“Is God’s love really unconditional? The phrase unconditional love is not even in the Bible!”
Ever heard that one? How about this one:
“God’s love is unconditional, but…”
Statements like these make me shake my head in wonder.
What do you think the word love means?
Is God’s love unconditional? It must be, otherwise it is not love. There are no ifs, buts, and maybes when it comes to love.
“But ‘unconditional love’ is not in the Bible.”
Sure it is. It’s in plenty of places.
In scripture, the love of God is captured in the noun, agape. God is the source and definition of agape-love.
According to that well-known chapter we read at weddings, agape-love is patient, kind, and not self-seeking. It is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs.
Agape-love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Agape-love never fails.
Sounds like true love to me.
The love of God in action
In the New Testament, two verbs are used to describe the manner in which God loves. The first verb, agapao, means to be well pleased or fond of or contented with. It is the unconditional love God the Father has for his Son, for the whole world, and for his children.
Which means God loves you the same way he loves Jesus (see John 17:23).
The second verb, phileo, means fondness or affection. It is the affection that God the Father has for his Son Jesus and the disciples. It is the friendship Jesus had for his good friend Lazarus and the wretched Laodiceans.
Yes, those Laodiceans.
The love of God is also captured in the adjective agapetos which is usually translated as beloved. The word means dearly loved, esteemed, favorite, and worthy of love.
This beautiful word beloved captures God’s heart for you. Your heavenly Father is fond of you. You are his esteemed favorite and he is well pleased with you. He looks at you with a feeling of deep contentment knowing that you are his dearly loved child.
How religion distorts the love of God
Manmade religion portrays God as capricious and his love as variable. “Sometimes he loves you, sometimes he doesn’t.” But the gospel of grace declares God’s love for you is constant and shadowless.
Religion prostitutes the love of God by putting price tags on his affection. “You have to earn God’s favor.” But the gospel of grace declares that God loved you while you were a sinner and nothing can separate you from his love.
Religion demands that you impress God with the fervency of your love, but the gospel of grace inspires you to trust in your heavenly Father who loves you without limit.
Everything that is good about the good news is good and true because your heavenly Father loves you.
He always has and he always will. God never changes.
How do I know that God loves me unconditionally?
The cross is the proof.
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.
The wonder of the cross reveals God’s unconditional love for us.
God did not wait for us to repent or get cleaned up before he loved us. While we were in the filth of our sin and self-righteousness he came and hugged us.
God will never make you jump through hoops to earn his love. He won’t love you any more if you succeed and he won’t love you any less if you fail. If you lead millions to Christ or none at all, he will love you just the same.
There is nothing you can do to make him love you more, and nothing you can do to make him love you less.
His love endures forever.
Update: It has been two years since I have released a classic sermon and my next one is a doozy. In fact, this one may be the most popular sermon in the world! I will tell you all about it next week. Sign up to be notified: