Does God accept everyone?
Judas betrayed Jesus and was rejected. Peter denied Jesus and was accepted. If God loves everyone unconditionally then why doesn’t accept everyone unconditionally?
This blog series looks at the love of God and asks, ‘Is it unconditional or conditional?’ So far we have seen two aspects of God’s love which are entirely unconditional: God’s providential care for his creation and his unlimited offer of salvation to all those far from him.
Now we look at his conditional love – the love he gives to those who turn to him in repentance and faith. This is his saving love. You need to receive this love in order to experience it. God freely offers his salvation to everyone, but only those who receive it can experience it.
This idea comes from the second part of the most famous verse in the Bible. Notice the emphasis I have added to the text:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life! (John 3:16).
I’ve heard many people object to this condition:
You mean that God loves me but will throw me into hell if I don’t love him back? He demands that I bow down to him and worship him or else he will reject me forever? That’s not love, that’s megalomania!
Christians who struggle to explain the conditionality of God’s saving love often become universalists. They believe that love will win in the end, or at least their version of love. No one will be lost. All will be saved.
I understand why people would want to believe that. But the problem is that this kind of thinking ignores the condition Jesus himself set for receiving eternal life. Sadly, some people do reject Christ’s saving love and they will perish. But everyone who does sincerely turn to him will receive eternal life.
The difference between those who receive eternal life and those who perish is simple. People in the first group accept Christ’s offer of salvation by trusting him and depending on his sacrificial death on the cross. Those from the other group do not trust Christ. They stay as they are, trusting in themselves, their own good works, or their own philosophy of life.
The problem with the weak view of God’s love is that it ignores his holy and righteous character. He loves in a completely holy and righteous way. That’s why Jesus had to die for our sins. It was the only way God’s loving justice could be satisfied. Sin which breaks relationship with God must be removed, first by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins, and second by receiving the benefits of his death for our lives personally. We abandon our rebellious lifestyle and embrace his saving love.
But why isn’t everyone automatically saved? Didn’t Jesus die for all humanity and atone for the sins of all? The answer is that Jesus died for all, but his death is only effective for those who believe. You need to transfer your trust from yourself to Christ. You must stop trusting your own opinions, your own good deeds and your good ideas. You need to put your trust in what Jesus alone has accomplished for you.
If you are travelling from London to Edinburgh by rail, you actually have to get on the train in order to arrive at your destination. The same is true of Christ, you need to commit to him if you want to go where he alone can take you.
Don’t forget love is relational. You cannot love in isolation. Just as in human relationships, there is always another person involved. If you love someone dearly and they reject you in favour of someone else, the loving thing to do is to let them go. No matter how much it hurts you, you respect the choice they have made. If you don’t, you are robbing them of their right to choose. Jesus’ love for you means he will always respect your choice to accept his love or to reject it.
Why was Judas rejected and Peter accepted? Both were wrong in how they treated Jesus. Judas never accepted Jesus’ offer of salvation. He never wanted that kind of relationship with Christ. Peter did. He denied that he knew Jesus on the night he was arrested, just as Jesus had predicted. But immediately, he knew that he had sinned against the deep connection he had with the Lord. This led him to repent and come back to the place of simple trust and obedience.
The Sinner’s Prayer:
“Father God, thank you for sending Jesus to be my Saviour. I put my trust in his death on the cross for me, and I thank you that you raised him from the dead so that I can get to know him personally. I now turn from my sin and receive your love and forgiveness. Thank you for making me a child of God.”
Let somebody know if you have just prayed the prayer above sincerely and from the heart. Share the good news!