“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!