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Does God really love you?

July 21, 2020 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

“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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18)

A popular line that I have often heard used in evangelism is “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” I believe that these words usually come from a well-intentioned place. The Christian who is speaking this line genuinely wants the one who does not believe in Jesus to know that God loves them, and that knowing and following God is far better than anything the world has to offer.

The problem is, the line is only partially true. And this partial truth is more likely to lead someone to Hell than it is to a saving relationship with God.

Consider John 3:16-18. In John 3:16, Jesus delivers one of the greatest summaries of the gospel: “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.” What wonderful news! But only two verses later, Jesus continues to declare that whoever does not believe in him “stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” In other words, while God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you, until you receive that gift of grace, God’s posture towards you is not only of love but of condemnation. As Paul wrote of the pre-Christian in Ephesians 2:1-3:

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 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.”

And that’s the problem with declaring to someone who does not believe in Jesus, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”:  it’s only a partial truth. Most unbelievers, when told “God loves you,” will not hear “so repent and trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” but instead will hear “you can live however you want, and it really doesn’t matter because God loves you just as you are.” And that message, unfortunately, will not save a person but will lead a person straight to Hell, according to Jesus in John 3:18.

The truth is that hearing “God loves you” as an abstract proposition may make you feel special, but it will not transform your life or save you from your sin. On the other hand, understanding that God loves you so much that when you were spiritually dead in your sins, an enemy of God, and headed for eternal separation from God, He sent His Son Jesus to live the perfect life that you could not live, to die a terrible death in your place, taking the punishment you deserved, and that if you turn from your sinful self-centeredness to receive that gift, you will be restored to a right relationship with God and have eternal life – that message has the power to completely transform your life, both now and beyond the grave.

 

            So be careful about telling someone who does not believe in Jesus that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life. Yes, God loves them so much that He sent His Son to die for them. But unless they repent of their sinful self-centeredness and receive that gift of salvation, God’s posture towards them is NOT one of love but of condemnation.  

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