Q & A about Unconditional Love

Q & A about Unconditional Love

These questions are a follow-up to the devotions A Misleading Description of God and Scripture Never Calls God's Love Unconditional.

1. God says He'll never leave or forsake us. Isn't that unconditional love? Romans 8:31-39


Scripture identifies this and other similar statements as promises. Most promises have conditions. For example the one above is given only to believers. Unbelievers will one day be separated from God (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Another example is the promise of forgiveness, given only to the repentant (1 John 1:8-10). Most promises are conditional. 

2. Do you really think that the majority of Christians who use the term “unconditional love” believe in cheap grace and the absence of hell?

I think many devoted Christians and Christian teachers use the term without recognizing the misunderstandings and inaccuracies it transmits.

Unfortunately, some professing Christians and non-Christians use the term to justify their lack of devotion and selfish lifestyles.

3. God does not base our salvation on our works or righteousness. Isn't that unconditional love? Ephesians 2:4-9

It’s true that we can’t earn or boast about our salvation. It’s a gift - a truly wonderful gift!! We can say God's love is "unearned" but since it’s only given to those who believe, it's not unconditional.

4. God loved us before we loved Him. Isn't that unconditional? Romans 5:8

God demonstrated (proved) His love by dying for us before we believed in Him. So we can say His love has always been available to us. But we still must believe in His redemption to receive it, so it's not unconditional.

5. God gives us salvation even though we don't deserve it. Isn't that unconditional? Romans 3:23

What a wonderful aspect of God's love - He died in our place! He gives eternal life to us even though we don’t deserve it. So we can say God's love is undeserved, but we don't receive it unless we believe, so it's not unconditional.


Q & A about Unconditional Love
6. Don’t you think we could say that God’s love is unconditional but some of His actions are conditional?

We can’t separate anything God does from who He is – God is Love (1 John 4:8) and everything He does is good and loving. 

God’s salvation, rewards, punishments, expectations, disappointments are all demonstrations of His perfect love. And they all have conditions. 

The wonderful news is that no condition is beyond our grasp.

7. Why do you think the term "unconditional love" is so popular?

To be honest, I don’t know why. I used the term for many years before exploring the meaning. Why do we use a word not based on Scripture? 

It’s a sad fact that anything repeated often enough – even if it’s not true – comes to be accepted as fact. 

I hope the majority of Christians use it without actually believing the errors it contains.

But I think any use of the description promotes confusion.

When people share the Gospel, unconditional love can give unbelievers the false impression that there's no cost involved in salvation. But Christ says otherwise (Luke 14:25-34). See "Is it Necessary to Mention Hell?"

But the worst result of this popular description is the heresies it enables such as universal salvation, cheap grace, and worldliness. See No Condemnation and Rejecting Cheap Grace.

This false belief in unconditional love is nothing new. Paul addressed this heresy in Romans 6.

8. Our English translations of the Bible are based on the Greek and Hebrew. Isn’t “unconditional love” one way to translate these Greek and Hebrew words?

Bible translators try to be as faithful to the original languages as possible. Yet no legitimate English translation uses the word "unconditional" to describe God's love. It obviously does not accurately reflect any of the Biblical descriptions.

9. Does a word have to be found in Scripture to be valid?

No, there’s nothing wrong with using descriptions for God’s love that aren’t the exact words used in Scripture, but it’s wrong to use words that misrepresent God’s character as revealed in Scripture. 

It's so important that we not get sloppy with our Bible study:

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ." Colossians 2:8

10. So are you saying that since God's love is conditional, He doesn't love sinners?

God passionately loves mankind (the world) enough to offer His Son as a sacrifice for sin.

He desires that men will choose to believe and follow Him. 

He isn't happy when men choose wickedness nor does He enjoy sending men to hell (Ezekiel 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:1-4). But He allows men to refuse His offers (for example: Matthew 23:37).

Another Resource:
God's Love is Better Than Unconditional

2 comments:

  1. I understand that God doesn't love sin but when you take the bible as a whole you have to come to the conclusion that God loves everyone. John 3:16 (for God so loved the world) 2 Peter 3:9 (not willing that any should perish) and many other verses in the bible say similar things. NO NOT UNIVERSAL SALVATION but universal love for His creation. Yes in Noah he said He said He was sorry He ever created man because man is evil, freewill made us (chose) evil. Romans 5:8 God loved us while we were sinners, I don't think that we should challenge God's love. Where does love come from? GOD. In God loving us it doesn't mean salvation is sure. God has given us the choice, just because we chose not to accept doesn't mean God loves us any less. It must break His heart when we don't believe. But by God's very nature, God's love is unconditional. He can't love us anymore than He already does it's what we chose to do with His love that is conditional. We chose our destiny God gives us every opportunity up to our final breath to chose His love.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Glen,
      I hope you will re-read the questions above, especially #10 because most of what you are saying is arguing against something I never wrote in this devotion.

      However, I disagree with what you've said about Scripture teaching that God's love is unconditional. The word isn't found in Scripture and does not reflect the meaning any word used for God's Love in Scripture. We must get our definitions from Scripture, and I am not challenging God's love. I am challenging a man-made definition of God's love that disagrees with God's Word.

      If God's love was truly without conditions, then universal salvation would be true. We can't have it both ways. If God is holy and punishes sin and looks on unrepentant sinners differently than those who love Him (all of which is clearly taught in Scripture), then His love is conditional.

      And that means calling God's love unconditional is calling it something less than it is, something that doesn't fit the nature and character of a holy, righteous God who offers His love to all men, but with conditions.

      It sounds like you know and love God. I encourage you to defend the Biblical descriptions for God's love - and there are many - instead of a description that contradicts Scripture.

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