- Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Dear Dr. E: Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, recently posted that Jesus died on that cross because “He loves us.” I’m afraid I must disagree. You cannot produce one verse of scripture that says God loves all of us without exception. Scan the book of Acts and see if the apostles ever told anyone, “God loves you.” Where does the Bible ever say anything about Him loving everyone? What the Bible teaches about judgment is not a message of universal, unconditional love. — REFORMED BROTHER FROM IOWA.

Dear Reformed Brother: First, I want to be clear. I respect your church tradition immensely, and I’m grateful for the contributions that Christian saints from your side of the aisle have made over the centuries. Where would the Church be without the likes of George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, A. W. Pink, and R.C. Sproul? Regardless of our chosen denominations, all believers should thank God for the tenacity and determination of such brothers. Our disagreements aside, you and I clearly share fellowship in the Body of Christ as we celebrate this Easter season.     

With that said, I must disagree with your suggestion that God’s love is limited. Rather than confine ourselves to the book of Acts, why not consider the whole counsel of Scripture? Here is just a sampling of what the Bible says. 

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another… If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” John 4:9-12

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so we will have confidence on the day of judgment.” 1 John 4:16-17

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” John 15:9-10

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13

“Know that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalms 86:15

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.” Ephesians 2:4-5

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” 1 John 3:1

Jesus was crystal clear: “For God so love the world (not some of us or part of us but all of us!) that he gave his only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER (emphasis mine) believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!” 

St. Paul said that this “is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.” He then added, “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.” 

Even Reformed stalwarts such as Charles Spurgeon admitted they could not and should not argue with the unlimited nature of God’s love: “As if the Holy Ghost could not have said ’some men’ if he had meant some men,” he said. “As if the Lord could not have said ’all sorts of men’ if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written ’all men’ and unquestionably means all.” 

When we say God loves everyone, we are not discounting his judgment. The Bible is clear that “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God and that aside from Christ’s atoning sacrifice and our corresponding confession, all of us are eternally lost.

The Bible is clear. Salvation is not universal, but God’s love is. “It is not God’s will that ANY should perish but that EVERYONE (again, emphasis mine) would come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 

If you are seeking guidance in today’s changing world, Higher Ground is there for you. Everett Piper, a Ph.D. and a former university president and radio host, takes your questions in his weekly ’Ask Dr. E’ column. If you have moral or ethical questions for which you’d like an answer, please email askeverett@washingtontimes.com and he may include it in a future column.

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