Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
Show how deep it goes
on 29 October 2014
We often talk about love, but how many of us really know what love is? I for one had trouble understanding what love was or meant when I was little. I had most trouble with the fickleness of human love, i.e. love was not consistent. It really confused me.
As I did not know what it was, I felt I had no love in me or I was incapable to love. Then God found me and I opened the Bible and read about His love.
As recent as six months ago, I felt I found a solid ground in understanding agape - which was defined for me as the highest order of love which was not dependent on emotions, but of will, and God loved us in this way. I thought all kinds of love did need agape to underpin them in order to see us through good days and bad days, to maintain consistency in our love for others. If love depended only on emotions and our feelings, it would become whimsical and we saw people falling in love and out of love as natural as the tides coming in and out. If this was so, love then lacked wisdom, and other qualities that associated with love, such as faithfulness and fidelity. I thought it made sense.
Then I read this book by D Carson, who does not like compartmentalizing love by the Greek words which describe different kinds of love. In particular, he does not think that we should read too much into the distinction of agape against other forms of love or that we should understand God's love just by the distinction drawn from the words used. It seems to ask me to unlearn what I have learnt and restart again!!
If I understand correctly, I think Carson's main reservation about seeing God's love as agape is the implication of impassibility - the lack of emotions in God's love. He tries to tell us, God's love is not void of affection. I agree with him on this. But one thing I think is key to understanding God's love - that is, love is one essence of God and we cannot consider His love apart from His other essences. This I think is a common mistake. Carson emphasises God's love in the context of who He is. We can see the soundness of this approach when we look at God's love and God's wrath. While God's love is God's essence - i.e. God is love, God's wrath is only a functional quality of His holiness; if there is no sin, there will be no God's wrath, and God will still be God.
Through this book, it is my first time to gaze into the intra-trinitarian love, from which all love emanates. It is beautiful although not totally easily to grasp or picture due to the fact that it is beyond our experience. I have never thought of that and Carson brings to me that place to catch a glimpse of it. For that I am grateful. He helps me see how Christ's perfect obedience to His Father is actually His love for His Father. It was one of those moments when I knew I looked into something which was not from man.
Carson also spends quite a bit of time to talk about the scope of redemption, and summarises his position in that redemption is sufficient for all and effective for the elect. If we do not get this right, it does have bearing on our evangelistic zeal. I think his view is consistent with Christ's great commission for his disciples.
As I closed the book, I pondered upon how deep God love was - it never seemed possible to understand how deep it went. "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:17-19) I don't think we can ever really quite grasp that.
As I closed the book, I also pondered upon how deep and profound the Bible was. It never ceases to amaze me with what is contained in it. The revelation embodied in it is endless and each time we open the Bible, something new pops out for us to challenge us, under the counsel of the Holy Spirit, who guides us to the truth. Each time when I see something out of this world, my heart is in awe and reverence. This little booklet of Carson's certainly has brought on something new for me to meditate, and guide me to see the glory of God. It is not always easy to read, and there were passages that I had to re-read. But it is certainly a book that should be re-read again and again as we meditate upon it because of its subject matter.