By: Thomas F. Booher
I was thinking about why God would choose me for salvation and not the guy down the street. I don't deserve salvation, he doesn't deserve salvation, yet I get grace and he gets justice. God Has mercy on some and hardens others (see Romans 9). Why was I the object of His love? Why was I made a guest? Why were you?
I don't have the ultimate answer. It is a great, glorious mystery. The answer I can give you is little more than a sophisticated "because He always has loved you, and has never loved the reprobate." That may seem redundant, but I do think there is some insight to be seen here, and that insight goes back to the infra versus supralapsarian debate.
For those who do not know what that is, here is a brief and cogent explanation. At the heart of the matter is the question of whether God contemplated saving His elect before or after He contemplated a Fall. Infralapsarians say God contemplated man as already fallen, and then chose to elect some from a "fallen" lump of clay, if you will. They do this thinking it helps show that God is not the author of sin. Supralapsarians like myself believe that it is illogical for God to contemplate a fall before having a humanity to fall, and even more illogical for God to not have firstly a chosen people in mind to redeem from the Fall for His glory, as well as a reprobate to express His just wrath for His glory.
God would not contemplate creating a world with humans until He had a plan for this world and its human inhabitants, and that plan would be the one which would give Him the most glory. We know that God had subjected man and the universe to sin so that Christ could take preeminence in all things (see Col. 1:16-18), that all things are from Him and to Him and for Him (Rom. 11:36). It would seem that a supralapsarian position would be most biblical and consistent, but many godly men have debated the matter.
The point I would like to make is that an infralapsarian cannot affirm what Vos had said, namely that God's love for us never began. That is to say, if God contemplates man initially as unfallen, then fallen, and then chooses to elect some from that mass of fallen humanity, He did not love man, at least in an electing sense, until He contemplated man as fallen. Indeed, God's righteous disposition would seem to indicate that as God contemplated fallen humanity, nothing could compel Him to love man, for there was nothing lovable in man.
Until Christ is contemplated as the substitute, fallen man must be contemplated as the object of God's wrath and holy hatred. I do not see how Christ as sin-bearer can be contemplated by God in an infralapsarian scheme until man can be contemplated as having fallen. This would mean in God's mind/order of decrees that Christ is offered as a reaction to, or result of, the Fall, rather than the Fall being a result of God's plan to glorify His Son on account of the eternal love the Trinity shares among the three persons.
Which leads me to the crescendo: God loves us because He loves His Son, and He has always loved us because He has always loved His Son. As God has always loved His Son, He has always contemplated us in His Son. Therefore, we the elect have always been loved by the Godhead, because we have always been thought of as in the Son. In fact I dare say that the Father's love for the Son and His love for us have never been separated, because the Father and the Son's love have never been separated, and never began.
Beloved, I do not think we were ever contemplated as merely fallen humanity. I believe we have always been contemplated as redeemed in Christ, because the Father's thoughts started with His love for His Son, and that love for His Son produced the love for His elect, which is the bride of Christ. As the Father so loved the Son that He predestined the Fall and predestined the cross to glorify His Son, so He predestined His elect's Fall out of love, in order to make possible the marriage to the Son. It is because we were first contemplated in Christ that we can not only say that there was a Fall, but even more we can say that God has always loved us, so much so that He sent His Son to die for us.
I believe this to be not only a more God glorifying and biblical way of understanding God's eternal decrees, but also a far better and more delightful reality for the elect! The alternative position implies that we were once contemplated by God without Christ as our Lord and Savior. That is a horrid thought. That is a hopeless thought.
But we were never thought of apart from Christ's atoning work for us, and thus, there has never been a time when God didn't love us in Christ. Amazing.