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I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008.  I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969.  I have four grown children.   Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio

In What Sense Does God Love The World

HOW SHOULD WE VIEW GOD'S LOVE

As I start out my day, usually. I view  my Google Reader list. I then read as many as I have time for. Today I read the article "HOW TO DISTORT THE LOVE OF GOD:".  What is interesting this has been my concern for a long time.  Every time I hear a preacher say "GOD LOVES YOU AND WANTS TO SAY YOU." I in my theological mind say that is not necessary correct.

The article link me to D.A. Carson's article on this subject. He said the following:

The doctrine of the love of God is difficult for at least five reasons:
1) The overwhelming majority of those who believe in God, believe he, she, or it is a loving being.  

2) In Western culture, the love of God is often separated from God’s sovereignty, holiness, wrath, providence, and the personhood of God, which redefines the love of God as something other than what Scripture says. 

3) Some elements of postmodernism relate to this problem in that people in the West believe that all religions are the same; therefore, the only heresy is believing that there is such a thing as heresy.  

4) Due to the sentimentalizing of God’s love, Christians have been swept along to the extent that we have forgotten that within Christian confessionalism the doctrine of God’s love poses difficulties.  A sentimentalized doctrine of the love of God finds difficulty meshing with the biblical doctrine of God’s sovereignty and justice.  

5) The doctrine of the love of God is sometimes portrayed within Christian circles as much easier and more obvious than it really is, and this is achieved by overlooking some of the distinctions the Bible itself introduces when it depicts the love of God.

The bible speaks of the love of God in five distinguishable ways: 

1) The Bible speaks of the peculiar love of the Father for the Son (John 3:35, 5:20), and of the Son for the Father (John 14:31). 

2) Even though the Bible avoids using the word “love,” the theme of love is evident in God’s providential love over all He has made.  He made everything “good” (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31; Matt. 10:29). 

3) God has a loving salvific stance toward His fallen world.  According to John 3:16, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.  Some try to use “world” here to only refer to the elect, but based on the rest of John’s gospel, that will not do.  God loves the whole world (1 John 2:2), and commands all human beings to repent.  

4) God has a particular, effective, selective love toward His elect.  The elect may be the entire nation of Israel, or the church as a body, or individuals.  This is a discriminating feature of God’s love.  God does not love the non-elect in this way (Deut. 7:7-8, 10:14-15; Ma. 1:2-3; Eph. 5:25). 

5) God loves His own people in a conditional way based on their obedience.  Jude, for example, says to keep yourself in the love of God (Jude 1:21).  This is not the same type of love as the other four mentioned, since one cannot escape those forms of God’s love.  God’s people live under God’s love or His wrath depending on their covenantal faithfulness.  Jesus told His disciples to remain in His love by keeping His commandments as He has kept His Father’s commands and remains in His love (John 15:9-10).


Then as I was reading the comments to this article here is what one of those comment was:


  1. The fact of the matter is that God can love forever with a sovereign saving, gracious, forgiving, and elective love when you believe in Christ. And an eternal, saving love is more than a temporal, providential care God shows toward the good and the wicked alike who do not believe in Christ. If people think they can go on in their unbelief and rebellion and still have Him love them unconditionally, they are dead wrong, and the person who tells them that is either ignorant or a liar. And any pastor that implies that from the pulpit *without clarification* should receive the strongest possible rebuke. And now, we have become so careless in our thinking and biased in our theology that we have taken what is simply not true and made it the very heart of the gospel!

And this comment led to a number of other comments.  There is a major gulf of thinking on this subject.  One is that God loves everyone the same and He wants everyone of His creation saved. And the other thought is that God does not have the same kind of Love for all His creation.

But the point is when the preacher or evangelist is speaking and he says that God loves everyone and He wants you to be saved is not really giving the right idea about God's love.

The love of God does not necessarily mean that He loves everyone in the same way. 
 

 
What could be worse than having an unbeliever sitting in the pew one Sunday, hardened in his rebellion to God’s Word, rejecting Christ and living his life as a fool and as if God didn’t matter one whit, only to hear some pastor babble this empty platitude, “God cannot love you any more than He loves you right now.” One’s natural reaction in hearing that would most likely be, “Well, I guess I don’t need to believe in Jesus or change anything I am doing then if He can’t love me anymore than he loves me right now, do I?” This is what I mean by *without clarification.*

 


The fact of the matter is that God *can* love you more than He
loves you right now. It all depends on what you mean when you say,
“God loves you.” He can love you forever with a sovereign saving,
gracious, forgiving, and elective love when you believe in Christ.
And an eternal, saving love is more than a temporal, providential
care God shows toward the good and the wicked alike who do not
believe in Christ.

Too often preachers do not want to talk about the wrath of God, because they are afraid I guess that the sinner will not like that.



This is why Calvin taught long ago that “God is our enemy until
He is reconciled to us through Christ.” Prior to our being in Christ:
• We are estranged from God through sin.
• We are heirs of wrath.
• We are subject to the curse of eternal death.
• We are excluded from all hope of salvation.
• We are beyond every eternal blessing of God.
• We are slaves of Satan, captives under the yoke of sin.
• We are destined finally for a dreadful destruction and
already involved in it.