Evangelical Myth: God’s Love is Unconditional

Now, this post could be controversial, but that’s okay.

Three things:

  1. God’s love for the world (thus for all of humanity) is unconditional and precedes the sending of Jesus (John 3:16). So when people say things like, “God would hate you if it weren’t for Jesus’ work on the cross,” they are literally being ridiculous. Even if they refer to statements concerning God’s hatred for people and so-on, John’s gospel makes the claim that God’s way with humanity is more exactly described by its exposition of Jesus than the Old Testament’s exposition of Moses (John 1:1-18).
  2. Nevertheless, it is false to say that every form of love God shows to human beings is unconditional. For instance, John 3:16 says that God loves the world in such a way that he sent his only son, so that whosoever believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life.” So, God’s love is for the whole world, but the results of said love are conditioned upon ones response to Jesus Christ. One might say, “But, what about universalism? If God saves everybody, then God’s love is still unconditional.” Though I’m not a universalist, it would still be the case that God’s receiving everlasting life as a quality of life now, is conditional upon faith. Indeed, in John 17:1-3, everlasting life is described as living life with a knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ.
  3. There are other passages which make it clear that God’s love in sending Christ and initiating the redemption of humanity is not the same as God’s reciprocal love for believers.
    1. Joh 14:23  Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
    2. Rom 1:7  To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    3. 1Jn 2:4-6  Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,  (5)  but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:  (6)  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Now, none of this has to do with earning. It also is not about saying that God does not love everybody. It is about being careful with our words. For the Christian who is walking in sin, having God’s love perfected in you is conditioned upon obeying Christ’s commands. For the person who wants forgiveness of sins, 1 John 1:9 says to confess your sins.

In conclusion, God’s love for the world is unconditional. God’s love for his saints is conditioned upon becoming a saint. God’s love perfected in the saint is conditioned upon the keeping of Christ’s commandments.

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5 Comments

  1. Would you concur then that the definition of God’s love has separate personalities, similar to idea of the Trinity…same source-? This is a very interesting read; it has layers and layers to be explored.

  2. You have passages “rain falls on the just and the unjust” Mt 5:45, where you find God’s blessing (love) falling on everyone so it is expressed in a very general way. The passages you have chosen are taregeted to the special relationship between God and those who have repsonded in faith to His grace found on the cross. So, as stated above God’s love is expressed in different ways through each of His characteristics. As we respond to God’s revelation His love is personalized to His child versus to humanity as a whole.

      • I am agreeing with your point and giving and adding a example from the above post. We as Christians need to be mindful of showing God’s grace and love to people within this context–love desires a response and God wants and expects us to respond to His love. When a person chooses not to respond God does not force him into a relationship. God would have made programable robots if he was going to force His love on everyone. Hence one of my issues with Calvinism. Thanks for making me think. I have heard good things about you from the Wilmonts.

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