“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.”
Notice the reason for the Father’s love. Yes, God loves the world and proved that through the gift of His Son at Calvary, but clearly God loves believers of His Son as well.
One interesting contrast between Calvinism and Arminianism is that whereas the Calvinistic paradigm offers God the glory of ruling over people who chose Him only because they were irresistibly forced to loved Him, the Arminian paradigm offers God the glory of having a kingdom of those who freely and independently chose to love and to be with Him under otherwise adverse circumstances. Thus the Arminian paradigm offers God something that He can eternally treasure and identify with.
Man was created “in the image of God.” (Genesis 1:27) As a result, Jesus stated: “For God so loved the world….” (John 3:16) The “world,” that Jesus spoke of, included “he who believes,” as well as “he who does not believe.” (John 3:18) The “world” was the whole world, and God loved it, and gave it His greatest gift, that is, His only begotten Son. There is no question that God “first loved us” (1st John 4:19), and “us” meaning the whole world. We did not seek God (Isaiah 53:6), rather, God sought us, and is patient with us that we might repent and be saved. (2nd Peter 3:9) And now John 16:27 shows something further, that God has a special love reserved for those that believe in His Son. Jesus stated: “The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” (John 16:27) This sets up a conflict with Calvinism which teaches that God the Father had a special love for the elect from all eternity, purely on the basis of sovereign grace. And the result of the sovereign grace is that God allegedly hand picked certain individuals from before the foundation of the world to be made unilaterally born again by the Holy Spirit, as the divine enablement for faith. However, as was just shown at John 16:27, the Father’s special love for believers was conditioned upon their love for Christ and faith in Him. This point did not escape the notice of Calvin.
John Calvin comments: “But if God only begins to love us when we have loved Christ, it follows that the beginning of salvation is from ourselves, because we have anticipated the grace of God. But many passages of Scripture contradict this idea. God promises, ‘I will cause them to love me,’ and John says, ‘not that we loved God’ (1 John 4:10). It would be superfluous to collect many passages, for nothing is more certain than this doctrine, that the Lord ‘calls things that are not’ (Romans 4:17), raises the dead, joins with strangers, forms hearts of flesh out of stones, reveals himself to those who are called if they are among the elect, for he loves all his own people before they are created. But as they are not yet reconciled, they are rightly called God’s ‘enemies,’ as Paul says in Romans 5:10. This is why the Word says that we are loved by God when we love Christ; although previously we trembled before him as our hostile Judge, we now have the pledge of his Fatherly love.” (The Crossway Classic Commentaries: John, p.385, emphasis mine)
However, if they are eternally elect in the Father, then in no way can they be considered enemies, while simultaneously being reconciled and mediated to the Father in His eternal secret counsel.
The fact remains that God the Father has a special love for Christians because they love His Son, and therefore this passage is just one more rock on top of the Mount Everest of evidence that stands in opposition to Calvinism.
James McCarthy: “…frankly, God doesn’t love you strictly because of yourself; He loves you because of His Son. Didn’t the Lord Jesus teach that...what did He say? The Father loves you why? Because you have loved Me. I mean, ‘but God, don’t You just love me?’ And He goes, ‘No, I actually don’t.’” [2:25-2:50]
James White: “I’m trying to figure out where that reference was. The Father has loved you because you have loved Me? …I couldn’t find that one. I would like to know what text is being paraphrased at that point, because that would make the Father’s love of us, dependent upon something we’re doing, and I think something was misstated there. I’m not sure.” [2:50-3:17]
I can’t say that I fully agree with McCarthy’s quote, because although He is quoting/paraphrasing a verse about God’s love, based upon the positive fact that the disciples had loved Jesus, McCarthy should be careful not to mistakenly then infer something entirely different, which is the negative that God only loves us because we love His Son, since (1) God didn’t say that, and (2) God’s love is genuinely shown towards the world, through the mercy expressed at John 3:16. I think that the real issue is that God has a special love for Christians, though which, does not negate His love for the world, whom He had given His Son Jesus. I think that the point here is that man’s loving relationship with His Son not only vindicates and justifies the cost of having sent His Son in the first place, but is also the desired outcome for every lost soul. However, what really caught my attention was James White’s response, and I don’t mean his unfamiliarity with the John 16:26-27 text, but his comment on it: “That would make the Father’s love of us, dependent upon something we’re doing.”