Links Daily Devotional

Our Love and God’s Love, Part 2: God’s Senseless Love

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14, NIV)

Golfers know how to keep score. In fact, most of us have a good enough sense of how we’re playing that if the numbers “don’t add up” at the end, we’ll keep rechecking the card to make sure that everything is as it should be.

But here’s one equation that never makes sense: grace.

Let’s get academic for a minute. When we are faced with a problem of “analogical predication,” as derived by Thomas Aquinas in Question 13 of his Summa Theologiae, in which he warned of the danger of applying our human definitions for words to God (such as grace and love), because of the radical difference between us and God. We can understand this danger by simply looking at how finite and conditional our love is to others and ourselves.

God is love in his unchanging nature and his attributes of love trump all other expressions of love (1 John 4:8, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8). This makes for a wide chasm between what we come to experience as love in our human life, and what love is to a supernatural God. As an example, we can both see 2+2=4 with our eyes and comprehend it with our mind. But we might see 2+2=5 with our eyes, we cannot “comprehend” it with our mind. It doesn’t work. So it is with God’s love and grace. Though we “see” them in Scripture, we can only comprehend them by the Holy Spirit, through faith. Even though we see the words, it is through faith that we understand and receive such transcendent truth.

Conversely, here are two “equations” that make natural sense to us: punishment for our sins, and God withholding his favor because of our shortcomings. Grace has turned this all upside-down. With grace, Christ’s perfect record replaces our sinful record fully, so that we can live in the reality that Christ’s work meeting God’s standard = perfect love and acceptance. This equation is yours in Christ. Notice that God’s standard does not change or become lesser for us. It is God himself in Christ who came down to take the punishment for us, and lived up to that standard for us. He is a God who comes near, more than that; He is a God with us. And since God is eternal and never changes, we are assured of this for eternity (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8).

This idea is so contrary to our impulses and natural feelings that we are given extraordinary affirmations of this truth and approval through the Scriptures. Paul explained this in today’s passage, and he made similar statements in Romans 4:16 and 2 Corinthians 1:22 and 5:5. Using words like “seal” and “guarantee,” the apostle did all he could to convince his readers of what their minds struggled to comprehend.

Isabelle Beisiegel

July 16, 2013

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