May 19, 2010 Matthew

God’s Conditional and Unconditional Love


Right Now?

God’s love could be seen as unconditional. Psalm 19 speaks of every day as “pouring forth speech” and every night as “revealing knowledge”. The sun shines and the rain falls on anyone regardless. Life itself is imparted to all without a shred of partiality or bias. This kind of benevolence found in everything that is made is what makes us believe that God is unconditionally benevolent and unconditionally loving.

Forever?

There is a hitch, however, to the unconditional love of God when it comes to the question of how long? To understand this I think we have to go back a little bit in time and put ourselves into God’s viewpoint, as much as that is possible.

Once, he created a most glorious being, more glorious than any he ever did create. But that one lifted his heart up and tried to rob God, if such a thing were possible, and he fell terribly so that God no longer loved him. Along with him many other glorious beings denied God’s love. So they were cast out of his presence and love forever (2 Pet 2:4; Jud. 1:6). Worthless creatures. Denied God’s love forever. (Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18)

Another time, a race of humans became so wicked and rebellious against God that they too were simply unworthy of even existing anymore. So vile and useless they had become, that God withdrew his great, inexhaustible, and indubitable love from them too. He sent those great waters that the earth had never known nor will ever know again to wipe them clean off the face of the earth (Gen. 6:13; Heb. 11:7; 1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 2:5). Only one man and his family survived out of the race. Perhaps he was worthy of God’s love and that is why he was spared. But such thinking is folly, for no one is worthy of God’s love. Yet that man, in his fallenness, had potential to be redeemed. And this was only—only— because he had faith in that potential, nothing more. And so it was time and time again in much smaller degrees, with such people as Korah and his men (Num. 26:9-10), the Assyrians (2 Chr. 32:21), the Midianites (Judg. 7:2), Ammonites (Eze 25:1-4), Jezebel (2 Kings 9:10), Sennacharib (2 Chron. 32:10-22), Judas (Acts 1:18), Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10), and so many more.

He created a whole array of beings including a race of human beings who looked, acted, spoke and felt just like Himself. As a God of love, He is always loving someone somewhere.
But not always everything. There comes a point when you cannot love someone anymore.
God from the beginning gave, gave, and gave some more. He sent crops, and food, and wine, the rain, the sun, the cool breeze, and the prosperity of the earth. He sent his words and will time and time again. He invested energy, love, time, and work into his creation that he loved (Luke 12:23-28). He gave them prophets and teachers to speak his mind and will. Promises for protection, refuge, and providence (Lev. 18:5; 1 Kin. 6:12). But ignorance was much too deep in the mind of men and self much too lofty in their hearts to accept such love from Heaven, and though God loved so well, he was refused and forsaken still (Judg. 10:10; Luk 20:9-16). Being the patient and long suffering God he is (Num. 14:18; Ps. 103:8-9), he did not readily annihilate them in his wrath and cast them out as refuse. Would not you or I have? But God had in mind to yet do something far beyond what they could ever conceive: he would send his one and only son to die for them. Sure, he had done more than enough to earn their full love and worship, yet they still didn’t quite understand how He felt for them. Through his son however, who offered himself up as the ultimate loving sacrifice (there is no further one can go for love’s sake – John 15:13), they would surely get the point and love and adore him forever. If not, they have made the ultimate denial and greatest rejection (John 5:23) of God’s love which has been showered in abundance upon them, for he so loved the entire world (John 3:16). It is a sad estate to be in to deny God’s love in Christ, for God’s love is thus denied that person, and he stores up wrath for himself. (Rom. 1:18; Rom. 2:5-8)

His love is wholly contingent on the belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is, for now, still present in the world.

If you think that God’s love is unconditional, it is—on one condition—Christ.

If we deny him, he also will deny us. 2 Tim 2:12

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