Why God’s Love is an Immutable Love

Magazine is titled The Immutability of God. The following is an excerpt from Paul Smalley’s article, Why God’s Love is an Immutable Love. Paul M. Smalley (ThM, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) is faculty teaching assistant to Joel Beeke at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is the co-author of Reformed Systematic Theology, Volume 1: Revelation and God.


God has a general love for all his creations (Ps. 145:9), but when we speak of God’s unchanging love, we do not mean that God accepts all people (John 3:18, 36), or that he has unlimited patience with the unrepentant (Rom. 2:4–5). The Lord can withdraw the mercies of his general love (Isa. 9:17; Ezek. 7:4, 9; Hos. 9:15), and send sinners to hell forever (Matt. 25:41, 46).

We also should understand that God’s love for his elect people is not eternal justification, or indifference toward our faith and obedience. As long as people remain in unbelief they are “children of wrath”; even if God chose them before he created the world, their spiritual state is the same as “the rest of mankind” (Eph. 1:4; 2:3). Furthermore, the Lord Jesus said that when we love God and keep his commandments, he has pleasure in our works with what theologians call his love of “complacency” or delight (John 14:21, 23; Heb. 13:21).

What do we mean, then, by God’s unchanging love? God has an infinite, eternal, unconditional love for his chosen people in Christ. His love is infinite, greater than we can measure or understand (Ps. 103:11; Eph. 3:19), which God demonstrated by giving the gift of infinite value: “his only begotten Son” (John 3:16 KJV). His love is eternal (Ps. 103:15–17). His love is unconditional, giving the best good to those who do not deserve the least good (Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:4–5; 1 John 4:10). John Owen said that God’s love always comes first: “It goes not only before our love, but also anything in us that is lovely”; he loves us “not because we are better than others, but because [he] himself is infinitely good.”[1] God loves his chosen people with an ardent, unchanging kindness. Click To Tweet

Therefore, God loves his chosen people with an ardent, unchanging kindness. Since his love is infinite, he cannot love us more, and he will never love us less. Since his love is eternal, it is not subject to time and its variations. And since his love is unconditional, it does not change when we change, but springs from the bottomless wells of his own glory. Amazing love!

Read Paul Smalley’s entire column in the new issue of Credo MagazineThe Immutability of God.

Endnotes

[1] John Owen, Communion with God, in The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 2:29.

Source: Why God’s Love is an Immutable Love

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