Friday, April 23, 2010

Does God Love Everybody the Same Way?

Someone at work asked me if God loves everyone equally, believers and unbelievers. I believe Scripture says no. While I can't begin to understand God's love and all it's facets, I do believe the Scripture is clear that God has a special love for His children.

It is important to remember that it comes down to the basis of that love. On what basis are we loved by God? Genuine believers are the ones who have been broken of their sin and seen their absolute unworthiness of God's love. You can't know grace or mercy if you think you are in any way deserving. Like we heard Wednesday night at FCC, Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9:1-13 (see 2 Sam 4:4), was a lowlife socially and the grandson of King David's enemy Saul. But because of his love for Jonathan, David sought him out and gave this social outcast (lame in both feet) a place at the royal table so he could feast with the King daily. In the same way, there is nothing loveable or adorable about me that would make God choose me and adopt me into His family. But to say that He loves those who reject him to the grave in the exact same way, ... that to me is not what Scripture teaches. This is especially chilling when I think that people I love and care may prove by their rejection of Christ, that they are not loved this way.

All mankind is born a rebel to the King and His enemy. We are born dead spiritually and need a miracle to be saved. God clearly has the power to raise us to life the way Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave (John 11:43-44). We put limits on God's sovereignty if we say that there are people in hell that He loved the same way as His own. Does this not say that He was not powerful enough to save them? We give ourselves too much credit if we say that there was something special about us that caught God's eye to save us.

Here is a short video of John Piper discussing this very thing. It is not comprehensive, but he goes to Scripture for an answer to this tough question.

Listen to Jesus words in the High Priestly prayer (John 17) and ask yourself if Jesus loves everyone the same way.

1When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6 "I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

20"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."
One final note. While God loves His sheep in a special saving way, there is one thing that is clear. We do not know who will ultimately become born again. We should never write anyone off as being hopeless. The Bible and experience (i.e. me!) gives a wealth of evidence that God can change the worst of sinners. Look no further than the apostle Paul (Acts 9:1-19)! He was dragging Christians away from their families and throwing them in prison for worshiping Christ, and this on the very day that Christ encountered him on the road to Damascus to change his heart and history forever. So this truth should not affect our evangelistic fervor. In fact quite the opposite. It is empowering to know that we don't have to win souls, God does that! We just have to be faithful to share the glorious truth of the Gospel and leave the results to God.


Gordon Glenn said...

I read the response and I've had the night to think about it and the question now seems of little importance to me. I know that sounds a bit elitist but it doesn't effect my faith or relationship with God 1 iota if His love for me is the same as the worst sinner burning in Hell. That He loves me and provided a way for me to avoid the embers of Hell is what affects my relationship, faith and love for God. I don't believe that just because some folk reject God's love doesn't mean He loves them less. But, again, it really doesn't matter to me what love God gives to someone else.

Mike said...

here's a helpful resource on this question. Tim Juhnke preaches on John 3:16

Mike said...

Heard another sermon preached on this question. John Piper looks at Hebrews 2:9 that says, 'Christ tasted death for everyone' ...

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