It is important to equate God’s love for man with the action he took on the cross. According to John 3:16, “…God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…” Thus, we see that God loved (past tense) man two thousand years ago by giving his Son. The greatest gift of love anyone can give another person is their life, Joh 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Through this act, God has reconciled himself to a sinful world.
2Co 5:18-21 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
But what happens to those who won’t receive this gift and be reconciled? The scriptures declare that they are enemies of God, Ro 5:10 “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
The scriptures continue painting a grim picture regarding the condition of the unsaved:
- They are of their father the devil – Jn 8:44
- They are condemned already – 3:18
- The wrath of God abides on them – 3:36
- They are without God and without hope – 2:12
- God will confess that he never knew them – 7:23
- Their destiny is Hell and the Lake of Fire – 20:14
Does this sound like someone God loves (present tense)? But the fact remains that God has reconciled himself to them (loved them) and the gift of eternal life is freely available. Thus, Jesus and Paul command all men everywhere to repent (Lk. 13:3, Acts 17:30-31). Why must someone repent if they’re already loved by God?
Furthermore, one of the most misrepresented verses in scripture (besides Mat. 7:1) is 1 Jo 4:8 which reads, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” Many twist this to mean “God loves” or “love is God”. As a result, the world believes that in order to be Godly you must love everyone. But that is not what the verse says. It clearly says, “God is love”. In other words, God is the definition of love. Therefore, if we are to understand love and how it is demonstrated, we must find its meaning in scripture, and scripture paints a much different picture than that of the world. For example, Pr 13:24 “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”
Presently, the love of God is being demonstrated through his longsuffering.
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
The longsuffering of God allows man to be born, live his life, and make choices of his own free will. Mt 5:45 “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Ec 8:12 Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:
This is better referred to as the benevolence of God and it is nothing short of His mercy. Man is the afforded the time to repent and be saved. It is not God’s will that any should perish. (1 Pet. 3:9)
But this mercy is not to be confused with the notion of indiscriminate or unconditional love. God indeed hates the sinner as well as the sin (Lev. 26:30, Pr. 6:16-19, you cannot separate the sin from the sinner without salvation. A lost man’s soul is stuck to his body). This is why a lost man will be damned and sent to Hell. In fact, in Romans chapter 1 we see that God will give unrepentant sinners up to uncleanness (vs.24), vile affections (vs.26), and over to a reprobate mind (vs.28) to further their damnation.
The Bible teaching is as follows, God so loved the world 2,000 years ago by the strongest act of love anyone could offer. He did so because he desires reconciliation with man, 2Co 5:19 “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
And just as God is love, He is holy. He cannot have fellowship with man in his current state. Just as he cursed Adam and expelled him from the garden, he will not allow sinful man to live with him in heaven – Rev. 21:27 “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Without forgiveness man is at enmity with God (Rom. 8:7). Rather than living under God’s love, man is suffering under God’s wrath (Jn. 3:36) and must repent.
Once a man is saved, then and only then will he partake in the love of God, (Rom. 5:5, 8:39, 2 Cor. 5:17). God loves his son and, therefore, those who are in his son.
The message promoted today is that God loves you and wants to save you. But upon close examination that statement is contradictory. After all, if God loves you, why do you need saving?
The proper message is that we are at enmity with God, on our way to an eternal Hell, and except we repent, we shall all likewise perish. That is a loving message.