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Tuesday 11 October 2022

God Never Stops Loving?

Image: Unsplash 

Because God is love, evangelicalism says: "God's love will never be removed." "God loves everybody equally." "You can't do anything to remove yourself from the love of God." "God's love is unconditional." 

Evangelicalism meet the Bible: 

"5 For thus says the Lord: Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament or grieve for them, for I have taken away my peace from this people, my steadfast love and mercy, declares the Lord. 6 Both great and small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried, and no one shall lament for them or cut himself or make himself bald for them. 7 No one shall break bread for the mourner, to comfort him for the dead, nor shall anyone give him the cup of consolation to drink for his father or his mother. 8 You shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them, to eat and drink. 9 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will silence in this place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride" (Jeremiah 16:5-9). 

This passage from Jeremiah is in the context of God's final judgement on the nation of Judah, before it was sent into exile in Babylon. Note how this passage contradicts so much of the modern sentimentalism of evangelical teaching. Many popular Christian phrases, such as those above, are easily shown to be wrong from the words of Scripture itself. God does withdraw his love, and he explains the conditions under which he does, very clearly: when people commit great evil, and refuse to repent. 

"But this is Old Testament," you reply. 

Ok, how about Jesus: 

"8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love" (John 15:8-10). 

If we must abide in his love, by obeying his commandments, then how can we say his love is unconditional? In fact, the technical term for verse 10 is an "conditional clause" - if this, then this. If you follow his commands, you will abide in his love. Conditional. It is as if this verse existed to rebuke evangelical sentiment. 

In fact Jesus drives this home again in the passage, "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (John 15:14). The word 'friends' here can be translated "loved ones". So, we are his loved ones, if we do as he says. 

Again, the sentimental teachings of evangelicalism are shown wrong by Scripture. God is love, and therefore, he never stops loving. But he does withdraw his love from those who act wickedly. Indeed, true love must shun evil, because real love is good, and good hates evil. 

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