Blog 84: 2.16.3 - 2.16.6
We all know that "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." But Calvin draws our attention to another biblical teaching: "All of us...have in ourselves something deserving of God's hatred." So why does God loves us nonetheless? Because in his kindness and free grace he "wills not to lose what is his in us," God "still finds something to love." In Augustine's words, "he loved us even when he hated us."
But the righteous (God) cannot completely receive the unrighteous (us) apart from the expiatory work of Christ on the cross. So often we are tempted to think that Christ's work causes God to love us--but it's really the other way around. It is out of and because of love that the Father sent his Son to be our sacrifice and substitute. So if you want assurance of God's grace and pleasure, "we must fix our eyes and minds on Christ alone."
How has Christ accomplished his reconciling work? Calvin answers that it was "by the whole course of his obedience." The price of redemption for liberation began at the incarnation, though Scripture focuses peculiarly and properly on Christ's death as the culmination of his obedience. And it is at the cross that we see the gospel: "the guilt that held us liable for punishment has been transferred to the heard of the Son of God." Praise be to God for this blessed exchange!