Yes, God Is Love … but He Is Also a Consuming Fire!
God is Love, ONLY to Those Who Know Him.
For Believers Only: The Intimate Love of God
What do we seem to hear in every church service, classes in witness training and out of the mouths most every Christian in America? God loves everyone. Does He? The short answer is a super qualified yes, but it is nothing like most people want to believe. First, let us ask ourselves a few questions:
- If you asked those who presently reside in hell if God loves everybody; what do you suppose their answer would be? Remember, those in hell are not sorry for their sins, but that they were caught in their sins.
- Does the bible say anything about God hating even an individual? If even only one by name is mentioned, then the term everyone does not apply. In Romans 9:11-13, Paul wrote about Jacob and Esau, "being not yet born....that the purpose of God according to election might stand....Jacob I have loved but Esau have I hated." Written in the footnote of a Bible of one those in my Bible class was - "it means that He loved Esau less." Two problems I see with the footnote: 1) the Greek word for hated is miseo - meaning to detest. Several bible scholars try to equate this as to "love less" when Jesus made the statement that we must hate our mother and father if we are to follow Him. It is not as if you hate them as an enemy but now that you are the Bride of Christ we must not look back but follow Him completely. Your parents have no control over your life whatsoever or you are not fit for the Kingdom and 2) I do believe that the Holy Spirit was more than capable to come up with gentler wording, knowing how offensive it might sound to most people. Let it be written, let it be done.
- A question of absolute sovereignty: Is God able; does He have the power to save everyone if He so chooses? Your answer will reveal a great deal about your approach to the Word and how it affects those around you.
A super qualified yes.
In Matthew 5:43-45 Jesus explains how we are to love our enemies. First lets define biblical love: three main Greek words for love are used in the New Testament.
- agapao - having the mindset to do that which is right concerning another
- agape - unconditional or sacrificial love, charity which demands or expects nothing in return
- phileo - friendship, having something in common with another
In this passage agapao is used: be a blessing, do good and pray for them regardless of their attitude towards you. I am sorry but this is a very difficult passage to practically practice for our carnality gets in the way all too often. Then He gives the example of the Father's love towards them who hate Him: He makes the sun to shine on both the evil as well as the good and likewise the rain. There is nothing about blessing them in their evil state or a desire of any specific kindness mentioned.
In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:23 Jesus makes this statement to the "Lord Lord" crowd; I never knew you. Interesting use of the Greek word "knew" in this case. There are two main words for "knew" 1) gnosis - experiential knowledge as in "I know my neighbor owns a Honda Civic"; nothing of a personal nature and 2) epignosis - an acute intimate knowledge such as one would have with their spouse, family, close friends and hopefully with the Savior. Surprisingly, Jesus used the word gnosis along with the word never. In other words and I paraphrase, I haven't the foggiest who you are, your name is not in My Book; hell is waiting for such as you. There is NO connection between "God loves everybody" and these people.
The only people in this world that have any confidence that God loves them are those He has chosen and demonstrated His love toward them. Our problem is that we do not know whom God does love and has not yet drawn to Christ. We, those who have gone before and all future comers are the only ones who ever know with great intimacy, the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Peter, Feed My Sheep
A Lesson In Biblical Love
In John chapter 21 verses 15 to 17 we have the classic confrontation between the Savior and Peter where He asks Peter three times if he loved Him. In the first two questions, Jesus used agapao (do you love me enough to do right by Me) and in the third He used phileo (do you at least love me like a friend or brother); Peter's answer was phileo to every question. It is interesting that Jesus did not use agape (sacrificial love) and I believe it is because of man's frailty; we could never love Him or the Father truly sacrificially this side of heaven. With further study I found that agape is never used in man's relationship to God but agapao only. On the other hand, our relationship in the Word to one another uses only phileo and agape. 2nd Peter states that are to learn to phileo one another until it grows into agape towards our brethren. I have developed a short saying to help remind me of the use of the word agape: God to man and man to man but never man to God.
John 14:15 If you agapao Me, keep My commandments. Do we have a mindset, a heart to do that which right towards our Lord and King?
Charles Hadden Spurgeon
Some Problems With "God Loves Everyone"
When I was a freshman in college, I had several encounters with Campus Crusade for Christ and I heard the phrase used many times that God loves you and has a plan for your life. I now know that to be true for myself but I wonder in over the last 50 years how many thousands have been presented with that message and now find themselves in hell? I guess His love was without power and His plan failed for a lot of people. WRONG! It seemed like sin was just a word passing in the night and all they wanted me to hear was how much I was loved. It was not until I was finally confronted face to face with my sin problem a year or so later that I realized I needed a Savior. Psalm 19:7 "...the law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:"
- If God loves everybody, why worry about the here and now. Since every one gets to go heaven, I will just have less perks than the holy rollers. Our problem is we think to love our enemies is to learn to like them which is not a commendable idea. Per 1 Corinthians 15:33 bad company corrupts righteous behavior. This does not mean we are not to be a good neighbor, looking for every chance to witness first in phileo-like love and in actions that the Father may use us as His instrument to draw someone to the Savior. We have already been given specific commands on how to love the enemies of the cross.
- Ever notice how sin and damnation are a long forgotten sermon context. Most of the new translations and paraphrases have dropped the words damned and damnation for kinder, gentler words like judged and judgment. My hero in the faith is Charles Hadden Spurgeon who closed most of his sermons with Mark 16:16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." I guess he never received a modern course in pulpit etiquette from one of our outstanding seminaries.
- Just by saying everyone we impugn the character of God and His sovereignty, for the only time everyone is included is in that we ALL have fallen short of the glory of God. Remember His Word will not return void but will accomplish everything that pleases Him. We are never to wrap the will of God in our emotions and then use it to actually lie to someone who desperately needs the Truth.
- Finally, it truly is an attitude problem we have in America in that we try to sugar coat most everything we do and say. Even in churches that utilize the altar call at the end of each service and trying not offend anyone, offer Jesus as a solution to their problems, that you must get to know Him and learn of Him. This is only a half-truth and our churches are filled with those who have bought into the easy believism. Get baptized in water, attend church and you are counted among the redeemed; how convenient. When the going gets rough (it is coming upon us very quickly) they will return to their old haunts and habits.
I know I may have raised some hackles on a few people, but this I leave with you. Do you love another enough to tell them the Truth or are you content to water it down which is asking them to believe a lie?
The Number "1" - God Loves Everyone Scripture.
What About John 3:16?
I will summarize to keep this article from getting too wordy.
- Loved (agapao) is in the Greek aorist indicative meaning at a single point in the past this event occurred.
- Not agape but that this was a good event recorded in Genesis 1:31.
- World is the word (kosmos) which literally means an orderly arrangement and in this case it is creation.
- The Holy Spirit could have used several different words if He intended for it to convey humanity separate from the total creation.
- The "whosoever" is an old English phrase and it does not mean a randomness of people but in modern English should be translated - those who will.
- 1 John 2:2 uses the word kosmos also and if you look closely, this letter was written to believers only and he compares the forgiveness of the kosmos sin problem to our forgiveness.
- Romans 8:18-22 describes how the creation is looking forward to the day when all believers shall made complete in Christ.
God gave us our languages and is the Author of its grammar; why we choose to ignore His exact written Word is beyond me.