Is God’s Love Unconditional? 7 Reasons to Say “Yes!”

“How do you know God’s love is unconditional? The phrase ‘unconditional love’ is not in the Bible!” This is a fair question that cuts right to the heart of the grace message. Grace says that God loves us with no strings attached but do a quick scan of the Bible and you will find that sometimes there are strings attached to the love of God. In one passage, God refers to Himself as a jealous God who loves those who love Him but punishes those who don’t (Ex 20:5-6).

And yet despite these few passages that say otherwise (I will address these in my next post) I am 100% convinced that God loves us unconditionally. You need to be 100% convinced too. So let me give you seven reasons for concluding that God loves you unconditionally:

(1) Love, by definition, is unconditional

“God is love (agape).” (1 Jn 4:16)

You probably know about the different words for love in the Greek language. You might even know that agape-love refers to “unconditional, self-sacrificing, and active” love. But did you know that agape love is unique to God? It is not a human form of love. If your experience of love is limited to what you have received from people, chances are you have encountered frail love that sometimes comes with expectations and baggage. But God’s love is not like this. As we will see, His love is unlike anything found in this world.

(2) Jesus demonstrates unconditional love

“But God demonstrates His own (agape) love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8)

If you want to know what agape love looks like, consider Jesus. “For God so agapao-ed the world, that He gave His only Son…” (Jn 3:16). We did not deserve to be saved, yet He came for us regardless. That He died for us shows us that God loves us more than He loves His own life. We had done nothing to attract Him. We had not even repented. Yet our Creator hung on the cross that we put Him on and forgave us as we killed Him. The cross is the single greatest demonstration of unconditional love the world has ever known.

(3) God’s love is immeasurable

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the (agape) love of Christ, and to know this (agape) love that surpasses knowledge…” (Eph 3:17-19)

When Paul wrote these words he knew full well that he was asking us to do the impossible. You cannot grasp the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love – they are ungraspable! Nevertheless Paul encouraged us to “Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights!” as Eugene Petersen says, because if you had even the smallest glimpse of how much He loves you, you would be undone. Selfishness and dead religion would wither. Your accomplishments and qualifications you would cheerfully count as rubbish compared to the awesome privilege and surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus your Lord.

(4) God’s love keeps no record of wrongs

“(Agape-love) is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it…” (1 Cor 13:5, AMP)

Jesus knew the name of every soldier who beat Him, every person who mocked Him, and every Pharisee who thought He was the devil. Yet He still went to the cross so that they might be reconciled to God. It was as if God was not counting their sins against them! He wasn’t, and neither is He counting yours (2 Co 5:19). On the cross, justice had a meeting with unconditional love and your peace with God was secured. Your transgressions have been blotted out as if you’d never done them (Is 43:25). Because God the Son bled for you, both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit have gone on record saying they will remember your sins no more (He 8:12, 10:17).

(5) God’s love endures

“Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].” (1 Cor 13:5-8, AMP)

You can take the love of God and nail it to a cross and He will still love you enough to come back from the dead and hunt you down just to tell you that He’s forgiven you and loves you and wants to be with you forever. Who does that?! Only God.

(6) God’s love is everlasting

“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’” (Jer 31:3)

Now there’s a quote that should be on the wall of every believer! The Hebrew word hesed, which denotes steadfast love, warm-hearted generosity, and devotion, and which is usually translated as loving-kindness, appears 250 times in the Old Testament. As Malcolm Smith explains, this word captures God’s heart towards us and is revealed formally in the covenant He made with us through our representative Jesus. So even if it were possible for God to have a change of heart and stop loving you, He would be bound by covenant to continue loving you for as long Jesus lives.

(7) God loves the unlovely

Perhaps you think God can’t love you because of all the bad stuff you’ve done. If you’re still not convinced that He loves you with an unconditional love, then consider those He loved in the Bible. He loved an adulterer and murderer called David. He pursued a persecuting Pharisee named Saul. When He wanted to portray His love for Israel He told the prophet Hosea to marry and love an unfaithful woman. When He walked the earth in human form He developed a reputation as a friend of sinners and told stories about prodigals who were loved even though they had done nothing deserving of love. He loved lepers and Gentiles, thieving tax-collectors and stinkin’ Samaritans. At this point you really should stop and ask yourself why?

Why does God love us?

We have seen from scripture that His love for us has nothing to do with our loveliness nor our behavior, whether good or bad. He simply loves us because He is love and it’s His nature to love. And thank God this is so, for there is no hope except that He loves us. If He did not love us unconditionally, He would not have died for us and there would be no new covenant based on His grace. But He does and He did and there is!

This is the good news that the whole world needs to hear.
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Related posts:
- Good news! What’s so good about it?
- God is good but how good is He?
- Forsaking your first love: What was the Ephesians’ problem?

Comments

  1. Note: Many theologians have written essays that seek to qualify the unconditional love of God. They say, “God’s love is unconditional but…” before listing all sorts of conditions and attaching all sorts of strings. That’s like saying, “water is wet except when it’s not.” Please don’t write in to ask me, “If God’s love is unconditional, why isn’t everyone saved?” or “If God’s love is unconditional, why are people going to hell?” These are questions for another time. Just take this moment to digest this simple truth: “God loves me!” If you can’t see that, look at creation, look at your kids, look at the cross! His heart radiates with molten love for you and He has been showing His love to you since the dawn of time. His love is like the sun – fierce and live-giving. If you haven’t experienced the Father’s love, the fault lies not with Him. Step out of the shade of dead religion and look up!

    • Cindy Rush says:

      Paul, I desperately needed this post, especially God’s love is immeasureable. I so want to be UNDONE by the knowledge of His love for me. 2012 has been a year of incredible heartache and I am so thankful to have discovered your blog and book. Thank you.

  2. Hannelore says:

    I used to wrestle with the same question about God’s unconditional love. Aside from learning about the depths of His grace, the Holy Spirit just yesterday showed me Romans 8:38-39. Nothing whatsoever can separate us from the love of God … I used to mentally qualify this by adding: “except sin”, until the Holy Spirit showed me that ALL my sins (and yours) are totally gone because of the cross. Puff, gone. Therefore God’s love is unconditional. What a God!

  3. Brandon says:

    Good word Paul, well said. It really is a lot more simple than we make it. Granted, we have to have faith in what God has accomplished to enjoy the fruit of His love, but it is we who complicate and dilute it. Moral behavior is not the goal but merely a byproduct of pursuing relationship with God.

  4. I used to interpret 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as “how I will act if I am truly demonstrating love.” That is a truth, but it’s incomplete. The fact is that is how God, Himself, relates to those whom He loves. For the follower of Christ it’s ultimately about “Birthright” not “Behavior-right”

  5. Irresistible Love, and yet many in the body of Christ struggles to grasp the kind heart of our savior. Father, open our eyes and stir up our hearts to embrace your love. We’ve worked and performed for it and never enjoyed it but now we stretched our hands and freely receive the loveliness of your heart for us in Jesus name.

  6. Only Jesus has the ability to demonstrate unconditional love, because this kind of love prefers death for His beloved if He must in order for them to live. Jesus said, no man has love like this, that He lay down His life for His friends! Absolutely Lord only you do!

    In His grace

    Rudy

  7. what do the bible means when it says about fear of the Lord ,do we really have to fear Him like in Psalm 103:13 so we can have His compassion.???

  8. Unconditional love comes only from God! :)

  9. God’s love is conditional, but all the condition has been met by Jesus :)

    Btw, agape is not unique to God.

    1Jn 2:15 Love (agapao) not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love (agapao) the world, the love (agape) of the Father is not in him.

  10. Amen! Just shared this on my facebook page now. ;)

  11. It’s a beautiful post on the love of God, but not sure how you reconcile it with your posts on hell, which say the opposite – that is, God’s love is very conditional. Sounds like some cognitive dissonance might be going on there.

    • Colleen G. says:

      Love is not God’s only character trait. If a person abjectly refuses to come to Jesus God must deal with them accordingly. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who hates God, Jesus and anything bible related with every ounce of their being? God loves them very much but He is also very Pure and Just. His Justice is what caused Jesus to go to the cross. The wages of sin is death. The version of love you promote wouldn’t have needed Jesus to die. God could have just waved His hands and say I love you that is enough but that would have been very unjust and impure. Jesus paid our wages because of His love but also because of His justice and purity. The wages have been paid in full for those who choose to see the fact. Anyone at any time may come and be washed but not everyone does. God cannot just wave them in ignoring Jesus and the cross, ignoring His own purity and justice. I love the New testament and the New covenant but I also respect the Old Testament and the old covenant for all were authored by God Himself. God does not change. God is LOVE but He is so much more than only Love.

    • You will never be able to reconcile unconditional love with hell Grace because unconditional love is man made hell is not. ‘If you love me keep my commandments’…..is that unconditional? Not a single verse in the whole of scripture talks of God’s unconditional love.

  12. Sorry for being so annoying lately on your subject of Hell. But the teaching your are sharing with us to day, makes my heart sing.

    You have a great part in the transformation that has taken part in my life the last 2 years. I have more that 35 years in full time ministry as a traditional pentecostal pastor/preacher on my shoulders. But so many things changed some years ago when I start reading Steve McVey and later your writings and also other grace teaching. The grace message delivered me from problems I had been struggled with most of my life.

  13. Beautiful post Paul. Thank you for writing it. May each of us manage to get a glimpse of the limitless dimensions of God’s love for us so we will forever discard selfish and self righteous religion.

  14. Jason Armstrong says:

    Very well-said, Paul. Thank you for this post. I’ve got quite a bit of religious baggage I’ve acquired over my 14 years of salvation, and while I have head knowledge of God’s love I feel like I could use a fresh baptism, if you will, of His love. I am confident I will experience this as I chase after Jesus, and I believe it helps to learn more and more about His love and amazing grace! Again, thanks for this post and for E2R! :)

  15. Thank you for this article on God’s love. It is so easy to be saved by grace but then live under law. Lord I pray you will set ALL captives free including your children who are saved but struggling. Love Lisa x

  16. Andrew Hughes says:

    Over forty years of trying to follow Jesus and feeling increasingly uneasy that we (His Church) had got it wrong.NOW I SEE! The Gospel of Grace is so liberating,encouraging and exciting.I no longer feel like I have to prove that I am saved by my works,but accept that I am by what He(Jesus) has done.Wow.I feel like a kid again.

  17. chrisvanrooyen says:

    God in his essence is unconditional if eternal life (not death) comes with conditions it is a lie. We unfortunately live in the lie, and many worship it.Life with conditions is death to anyone who is not God or to put it another way to anyone who is not perfect pure sinless.
    I hope you have been made perfect.

  18. Paul, you claim God’s love is unconditional then add immediately but it comes with strings attached. And you add, Jesus had to die to pay for sin (offer a sacrifice, a supreme condition). The contradiction is irredeemable. Which is it? Unconditional or conditional?

  19. John Goddard says:

    Agape is certainly available to you and I, as another commenter pointed out. We obviously struggle with expressing it regularly and clearly not as intensely and powerfully as God.

    “…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” 18 (1 John 4:16-18) God and His love live in us–to the point that we are called to be like Jesus in this world.

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