Biblical Questions

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This question came from a study group. The issues are large and personal. This is simply an eagle’s view of the biblical terrain …

Does God love everyone?

Do you love everyone? The question immediately raises the question of what you mean by “love” – it can mean a number of things: warm affection, respect, goodwill, passionate commitment – it depends on the nature of the relationship.

That God has a measure of good will towards all mankind is clear in that he continues the blessings of common grace during our rebellion (Matthew 5:44-45), and offers a full pardon and eternal blessedness to anyone who believes in his Son (John 3:16-18; 1 John 2:2).

It is also clear in Scripture, however, that God has chosen those whom he will love redemptively before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-12; John 6:37-39; 15:16; Acts 13:48, etc.). Since his judgment of a multitude of humanity is taught in Scripture, it is obvious that the Lord has not determined to love all humanity in this way. While it is certainly true that everyone who chooses to believe is saved, it is also true that the gospel has not been heard by everyone (cf. Romans 10:9-15), and the initiating work of the Holy Spirit is necessary in order to revitalize the dead human spirit to embrace the gospel (John 3:3-8; Ephesians 2:1-7). God’s redemptive love is only for those in Christ, and is a matter of intense loyalty to his promises.

Does God hate anyone?

Similarly, do you hate anyone? More questions. Does that mean disapprove of, or despise with unreasoning rage?

God hates in the sense of being absolutely opposed to evil. In that sense, God hates people who sin (Psalm 11:5; Proverbs 6:16-19) – he doesn’t just hate sin, he hates people who sin, in the way that you not only condemn firearms, but those who use them to commit crimes. God hates humanity enough to swear our collective destruction (Genesis 2:16-17; 6:5-7; Revelation 19:11-18). This is not the sort of blind rage we often experience, however, since God takes no enjoyment or delight in our judgment at all (Ezekiel 33:11). He is simply determined to oppose and in time remove those who embrace and worship evil.

Loving the Unlovely

The message of the gospel is that God chooses, for the sake of his own glory, to redirect his hatred away from a multitude of sinful humans, and redirect his love for Jesus to them, all through the cross of Christ. Through the cross, Jesus’ reputation was exchanged for ours. On the cross, God hated us – Christ represented us, and God “saw” us receiving his just and aweful wrath. In a judicial sense, we died on the cross. At the same time, Christ’s righteousness is credited to us, so that God “sees” us just as righteous as Jesus, therefore loving us eternally, warmly and completely.

So, the answer to your question is complex, but pondering it takes us right through the gospel message: God offered his love to all mankind (through Adam); God swore his hatred against all mankind (through a fallen Adam); God revealed his self-sacrificial plan to love an undeserving multitude (through Christ); God patiently offers mankind a taste of his love in this broken age as he offers the gospel to the world.

Two related questions:

Does God love me?

God has treated me well (I exist, for instance!). But my assurance of his love will not be found in my current happiness. My moral shortcomings make it clear that my confidence in God’s eternal love can only rest on his grace and forgiveness, and the moral transformation he works within me. The gospel of Jesus tells me how that grace is available.

Does God love [that particular person over there]

God has already been very good to them. Moreover, he offers to love them eternally as his child. But that requires that they turn from the self-centered ways of humanity and embrace his offer of grace in Jesus and the new lifestyle that will arise out of it.