The Love of God Love is an essential attribute of God by which the Lord delights Himself in that which is good, it being well–pleasing to Him, and uniting Himself to it consistent with the nature of the object of His love. The love of God by definition is the loving God Himself, for which reason John states that “God is love” (1 John 4:s). When we view the love of God relative to its objects, however, several distinctions need to be made. We call this love natural when it refers to the manner in which God delights in Himself as the supreme manifestation of goodness. “For the Father loveth the Son” (John 5:20). We call this love volitional when it refers to the manner in which God delights in His creatures. And thus this love is either the love of benevolence or the love of His delight. The love of His benevolence is either general as it relates to the manner in which God delights in, desires to bless, maintains, and governs all His creatures by virtue of the fact that they are His creatures (Psa. 145:9), or it is special. This special love refers to God’s eternal designation of the elect to be the objects of His special love and benevolence. This finds expression in the following texts, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16); “As Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). The love of God’s delight has the elect as its object as they are viewed in Christ, being clothed with His satisfaction and holiness perfect and complete in Him (Col. 2:lO); “According as he hath chosen us in Him… according to the good pleasure of His will… wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:4-6).
This also applies to the believer in his present state, having the principle of holiness within him. “For the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God” (John 16:27). This love of benevolence precedes all good works of man, whereas the love of God’s delight concerns itself with men who presently either are partakers of or perform that which is good.
a’ Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 1:123-124.