In the beginning let me admit one thing. If you don’t read this carefully, there is a chance that you will misunderstand.
Have you ever heard the word “Unconditional Love
” being used again and again from pulpits by preachers to make people understand the love of God? They base this concept on the basis of few verses which at times they interpret in a way to fit their own idea. For example Ephesians 3:19
“and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. “
Do a search about this word "Unconditional
" in your Bible. Can you find this word anywhere in reference to God’s Love?
So what does this mean? No matter what I do, God still loves me. Yes, when I was a sinner, God first loved me. When we were yet sinners, God showed his love towards us by sending his Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins.
Now there is some danger of over emphasis of this word unconditional
. I want to bring it out.
Paul Brownback, in his book The Danger of Self-Love, tells it this way:
"... by unconditional love we are speaking of love on the basis of being rather than doing. One implication of this teaching is the place of grandeur that it gives to the human being. I am lovable just because I am human; therefore being human, in and of itself, regardless of what I do with my humanness, must have some sort of independent value or worth. It is by itself a sufficient claim to respect and esteem
" (p. 66).
In human society it can mean to give and to expect unconditional love from one another with no strings attached. While unconditional love and acceptance supposedly promote change and growth, they make no requirements. But God, who is love, requires change and enables his children to grow in righteousness.
God’s love to us is great and is available to us by grace. We cannot gain it by doing some rituals or we cannot simply earn it. There is no work of human beings which will be good enough to earn this love. So does that make God’s love “Unconditional
Now let’s see a famous verse i.e. John 3:16-
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.”
So in this verse there is no work demanded from people to be saved but there is a condition- Whoever believes
. It is simply a condition to be saved.
God loves us but the use of the term “Unconditional
” gives us altogether different picture. Did Jesus really talk about Love of God in an “Unconditional
” way in human sense?
See John 14:21 ‘Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.
What is this verse saying? Can you see any condition in that? You see it yourself.
Now let's look at the story of prodigal son found in Luke 15. This is used by my many people to explain God love as Unconditional. Is it really a story of unconditional love? Did the father go out seeking the son and support him for his foolishness of going out of house? It is true that the father waited patiently for his son to return. If the son would‘t have ended up in trouble and returned back to his father with repentance then what would have happened? This story reflects God’s love, mercy, long suffering and forgiveness. Can you see the concept of unconditional love of God anywhere in that story?So if you purely think of God’s love as unconditional in the sense that God ignores all your actions and loves you then there is some problem with that thinking.
The father forgave his son who came back and repented. So what does that mean? God so loved the word. It is true. But there is Justice and righteousness also in God.
If it is Unconditional Love then why did Jesus preach the sermon on mount teaching people how to conduct their life? Why did he ask people to be born again? Well if it is fully unconditional then I think every human being will be saved on the simple fact that they were born in this world and God loves them. Otherwise how can that love be called us Unconditional. If it is unconditional then there should not be anything attached to it. You do what you want. That will lead us to the universal Salvation concept. Then there is no need to preach the Gospel.
So can we suspect that this phrase is used by enemy to deceive people and give a different, wrong and false idea about the God of Bible? Yes that’s the truth. Few days ago I was in a meeting where a young man who has been taught this lie stood up and said that “God doesn’t care about my Sin. God loves me.” What a terrible lie. God loves him but God hates his Sin. I am not sure if that is clear to that young man.
This dangerous concept is in sharp disagreement to the Justice of God found throughout the Bible. Any person who reads the Bible with an open heart can easily understand that God of Bible hates sin and he punishes sinners. He loves everyone. That's why He gave His son Jesus Christ. Some may argue it’s the Old Testament and old covenant. You can look in the New Testament also. Bible has many instructions as to how to conduct our life. Read the Gospels or the Epistles, you will see it. Almost every book of New Testament has practical exhortations regarding how a man is suppose to lead his life in this world. Can we hide behind the word “Unconditional Love” and do what we want. It will deceive many if it is understood in a wrong way.
I did a study and research about this subject and found lot of things about it. This phrase is not found in the Bible. This is a buzz word used by enemy to promote casual and easy going Christianity. The results may not be evident now but a time will come when things like this will start reflecting on churches. What’s the message the young people in the churches are getting? They already they have so many pressures to go behind the things of this world. On top of that these type of teachings which does not focus on the whole picture will lead many to be deceived. Let me quote few verses I found on a website here. Read for yourself and think about it.
Jer. 5:12-13 (NIV) "They have lied about the Lord; they said, 'He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.' The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them..."
Jer. 8:6-9 (NIV) "I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. No one repents of his wickedness, saying, 'What have I done?' ...My people do not know the requirements of the Lord. How can you say, 'We are wise...' Since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have?"
Jer. 23:16-18 (NIV) This is what the Lord Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They keep saying to those who despise me, 'The Lord says: You will have peace.' And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, 'No harm will come to you.' But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?"
Jer. 23:21-22 (NIV) "I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds."
Lam 2:14 (NIV) "The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading."
Luke 3:7b (NIV) "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?"
John 3:36 (NIV) "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
Rom 2:5,8 (NIV) But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed... For those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
Eph 2:3 (NIV) All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
Eph 5:6 (NIV) Let no-one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
1Co 2:13 (NIV) This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
2 Tim 4:2-4 (TCN) Proclaim the Message, be ready in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, encourage, never failing to instruct with forbearance. For a time will come when people will not tolerate sound teaching. They will follow their own wishes, and, in their itching for novelty, procure themselves a crowd of teachers. They will turn a deaf ear to the Truth, and give their attention to legends instead.
Heb 13:9 (NIV) Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.
I may sound strong in this. May be negative to some people. But I want you to read these verses for yourself and carefully examine.
Let me tell one more thing so that no one will misunderstand me. I strongly believe God is Love. I know I am saved by grace. It’s by the mercy of God that I am alive and what I am. But..God’s Love- Is it Really Unconditional?
May God Bless You!