Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How did the Father love his Son?

The joyful message of the Christian gospel is that God the Father will love the believer as he loves God the Son. Richard Sibbes continues in The Matchless Love & In-being to ask, what is that love like? 
Did the Father...
"....fence him from poverty, from disgrace, from persecution, from the sense of God's wrath? No. ..the first-begotten Son, the natural Son, he was persecuted as soon as he was born; he was disgraced, calumniated, slandered, and abused to death. He felt the wrath of God... We then may be in the love of God if we be no otherwise than the natural Son was, in whom the love of God was when he was at the worst. In the lowest degree of his abasement, God loved him then as much as at any other time, even when he was accompanied with the sense of the wrath of God. So, reject and beat back all temptations with this invincible argument: It is no otherwise with me than it was with his natural Son."
Which is to say, if I want to pray the Spirit's prayer "Abba Father", why would I expect to utter it outside the stresses of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed it too?
"Shall I desire to be loved differently than Christ was loved? God’s love to Christ did not exempt him from slander, from disgrace, from abasement, from the sense of his wrath. Yet he was always the Son of God; so, shall I doubt of my adoption? Shall I dishonour God? Shall I add this sin to the rest of my sins? Satan is wonderful prone to take these weapons, to sharpen them, as I said before, of sin, desertions, sometime of temptations and outward afflictions; and so he comes with his 'If,' 'If you were the Son of God, would he deal thus and thus with you?' It was always his course.
Why would we expect our lives to look different to that of the Son of God... (granted he came for a particular purpose, and very significantly he bore wrath so that I don't have to, nonetheless the life of the early church says suffering is pretty much the norm for those loved by God)....
"We must repel all such temptations. God loves us as he loves his Son, he chastises every son; and that God's love is not always and only manifested in exempting of us from these things. Let us measure God's love that he bears to us in Christ, by the best fruits of his love. What are those? A heart to seek him; to fear his name; love to his majesty; love to his children; delight in good things; hatred of that which is evil. None but his can esteem and value his love by these things. By these therefore, and the like peculiar marks and stamps of the Spirit that are in us, let us judge of his love, and not by any outward thing whatsoever; for all outward crosses whatsoever befell his own Son. And can we desire that he should love us otherwise than he loved him? We are predestined to be conformed to him, Rom. 8:29, and why should we refuse to be conformed to him in abasement, with whom we hope to be conformed in glory? Let faith therefore plead against all the suggestions of Satan and accusations of conscience."
This is no easy life. How do we live it?
"By faith in the word of God persuade we ourselves that we are in the love of God."
Previously Sibbes argued that faith is the apprehension of the love of God in Christ" therefore the focus of persuasion that we're in the love of God is in turning ourselves to the gospel, where we apprehend the love of God. Reasonably and worshipfully.

Feed your new heart upon the Son of God whom the Father reveals to us in the Spirit-inspired Scriptures. Behold him there in the gospel. Worship him. Enjoy him. Know him. Come into loving relationship with the Father by adoption into the Son.

Next question: How do we come to have the love of God in us?

18 comments:

  1. Hi Dave,

    Interesting! I wonder if you have overlooked the fact that Jesus had a special mission to suffer for our sins, which was the cause of some of what he suffered - a mission which his followers do not share?

    Thoughtfully,

    James

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The words are largely Sibbes not mine, but you're spot on that that is the one key difference.

    With that one (major) exception though I think it's fair to say he is our pattern too - the life of Jesus, like the early church is one marked by the love of the Father and often by suffering.

    Sibbes concern here is to say - we should very much experience the love of God (as shown in previous posts from The Matchless Love & In-being) but that doesn't mean we'll never face any hardships.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think that (through the love of God poured into our hearts via the baptism of the Holy Spirit) we can all experience something of this love, and that it is through knowing this love that we can boldly face the kinds of tribulations that the early church faced.

    I know very little about Sibbes and his work, except that he was a puritan and that Lloyd-Jones liked him. These two things are enough to convince me that he is probably well worth reading!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Baptism in the Spirit has to be an aspect of how we come to know the love of God, something we ought to have. You can feel the resonances in Lloyd-Jones with much that Sibbes writes. He's not easy to get hold of in book form, but I'm hoping to be able to post up stuff from his sermons as I read them, and there's some on Theology Network too.

    You're at Reading?

    ReplyDelete
  6. More thinking....

    Jesus faced extraordinary challenges to his belief in the love of God, but he had an advantage over believers in that he knew the Father perfectly.

    I guess that believers in great difficulties have to make a choice to believe what they have 'heard' about God in scripture, what they have 'seen' of God's work and faithful dealings in their lives, and the 'the love of God poured into our hearts' if they have ever discerned such an experience. This last bit is especially awkward for me as I can't ever recall such an experience personally. The gap between scripture and felt experience is an unresolved matter for me here!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jesus did know his Father perfectly, but so will we one day - and now we have a taste of that, because Jesus makes his Father known to us (as the text this sermon expounds states (Jn 17:26) Incomplete knowing but not absence of knowing.

    Sibbes argues that we can and ought to know the love of God in our lives I'll get on to unpacking "how" that works next week. His point essentially though would be to say you should expect to know the love of God, and in this sermon series he'd very much urge you on toward that.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yeah, I'm at Reading. I recently graduated in Maths and am starting a PGCE course in September. I also go to Wycliffe (Did you go there when you were staff worker at Reading? I'm sure Pete Lowman has mentioned you at least once.)

    I need to check out theology network more often, Mike Reeves' talk on the trinity is really good and Don Carson has a great talk on biblical interpretation there as well.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yeh I was at Wycliffe from 2000-2003, after I got married we moved to Arborfield Church. Pete Lowman is brilliant.

    On Theology Network, I'd particularly recommend the Transformission audios from our SW annual student conference - Reeves on The Glory of the Cross, The Word of God, Union with Christ. This year on Love of God on October 23rd.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Okay, I'll check them out. Pete Lowman IS brilliant :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Interesting post Bish
    I get where sibbes is going but I think he’s finding the wrong and winding road getting there, possibly mudding the water by seeing all suffering as little love notes from God rather than from say bad decisions.
    I think sibbes opening premise sounds so scriptural yet, like my nose, a slightly off to one side. God loves us THROUGH Jesus not AS Jesus. Else he would send us to hell as he sent Jesus. JN 15:9 Jesus said ‘As the father has loved me, so I loved you’ This love travels through Jesus thus through the wonderful cross. Like air passing through the kitchen, its still air just with a different scent. Leaving this out challenges the place of the atonement in our faith.
    Secondly, he appears to assume Gods love was the sole cause of all things happening to Jesus. Thus logically God lovingly made Jesus a man and a Jewish man at that (maybe he had a nose like mine?) therefore God will demonstrate His love for me by making me a Jewish man, silly I know but I like to be silly sometimes too. But seriously, if Gods love was the only variable Jesus should of embraced the storm and not told it to go to hell (my own emphasis Lol) Maybe I misunderstood what sibbes was saying, but I think being anything less than crystal clear on suffering can be problematic. Most the ‘suffering’ in my life has been through stupid and often sinful decisions, unless I see that most of my storms are self-created not from Gods love it will impede my repentance and development. Also until I can decipher if a storm of suffering is from natural causes, my creation, Gods discipline or from the bosom of Beelzebub I don’t know whether to change me, curse it or chase God through it.
    I love that he is kicking the cheap-grace, easy-believer, compromise to get on with everyone thinking in the teeth but it would be quicker and clear to go down the ‘no student is above his master’ route.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is obviously only part of his argument in a 10,000 word sermon... but I hear the need for treading carefully.

    I guess the strength is he's saying - don't think God loves you if you have abundance, and that he doesn't if you're suffering. Jesus suffered.

    He's working from a strong basis of our union with Christ - us dying with Christ and rising with him, and that supports some basis for us being loved and suffering, along with us being loved as he is loved.

    ReplyDelete
  13. hemm...sounds like an interesting read!!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi Rob,

    Your comment caught my eye...

    "Also until I can decipher if a storm of suffering is from natural causes, my creation, Gods discipline or from the bosom of Beelzebub..."

    I thought to myself: isn't is always all four? Suffering is never anything other than evil, comes through natural causes inc me, but behind that always stands the devil, but behind him God is always in control and turns everything for our good = our increasing Christlikeness. Besides, picking up on what you say about suffering caused by your decisions, much of God's discipline is handing us over to the results of our own sin and a taste of the devil's cruel rule in our lives (cf. Rom 1).

    Therefore, when you say "I don’t know whether to change me, curse it or chase God through it." I humbly submit you should do all three - in every single experience of suffering.

    ReplyDelete
  15. "God loves us THROUGH Jesus not AS Jesus"
    "‘no student is above his master’ "


    I think because Sibbes is so Trinitarian he'd argue that God loves us as the Father loves Jesus - (see this previous post in the series). We're not just loved through Jesus by the Father, but IN Jesus and therefore AS Jesus.

    And he'd probably say he is doing "no students is above his master" in Trinitarian terms... you either go, Father/Son or Husband/Bride - and his focus in this one is the Son revealing the love that the Father has for himself to the adopted people.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "Therefore, when you say "I don’t know whether to change me, curse it or chase God through it." I humbly submit you should do all three - in every single experience of suffering."

    Yeah... repent and rage and seek relationship with God.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Dave thanks for you comment. good thought food.
    firstly i concede that in all 'suffering' we should chase God whether it is due to our cause or not.
    But I still think the curse it or submit to it question is important. Jesus reacted differently to different suffering sometimes he healed sometimes he endured the cross sometimes he cursed the storm other times submitted to Pilot. I think it takes knowing God, His Spirit and His plan for your life to be able to know how to reacted.
    I think its possible (and I am not saying you personally have as i don't have the pleasure of knowing you) to focus too much on the issue of suffering joyfully and not balancing it out with the picture paul paints of us as soldiers reinforcing Gods Kingdom.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Dave Bish,
    interesting and i do like the Trinitarian view. although i still maintain the biblically I approach the Father through faith in Christ and specifically the covenant which he made with Jesus.
    but i understand that i am also In Christ and that is a good point.
    I guess i generally agree with what sibbes is saying its just that the fathers relationship with pre-cross Jesus the man was defined by the old covenant. But my relationship with the father is defined by the new covenant with better promised ect. through jesus and through the cross thus the' Jesus on earth - heavenly father' model of a relationship is, for me, not quiet actuate and i would take issue that i have to suffer the wrath of God - i think it just leaves out the whole concept of teh great exchange - "that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." (2 cor 8:9) and "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 cor 5:21)
    he may cover this in the book - though provoking stuff though!

    ReplyDelete