Does God love unconditionally? Sort of.

Our last church, which we left over 15 years ago for reasons like this, had a billboard and a weekly sermon theme that “God loves you unconditionally.”  Alternate versions used by other churches go something like, “God loves you just as you are.”

Guess how your average non-believer will interpret that, with plenty of help from Satan?  “Yes, God loves you unconditionally, just as you are, so no need for any change or to repent!   And you definitely don’t need Jesus!”

In the agape term for love, which is having someone’s long-term best interests at heart, God does love unconditionally.  But He doesn’t provide salvation unconditionally.  You must repent and believe.  Those who only teach part of the Gospel don’t teach the Gospel at all.  They demonstrate that they are ashamed of the real Gospel.

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Greg Koukl likes to point out that, “God catches his fish and then He cleans them.”  I think it is important to remember that when sharing the Gospel.  If someone had come to you or me and said, “As soon as you stop being greedy, lustful, idolatrous, selfish, etc. I will share some great news with you!” I don’t think we’d have been interested in hearing more.  According to the Bible, we can’t have power over sin until we are saved.

God does love us: Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

But a response is required: Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Run, don’t walk, from churches that are ashamed of the real Gospel.  If they teach that you can be saved without Jesus or that your good deeds will earn your salvation, or that God doesn’t require you to repent and believe, then get out and find a real church.

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11 thoughts on “Does God love unconditionally? Sort of.”

  1. There is indeed a sense in which God loves everyone “unconditionally”. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, the wicked prosper, that sort of thing. But it’s not possible to rationalize “God loves everybody just the way they are” with the MANY passages about God hating sin and sinners. It’s hard to make sense out of a full-fledged “unconditional love” and “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” So while we can affirm a KIND of unconditional love, there is certainly another sense of conditional love. Or, to put it in the best known and most oft misquoted terms, “God loved the world IN THIS WAY: Whosoever believes in His Son is given eternal life.” (The “so” in that verse is not quantity — “so much” — but quality — “just so”.)

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  2. Stan, I’m glad you brought up the distinction. The rain on the just and the unjust is proof of God’s common grace. Everything good that comes to people, the elect and non-elect alike- from the rain and sun to food to eat, clothes to wear, a spouse, children, etc is evidence of God’s goodness to all, even the wicked.

    On the other hand, God extends saving grace to the elect, enabling them to believe the Gospel.

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    1. “God extends saving grace to the elect”

      Does that imply that not everyone has a chance for salvation?

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  3. One other category of “church” to avoid: the ones where, behind closed doors, the pastor admits that Christ is the only way into heaven, BUT declines to preach on salvation because, he claims, it’s safe to assume most folks in the congregation already know that.

    And yes; I am talking about the UCC where only the most elect Unitarians ever really Considered Christ.

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    1. I have seen that happen in the United Methodist Church too. Because “we don’t want to offend anybody”.

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