Without Merit

by Charles H. Spurgeon

"I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them." Hosea 14:4 (NASB)

This sentence is a body of divinity in miniature. If you understand it you are a theologian. If you can dive into its fullness, you are a true master of Scripture.

Our text is a condensed version of the glorious message of salvation. The meat of this text is the word freely. This is the glorious, the suitable, and the divine way in which love streams from Christ Jesus the Redeemer to us. It is a spontaneous love, flowing to those who neither deserved it, purchased it, nor sought it. Indeed, it is the only way God can love us.

The text is a death blow to all sorts of personal merit. If there were any merit necessary in us, then He would not love us freely. At the very least, such love would have a condition. But it stands, "I will love you freely."

Even when you complain, "Lord, my heart is hard," Jesus still says, "I will love you freely."

Even if you say, "But I do not feel my need of Christ as I should," Jesus still says, "I will not love you because you feel your need, for I love you freely."

"But I do not feel that softening of spirit that I desire." Remember, even the softening of spirit is not a condition, for there are no conditions in the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace is unconditional to the point that without merit we may venture on the promise of God made to us in Christ Jesus. "He who believes in Him is not condemned" (John 3:18). It is a blessing to know that the grace of God is free at all times, without preparation, without merit, without money, and without price (Isaiah 52:3, 55:1).

The words, "I will love them freely," is also a precious promise inviting backsliders to return. Indeed the text was written for such, for "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely" (Hosea 14:4). Backslider, surely the generosity of the promise will at once break your heart and you will turn to seek your Father's face.

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