Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How deep the Father's love for us

I'm still slowly reading Packer's In My Place Condemned He Stood and I recently came across a section which I think speaks well to an unfortunate error that is often made by people trying to grasp what happened when Jesus died. Instead of writing a big intro I'm just going to quote Packer and then leave you with a quote from John Owen which I think also goes well with with this passage. Packer writes:
It was not man, to whom God was hostile, who took the initiative to make God friendly, nor was it Jesus Christ, the eternal Son, who took the initiative to turn his Father's wrath against us into love. The idea that the kind Son changed the mind of his unkind Father by offering himself in place of sinful man is no part of the gospel message - it is a sub-Christian, indeed an anti-Christian, idea, for it denies the unity of will in the Father and the Son and so in reality falls back into polytheism, asking us to believe in two different gods.
Packer then quotes John Murray writing:
The doctrine of the propitiation is precisely this: that God loved the objects of His wrath so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of His wrath. It was Christ's so to deal with the wrath that the loved would no longer be the objects of wrath, and love would achieve its aim of making the children of wrath the children of God's good pleasure.
Here's John Owen on the Father's love:
First, then, this is a duty wherein it is most evident that Christians are but little exercised — namely, in holding immediate communion with the Father in love. Unacquaintedness with our mercies, our privileges, is our sin as well as our trouble. We hearken not to the voice of the Spirit which is given unto us, “that we may know the things that are freely bestowed on us of God” (1 Cor. 2:12). This makes us go heavily, when we might rejoice; and to be weak, where we might be strong in the Lord. How few of the saints are experimentally acquainted with this privilege of holding immediate communion with the Father in love! With what anxious, doubtful thoughts do they look upon him! What fears, what questioning are there, of his goodwill and kindness! At the best, many think there is no sweetness at all in him toward us, but what is purchased at the high price of the blood of Jesus. It is true: that alone is the way of communication; but the free fountain and spring of all is in the bosom of the Father. “Eternal life was with the Father, and is manifested unto us.” (1 John 1:2). Let us, then—

Eye the Father as love; look not on him as an always lowering father, but as one most kind and tender. Let us look on him by faith, as one that has had thoughts of kindness toward us from everlasting. It is misapprehension of God that makes any [to] run from him, who have the least breathing wrought in them after him. “They that know you will put their trust in you” [Ps. 9:10]. Men cannot abide with God in spiritual meditations. He loses soul’s company by their want of this insight into his love. They fix their thoughts only on his terrible majesty, severity, and greatness; and so their spirits are not endeared. Would a soul continually eye his everlasting tenderness and compassion, his thoughts of kindness that have been from of old, his present gracious acceptance, [then] it could not bear an hour’s absence from him; whereas now, perhaps, it cannot watch with him one hour.

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