans. But the true God’s love is grounded in a decisive sacrificial act, not just a thoughtful feeling.

The love of God is not some theoretical sentimental feeling like butterflies, twinkling eyes, and fluttering heartbeats. God the Father looked at his perfect, precious Son in one hand, and the mass of wretched wicked unredeemed humanity in the other, and he literally crushed the blessed Son with His hand of wrath meant for us (Isaiah 53:10). This was the blessed eternally begotten Son, ripped from the bosom of the Father to endure an agonizing hell for mankind. This was a Father giving. But this was also a Father sending (John 3:17). The giving was not a giving over to, but a sending with a specific mission granted in eternity past. The Son came to die. And He laid down His life on His own accord (John 10:18).

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

All the groups and categories we place people in on earth are futile in eternity. It may be red state or blue state, black or white, male or female, or any other temporary niche one may find themselves in. In reality, there are essentially only two enduring groups: Those who will eternally perish and those who will eternally live. Simply, those who acquire God’s deserving wrath and those who acquire God’s undeserving mercy.  Where we fall between those two groups is the only question that will matter in one hundred years.

We are not left to our own devices. God graciously provides a means for us to accomplish His eternally good end. The God who loves and gave lavishly out of that love says, “Believe in Me. Trust in me. Put your faith in Me.”

There is much that the word “believe” entails.  It is a type of believing that perseveres for Christ. It is a type of trusting that exalts in Christ. It is a type of faith that knows the dead heart can only be raised with Christ. And part of that believing is a repenting before Christ.

Maybe repentance is the gift you and I really need this Valentine’s Day.

Repenting of chasing lesser lovers because I believe Christ is not sufficient for all my needs.

Repenting of allowing a fallen culture to tell me singleness is the same as aloneness.

Repenting of my part in contributing to the commercialization and plundering of the word “love” in society.

Repenting of believing God’s love is a reflection of human love and not the other way around.

Repenting because the love of God set forth in John 3:16 has been memorized by me, but has not yet been fully realized in me.

The best gift we can get this Valentine’s Day is not cards, roses, fancy dinners, kisses or even companionship. The world says love looks like a good-looking young couple, dressed to the hilt, holding hands, giggling, and exchanging flirtatious glances with one another. God says love looks like a single Jewish man, stripped and forsaken, beaten beyond recognition, and scorned by all, even by his own Father. Do we desire the former love over the latter? May God grant us the gift of repentance if we do (2 Timothy 2:25).

And may we again return to the precious stones of our childhood, where the lost can become found all over again.

Bryan Daniels

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

23 thoughts on “The Perfect Bloody Antidote To Valentine’s Day”

  1. I appreciate your article, but nevertheless wanted to comment on one particular section whereby you state:

    “This love was meant for the world. Not for Jews only, or Americans only, or the Reformed only. There are some intriguing ways to break down the word “world” here, which in the Greek is “Kosmon.” It could mean just the elect from all over the world (particular view), or it may mean every man, woman or child who ever lived on earth (most common view). A compelling article on the biblical usage of “Kosmon” can be found here. For now, lets take “world” in its most ordinary sense. That would mean the world God loves with such intensity is the great totality of fallen mankind. It’s incredibly provocative that a holy God would love such ones. It’s compelling because the great totality of fallen mankind is one mired and twisted mass of unlovables. If we seriously doubt this then just glance at the evening news, supermarket tabloids, or bathroom mirror sometime.”

    We are to take the word ‘world’ in it’s ordinary sense, but are never to interpret a word out of context of the sentence or the context of the chapter or the context of the whole of God’s revealed revelation. (This is where many commit eisegesis because they result to word studies instead of understanding the sentence in the context of what is being said)

    Therefore looking at the discussion Jesus is having, we see that the word ‘world’ does not mean necessarily the totality of all of fallen mankind. We instead see Christ speaking to Nicodemus, who was a Jew and thought that they only had God’s special favour, and telling him that God loved all nations in general and not just the Jews.

    We have to realize that the scriptures always contrast between the righteous and the wicked. God loves his elect but hateth the workers of iniquity Psalm 5:5 and thus this included Esua.

    1. I’m really not against your interpretation reformedweb. Did you go to the linked AW Pink article? It confirms what you said and what I tend to believe in most cases of “world” in Scripture. I guess what I would be saying is if you take the common general meaning (or the more particular one) a perfect God is still loving an imperfect fallen people. At the same I think there could be a way to display God’s love and benefits of the cross for the “world” in general. What amazing earthly good (charities, abolition, hospitals) God has done through his church for even the non-elect who hate him.

      1. Thank you for that clarification. I to would agree that there is a general love of God towards every man in particular, in that the benefits of the atonement have reached out into all the world. Including, as you said, hospitals, charities, missionaries, etc…..

        God bless.

  2. “This god saves all regardless of righteousness. But it cost this god nothing to save hell deserving sinners. As a result, this god is worse than worthless. He not only fails to give anything real in grace he also fails to judge anyone in righteousness….

    The love of God is not some theoretical sentimental feeling like butterflies, twinkling eyes, and fluttering heartbeats. God the Father looked at his perfect, precious Son in one hand, and the mass of wretched wicked unredeemed humanity in the other, and he literally crushed the blessed Son with His hand of wrath meant for us (Isaiah 53:10). ”

    These two thoughts alone you gave are flooring.

    thanks

  3. amen–plumbing the depths of that love and the cost will take a lifetime and then eternity in glory to begin to understand. my humanity limits how much i can grasp of the love and its ultimate price…to say i understand it now is not really true–i am merely growing in my understanding as that love is faithfully poured into my life–thank you for the post–really wonderful thoughts.

  4. I must say that I liked your post.. I also enjoy’d the comments… Praise the Lord my friend..always enjoy reading your articles… Many blessings.. Bro Pat.

  5. “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself”, “God is not a man” and again “To whom will ye liken ME”? And many more Scriptures like these remind us time and again that the God we are dealing with and His ways are EVER DIFFERENT AND FAR GLORIOUS THAN MAN’S!

    The matter of pardon is no different! The considerations which induce a HUMAN executive to pardon are totally different from those which move the DIVINE-and here God and man stand in marked and diametrical opposition one to the other. HOW GREAT THE CONTRAST!

    “There is nothing in the pardon of a HUMAN government to sustain the majesty of law, and to meet the claims of equity. No attempt is made to harmonize the claims of RIGHTEOUSNESS with the pleadings of mercy; to reconcile the act of pardon with the demands of holiness. No atonement is made, no satisfaction is offered, no penalty is executed; the law is dishonored, justice is outraged, and the government from where the act emanates is weakened, and its authority lowered in the eyes of the nation; IN A WORD, THE CRIMINAL IS PARDONED, AND THE CRIME IS CONDONED!

    Contrast this with the Divine pardon of sin. God rests His plan of forgiveness upon a basis which magnifies the law, whose violation He pardons; which executes the sentence, while He remits the penalty; which strengthens the government and lends luster to its administration, while He spares the sinner who has ignored its authority and rebelled against its commands.

    God thus takes the matter of ‘satisfaction of justice’ in His own hands- assumes the responsibility, arranges the preliminaries, and bears the entire cost of the plan- a cost which the infinite resources of Deity alone could meet. It will at once be seen that the great problem of His moral government which He engaged to solve (and He solved it)- was the HARMONY OF THE RESPECTIVE CLAIMS OF JUSTICE AND MERCY, OF PARDON AND HOLINESS, THE DIGNITY OF THE OFFENDED GOVERNMENT WITH THE FORGIVENESS OF THE OFFENDER. To adjust these conflicting interests, and to harmonize their jarring attributes, was the great work in which Deity embarked- a work in all respects WORTHY OF GOD.

    And WHAT HUMAN GOVERNMENT pardons the criminal at SO VAST A COST AND SO GREAT A SACRIFICE TO HIMSELF AS GOD DOES? The process is facile and quick. It is but a word, a signature, and the criminal is pardoned, and his life is spared. But, at what a cost and by what a sacrifice does God pardon the guilt of sin and justify the person of the sinner! He “spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all.” “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” How vast the cost! How IMMEASURABLE THE SACRIFICE! “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” It cost God the surrender of His own dear Son, sent into the world poor, despised, and insulted, and at last to endure on the cross the indescribable tortures of a condemned malefactor, the ignominious death of a Roman slave”. [Octavius Winslow]

    “WHO IS A GOD LIKE UNTO THEE?” Hallelujah!

  6. This kind of love is certainly not easy to understand…or sometimes even easy to believe because it’s so outrageous! But aren’t we glad that He loves us like this?

    Really like your blog! And thanks for stopping by to read mine. Your “likes” were important to a newbie like me!

  7. I agree completely. Knowing the agape love of God SHOULD motivate us to give, repent of our selfish desires and tendencies, and seek to be more like God’s character formed in us. Great post!

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