By S.C. Shaw
Does God Love Everyone? Yes and no. Most anyone will answer this question with “of course God loves everyone!” That’s what we’ve all been taught since we were children and or told since any of us can remember. Even most the unbelieving world would say “Yes” to that question. But I would love to offer some thoughts. I feel like we answer this question in such a way because we feel like we have no place to go in our evangelism if we answer this question in any other way. We have nowhere to go if we make anyone feel uncomfortable. But I believe we are doing a huge disservice to the Gospel and to the unbeliever when we give this perspective. If the Bible is truly our foundation of truth and authority, then we must look within to help and not shy away from wait it is plainly telling us. Nowhere in scripture do we find a single verse that says “God loves everyone”. In fact, we get the opposite of verses throughout the Bible in abundance of God hating the wicked and how the world is storing up wrath for itself and are by nature children of wrath. Why does this matter? Why can’t we just help people feel loved in such an evil and corrupt world? The answer is in the culture that we see. Most people have a dangerous false view of God because of this teaching. Right about now you’re angry at what I’m saying and are gritting your teeth to give me verses like “God so loved the world”, and “God is love”, etc. But be careful, that’s how false religions and false doctrines get created. Reading out of context and not understanding what the scriptures are saying is the bulk of the issue. We need to be full Bible Christians. Systematic theology is lacking in our understanding. Reading the Bible in light of the original readers understanding is the only proper way to come to the Bible.
Here’s what A.W. Pink had to say about this in his book “The Sovereignty of God”. “One of the most popular beliefs of the day is that God loves everybody, and the very fact that it is so popular with all classes ought to be enough to arouse the suspicions of those who are subject to the Word of Truth. God’s Love toward all His creatures is the fundamental and favorite tenet of Universalists, Unitarians, Theosophists, Christian Scientists, Spiritualists, Russellites, etc. No matter how a man may live-in open defiance of Heaven, with no concern whatever for his soul’s eternal interests, still less for God’s glory, dying, perhaps with an oath on his lips-notwithstanding, God loves him, we are told. So widely has this dogma been proclaimed, and so comforting is it to the heart which is at enmity with God we have little hope of convincing many of their error. That God loves everybody, is, we may say, quite a modern belief. The writings of the church fathers, the Reformers or the Puritans will (we believe) be searched in vain for any such concept. Perhaps the late D. L. Moody-captivated by Drummond’s “The Greatest Thing in the World”-did more than anyone else in the last century to popularize this concept.”
When we come to the Bible with our culture glasses on, we will tend to get most of the Bible wrong or at the best, a very weak Gospel.
“God so loved the world”, the most famous verse ever. And it’s a great one for it is the very Word of God. Some are simply more impactful than others. To start with, God is unchanging. No new information, thought, or emotion will change God in any way. He is unchanging and all knowing. When we look at John 3:16 and 17 we get a clearer picture. Here it is, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” The Bible uses the term “World” or “All people” many times and in many ways. In most cases it is to talk about a section or type of people. Rarely do these words mean the entirety of the human family as a whole.
I first 1 John 4:16 we read “God is love”. “So, we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” So far, it looks like I am not proving my point. And that is my point. Without further study and understanding we come to these kinds of conclusions. In 1 John 1:5 we read that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. That means His love looks much different than our understanding of it. God loves perfectly, justly, righteously and His judgment and wrath are close at hand. God is everything perfectly balanced at all times for all time.
Let us get foundational. Why did Jesus need to come? Why did He need to die on a cross and experience the evilest thing that ever happened in the history of the world? He came because God needs to punish sin. God hates sin and will pour out a very scary and eternal wrath on sin. But instead of destroying us like He would have been just in doing, He made a way to save those whom He chose since before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4 “even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love” God knew who His children would be because He hand-picked those who are not yet created. He more accurately thought about His future family and planned our lives long before He created any of us. Does that mean we are robots and have no choice? Well, have you ever felt like a robot? The answer to this question really doesn’t even matter. I don’t think it’s a clear-cut answer and think it’s a silly question. We have a choice, and nothing is outside of God’s plan. And you know as well as I do that you can go and do anything you want right now. Let us get back to the main point.
This matters because we must see that the entire New Testament was written to the Church. Not the individual, not the world, but the people of God, or the “world of God’s people”. The ones whom God chose. Nowhere in the Bible do we get a Word for the world living in their sin. What about all the verses telling people to turn and repent? Even those whom God has chosen still need to realize they need Jesus, repent and follow Him, then we are saved. God knows the unrepentant world won’t chose Him and therefore has nothing to say to them. However, He gives us a clear view of His eventual wrath on them. For those who believe, He allows you to believe at the time He has set. Is this gift open to anyone who receives it? Absolutely. But it is still all in God’s control.
Again, let’s look at A.W. Pink. “It has been customary to say God loves the sinner though He hates his sin. But that is a meaningless distinction. What is there in a sinner but sin? Is it not true that his “wholehead is sick” and his “wholeheart faint,” and that “from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness”in him? (Isa. 1:5, 6). Is it true that God loves the one who is despisingand rejecting His blessed Son? God is Light as well as Love, and therefore His love must be a holylove. To tell the Christ-rejecter that God loves him is to cauterize his conscience as well as to afford him a sense of security in his sins. The fact is, the love of God is a truth for the saints only, and to present it to the enemies of God is to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs. With the exception of John 3:16, not once in the four Gospels do we read of the Lord Jesus, the perfect Teacher, telling sinners that Godloved them! In the book of Acts, which records the evangelistic labors and messages of the Apostles, God’s love is never referred to at all! But when we come to the Epistles, which are addressed to the saints,we have a full presentation of this precious truth-God’s love for His own.Let us seek to rightlydivide the Word of God and then we shall not be found taking truths which are addressed to believers and mis-applying them to unbelievers. That which sinners need to have brought before them is the ineffable holiness, the exacting righteousness, the inflexible justice and the terrible wrath of God. Risking the danger of being misunderstood let us say-and we wish we could say it to every evangelist and preacher in the country-there is far too much presenting of Christ to sinners today (by those sound in the faith), and far too little showing sinners their needof Christ, i.e., their absolutely ruined and lost condition, their imminent and awful danger of suffering the wrath to come, the fearful guilt resting upon them in the sight of God: to present Christ to those who have never been shown their needof Him, seems to us to be guilty of casting pearls before swine. Romans 5:8 is addressed to saints,and the “we” are the same ones as those spoken of in 8:29, 30.”
God needs to pour out His wrath on sin because He hates sin. “Hate” in a more biblical understanding of it means to have nothing to do with. To turn from and reject. Not this overly dramatic feeling we think of. Sin isn’t just something we do; it is who we are outside of Christ. Born under the curse of Adam. Born into sin and under the wrath of God. Born into a life that God can have no relationship with. God didn’t create sin. Sin came into the world by disobedience. Sin is anything against God. But God so loved the “world”, the world of His chosen people because He chose to love some. We can’t see a word like that and apply it to everyone because the Bible doesn’t. But here’s where I think there’s some truth to both beliefs. Jesus’ blood was powerful enough to cover every sin from every person who ever lived. But Christ knew who He was dying for. Not one drop of Christ blood was shed in vain as if God is weak, unknowing and helpless.
God chose some and not others? Sound unfair? Remember, it would be right and just of Him to condemn all of us to eternal punishment. But He doesn’t. How do you know if you are chosen? If you repent and believe then you were always meant to be a child of God. And we know that we are truly in Him when our life shows the fruits of the Spirit. When your life is drastically changed from before and after Christ.
What about the thief on the cross? He believed and then died. No chance for good works, to see the fruits, nothing. Ah, but think about that event. First, at some point when he was on the cross next to Christ, He believed that He was God. Then he defended Jesus from the other thief hurling insults at Christ. Then He acknowledges who Jesus is and asks for salvation. Jesus assures Him of His salvation. And now his story is an amazing example of people coming to Christ even until the last minutes of life. I think he hits all the important points of a follower of Christ. Since then, there are countless other deathbed coming to Christ stories. But we don’t want to wait till then. When these people who have received Jesus like that, they are missing out on the blessings we get in this life. Storing up treasures for ourselves in heaven. Sharing the Gospel with others and being a part of His story. Seeing lives change the watching the work only our powerful and good Father can do. And it shouldn’t need to be said, but we don’t know when our time is.
I know, I seem to be off topic and on a rant. But this is the process in explaining a hard topic like this. We must see the full story as the whole Bible reveals it and not just a verse here and there. If God is never changing, He has chosen who will believe since before the foundations of the world, that means He has chosen some for destruction. You heard me right. And yes, there are verses to back that up as well. Here’s one, 2 Timothy 2:20 “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” God has created all things and can do what He wants with His creation. And before you puff up your chest in anger, remember we are finite creations that have no opinions on what our creator can do. As if we thinking His actions are wrong or immoral somehow. Have you ever cared what an ant thinks? Or pondered if the underwear you put on to workout in is ever offended? I doubt it. The span between our understanding and God is much greater than both of those examples. But we know God is perfect, holy, just and loving. We know that has only good planed for those who love Him. Now we bend our knowledge to become more like His, not the other way around.
Back to A.W. Pink. “Concerning the rich young ruler of whom it is said Christ “loved him” (Mark 10:21), we fully believe that he was one of God’s elect, and was “saved” sometime after his interview with our Lord. Should it be said this is an arbitrary assumption and assertion which lacks anything in the Gospel record to substantiate it, we reply, it is written, “Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out,” and this man certainly did “come” to Him. Compare the case of Nicodemus. He, too, came to Christ, yet there is nothing in John 3 which intimates he was a saved man when the interview closed; nevertheless, we know from his later life that he was not “cast out.”
But when it comes to salvation, we have a choice. Sure, if He didn’t choose you then you are unable to believe. That shouldn’t be discouraging but eye opening. If you are concerned about that then I’d say you’re at least in the right mindset to believe. The ones who can’t believe are the ones who don’t want to believe. They will still deny following God even as they look Him in the eyes in the last day. Yes, this is one of many great tensions in the Bible. But never forget, we are a finite creation dealing with infinite truths from thee eternal Creator. There is some mystery how our choice and God’s providence and sovereignty work together. But we maintain that He knows best and struggle to understand Him not push back because we don’t get it.
Let’s get back to the main point. “God loves you so much and He just wants to be your good Father in your life. If you would just come to Him and let Him come into your heart” …blah blah blah. Do you hear how that sounds? We are making God a little winy god who just can’t live without you and will do whatever it takes if you would only give him a little attention and would just believe, “pretty please!”. That is a pathetic and evil view of the God we see in the Bible. My God, the One from Scripture is a conquering King. He is the creator and sustainer of all things. He holds all the power and control over everything and everyone. He isn’t reacting to our actions. He is using everything even the works of His enemies to accomplish His tasks. And He will by no means clear the guilty, Exodus 34:7.
A.W. Pink says it this way. “If it be true that God loves every member of the human family then why did our Lord tell His disciples “He that has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves Me: and he that loves Me shall be loved of My Father… If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him” (John 14:21, 23)? Why say “he that loves Me shall be loved of My Father” if the Father loves everybody?The same limitation is found in Proverbs 8:17: “I love them that love Me.” Again; we read, “You hates all workersof iniquity”-not merely the works of iniquity. Here then is a flat repudiation of present teaching that, God hates sin but loves the sinner; Scripture says, “You hateall workers of iniquity” (Psa. 5:5)! “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psa. 7:11). “He that believes not on the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him“-not“shallabide,” but even now-“abides on him” (John 3:36). Can God “love” the one on whom His “wrath” abides? Again; is it not evident that the words “The love of God which is in Christ Jesus”(Rom. 8:39) marks a limitation, both in the sphere and objects of His love? Again; is it not plain from the words “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated”(Rom. 9:13) that God does notlove everybody? Again; it is written, “For whomthe Lord loveth He chastened, and scourged every sonwhom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). Does not this verse teach that God’s love is restrictedto the members of His own family? If He loves all men without exception then the distinction and limitation here mentioned is quite meaningless. Finally, we would ask, Is it conceivable that God will love the damned in the Lake of Fire? Yet, if He loves them now He will do so then, seeing that His love knows no change-He is “without variablenessor shadow of turning”!”
When we give people, this view of God we are letting people feel comfortable and assured in their life of sin. Essentially saying, “Coming to God is great but if not, He still loves you and you just need to make a choice, but don’t worry He will always love you, He even died for you.” We are not giving the Gospel the roots with these kinds of statements. The sting of the truth is missing. We will never choose a Savior if we don’t feel like we need one. There is a sting before we can sing. There must be a cross before the crown. We need to see how wretched we are before we get to see ourselves as a son or daughter of thee King. I have heard the non-believer say various forms of this, “Well, if God is love and I just try my best in this life then he has to let me in heaven.” What a horrific statement. What a patient God to not blast people down where they stand. But you see what is happening right? Giving the unrepentant no reason to repent and turn from their life because this “loving god” is just a sucker for some good deeds and a little kindness. “Doing the best I can”, suddenly becomes the standard for an eternity in Heaven. It is making nothing of sin and therefore spitting at Christ sacrifice because if all that is true, God is a worthless god who’s sacrifice meant nothing. Ultimately leading people to believe they have salvation when there is none, damning them to hell in the process. I know I’m sounding dramatic here, but this is a serious truth that isn’t talked about, almost ever. The real and true Gospel is offensive to the unrepentant. But to those who are being called, it is the message of salvation, 2 Chronicles 7:14, John 10:27-28.
And just in case I haven’t made my point. Here are just a few verses that speak of God’s hatred, wrath and coming judgment on the unrepentant. But before I do this, I am not a fire and brimstone preacher. I believe in the everlasting love of God for His children that has been poured out on us in abundance. And that offer is open to any who receive it.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful rebukes. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I lay my vengeance upon them.”
2 Peter 2:9
Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,
For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.
The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry; he dries up all the rivers; Bashan and Carmel wither; the bloom of Lebanon withers. The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him
God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed, and he pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth shall drain it down to the dregs.
But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!
On account of these the wrath of God is coming.
1 John 4:10
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
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.
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
Let me add this before we continue. Any good theologian would agree that God is unchanging. He is everything good all at once. He doesn’t’ have wavering emotions like us. Nor does He ever react to our choices. He is perfect and powerful, sovereign and holy in all He is and does. With that in mind, what part of this leaves any room for one to believe everything I just stated and the next second believe that God is allowing those who He once loved to now be far from Him in hell? God isn’t sending anyone to hell, like so many people like to phrase it. But He did create it and it is punishment for all evil, sin and wickedness at the end of this age. Therefore, the only logical conclusion is to admit that God loves some and not others. He is perfectly allowed to do that as He is the creator of all and is able to do what He pleases.
Haven’t even scratched the surface. I know you didn’t read more than three of them, but they are all Scripture, from God and need to be handled accordingly. The world doesn’t need a watered-down gospel anymore. One that sparks no cause for action. People need to truth that there is death and destruction coming, from the very Hand that provides a way out. And no that’s not contradictory. God must punish sin. Sin is why He killed His Son. And when He decides to end this world, we must spend eternity somewhere. We choose to be with Him now or we choose to be without Him. That’s our eternity. God doesn’t force Himself on you. You choose. But a choice must be made. And doing nothing is a choice against Him.
So, does God love everybody? I think there must be some kind of love for all His creation. But He loves His children very different than He loves anything else of His creation.
Every quote from A.W. Pink about this topic from his book “The Sovereignty of God”. I’ve updated the language when He quotes the KJV of his references. Read the full chapter here.
But before you try and debate what you’ve just read I would like you to be aware of something. Anything less than this is an argument for pride of man and less of God’s Word. I am simply fighting for a more faithful God centered mindset and teaching. Are you going to fight for more man centered theology or God centered theology? Our duty isn’t for favor of man but to present the Gospel as is shown in God’s Word.
Lastly, this truth has nothing to do with our duty to all of God’s creation. We are commanded to love everyone and treat every person with respect as an image barrier of God. We let God do what He does and we do as we are commanded.
Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s and Louis Berkhof’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!