What’s Love Got To Do With It?
“Does God love everyone? And Does He love the Lost as much as He loves the Saved?”
My endeavor in this summary is not by any means to write of all the Bible presents about the Love of God. Instead, it’s to answer the question, “Does God love everyone the same, or is there a difference in His love for the saved and lost?”
First, I believe it necessary to say what the Bible clearly says, 1John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. For the sake of this article, I want to focus on the last phrase of this verse; God is love. From this, we can draw the truth that it is a fact of God’s character that He is love. And not only that He is love but that He loves. Because this is true, it is impossible for Him not to love because it is a part of His perfect being to love. He is love; He does love! So, to begin with, when we are attempting to clear up any misunderstanding concerning the question of God’s love for people, we can start with the established Bible doctrine, God is love.
To delve further into the subject, if God loves everyone person He has created, implied in this statement is that God loves lost people (those who don’t know Christ as Savior). Is this a biblical teaching? Consider these passages:
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:1-6)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
God is clearly said to love lost people in both of these examples. And that love was said to be so great that He made the sacrifice of His own Son to redeem them. Many other places in the Bible could be used to drive this point home further, but this will suffice for the purpose at hand. So we have established that the Bible clearly states that it is a part of God’s character that He is love and that He loves lost people who are in actual rebellion and sin. So we can say with certainty to anyone in the world, “God loves you,” and not in any way run the risk of making a statement that is not biblically accurate. The song many learned as a child in the nursery at church proves theologically accurate, “Jesus loves me this is known.”
Finally, does God love everyone the same? Or is there a distinction between His love for saved people versus lost people? Because God is love, then God does love. But is there a distinction in His love for those who have been redeemed? The answer, I believe, is no. He loves both with an everlasting love. The difference that we see and struggle to understand is His dealings with the two. For the person who has placed faith in Christ, His sins are forgiven, and he has been made righteous by the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-21). For this individual, God’s dealings with him will be according to the grace made available through Christ. He will enjoy God’s forgiveness and eternal life in heaven. For the individual who is lost and without Christ, God will deal with him very differently. He will incur the wrath of God upon himself, the same wrath that was poured out on Christ on the cross (Isaiah 53:4-9).
The distinction between the lost and the saved in God’s dealings with them is based not upon His love for one or the other but instead on His just judgment upon the sins of the two. One’s sins received judgment on Christ’s cross, the other’s upon himself in hell. God loves both of these individuals. He loved them before He created them, evidenced through His crafting the work of the Gospel on their behalf, He loved them when they were yet sinners, evidenced by Christ dying for them despite their wicked rebellion, and He loves them both in their eternal state. The love of God for them does not change, only His righteous dealings with them based upon their response to God’s gracious gift of Jesus Christ.
So, where does all the confusion on this subject come from? First, I believe it comes from a misunderstanding of passages like Psalm 5, where it is stated that God hates all workers of iniquity. In these instances, the emphasis is on God’s hatred of the individual’s actions. He hates sin but loves the sinner, as the saying goes.
Secondly, it is often that those who would be of the Calvinistic persuasion take a stance that contradicts the position that has been established here. This is tied to the idea that God predetermined that some would be lost and others saved. If God predetermined some to be lost, then the end of that act would be that He didn’t love them because of this sinfulness. I believe this to be an incorrect doctrinal position.
Thirdly and finally, confusion arises in our human thinking when we consider our view of love and the concept of eternal damnation. “How could you place such judgment upon someone that you love?” The answer to that question is that God did everything necessary to provide an escape from the predicament into which man placed himself. God did everything short of just making him like a robot and taking away his freedom to choose salvation. God loves sinners! But His attribute of love is also accompanied by His righteousness, justice, holiness, etc. All of these work together to reveal to us who He is and, at the same time, carry out His righteous will.