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Mark McCulley
Judge by the Gospel

Faith Working By Love
faith is a gift of God, but is it perfect?
does “faith” always mean the faith that Jesus had, or do we also need to be given a human faith which has Jesus as the object?
God does not believe for us, but gives us the gift of faith.
love infused (Romans 5:5) is a gift of God, but is this love divinely perfect?
does “love” always mean the love that God has for the elect, or do the elect have a love for God and neighbor and enemy?
God does not love for us (“let go and let God”) but gives us the will and power to love

Thesis: the love God has shown to the elect in the death of His Son is so absolutely unconditionally motivated, that this love is not to be equated with the love which works by faith, since our love is response (never "mutual") and motivated by gratitude for what God has done. II Cor 5:14 “the love of Christ constraineth us”

God’s love for us is not determined by our faith but gives us our faith; on the other hand, our love for God and neighbor and enemy is determined not only by the faith God gives us but also by the object of that faith, the true gospel. Any “love” which disregards the true gospel is not infused by the true God.

I John 4:12 “If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” Though we love enemies, we don't love the “world “(the elect ungodly) in the same way which God lives the “world”. I John 2:15 “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

We have a duty to love Love. God is Love. But our loving God is not God. Our love for God and neighbor and enemy must be distinguished from God’s love for us. We must always be repenting of our love for God and neighbor and enemy. Even though love is poured out in us as the gift of God, it will never be the same as God’s love for us.

Our lack of love does not invalidate the gospel.Lack of love for God is sin, but this sin cannot separate us from God’s love for us or our fellowship with Him. Suffering is common to all human creatures, but this suffering cannot separate us from God’s love for us or our fellowship with Him.

The GOSPEL is not about our having the LAW written on our hearts internally so that we can love as we ought. The gospel is about us disappearing by imputation so that WE may live, not by our love for God but by God’s love for us.

Our love for God is never unselfish. Though we must always be repenting of any attempt to love God as a means of having God love us, we must see that our love for God is never “spontaneous” but a response to God’s love for us. We do not love God alone for God’s sake, without any consideration of gratitude for our assurance of salvation.

The gospel is not only sovereign mercy, so that the cross makes it “possible” that God will save who God wants to save. The gospel is also about righteousness, so that the cross makes it certain not only that all the elect will believe the gospel but also certain that all who believe the gospel are entitled to all of salvation. We are NOT asked to show our love for God by being willing to be damned for God’s glory. Our love for God and neighbor and enemy is set in motion by God’s love for us.

Neither is our love a kind of “payback” for God’s love. Romans 11:33-36. God’s love is never lost or given in vain. God seeks and finds His own glory is giving His love.

Heidelberg Disputation Thesis 28: “The love of God does not first discover but creates what is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through attraction to what pleases it.”

As a result (not cause) of justification, we are the “new creation.” God did not “woo” us. There was nothing good in us to appeal to.

Luther’s comment on thesis 28: “Rather than seeking its own good, the love of God flows forth and bestows good. Therefore sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive. For this reason the love of man avoids sinners and evil persons. But Christ says: ‘For I came not to call the righteous but sinners.’ (Matt 9:13)”

Yet I live. The Christian imputed with the death of Christ now has a love for the unlovely. “This is the love of the cross, born of the cross, which turns in the direction where it does not find good that it may enjoy, but where it may confer good upon the bad and needy person. ‘It is more blessed to given then to receive’ (Acts 20:35)”.

A theology of glory hopes for resurrection and glory, but does so with impatience and lack of faith (thus despair) in the true gospel. The theology of the cross, while also waiting for resurrection, loves those who are acceptable only by imputation.

The theology of glory is a respecter of persons, going by the show of the flesh, and by outward appearances. In glory there will be no sinners, no poor and needy. But at the present time, sinners do exist, and we are poor and needy. For now, there are none but sinners, none but poor and needy.

Hope of resurrection is not hope for cleansing of the old flesh. Hope for resurrection is immersion into death and waiting for the new. All things HAVE become new (II Cor 5), but the “new creation” is the life which God brings out of DEATH. Though there can be no repentance (“evangelical”) which pleases God without faith in the gospel, there also can be no faith in the gospel until we are reduced to nothing (repentance). God calls into being that which is from that which is not. By making that which is the is not.

The cross cannot save from sin without first being an attack on sin. If we are offended by the preaching of effective atonement for the elect, this is because the cross shows us even our FUTURE bankruptcy in sin. Nothing God does in us will save us. The cross must make us disappear.

I Samuel 2:6 The Lord kills and makes alive.

Mark McCulley

Copyright © 2000 by Mark McCulley. All rights reserved.