Does God Love Us Because of Christ?
Does God love us because of Christ, that is, because of Christ's mediation between man and God? I've noticed that many Christians, even among the reformed, get this wrong. Some would immediately respond, "Yes, we who were under God's wrath are now under God's love because of what Christ did on the cross!" On the face of it this answer looks Biblical, but there is something vital that needs to be fixed -- replace the word "love" with "acceptance."
You see, the problem many have today is they equate love with acceptance. But there is a world of difference between these words. God's love leads to our acceptance before God, not vice versa. God does not love us because Christ died for us, Christ died for us because God loves us. I would gladly challenge anyone to provide me one Bible verse where it says God's LOVE for us is due to Christ's atonement. There isn't one. But you can find verses all over the Bible saying that our JUSTIFICATION is due to Christ's atonement.
Why then does God love? Well, what does the Bible say? Because "God IS love." God finds the reason for loving us in His own character. And since Christ has never ceased to be God, it would be absurd to suggest that God the Son loved us on earth, while God the Father hated us in heaven, until the Atonement was made. Another thing many get wrong today; God's love is not the opposite of God's WRATH, acceptance (justification) is! But unless we see Christ is ONE in mind and heart with God, we won't understand this.
In the Scriptures we find at least ten different hebrew/greek words which all are translated as "love" in english. While many understand each of those words carry THEIR OWN meaning, yet what is often failed to see is that each of those words must also have THEIR OWN opposite. Too often people make love n.1 the opposite of hatred n.2. Let me give you an example of this kind of error. Consider Luke 14:26,
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."
Here is not meant a hatred that works by selfishness and seeks to destroy, but rather a hatred that works by love and seeks to edify! It is a hatred against unrighteousness and love toward righteousness! Why would Jesus want us to do evil to others? This hatred cannot be about evil-doing, it must be for the good of others! And thus what this passage is actually saying is that we should LOVE our father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, and even ourselves, but of course, IN THE SENSE OF seeking the good of others (and ourselves)!
Okay, I think I made my point pretty clear. If you see a reason to criticise my thoughts, please do!
Attending a small congregation belonging to the United Methodist Church
"To doubt God's mercy because our faith is feeble, is rather to rely upon our faith than upon the Lord. It is not the excellency and great measure of faith that makes us righteous before God, but Christ whom faith does receive and apprehend: which a weak faith can do as well as the strongest." ~John Ball (Puritan)