God's Son and Heir
The Bible as we know is, primarily, a perfect revelation of God’s grace. It is a glass through which we may look into the very heart and mind of God. It is a mirror which reflects His glory. It is, among other things, God’s letter of love to His Church. It reveals the near and dear relationship in which Christ stands to her. It is a voice which tells us of the unfolding mysteries of the eternal world.
It tells us, for example, that God has one Son by eternal generation, and that this Son is the perfect image of Himself He is His equal in power and glory. This Son is, therefore, in a different category of existence from all other sons. All others enjoy a place in God’s family by an act of grace; through a spiritual rebirth and a loving adoption.
The Scriptures also tell us that this Son is God’s Heir. As Isaac became the heir of the great spiritual and temporal inheritance which his father received from God in a covenant so Christ is ‘the heir of all things.’ The phrase ‘all things’ is inclusive of everything in the universe and beyond it. Both the world of glory and the universe which lies within time and space belong to Christ. His possessions and riches are, therefore, unsearchable: ‘The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.’ But His real riches are spiritual, heavenly and eternal.
These riches, however, were not to be confined to Him only. They were given to Him that He might share them forever and ever with a countless number whom God had loved but whom sin had impoverished and slain. Christ, in fact, had willed that His Bride should share in all His riches.
Another wonder of Revelation is that God had decreed that His Son should be married. This is the ‘great mystery’ of which Paul speaks, and which moves at the very heart of Scriptural revelation. Long before the earth was formed, God decreed that since He loved so many of the children of men He should therefore give them to Christ in a covenant. They were given to Him that He might redeem them to God, and so have fitness to occupy His glorious palace in the eternal world. Christ Himself tells us that God for this very purpose had given them to Him. ‘mine they were, and Thou gayest them to me.’
Among men, for example, it is sometimes customary that on her wedding day the bride should be given away to her future husband by her father. This act of surrender does not, of course, affect her father’s love for her in any way. Because he loves his daughter he is willing that she should enter into a new relationship which might lend greater dignity and honour to her life. In the same way God gave away His own people to Christ so that within a new relationship they might be both redeemed and raised into a state of inconceivable dignity and honour.
In the Scottish Highlands there was once a famous preacher - the Rev. Francis MacBean of Fort Augustus - who used to comment in the pulpit on this theme. He used to speak of that ‘hour’ when it was made known to ‘the principalities and powers in the heavenly places’ that the Son of God, by His Father’s decree, was to take to Himself a Bride.
Such tidings would have filled the heavenly world with astonishment - that the Great God should bring any of His creatures, however holy and exalted, into such a relationship with Himself. But when the news resounded throughout the upper world of glory that the subjects of God’s special choice and love were men and women belonging to a fallen race, the mystery of God’s love began to deepen beyond their comprehension. This, indeed, is one of the things which angels and men shall desire to look into throughout eternal ages, but the mystery of God’s sovereign love and choice is too great and too deep for finite minds to fathom.
Another glorious aspect of divine revelation, therefore, is that the heart of Christ was engaged in love to His Church from all eternity. ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love.’ ‘Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.’
Within the circle of human experience there are, we know, those who fall in love, and who could tell when their affections first rested on certain persons. Perhaps they could also tell why they ceased to love those who once claimed their heart in all its tenderness and devotion. It may be that their love cooled and died because those who once commanded their love ‘let them down.’
They became involved in some scandal or shame, and fell far beneath the moral dignity and social level which they should have maintained. Therefore they disown them forever. Human love, in other words, is liable to change and even to die. It has many noble qualities, but under the cloud of adversity and the shock of disappointment it often fades away.
Not so the love of God!
Let us look, for a moment, at what God Himself tells us of His love for His people. For one thing He does not tell us when it first began. His love is co-extensive with Himself. It was there, deep down in His Own Being, from all eternity. It is therefore from everlasting to everlasting.
Paul speaks of it in its four-dimensional nature - in its height, depth, length and breadth. It is like a vast sea without a shore to measure its breadth, and whose tide is always full. Its depths are unfathomable, and those who are borne away on its tide shall at last be brought to the blissful height of Heaven.
God also continued to love His people after they had ceased to love Him. Our Fall and our sin involved us all in scandal and shame. We fell into a state of rebellion and enmity against God. He created us perfect, but voluntarily and with our eyes open, we turned our back upon Him and said, ‘Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.’
We had ceased to love Him, but His love continued as it was. We divorced Him from our lives but He refused to leave us. In justice He could have disowned us forever, but instead of this happening new and glorious disclosures of His love began to reach us, along with the promise of One who should come to rescue us from our state of peril.
God loved us, then, not merely as He saw us perfect in our first creation, or as He saw us perfect in His Own Son. It was when we were defiled and slain by our sin that He entered our world to save us.
The love of God is, therefore, sovereign. He loved us, not for what we are but in spite of what we are and of what we did. As man now is, there is nothing in all that he is or in all that he does that could procure this great favour. Instead, everything repels. Our hearts within and our walk without are abhorrent to God’s pure eyes. For God sees us not as we see ourselves; and what pleases us does not in this instance please Him.
To account for His love we must, therefore, turn our eyes from ourselves to that which lay in the depths of His Own Being before the world was. This is what the Bible calls ‘the good pleasure of His Will.’ It was this living stream, moving towards man that gave exercise to all His attributes in man’s salvation.
This was the constraining power which moved Him to put the whole plan of redemption into operation. Behind what ‘He purposed in Himself’ to do lay ‘the good pleasure of His Will.’ This is the vast sea from which every stream of covenant favour proceeds. This is what lies behind all His gifts. As we stand, then, on this shore and view this uncharted deep we can only bow our heads and bless Him.
When therefore, we ask the question, why did God love us, all is wrapped up in silence. He loved us because He loved us: and beyond this point we cannot and dare not go. And so God Himself does not tell us when He began to love us - or why.
Love, of course, sees with its own eyes. Let me use an illustration. In one of our Hebridean Isles there was once a young man who fell in love with a girl. He was tall, fair and handsome; but the girl of his heart was, in face and figure, plain and unattractive. When a friend asked him how he could possibly think of marrying such a girl he just smiled and said, ‘O! If you could but see her with my eyes.’
And so Christ saw His Bride with His own eyes. But why He loved her is a mystery that shall sweetly engage her heart forever and ever.