2003-06-24 - Summer Question
Matthew 5:45 "...for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."
I am going to hit on another summer question today because I like it and I think it will provoke some controversy. Please be gracious to me as I try to ponder an ageless question. Here it is:
"I know that the only way to get to Heaven is through accepting Christ as your Savior; but my daughter and I were discussing this; "Does God love all people? We know that if you are not born again yours prayers aren't answered and that all do know that he exists through creation but does he really love all people?Thank you God Bless You"
We are about to go slightly theological here and we all know that even within the same denomination nobody agrees. So here, in such a diversified group, we need to be gracious. I will make the answer simple; of course God loves all people & no He doesn't.
1. God loves all people
Look around you, watch a Springer show, or a Cops show, or do the honest thing and look into your heart. Sin is everywhere. Sin is an abomination to the Lord. We are led to pray that our sins be forgiven (Luke 11:4). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3). There are tons of other passages, but the bottom line is that sin is an affront to a holy God. Why would He put up with those who disobey His law, walk all over His commandments, and thumb their nose at His holy will? Could it be because He loves and cares for them? Even the verse we started with reminds us that the Lord brings His sun up on those who follow Him and those who don't.
There are two distinct kinds of people in this world. There are those that have been saved from sin by Christ and those that have not experienced His mercy. However, the reason we can say that God shows love to all people is because in a temporal way He treats everyone graciously. Many of the richest people in the world don't love the Lord and yet He continues allow them to prosper. This is His world, He created it, and yet He allows those who live contrary to His will to succeed. Maybe that is mercy more than love, but there is a lot of love in mercy. In a temporal sense, yes, I think we can say that God loves all people.
2. God does not love all people
Years ago I pondered the question, "Could God love someone so much that He sends them to hell?" If God really loves everyone, which is a common teaching in many churches, well, then why does God promise eternal damnation to those who do not turn to Christ for atonement for their sins against Him? It seems that in an eternal sense God does not love all people. Scripture even talks about God sending angels into hell in 2 Peter 2:4. "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment."
2 Thessalonians 1:9 draws a conclusion to a section of Scripture that deals with those "who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel." The conclusion is in verse 9, "And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." God clearly cannot love, in an eternal way, someone He intends to send into eternal destruction.
The distinction in thinking about the love of God is between an earthly love that God displays on all and the eternal, heavenly love that God will display upon some. The issue, in the end, is Jesus Christ. It is those who repent of their sins and rest in Christ alone, turning to Him alone for forgiveness, that experience God's eternal love.
I know this is a difficult question and there are objections that even I could raise. Those objections, I think, do not outweigh the Biblical evidence that supports what I have said above. I know that not everyone will agree with me and I have tried to be as evangelical as possible on this question, but still, there is room for disagreement. The real issue is what will you do with the offer of salvation offered to you in the atonement of Christ? His love is offered freely. Maybe the question we all need to ask ourselves is do WE love God?
Thanks for your question. It was one I felt I had to touch on and I hope that some of what I wrote either challenges us all, or answers the question to some degree.
Soli Deo Gloria,