Bible Think Tank

This site is designed to help you interact with others about God's Word. I further some thoughts we developed during morning and evening gatherings at church. I have my NT translations from the original Greek to English. Also, I have book reviews and other current events.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Love of God

God Does Not Love the World

Now that I got your attention... He does love the world, but... Here is the set up

We were talking many months ago about lovingly seeking to restore a fellow believer trapped by sin. In that message, I asked "how can calling a brother to give an account be a loving thing? It seems judgmental." We then went to Hebrews 12 where God is shown to be a Father who lovingly disciplines His children. The text actually reads "because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.  Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?  If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all." (v 6-8, NIV).  I then said "see the Lord disciplines the one He loves, if He is not disciplining you, it is because He does not love you."

Now you might ask, "does not God love everyone? after all for God so loved the world... (John 3:16)"

Great question.  Here's the Biblical answer.

God loves everyone; He loves the whole world.  He longs for all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  This is a general, unparticular love.  God is omniscient and knows everyone intimately (Psalm 139:1-24).  If God loves the world the way He loves children, it diminishes the special love He has for His children.  

God reserves a special, particular, unique love for His children.  This is not unlike each of us who love our children and love our country, but we love our children in a different, deeper way than we love our country.  With God, the infinite One, He loves the world with a deeper love than we love our country AND likewise, He loves His children with a deeper love than we love our children.  But this infinitude does not mean that He loves the world with the same intensity that He loves His children.

A few Scriptures to illustrate this distinction in His love

God looks on the unsaved with wrath

Jesus said "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36).

Paul wrote "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (Romans 2:5).

"So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God" (Revelation 14:19).

"Then I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, 'Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.'" (Revelation 16:17).

"The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath" (Revelation 16:19).

"From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty" (Revelation 19:15).

God no longer sets His wrath on those who trust Jesus

"Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him" (Romans 5:9).

Rather, God loves His children uniquely and particularly

"But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:4-6).  Notice the timing here "when the love of God appeared He saved us".  This is a unique directional love pointed at the individual God chooses to save.

"neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:39).  We have God's love IN Jesus, this is a love we His children have, not a love outsiders yet experience.

Jesus speaking of the Pharisees said "but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts." (John 5:42)  (An interesting debate might be over "love of God".  Is that love for God or love from God.  A similar debate to Romans 1:16-17 regarding "the righteousness of God is revealed"  see this previous post on that.)

and again the verse we began with from Hebrews 12 "because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.  ...  If you are not disciplined... then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all" (Hebrews 12:6+8).  There are those who are God's children and those who are not.  The ones that are, He loves and therefore disciplines.  The ones that are not, He does not discipline because He has not set His love on them as Jesus said of the Pharisees in the previous passage "the love of God is not in your hearts."

In Summary

God loves everyone inside and outside His family.  He has a unique and intimately deep love for individuals inside His family.  Those outside do not experience this level of His love.

If you are outside of faith and feeling unloved right now... receive God's love by asking Jesus to
forgive you.  He died on the cross to cleanse you from guilt and to remove God's wrath from you.  As we read in Galatians 2:20 "...the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me."  Receive Him and you will receive God's special unique Fatherly love!


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