Does God LOVE You?
Q. What kind of question is that? Anyone who can read sees signs, books, and bumper stickers that say, “God Loves You.” Isn’t that true?
A. It is true that God reveals His love to the whole world, as we read in one of the most quoted verses in the Bible: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
However, God’s love must be rightly understood. For the Bible also says: "The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but He loves him that follows after righteousness. Proverbs 15:9; "For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish." Psalm 1:6
Q. But I am not wicked or ungodly. I’ve not murdered anyone, or cheated on my spouse – I am a decent, moral person. Surely the good I have done far outweighs whatever bad I have done. How can these statements apply to me?
A. By God’s standard of “good” even the most moral person is looked upon by God as a serious sinner. The Bible teaches that “sin” does not just involve “the biggies”. Sin begins with failing to keep the greatest commandment of all: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Matt. 22:37
Now can you (or anyone else) truly say that you have kept this commandment? Obviously, the answer is no. This is why the Bible concludes the following about each one of us: "There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God." Romans 3:10-11; "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: Who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9
Q. Well if this is true, what will God do to me?
A. The Bible teaches that at the end of the world all those who have failed to love God perfectly will suffer under eternal punishment in a place called hell.
"For behold, the LORD will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by the sword the LORD will judge all flesh; and the slain of the LORD shall be many...for their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched." Isaiah 66:16, 24
Q. Oh, come on now! Hell is not real, is it? Surely things are not that bad?
A. Indeed, hell is very real, and things are “that bad” for the individual who does not love God perfectly. The Bible makes many references to hell, teaching that it lasts forever and is a place of endless suffering.
"So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the righteous, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 13:49-50
"...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who did not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
Q. That is terrible! Why would God create hell?
A. You’re right, hell is terrible. But God’s perfect justice (His fairness) demands that sin be paid for. If you and I ought to love God with all our hearts, consider how terrible it is to think lightly of Him. He has given you your very life so that you might honor Him, not ignore Him. God is perfectly holy and He will hold you and me accountable for all of our thoughts, words, and deeds.
"For the wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23; "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." 2 Corinthians 5:10
"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment." Matthew 12:36
Q. But you said before that no one loves God perfectly. Are you saying that everyone will be brought to life again at the end of the world and sent to hell?
A. This is the terrible condition of the entire human race. God demands perfect love and righteousness to live in His presence. Yet not one of us is righteous. In fact we are extremely unrighteous."Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart." Psalm 24:3-4
You are indeed angry, for we have sinned - in these ways we continue, and we need to be saved. "But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind have taken us away." Isaiah 64:5-6
Q. But if God demands perfection and none of us are perfect, is my case hopeless?
A. Indeed it is; that is, unless we can find someone to be our SUBSTITUTE. Could it be that there is someone who has lived a perfect life of love and righteousness for us? Could it be that there is someone who has suffered hell in the place of sinners? The Bible says there is! That someone is God’s own Son. God the Son became true man in Jesus Christ so that He could live a perfect life in our shoes. Then as true God and true man He suffered hell on the cross for sinners like you and me.
"But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way, and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:5-6
"Righteousness shall be credited to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised for our justification." Romans 4:24-25
"For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:21
Q. Are you saying that if I trust in Jesus Christ as my SUBSTITUTE, as the One punished for my sins, then I will be rescued from hell and treated by God as if I were perfect?
A. Yes, this is the great news of God’s love! If I have believed in Jesus as my Savior, then all of my sins have been laid on Him and He has suffered my punishment. Christ as my substitute has been punished in my behalf, and has given me His perfect righteousness.
"Jesus said, truly, truly, he who believes in Me has everlasting life." John 6:47
"Jesus said, Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my voice and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." John 5:24
Q. But what does it mean to believe in Him? If I agree with all that the Bible says about Christ as Savior, will I then be saved unto eternal life?
A. Believing in Christ means a whole lot more than agreeing in my mind with the truths of the Bible. Even the Devil believes the facts. Rather, it means that I hang my entire life on Him. It means that I turn away from my sins and serve Christ as my Lord in response to His wonderful love for me.
"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the wrath-removing sacrifice for our sins...We love Him because He first loved us." 1 John 4:10, 19
"No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and riches." Matthew 6:24
Q. But what about all the other religions? Why do I have to serve Christ alone? Isn’t there another way?
A. There is no other way. For there is only one true and living God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is He who holds us responsible for our sins and demands that we have perfect righteousness. He alone has provided an acceptable substitute to bear our sins. Other religions cannot provide for the sins of their followers.
"Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6
"Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12
Q. If all of this is true, what can I do? How can I be forgiven and come to know God’s love?
A. You must remember that God is the only one who can help you. You must seek His mercy where He has declared it to be found – namely in Jesus Christ and His completed work at the cross.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
"...And the tax collector standing afar off, would not so much as lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'” Luke 18:13
"...let man and beast be covered with sackcloth and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way...who can tell if God will turn and repent from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?" Jonah 3:8-9
“'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' So they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household.'" Acts 16:30-31
Q. So how can I learn more about Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for sinners – as the One whose work enables sinners to be counted as righteous in God’s sight?
A. God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – has revealed Himself in the Bible where we can read and study about all His wonderful acts. The Bible is God’s Word. And as we read the Bible, but especially as we hear the Bible faithfully preached, God promises to teach us and lead us into truth. Wonderfully, God has given us His church where we are to hear His Word preached and join with others in praising God for His great love.
"All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
"For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through [its own] wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe." 1 Corinthians 1:21
"How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?…So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:14, 17
So, back to the first question...
Does God love you?
God’s love is found at the cross where His Son died for sinners that they might not eternally die. His love is found at the empty grave where His Son rose again for sinners that they might enjoy His love forever. His saving love is not found anywhere else.Come to the foot of the cross and see the end of your sins. For it was your sins that crucified Jesus Christ, but His sacrifice and perfect holiness cries out for you to trust Him, to thank Him, to worship Him, to serve Him, to love Him. Will you pray to Him even now?
"Almighty God, I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins. My sins have been against you and I deserve to die - to be punished in hell for-ever. But I am very sorry for them and desire to turn away from them. I want to turn to you that I might know Your amazing love. Have mercy upon me! Help me to trust that the bitter sufferings and death of Your Son, Jesus Christ, are sufficient to take away all of my sins. Help me to believe that Christ’s perfect righteousness is freely given to all who believe in Him. Grant unto me eternal life for Christ’s sake alone. Lord, I believe – but help my unbelief! I pray this through Jesus Christ. Amen."
May God grant YOU His marvelous salvation!
Worship Him for His LOVE in the midst of His Church!