In Whose Love?
“for Christ to dwell through faith in your heart, being rooted and established in love,”
Christ’s indwelling through faith is established and rooted in our hearts with love. The important question to ask, though, is “Whose love?” All too often, people look to this as a way to plug human works into either their salvation or at least into their sanctification. But, if it is our love that grounds and roots Christ in our hearts, then we are going to be on a roller-coaster ride with respect to faith. For indeed, our love is fickle and failing. When things go well, we may tend to burst with love for God, but when things go very, very well, we tend to allow our ego and pride to step in. When things go poorly, we are often on our knees and adoring God for his daily provision, but when things go really, really poorly, then we often doubt and ask where God is and once again, our human doubts give rise to pride and sin.
No, what roots and establishes Christ in our hearts is the love of God. The love of God for whom? Ultimately, it is the love of God for Christ and, as the elect are in Christ, the love of God for us (Romans 8:39). Does God love those outside of his elect? That is one of those questions that Christians have debated and created theological gymnastics to seek to defend. If we look honestly at Scripture, though, God clearly says that it is Jacob that he loves and Esau that he hates and then uses this to illustrate his election (Romans 9:10-14). It would seem that God has stored up the wicked for the day of wrath (Romans 9:22), and praise be to God that he has sovereignly chosen to deliver some of us from that day for his own glory (Romans 9:23). If you wish to be delivered, too, the call is to repent and believe…but it takes the work of God giving you spiritual rebirth before you can do so.
But does that mean that God does not show any love toward the wicked? Some will argue for various forms of God’s love, but that seems to be importing philosophical categories into the Scriptures…categories that are not consistently found within the Scriptures and thus can make understanding God’s character rather subjective. It seems better to simply say that God brings blessings into the life of the just and the unjust alike (Matthew 5:45) and that the blessings upon the life of the unjust come primarily as a byproduct of God’s blessings on the just. Did not God say to Abraham that the nations would find their blessings through his line (Genesis 12:3)? Have Christians not inherited the promises of Abraham (Galatians 3:29; 2 Corinthians 1:20-22)? Are we not the continuation of true Israel (Romans 9:6-7)? And, those crumbs that fall to the dogs (Matthew 15:26-27), will it not cause the reprobate to be doubly accountable for their sin?
Indeed, one of the great blessings is that Christ in us through faith does not rest on us, but that it rests upon the foundation of God’s love for us through Christ. While our love varies with our every disobedience to God’s covenant (John 14:15), God’s love does not vary. There is no shadow due to change (James 1:17). And that should instill in us a desire to praise and to serve Him.