Continuing in The Matchless Love and In-being, Sibbes observes:
1. Outward abundance, goodness and gifting are no sign of God's love.
"God fills their bellies with abundance of outward things, whose hearts he never fills with his love... plenty in outward things, accompanied with [God's] patience, is no true sign of God's love... The way, therefore, to bring those that have not the love of God to love God, is to show them their vain confidence."
2. Does my sin exclude me from the love of God?
"...in the gospel, this is not put as a bar of God's love, that I am a sinner, that I have committed any degree of sin whatsoever.
None are shut out but those that will be as they are... There is hope for you. He keeps open house for every one.
He shuts out none but those that shut out themselves, that think these things are too good to be true, and therefore will enjoy their pleasures, and go on still and daub with their conscience.
But if their hearts are awakened, if they will go to God and cast themselves upon his mercy, whosoever is weary, whoever is thirsty, whoever is heavy laden, God is no accepter of persons, but at ' what time any sinner whatsoever repents of any sin whatever,' God will show mercy, if he come in and accept of the proclamation of pardon, Ezek. 28:22. If he come in, and will not continue in his rebellion still, but cast himself upon his mercy, and resign, and yield himself to God and to Christ's government, to be ruled by him, as a subject should be, he shall find mercy."
3. How can a struggling believer be persuaded of the love of God?
Know that Satan comes with accusation for sin:
"...they should not be discouraged. We have many examples in Scripture:
'If we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Christ Jesus,' etc., 1 John 2:1; and he is the propitiation for our sins.
We ought not, therefore, to be discouraged from going to God, humbled as we ought to be. Here is place for humiliation, but there is no place for base discouragement, and calling God's love into question...
Shall he run away from God? No. A bastard, a slave, will [run away from God]; but [a son] runs to God.
Even as a child, when he has offended his father, does not run away from him; but, knowing that his father is merciful and loving, though he have offended him, and that he is now a son, though under his wrath, he goes and studies to appease his father, casts himself upon his favour and mercy, and will endure his correction gently... we run deeper and deeper into God's books...
Oh come in quickly and repent. It will be easier. Your comfort will be stronger. God will be sooner pacified. Your heart will not be so hardened. Do not call in question God's love to you "
Know that Satan comes with "if":
"Satan does use as a weapon, to shake our sonship or adoption, and our estate in God's love, manifold temptations and crosses, and such like, to discourage us. He comes with ' If.'
'If you were in the love of God, and the love of God in you, and did belong to you any way, would God follow you thus and thus, with these declarations of wrath and anger?'
I answer, A man may retort that upon Satan the tempter, and upon his own heart....Every child God corrects; and for poverty, shame, and the like, we must not measure God's love by these, for God loves us as he loved Christ."
Next question: How did the Father love his Son?