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God Loves Sinners, but...

God loves everyone - even those he doesn't like to be around. "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom 5:8 God "wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." 1Tim 2:4 But not everyone will be saved. In fact Jesus indicates that few will be saved.
Mat 7:13,14  "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Luke 13:
23   Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" And He said to them,
24  "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
25  "When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’
26  "then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’
27  "But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’

If God loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved, then why will he end up sending most away? God loves sinners, but He doesn't like sinners. How can that be? "Love" in the Biblical sense of agape love is not the same as "like" - as having a preference for. In fact "hate" in the sense of not liking someone, is not the opposite of "love". You can love someone in the agape sense, and yet  at the same time "hate" being around that person. I would imagine this a very common occurence in parent/child relationships in which the parent wants the best for their child, but hates to be around them when they're rebellious or otherwise acting up. So for example today there's controvery over whether God hates homosexuals or whether God loves homosexuals. In fact both are true - as is the case of any other category of unrepentant lifestyle sinner.

Christ payed for the sins of the world - as it is written - "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."1John 2:2  So having done so, why has God not made salvation unconditional? For it is written:

"God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."John 3:16-18
It appears that getting people saved is secondary to something else - namely allowing people to exercise their free will to accept God for who He is.

But another issue along these same lines is that for those who don't accept God as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, why is hell the alternative? Afterall, justice was satisfied on the cross. So why not provide either a comfortable annihilation if not a comfortable limbo state for the unbelievers - why eternal torment? (Luke 16:23,24; Rev 14:11; Rev 20:10; Matt 18:34) The reason behind this could very well be that the rejection of God's gracious offer, given what He's sacrificed to obtain it, angers Him so much that He demands such people be tortured eternally. "He will punish those who do not know 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." 2Thess 1:8,9 (See also Luke 20:9-19)

Discussion Questions

How does God demonstrate His love for sinners?
Despite paying for sins, and given that He wants everyone to be saved, why didn't God make salvation unconditional?

Suppose you owned your own country in which you were in charge. Suppose there was another country in which a number of people were held in prison for crimes they had committed. Now suppose you went to that country and paid to have those criminals handed over to you. Would you place any conditions upon them to live in your country?

Why do you suppose God provided no alternative fate than eternal torment for those who disbelieve?

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Dec 10,2023