by Tad Lindley
As our creator, God loves all people. Even those who do not recognize him. Whether we are an atheist worshipping the intellect of man, or idolator bowing down and kissing statues, or pantheist worshipping created things rather than the Creator himself, or a citizen of the kingdom of God, God loves us. Above and beyond that, his love in unconditional. That means that there are no requirements for him to love us. From first to worst, God loves all. This is why King David could write, If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. (Psalm 139:8) Whoever we are and wherever we are, God loves us.
Speaking of him the Bible says, God is love. (I John 4:8) Concerning his coming death on the cross, Jesus said, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) And again in Romans we read, But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (5:8) These are great truths, and we are dependent upon God’s love and God’s mercy in all of our ways. Whether we are climbing the walls of our own mind trying to figure out where our next heroin fix is coming from or whether we are on a seven day fast and feeling so holy we could tear down the gates of hell with a water pistol, God still loves us. His love for us is unconditional, it is not contingent on anything that we do.
Well, I just don’t believe…
How many times have we heard someone say, “Well, I just don’t believe a loving God would throw people into hell for eternity!” And certainly, most of us at times feel like we have a much better understanding of things than God does, but we don’t. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9) This tells me that if I say something and God says something different, the one that is wrong is me. If I think something that makes perfect sense to me, and it is contrary to the Bible, God wins again. And as much as it seems to us that God should just save us all unconditionally, that is not his way.
God has made some conditions in order for a person to be saved. This is not my thinking, this is God’s thinking. Why else would Jesus say, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:16) Right there Jesus put two conditions on salvation, believing and baptism. If just believing was enough then the devils would be saved: Thou believest that there is one God, thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble. They believe, but they are not saved. To be saved we must believe, and we must be baptized.
Except ye repent
In Luke 13:3 Jesus tells the people, I tell you nay, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. In case they missed it, precisely two verses later he makes the same exact statement. He is putting another condition on salvation, repentance. It should come as no surprise then, that John the Baptist, in preparing a way for Jesus also preached repentance. For John said, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:2)
Want to see the kingdom of God?
In one of the most famous passages of scripture ever, Jesus puts some serious conditions on salvation for Nicodemus. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3) Next this, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5) And if that didn’t convince anyone that there are conditions, then Jesus said this, Marvel not that I say unto thee, Ye must be born again. (John 5:7) If you want to see the kingdom of God, let alone enter it, there are some things that you must do.
What shall we do?
When the Jewish people who had egged on the Romans in killing Jesus realized that they were guilty of Jesus’ murder and wanted to be saved from their sin they turned to the apostle Peter, And said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren what shall we do? (Acts 2:37) Now, if people were saved unconditionally, then Peter would have just said, “Nothing. You are saved simply because God saves people unconditionally!” But that is not what he said. In fact, Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesu Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)
What will you do?
God loves us so much that he is waiting patiently. He is waiting and watching, hoping that each of us will believe in him, and repent of our sins, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and receive his Spirit, and live holy lives (Hebrews 12:14), as all of these things are conditions for salvation according to God’s own word. His love is unconditional, but his salvation is not. It is free to all men, but it is not automatic, nor is it without conditions. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9) He might be waiting, but don’t you wait, embrace his salvation today!
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, AK.