Big round buttons everywhere displaying the ‘Happy Face’….a wide smile over the slogan “Smile, God Loves you.” Big red stickers plastered everywhere from Bibles to bumpers announcing “Jesus Loves you.” A prominent preacher promises the millions of his television audience regularly, “something good is going to happen to you this very day.” A pastor instructs his staff to answer the phone with “good morning, Jesus loves you.” An evangelistic tract begins “God loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life.” The electronic sign atop the state’s denominational headquarters flashes repeatedly: “God is no respector of persons. God loves everybody.”
With such an abundance of optimistic assertions of God’s favor, one would be almost persuaded that God is more pleased with this wicked generation than any one that has previously lived. Certainly He has not made such declarations to anyone before. The heralds of this gospel will certainly find no precedent for it in the Bible. The Sacred Scripture never makes such promiscuous promises of God’s love. His love is always carefully qualified.
John 14:21, ….he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him…Verse 23. “if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my father will love him…”
The Bible nowhere says God loves all men alike. He loves certain persons. Isaiah 43:4, “Since thou wast precious in My sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee therefore I will give men for thee and people for thy life.”
Hebrews 12:6, “For whom the Lord loves he chastiseth and scourgeth every son whom He recieveth…But, if ye be without chastisement whereof all (sons) are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” It is here declared that God loves some, and those whom He loves are sons, and partakers of chastisement. Those without are not sons and not loved.
The passage generally referred to as proof of God’s love for all men is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world …but what world is John talking about here? Not the planet world of Acts 17:24. Not the gentile only world of Romans 11:12, since Jews excluded here will also be saved. Certainly not the wicked world of men of John 14:22 to which Jesus refused to reveal himself, or the rejected world of John 17:9 for which the Saviour refused to pray. The same Greek word, kosmos, is used in every one of these passages, and they all mean a different “world”. What then is the world that God loved, and gave His Son for? Since it cannot be any of the above, it must mean the same world of John 3:17. The world that through Him would be saved. That is the world that God loves, and no other. It cannot mean all men indiscriminately, but those for whom Christ was given and who should be saved. All others are ruled out by the sober declarations of the Scriptures.
So it also is with Romans 5:8, “God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” All men were yet in sins when Christ died, yet God, seeing the finished work of the Saviour on behalf of those who should trust Him, loved us as though already in His Son. It is us who believeth upon Him toward whom He has commended His love.
So it is with ll Peter 3:9…he is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any (of us) should perish. Christ is not delaying His coming in hopes that everyone shall be saved. He declared that multitudes will go to Hell. He is delaying His coming until all of us are saved. Are you one of the “us” dear friend, who shall trust in Christ, or are you one of the millions who will tumble into Hell?
We must go a step further. Not only does God not love all men: He hates some! Deuteronomy 32:19, “He abhoreth them.” Pslam 5:5, “thou hateth all the workers of iniquity.” Psalm 11:5, “him that loveth violence His soul hateth.” Romans 9:12, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”
These verses have generally been shrugged off as ignorant cliché. “God hates the sin, but, loves the sinner.” A nice thought, but unscriptural and impossible. Unscriptural because the Word declares that God hates the very person of the wicked. Impossible because sin is never found outside the sinner. Separate sin and sinner, and you have neither a sin to hate, or a sinner to love.
Sin always exists inside a man. God even had to put our sin upon His Son before He could judge it. He put all the sin of his people upon Jesus Christ and poured out unmitigated wrath upon Him, the man, not just the sin. No, my friend, if you are yet unrepentant in your selfish rebellion against God, His wrath is revealed from Heaven against you. He hates you. He despises the sight of you. He intends to put you in Hell, and it is only His gracious longsuffering and forebearance that keeps you from the burning pit this very moment. He is not obliged to withhold His judgement another minute.
If you now, dear reader, have not been deluded into believing this foolish nonsense about God loving you in your sins, if you see it is altogether reasonable for God’s anger to burn against you, if you see yourself as you indeed are, in imminent danger of everlasting damnation and confess that you deserve nothing better, there is something else God has to say to you.
There is a kind of sinner that He cannot despise. He can indeed love without violating His Holy Character. “A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
Read the 51st. Psalm and see the deep repentance portrayed, the unsparing confession of guilt, the utter renunciation of self, the thorough disgust with wicked ways, and the earnest plea for mercy and cleansing from God. It is then, and then only, dear sinner, that you can know of God’s love. Then you will not need some bright-eyed religious huckster to tell you that God loves you: His love will be profusely shed abroad all over your soul by the Blessed Holy Spirit; and you will never be able to cease singing the praises of a Merciful God who receives repentant sinners.
Come ye sinners poor and lowly,
Jesus blood avails for you:
for He saved the worst among you,
when He saved a wretch like me.
And I know, yes I know
Jesus’ blood can make the vilest sinner clean!
by Conrad Murrell
Pastor of Grace Church of Bentley