Monday, July 15, 2013

God’s Love is NOT Unconditional!

Jim Palmer said, “God’s Love is not a spigot that turns off and on based on how correct your theology is, how religious you are, or how far you've progressed on your growth journey. God IS Love, which means that at every moment God’s Love is the underlying, unchanging and fundamental reality. It does not fluctuate. It cannot be earned or lost. It is never threatened. God's Love is available to all people, all the time, everywhere, without condition...” (emphasis mine). I agree with Jim, but my understanding from the Bible is that God’s love is perspectively unconditional. In other words, God’s love is not totally unconditional. Let me attempt to submit my understanding here.

In the question, ‘is God’s love totally unconditional?’ the term ‘unconditional’ refers to the absence of limiting conditions. Does God love HIS people without any limiting conditions?

This subject is important to our life. Christian literature, on the subject of God’s love, teaches that God’s love is unconditional; hence man’s love for his fellow beings ought to be unconditional too. This being a fact, we need to understand the scope of God’s love, so to love each other similarly. The Bible mandates us to love each other as Christ loved us (John 15: 12). If Christ’s love for man is unconditional, then our love for each other should strictly follow Christ’s paradigm.

If love is totally unconditional, should we love evil? The Bible teaches that sincere love hates evil (Romans 12: 9, NIV). Because the Bible is replete with situations where God hated evil (Psalm 5:5, 11: 5; Proverbs 6: 16-19; Hosea 9: 15), there is the much needed consistency between Christ’s love and the Bible’s mandate for Christ’s disciple to hate evil. So, we conclude that as Christ hated evil, we ought to hate evil. We should hate Satan - the evil one. In other words, one cannot love evil and still love God, for God and evil are mutually opposing entities. Thus, hating evil / sin is a condition to sincere love.

When a condition to love is mandated, we infer that neither God’s love nor man’s, is totally unconditional. The Bible states that God loves good & evil, and righteous & unrighteous (cf. Matthew 5: 45). But HIS love for the unrighteous and the evil is only to offer their earthly provisions. Thus God’s love for the unrighteous and evil is within the perspective of their earthly living.

The unrepentant and unbelieving unrighteous man will remain in a perpetual state of evil, and so will not taste God’s provision of heaven (cf. John 3: 16 et al.). The Bible states that only the pure can ascend the eternal dwelling place of the Lord (Psalm 24: 3). Since all men are inherently evil (Job 15: 14; Proverbs 20: 9; Romans 3: 10), none can claim purity to gain heaven. To overcome this predicament, the perfect and sinless Christ sacrificed HIMSELF for the sake of the sinful mankind, so only those who BELIEVE in Christ would gain eternal life. Belief in God is mandatory to receiving the eternal benefits of God’s love. Thus, we observe another condition to God’s love, namely belief in HIM.

Although God loves men unconditionally that HE sacrificed HIMSELF to save them of their sins, God requires that man believe HIM, so to receive and enjoy HIS eternal provision of love. Without belief in God, man cannot receive all the benefits of God’s love, he can only receive some.

The Bible applies God’s love for man to the human marriage paradigm. The marriage between a man and a woman is analogous to the relationship between Christ and the church. Christ is analogous to the husband, and the church is analogous to the wife (Ephesians 5: 22-33).

Let’s pause for a moment to think through the starting point for the relationship between Christ and HIS body – the church. The church is a congregation of believers of the Lord - those who believe in Christ. If a man disbelieves in Christ, he is not part of the church. Hence, “belief” is a mandatory condition or the starting point in the relationship between Christ and HIS church.

The theology of God’s love is when man believes in God, he receives the benefits of both temporal (the needs of this world) and eternal provision (eternal coexistence with God in heaven) of God’s love for him. When man refuses to believe in God, he receives only the temporal provision of God’s love for him; he does not receive the eternal provision.

Significantly, when man believes in God, he begins to coexist with HIM (or remain in HIM – John 15). When man refuses to believe in God, he cannot coexist with HIM.

Thus the corollaries of ‘belief in man’s love for God’ are:

(1) Man cannot coexist with God without believing in HIM – belief in God is mandatory for coexistence with HIM.

(2) Without belief in God, man cannot receive the unmitigated expressions (temporal and eternal) of God’s love.

Applying this theology into the marriage paradigm fetches us similar conclusions to assert the importance of belief in a marriage to open the floodgates of love:

(1) If the partners of christian marriage believe in each other, their coexistence would be abundantly fruitful and peaceful. If one or both the partners of a marriage covenant fail to believe / trust each other, the marriage would crumble – coexistence of the partners will cease at a point in time, unless there is a divine intervention to effect a transformation – to reclaim the lost belief.

(2) If belief is existent in marriage, the partners would enjoy the total love of each other, and the unmitigated expressions of their love. If unbelief is existent in a marriage, then love, at best, would be partial. Half-baked love is a painfully conditional love, so love need not exist in a marriage where one partner does not believe the other.

Finally, I submit that God’s love is unconditional from God’s perspective, for HE has done everything, through the one-time sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, for a man to love, enjoy and live with HIM forever.

What about the condition of love to hate evil? There is no evil in God, so God and Satan are opposing entities. God only proposes good to all, but Satan disposes good to propose evil to all. Hence, God and Satan mutually exclude each other. If we are with God, we cannot be with Satan, and vice versa. Hence, hating evil / sin need not be construed as a condition but as a voluntary abandonment of evil, which is nonexistent in God and detested by HIM.

Is belief in God a condition to love God? Yes, belief in God is a condition to love God totally and to coexist with HIM unto eternity. One cannot escape this fact. Without believing God, man cannot love HIM. A wife cannot love her husband if she does not believe him and vice versa. If belief is mandatory to love, then for man to receive the unmitigated expressions of God’s love, is conditional upon his belief in God. Thus, God’s love is NOT unconditional from man’s perspective. (Man cannot love and eternally coexist with God without belief in HIM.)

In a friendly relationship, love can exist without or with partial existence of belief. But this love, at best, will only be superficial. Deep and long lasting friendships / relationships will only be a reality if there is strong mutual belief. Conversely, if belief in a relationship takes a beating, then the relationship is bound to dilute or crumble.

Thus, love is dependent on belief. Love cannot exist independent of belief. The greater the belief, the greater the love, and vice versa.

I pray that you and I will believe in the one God who gave us life through Jesus Christ to live with HIM unto eternity and love HIM with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. I also pray that in our human relationships, we will do our best, by the power of the blessed Holy Spirit, to believe our spouse /neighbor, so to establish strong and healthy relationships where godly love will reign supreme. Amen. 


Sam Carr said...

Raja, God's love is unconditional, because the Bible says God is love (1John). Evil and sin are things that we do. You can and should love the sinner/doer of evil without loving the sin/sin.

Raj Richard said...

Does God love the unbelieving sinner so to offer him an eternal coexistence with HIM?

Sam Carr said...

Of course God loves the unbelieving sinner and does freely offer eternal life, that is the meaning of grace: 'for God so loved the world...'

Raj Richard said...

You have only quoted the first part of that would you interpret the second half "that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life?"

I am referring to the "believing in Christ" part....:)

Raj Richard said...

***"you have only interpreted the first part of that verse..."***