•••by Russell Young
The Christian mythology of God’s “unconditional love” has entrenched itself solidly in church teaching and is often promoted without being given adequate thought. Many people are resting their adoration of Christ and their eternal hope in the thought that God’s love is unconditional and that their sin practices will be over-looked. It almost sounds heretical to refute such an idea.
God’s love is expansive and beyond understanding but it is not “unconditional.” If His love is accepted as being expressed as one’s presence in His Eternal Kingdom, and if His love is without condition, salvation must be universal. Further, if His love is without condition, there will be no place for judgment since judgment implies the assessment of one’s faithfulness in meeting conditions.
The nature of fullness of God’s love is seldom taught. That is, the Lord not only gave His life on the cross so that past sins might be forgiven (Hebrews 9:15) and a new covenant provided, He dwells “in” the believer so that the righteousness demanded by the law might be achieved by those who are willing to obey Him. (Romans 8:4)
Since salvation is NOT universal, condition(s) for it must apply. According to the Psalmist the first condition is contrition of spirit. “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18, KJV; 51:17; 57:15) A second condition is that they must “obey” the Spirit. “He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9, NIV; Romans 8:4) A third condition is that they must stand firm to the end. “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22, NIV). A fourth condition is that they must share in His suffering (to overcome temptations),” Now if we are children [of God], then we are heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17, NIV; Romans 6:5)
All will be judged at Christ’s return for the things done in the flesh. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10, NIV). There will be a separation of those “who do not obey the gospel” from those who do. “He will punish those who do not know [appreciate] God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10)
God’s love is expansive, but not unconditional, and those who teach otherwise are deceivers leading many into a false hope for their disobedient behaviors. Paul told his readers to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) Christ told His followers to “make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Luke 13:24, NIV)
The mythical concept of God’s “unconditional love” is so pervasive that it has overwhelmed contemporary Christian music and has lulled believers to sleep concerning the need for their own righteousness. God’s love is expansive, but He is also HOLY and “without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) The Kingdom of God was not created for man; it is God’s kingdom created for Him and those in it must be suitable for His Presence. “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.” (Matthew 13:41) “Only a few” will find life. (Matthew 7:14)