Does God Love Everyone?

By Kevin DeYoung

“Yes.

And no.

The question is deceptively difficult. The Bible speaks of God’s love in several different ways. D.A. Carson, in his excellent book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, mentions five (16-19):

1. The peculiar love of the Father for the Son, and of the Son for the Father.
2. God’s providential love over all that he has made.
3. God’s salvific stance toward his fallen world.
4. God’s particular, effective, selecting love toward his elect.
5. God’s love toward his own people in a provisional way, conditioned upon obedience.

After giving a brief biblical explanation for each way, Carson explains the danger of emphasizing one aspect of the love of God over the others.

If God’s love is defined exclusively by his intra-Trinitarian love, which is perfect and unblemished by sin, we won’t grasp the glory of God in loving rebels like us.

If God’s love is nothing but his providential care over all things, we’ll struggle to see how the gospel is any good news at all because, after all, doesn’t he love everyone already?

If God’s love is seen solely as his desire to save the world, we’ll end up with an emotionally charged God who doesn’t display the same sense of sovereignty we see in the pages of Scripture.

If God’s love is only understood as his electing love, we’ll too see easily say God hates all sorts of people, when that truth requires a good deal more nuance.

And if God’s love is bound up entirely in warnings like “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21), we’ll fall into legalism and lots of unwarranted self-doubt.

Talking about God’s love sounds like a simple theological task, but it’s actually one of the trickiest. I’ve heard of churches debating whether their kids should be taught “Jesus Loves Me” (some of the children might be reprobate, you never know). I know many more churches which so emphasize God’s all-encompassing love for everyone everywhere, that it’s hard to figure out why anyone should bother to become a Christian. The fact is that God loves everyone and he doesn’t. He hates the world and he loves the world. He can’t possibly love his adopted children any more than he does, and he is profoundly grieved by our sin. The challenge of good theology is to explain how the Bible provides warrant for all those statements and how they all fit together.

Any one truth about the love of God pressed to the exclusion of the others will make for a distorted deity and deadly discipleship. “In short,” Carson counsels, “we need all of what Scripture says on this subject, or the doctrinal and pastoral ramifications will prove disastrous” (23).”

-Kevin DeYoung, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/09/06/does-god-love-everyone/

Love Wins: One Year Later

by Jesse Johnson, http://thecripplegate.com/love-wins-one-year-later/

It has been just 16 months since Rob Bell’s Love Wins was released. The book, which seeks to undermine the biblical doctrine of eternal punishment, was roundly rejected by evangelical leaders (see herehere, or here). But in college ministries across the country, it had the effect of introducing ambiguity where there was previously certainty.

Today, Rob Bell has left his church, and moved to Los Angeles where he is “working on other creative projects,” and thus proving Jesus’ words that wisdom is vindicated by her children. Those projects are as of yet undisclosed, but there are rumors of a TV show about his life.

As for the theology about eternal punishment, I don’t know of any churches that have changed their doctrinal statements as a result of Bell’s book. He may have introduced ambiguity into the hearts of Christians, but—as of now—it seems like the doctrine of eternal punishment withstood its latest attack.

It is helpful to remember why Christians believe in eternal punishment. I’m not talking about the theological reasons, of which there are many. I’m talking about the biblical reasons. This is a doctrine that is so horrible that nobody would accept it or teach it willingly. It takes more than deductive reasoning to get people to embrace the concept that the majority of people who have ever been born are now in hell, and that they will be there forever. As Robert Peterson in Hell on Trial points out, there are really two kinds of Christians: those that have entertained doubts about the eternal nature of hell, and those that have not seriously thought about the implications of the doctrine. Even Wyane Grudem points out that “if our hearts are not moved with deep sorrow when we contemplate this doctrine, then there is a serious deficiency in our spiritual and emotional sensibilities.”

Because of the reluctance with which most people hold this doctrine, it is not as if the arguments that are put forward in Bell’s book are going to be persuasive. If sound and biblical thinkers could be persuaded out of believing in hell, they would abandon the doctrine. Most people who hold to the doctrine do so not because they want to, but they have simply been overwhelmed by the biblical evidence. For me at least, this is how my thoughts go: “I don’t want to believe in hell, and I can’t imagine the horrors of it, and I can’t imagine how and why it would endure forever and ever, but the Bible is so clear that this is the case, and I am bound to believe what the Scripture teaches.”

What are the main Scripture passages that describe hell as eternal? This list is not comprehensive, but are the ones that I think are most clear:

• OT Prophecy: The most well known passage in the OT on hell is at the end of Isaiah. There, the prophet describes hell as being visible in the eternal state, and notes that “Their maggots will never die, their fire will never go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind” (Isa 66:24). The context of this passage is important. Isaiah is describing how at salvation, the old is gone and the new will be there (Isa 65:17). In that place, where people dwell with God forever, the torment of hell will be real and ever present. Then, to seal this imagery, Jesus quotes these words in Mark 9:48, using the Greek word that indicates that this fire is indeed eternal. Daniel describes hell as eternal as well (Dan 12:2), and this is another verse that is repeated by Jesus.

• Jesus: Our savior describes the fire as hell as “unquenchable” (Mark 9:43). He describes hell as eternal when he explains that at final judgment he will say to those on their way to hell “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!” (Matt 25:41). Later he compares the eternality of hell to the eternality of heaven (Matt 25:46).

• NT Prophecy: The Apostle John describes the smoke of hell as ascending “forever and ever.” In that same passage (Rev 14:11) the smoke is explicitly connected to the torment of those suffering, and is then compared to the endurance of the saints. So the torments of hell last as long as the endurance of those who are saved. This imagery is repeated later—and applied to demons and the devil as well—in Rev 19:3 and 20:10. Later in Rev., it is clear that throughout the new heaven and new earth, there are those outside the city who are being punished by torment (eg. Rev 22:14), so that as long as heaven exists, this description stands.

At the very least, the Bible ties the duration of those that worship God to the duration of those that are punished in hell by God. It is not a happy truth, but it does continually provoke us to be more thankful for his grace and mercy, and that thankfulness will apparently grow even throughout eternity.

Five Love Languages of Leviticus

Leviticus 19:9-18 commands that we love our neighbor as ourself. What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?

In What is the Mission of the Church?, Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert explain what they call the five love languages of Leviticus:

This passage applies love to five different areas of life, marked off into five sections by the concluding phrase “I am the Lord” (vv. 9–10, 11–12, 13–14, 15–16, 17–18). You might think of these verses as giving five love languages that every Christian must speak. We must love with our possessions, by our words, in our actions, by our judgments, and with our attitudes.

  1. Loving Others with Our Possessions (vv. 9–10): The main lesson to be learned is that God’s people are to be generous. The principle for us is this: We must deliberately plan our financial lives so that we have extra left over to give to those in need.
  2. Loving Others with Our Words (vv. 11–12): God’s people love others by telling the truth in their transactions. No cheating scales, weights, or measurements (vv. 35–36).
  3. Loving Others by Our Actions (vv. 13–14): God’s people must not take advantage of the weak.
  4. Loving Others in Our Judgments (vv. 15–16): Justice means there should be one standard, one law, for anyone and everyone, not different rules for different kinds of people.
  5. Loving Others in Our Attitude (vv. 17–18): Love is concrete, but it is also affective. “You shall not hate your brother in your heart.” It’s not enough to be polite on the outside and full of rage on the inside. If we are angry with our brother we should “reason frankly” with him and try to work things out. The bottom line is that you are to love as you would want to be loved.

So in the end this great commandment to love your neighbor as yourself—this commandment quoted in the New Testament more than any other—boils down to five very elementary, everyday, ordinary commands: share, tell the truth, don’t take advantage of the weak, be fair, talk it out. Simpler than you might think. But still easier said than done.

-Angie Cheatham, 2011, http://www.crossway.org/blog/2011/11/5-love-languages-of-leviticus/

The Proof of God’s Love

“The love of God towards the world is not a vague, abstract idea of mercy, which we are obliged to take on trust, without any proof that it is true. It is a love which has been manifested by a mighty gift. It is a love which has been put before us in a plain, unmistakable, tangible form. God the Father was not content to sit in heaven, idly pitying and loving His fallen creatures on earth. He has given the mightiest evidence of His love towards us by a gift of unspeakable value. He has “not spared His own Son—but delivered Him up for us all.” (Rom. 8:32). He has so loved us that He has given us His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! A higher proof of the Father’s love could not have been given.”

-J.C. Ryle, Tract: Faith

Who Pays for Your Spouse’s Sin?

“…“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:25-26, ESV).

Christ did not make me pay for my sin. He sacrificed for my sin by giving His life for me. If I truly understand the Gospel in the moment of my wife’s sin, my response would be a Gospel-motivated sacrifice rather than self-centered punishment.

Therefore, rather than choosing anger (punishment) as a response to her sin, I must choose an attitude of forgiveness (sacrifice) when she sins against me. Too often I choose anger and when I do, it distorts our relationship. Rather than serving my wife, by helping her get to Christ where she can be forgiven, I convolute the situation by sinning in response to her sin.

I become the judge and, thus, feel justified to make her pay for her sin. This is an emasculation of the Gospel. It mocks Christ’s death. I am saying in essence, “I don’t care that You died for her sin. She has sinned against me and I am going to circumvent what You did on the cross by making her pay right now. Sin demands a punishment and I feel it would be better if she received my punishment rather than allowing her to experience the cleansing power of the Gospel. Yes, You were bruised for her iniquities, but right now I feel the need to bruise her for her iniquities.”

However, when I am practically applying the Gospel in the moment of her sin, I am living out Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 5:25-26. Our relationship is not distorted by my sin, while my wife is being sanctified, cleansed, and washed by God’s Word. Rather than me forcing sanctification through fear and intimidation, she experiences the freedom, favor, and power of the Cross in her life where true cleansing happens.

My goal is for my wife to walk in holiness. However, when I punish her rather than forgiving her for her sin, I am making it harder for her to accomplish the very thing that I desire the most for her….”

-Rick Thomas, on the Grace & Truth Blog, Read the full article here: http://biblicalcounselingcoalition.org/blogs/2011/09/20/who-pays-for-your-spouse%E2%80%99s-sin-your-spouse-or-christ/

I Can Do All (Through Christ)

“Does God ever ask His children to do that which is impossible for them? Then if He asks me-no, tells me-to love my wife, then, if I am really “saved,” really a child of God, I can, with all the resources of what it means to be saved. Or if He tells me, as a wife, to submit myself to my own husband, then I can-or I am not a Christian. And this goes-God help me-for everything He has outlined for His children.”

-Tom Carson, May 7, 1988, at the age of 76 after spending the day doing housework and caring for his Alzheimer ridden wife, as recorded in D. A. Carson, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: the Life and Reflections of Tom Carson, 130

Biblical Womanhood

Titus 2 -Vodie Baucham

“Titus 2 Influencers are married women and men.” Someone who isn’t married and doesn’t have children doesn’t fit the Titus 2 model.”

I. Reverent behavior –She ought to conduct herself in such a way as to bring honor to God and not to draw attention to herself. Both how you present yourself and in your speech.

On the difficulty of finding modest clothes for his twelve-year-old daughter: “You go in the stores and it is hoochie mama central.”

Women should ask: “To what aspect of my person am I drawing attention? And is that honoring to Christ.”

Men should ask: “If you are around a woman and you find yourself doing the male neck exercise…in order to exaggerate so that you do not find yourself [seeing what should not be on display], either there is some more discipleship that needs to happen or she has just told you what she thinks is the most important thing about her…because that’s the thing to which she is trying to immediately draw your attention.”

II. Teaching what is good.

To his son: “look for a partner in raising my grandchildren” A woman who is not giving herself as a helpmeet to another man in a career, but giving herself as a helpmeet to her husband to raise their children.

“Women are these intuitive and emotional creatures, why should we need to teach women to love their husbands and their children? [This] gives away that we do not understand what Biblical love is, we’ve bought into the Greco-Roman myth…that love is a random, overwhelming, uncontrollable sensual force.” The world says “we do not choose who we fall in love with. …That is not the way the Bible defines love, it’s not random, it’s not overwhelming and uncontrollable, it’s not just sensual.”

“A lot of men are leaving their wives for younger women, because they yearn for attention from younger women, and God gave them a daughter who could give them that. Why? We don’t what love is.”

Biblical love is “An act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object” Matthew 22

“Greco-Roman is too fickle for family life.” This is why women need to be taught how to love Biblically, not just culturally and emotionally. Because contrary to popular belief, they don’t know how to do it intuitively. [It] is a work of sanctification. [Intuitive, emotional love] is not enough to sustain what God intends to be sustained on the part of Biblical womanhood in the context of [a] marriage relationship. Biblical womanhood does not rely on this…version of love, [it] pushes past that to Biblical love. It is first and foremost an act of the will, it is a choice. It is accompanied by emotion. Love lead by emotion is a roller-coaster. It is not void of emotion either.” An example of this kind of love: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

III. Self-Controlled -not volatile

IV. Pure -This does not mean, don’t have sex until you get married. Purity is an act to be done now. Married women are to teach younger women to be pure, something that they, as older women, are to still put into practice.

Dig deep in laying a foundation for purity, like the foundation for a skyscraper, so that when the building is built, purity remains. Don’t build a bungalow marriage, but a skyscraper. Dig deep.

V. Working at home. “There is no priority that supersedes the priority of a woman’s role in her home.” There are tremendous distinctions between men and women. Praise God! If men and women were the same, one would not be necessary. “Most women today are raised to be men who are biologically women.” “You cannot have it all, but that’s okay because you do not need it all. I want Christ, and I want His blessing in generations of my family. The more my wife and I have come to understand what it takes to raise children Biblically, the more we realized it wouldn’t even be possible for us if she was out [not focused on her home]. It takes so much we couldn’t do it.” The Bible tells us children are arrows in a man’s quiver, his wife is helping to create inter-continental ballistic missiles for the kingdom of God. “[We] exist to be poured out for the cause of Christ, to be thoroughly used when it is all said and done and to raise, train, disciple and launch from our home as many warheads as is humanly possible, not as few as we can. No warrior goes into battle saying, hey man, just give me as little ammunition as you can. Because my wife is committed to our home, that is the attitude we can have.”

VI. Kind and Submissive to their own husbands. Why does this need to be taught?

A. Women war against submission by nature as a result of the fall. Genesis 3:16. “As a result of the fall, women, you will desire his headship, his role …you are naturally disinclined to submit to a husband.”

B. We have decades of feminist teaching, even from within the church. These teach egalitarianism and that submission is mutual or conditional. Ephesians 5:21 is used to teach egalitarianism.

The problem is, Ephesian 5:5-21 is a paragraph and Ephesians 5:22-24 is a new paragraph; you cannot add verses from other paragraphs to the context of a different paragraph. Submission in 5:21 speaks of submission as we ought, wives to husbands, children to parents, slaves to masters, none of these is mutual. 1 Peter 3, Colossians 3, 1 Corinthians 11:3 have no statement of mutual submission.

It is not conditional, Ephesians 4:22 …in everything, as the church submits to Christ. The only exception is that she submits as he is obedient to Christ, 1 Peter 3:1-2, and sets an example of godliness even when he is not. The Likewise in 3:1 refers back to the previous paragraph in 2:18ff.

“Because you have been lied to, you believe that working for some man you don’t know…has more value than laying down your life beside a man who would lay his down for you. This is biblical womanhood, it is not what we’re accustomed to, it is not even what we’re comfortable with, but it is what is required if we are to see the kind of reformation and revolution [which glorifies Christ].”