Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. – 1 John 4:7-8
Does God love everyone? Though this question may seem obviously simple at the offset, it is critical to consider the context in which one is asking or answering this question. In my experience, most people who believe in God would affirm His universal love for the world – as would I. However, many could say yes to this question while meaning something completely different.
Some brothers and sisters in Christ affirm that God loves everyone, but they would be careful to qualify what they mean by love. Some of these individuals have referred to Matthew 5:45 as a way of describing God’s love for the lost. They would argue since God is a God of love, He will allow temporal blessings like the warmth of the sun or the cool of the rain to fall upon all people (the just and the unjust), but this does not mean that God has a salvific love toward all people nor does He desire all people to be saved. But is this truly love? In Matthew 16:26, Jesus said, “ For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world (sunshine, rainfall, etc.), and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (emphasis added).” The point that Jesus was making is that nothing in this world is worth losing your soul over. Jesus was clear that ultimately nothing matters more than the salvation of one’s soul. Therefore, it would be very odd to characterize godly love by something that Jesus refers to as ultimately meaningless. Thus, when these individual’s affirm God’s universal love for everyone, what they really mean is that God only loves those He has elected to salvation (Christians) and those who are the non-elect get the leftover scraps of God’s kindness. Though this is a view held by some genuine Christians, I could not in good conscience hold to this view which clearly seems to neglect God’s authentic love for all of mankind as well as His genuine desire for all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9).
However, others would affirm God’s love for the world while abusing its meaning. They might quote a verse referring to God being love or Jesus preaching love as an excuse to justify their immoral behavior or to serve as a get out of hell free card. However, this view is not biblical. The Bible is clear that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and that the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23, 6:23). Those who view God as a heavenly teddy bear offering warm hugs and affirming any and every lifestyle have created a false god (idol) that they are comfortable with to replace the true God of the Bible. Make no mistake, God will not blink at sin. God is just and He will punish sinners (2 Thessalonians 1:6, 1:9).
So then, what does it mean for God to love everyone? I think God’s love can best be understood from a quote made by Max Lucado. Lucado states, “God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.” God loves every single person universally, unconditionally, and unequivocally. That means GOD LOVES YOU. No matter how many sins you have committed and no matter how many mistakes you have made in your life, God loves you just the way you are. There is nothing you could do to make God love you any more or any less. However, God being holy and just cannot allow sin to go unpunished and cannot fellowship with evil (Psalm 5:4). And this is why the gospel is so important. John 3:16 states, “ 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.” The reason Jesus came to save the world is because God loves us. The driving force of the gospel is love. Jesus Christ came to the earth and lived the perfect life so that He could take the punishment for the sins of the world on the cross. Because of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice, anyone who turns from their sins and places their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will be forgiven of all unrighteousness and transformed into a new creation (a Christian) possessing eternal life. Therefore, anyone who believes in Jesus will not be cast away, they will be welcomed home and will enjoy God’s loving-kindness forever.
So, does God love everyone? Absolutely! That is why He sent Jesus and calls every one of us to trust in Him today. Have you?