By Harold Fite
While teaching a “Home-Bible Class” the man of the house came into the room. I invited him to take part in the study. He declined by saying, “I love God and he loves me. That’s all that matters.”
This person was not a Christian and did not pretend to follow the principles of Christ in his life. He relied on a faulty concept of love for his salvation. A common conception of God’s love is that “He accepts me, saves me, because he loves me. His love demands that he accept me.”
If God saved all whom he loves, no one would be lost. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
God has never acted in love, however, at the expense of truth. He does not love so as to pass over sin. His actions, whether punitive or rewarding, are always consistent with love.
The Lord loves the righteous and unrighteous. He loves the murderer, thief, adulterer, and the homosexual, but just because they come under the canopy of God’s love doesn’t mean that God is pleased with them and will save them.
God saves those who love him! Who are they? Those who “keep his commandments” (1 John 5:3). Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Contrariwise, “He that loveth me not keepeth not my word” (John 14:23, 24).
The world makes a distinction between love and obedience believing that love will take care of sin. Love is essential to salvation, but no more than faith. “Love” and “faith” involve obedience: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6).
Love expresses itself in action: “For God so loved . . .that he gave” (John 3:16). As God expressed his love for mankind by sending his Son to die for us, our love for God will express it-self in obedience to his will. Jesus asked Peter, “Lovest thou me?” Then he called on Peter to prove it: “Feed my Iambs” (John 21:15).
To love God is to love him with all our faculties and power, to fix our affections supremely on him; to be willing to give up all we hold dear, to give our life to him and subject our will to his (Luke 10:27). We are to love him with all the faculties of soul and body and to toil and labor for his glory.
“I love God” is not some old theoretic platitude. Nor is it a magic formula for salvation. There is a lot more to it than “Honk if you love Jesus.” God’s love will not suffice for man’s disobedience. One can’t love sin away. “All the souls in hell will not be there because they were unloved by God, but because God was unloved by them.”
God loves everyone, but will only save those who love him, said love expressed by doing his will (1 John 5:3).
Guardian of Truth XLI: 11 p.
June 5, 1997