PROCLAIMING TRUTH: Does God love you? Yes and no
“All people are loved through God’s benevolence, but only some are loved through His covenant.”
As I start this column, I am thinking about the hit television show from years ago, “Touched by an Angel”.
It portrayed a beautiful female angel in the show telling people, “God loves you,” with an Irish accent.
I used to love walking around the house and repeating it, just like the angel sounded.
It is a famous phrase that nearly every preacher in the world regularly lays ahold of and declares to children, youth and adults of all ages. Perhaps you have been told this, or even stated it to others. Often it is used with the non-religious, believing it can warm a cold heart, break down the walls of spiritual resistance or prepare a lost soul to enter into God’s kingdom.
Where does the phrase come from?
The Bible, and from one of its most recognized verses, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
And from Romans 5:8: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
There are other verses as well.
There are two kinds of divine love expressed in God’s Word: a benevolent and covenant love.
Benevolent love is found in John 3:16. The word for love in the passage refers to taking pleasure in, or longing for. One could rewrite the verse to get a better understanding like this, “For God so longed for the world, that he gave his only Son…”
Or Romans 5:8 could be stated, “But God shows his longing for us in that…”
These verses are more like a description of God’s love toward a general audience, versus a direct statement like we have made it to be. It is a love that expresses His passionate desire for all people to believe in His Son and be set free from their sins.
Covenant love is found in Jesus’ words to His disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” (John 15:9)
There are places in the Bible like this, where God has said in essence “I love you,” but it is only found in direct statements to His chosen people Israel, and to Jesus’ appointed disciples.
It is a love that comes out of a covenant relationship; which God has with those who have repented of their sin, placed their faith in Christ, and walk faithfully with Him.
All people are loved through God’s benevolence, but only some are loved through His covenant.
Sometimes people can misunderstand God’s benevolent love and feel it means they are accepted by God and forgiven automatically without conditions.
This is a grave mistake with serious implications.
Listen to what God detests, “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Even though God longs for the world to be saved, He will not tolerate its evil. For He has laid down a warning. John 3:16 states “…that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
To believe – is to entrust one’s entire life under the authority of the Kingship of Jesus.
If a person refuses that command, then he will perish, meaning he will be destroyed under the wrath of God forever.
However, if one turns from their disobedience and responds to God’s benevolent love, then he will receive the gift of eternal life and the blessed promise of forgiveness, that comes through the death and resurrection of God’s only Son. Then he will enter into God’s sacred covenant love.
A prayer for you: Lord God, help people to understand the truth of your love. Let them not be deceived, believing you require nothing of them. Open their eyes, that they would respond to your divine kindness by leaving their sinful ways and placing their faith in you. Bring precious souls into your covenant love today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.