David Miller – The Wonder of Unconditional Love

First sesson of the True Church Conference 2010 “The Quagmire of Hyper-Calvinism”  was led by David Miller.

David Miller’s text was Malachi 1:1-5. The world needs to experience God’s unconditional love for sinners.

The first point: Jacob have I loved

The second point: and Esau have I hated

1. Jacob Have I Loved

By an act of God’s will, he singled Jacob out and set him as the object of divine affections. And if God loved Jacob, then he might love me too. After all, look at who Jacob was. His name means “supplanter.” But in Malachi’s day, the Israelites (Jacob) wanted proof of God’s love.  And God gave them proof by showing the desolation of Esau (Edom) as compared to the restoration of Jacob. And even we today question God’s love for us and want proof. Is not our current circumstances proof of God’s love?

How did God love Jacob? What was the manner of his love?

a. God loved Jacob sovereignly and freely. Not what was deserved. He loves because He wants to.

b. God loves Jacob with selectivity and favoritism.

c. God did not see something special in Jacob. Nothing in Jacob’s life commended him to God.


2. Esau Have I Hated

Esau had an awesome heritage, great privileges, advantages. He was as much a gift to Isaac and Rebecca as Jacob was. He was the first born. He was destined to be the leader of the family.  The promises and the covenant should have been his. He was his father’s favorite. He was a man’s man. But just one problem. God hated Esau.


What does it mean “Esau have I hated”?

a. It does not mean a relative comparison of God’s love for Esau was just less than His love for Jacob. This does not fit the context.

b. It does not mean that God just passed over Esau. That does not fit the context.

c. It does not mean that God loved Esau but hated his sin. That does not fit the context.

d. It means God had a settled opposition, a disdain, antagonism against Esau. That fits the context.


God hated Esau because:

a. Esau sowed to flesh

b. Esau hated what God loved

c. Esau wanted the praise of man

But there is a problem. Jacob was the same way. God had as much reason to hate Jacob as He had to hate Esau. And the same is true of everyone. Even the elect.

So why did God love Jacob and hate Esau? Because that’s what God decided to do.


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10 thoughts on “David Miller – The Wonder of Unconditional Love

  1. None of this looks relavent to the issue of hyper-Calvinism, since no assertion in this report is made about God loving Esau or any of the non-elect. The hyper-Calvinist assumes that because the text says God hated Esau, it cannot be true that he loved him as well at the same time. The flipside to this same problem for the hyper-Cavlinist is that they tend not to affirm that God hates the unbelieving elect while also having an electing love for them at the same time [Conrad made this point in your report]. Undergirding this whole issue is their rationalism, and Miller needed to address that.

    Berean Wife Reply:

    Tony,

    I’ll see if my husband can respond to you better since I’m not at the conference.

    But this portion of Miller’s talk:

    God hated Esau because:

    a. Esau sowed to flesh

    b. Esau hated what God loved

    c. Esau wanted the praise of man

    But there is a problem. Jacob was the same way. God had as much reason to hate Jacob as He had to hate Esau. And the same is true of everyone. Even the elect.

    This does seem to be saying that although God hates those actions in everyone, He chooses to love and elect certain people. Similar to my saying I love children; however, my love for my own children is quite different from the love of children worldwide. God still in a general sense does love and spread His spread His blessings even over the non-elect.

    But I’m over my head. 🙂 I’ll email your question to my husband.

    Berean Wife

    Berean Husband Reply:

    How can the Bible say at the same time “God so loved the world…” but at the same time say “I hate Esau”. Can we ever understand this mystery? Is it true that God could love and hate Esau at the same time? Or could it be that God’s mercy and grace caused him to love Jacob, but God chose not to have grace and mercy on Esau.

    I don’t know that I can provide any better answer.

    Berean Husband

  2. Hi Mr. and Mrs. Berean 🙂

    Thanks for the gracious replies and for reporting the content of this conference on your blog.

    To Mrs. Berean:

    Yes, what you’ve highlighted does seem to suggest that God loved and hated Jacob at the same time but in different respects, but Miller’s wording is implicit at best, as it is reported here. Notice what he says:

    “God had as much reason to hate Jacob as He had to hate Esau. And the same is true of everyone. Even the elect.”

    He doesn’t say in this report that Jacob was hated at any point, but that God had as much reason to hate Jacob as he did Esau, and that this is true even of the elect. Also, he should specify that he means the *unbelieving* elect here, since the believing elect, as they are sanctified, now experience God’s love of complacence in addition to the love of benevolence. There’s no evidence that Miller even addressed the classic Reformed/Calvinistic distinction between love of benevolence and love of complacence, unfortunately. That’s vital for this type of discussion on this hyper-Calvinism topic.

    Mr. Berean said:

    “Is it true that God could love and hate Esau at the same time?”

    Yes. It’s no contradiction because the *sense* differs. God both loved and hated Esau at the same time but *in different respects*. God loved him as a creature in his image, but hated him as he is a worker of iniquity. Likewise we say that God hates the unbelieving elect as they are workers of iniquity [click to see the Puritan John Pawson’s comments], but also loves them with electing love and as His creatures. The Puritan Edward Polhill explains this quite well, I think [click to see].

    Mr. Berean said:

    “Or could it be that God’s mercy and grace caused him to love Jacob, but God chose not to have grace and mercy on Esau.”

    It’s surely true that God in His mercy and grace had a special love for Jacob, and that *in this respect* Esau was not graced and mercied. Nevertheless, this does not negate the fact that Esau experienced a common love and grace as God’s creature and has one possessing the common bounties of providence.

    In the way that Jacob was loved [with a covenant electing love], Esau was not loved, but rather hated or passed by with respect to this special grace/electing, which Paul is speaking of in his citation in Romans. What’s vital to discuss in the context of talking about hyper-Calvinism is the fact that there is a sense in which the non-elect are loved, since this is what some hyper-Calvinists reject. Others hypers, like Gill, say that it is a mere temporal love that is devoid of any desire in God for their ultimate well-being or salvation. That needed to be addressed.

    Grace to you,
    Tony

    Berean Wife Reply:

    Tony,

    I have enjoyed hearing David Miller before and really wish I could have been there to hear him again. He has an amazing grasp of Scripture and a phenomenal memory, quotes all from memory since he is confined to a wheelchair. I think part of the problem is just being confined to less than an hour. Last year we always hated when a speaker had to end due to time constraints. (Last year, Washer actually printed out his sermon and gave it to everyone because he only got halfway through.) My husband has much difficulty limiting his teaching/preaching to a short time frame; often he does a series over several weeks.

    This conference seems to be more of a basic covering of the hyper-Calvinistic issues verse an in-depth. Much like showing there is a problem before actually digging deeper into the issue. Many deny it is an issue today.

    I emailed your comment to my husband. I’m not sure of his schedule today.

    Berean Wife

  3. I have to agree with Berean Wife that within the time frame such a topic was dealt with faithfully, not t0 mention the fact that David Miller speaks slower than most as well.
    The heart of the conference seeks not to give detailed lectures on hyper-calvinism as a subject, however unlike most very technical lectures (that’s NOT that difficult given the right resources) this conference seeks and IS dealing with the influence of hyper-calvinism in practice (which is much more difficult to address).
    With that said I don’t find many brothers (and sisters) who are truly born-again struggling with the reality that they TOO were ‘children of wrath’ ‘enemies of God’ whom God the son suffered under the punishment due them, however among the more ‘doctrinally correct’ there is much to be addressed concerning actual fruit of their theology.

  4. As someone involved in planning the conference, I would remind everyone of two things: The sessions are meant to build on one another. Bro. David’s was the first…. And while it alone was an awesome message, it was never intended to encapsulate the whole theme. As Julius points out, the conference is intended to shed light on issues of the church and it’s role of gloryfying God.

    Lastly, timing. We have 3 full days, very full days. (evening on Thurs to midday Sun). If no time schedule for speakers was given, something would have to be omitted. It’s an effort to give conference attendees MORE that requires a schedule. A side note, conference preachers have a minimum of 6 months notice of topic/and time limits.

    That being said, your feedback is critical to improving, and I will personally bring your concerns to the debriefing meetings.

    Thanks Berean for your faithful blogging.

    Berean Husband Reply:

    I think we must remember that a conference is not, and cannot be a systematic theology. We all might say “I wish so-and-so had talked about this-or-that in their sermon.” But in most cases there is no sin leaving some stones unturned, as long as the gospel message is not perverted by our omission.

    Berean Wife Reply:

    Grudem’s Systematic Theology took him around 4 1/2 years of teaching on Sundays to cover. I imagine there was still much that didn’t get covered. Enjoy Sunday AM services. Look forward to having you back today.

    Berean Wife

    Berean Wife Reply:

    Lisa,

    Thank you for your comment and for all the hard work involved in the Conference. My family was involved in a Conference this past summer and believe me we know how much work is involved! Hope you are able to rest from your labors some this upcoming week. We also understand the need for a schedule and for giving the speakers a time frame. It is so hard to fit in as much as you would like into just a few days. I think the goal of any Biblical Conference should be to share the Scriptures, answer some questions and cause a desire to learn more in personal study later.

    Have a blessed Sunday AM service,

    Berean Wife

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