Does God love everyone (in the same way)?
Usually, the sermons at Eglise Connexion are based on a book of the Bible that we go through from beginning to end in order to follow the logic and understand what God reveals of Himself and of His will in that book. However, for the summer, we are taking a break from preaching through a book of the Bible for a series of messages that respond to questions that have been raised by several people. Last week, for example, the message was on suffering, and specifically as it relates with the providence and sovereignty of God.
Today, the question that we are going to cover is: “Does God love everyone… in the same way?”
When I found out that it was going to be me who was going to preach on the subject, it was the first part of the question that got my attention. “Does God Love everyone?” And I thought to myself: we’re going to devote a sermon to this? Of course God loves everyone!
But on closer examination, the question is not merely “Does God love everyone?” but “Does He love everyone in the same way?”. Expressed like that, it’s no longer the same question. Thus we need to look more deeply into the Bible to understand the answer that it gives to this question.
To respond to the question then, I propose that we approach the subject under three headings drawn from two different texts in the Bible.
Since the question “Does God love everybody?” is closely connected to His nature – what one does is a function of who they are – we will discuss first of all the character of God. More specifically, the fact that ‘God is Love’ (I) as we see in 1 John 4.7-8. Then taking as our text 1 Timothy 4.10 we will look at what the Bible teaches about the love of God for humanity in general (II); that will be the second part of the message. And finally from the same text, we will consider what the Bible teaches about the love that God reveals in a particular way toward believers (III).
I) God is Love
We read in 1 John 4.7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because GOD IS LOVE.
Notice that the apostle does not say “God is loving” or “God is full of love”, but rather that “God is love.”
In the Bible, we find various passages which teach us about what are often called the attributes of God.
It is these passages that describe the character of God: WHO HE IS and WHAT HE IS IN HIMSELF.
For example, Psalm 145.17 says: “The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.” We can conclude from this that it’s in the character of God to be righteous in a general sense. Justice is an attribute of God – God cannot be unjust.
We find still other passages in the Bible which reveal the attributes of God and what God is like: thus we see throughout the Bible that God is good, that He is generous, that He is faithful, that He is wise, etc.
But there is also a second category of attributes that speak not simply of His character or of His disposition, but of His essence, that is WHAT God IS. What He consists of, if I may.
So for example, in John 4.24, it is said by Jesus that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” We understand from this passage that God is not made from flesh and blood as we are. God is not material; he cannot be touched or seen. He is Spirit.
As for those attributes which pertain to the character of God, we find plenty of other relevant passages. For example, we learn elsewhere that God is omnipresent (that there is nowhere in the universe where God is not), and that he is self-sufficient (he needs nothing outside of Himself to sustain Him – no food, no oxygen, etc.)
In short, we can divide the attributes of God into two categories: the first of which describes the way in which He acts, and the second which describes what He is in His essence.
The apostle John could have said “God is loving” from which we would understand that there is love in the way God acts. But he goes further than that: in his description of God he says “God is love.” In this passage from his letter he encourages believers to love one another. And to do so, he tells them that it is completely contradictory to love God without loving our neighbor, because love is part of who God is.
If someone asks “does God love?” (obviously concerning His creatures), the answer is that God is love. God cannot not love. It is in His being to love.
God is not just full of abundant love. He is love in its entirety.
We have to deal with people every day. We know that men are variable in their attitudes. We can be more loving some days than others, and we can be more or less loving depending on the person in front of us (whether it’s because the person is affectionate, or because of their education, or their social standing, etc.)
But the love of God is not dependent on the attitude adopted by a person. The love of God does not vary with circumstance. The love of God is who He is. He is love. His love is unwavering and unconditional.
Now that we’ve seen that God is love, that His love is infinite and unlimited, we come to the question “is this love manifested towards everyone in the same way? Does God love everyone equally?”
To answer this question, we’ll go to the text found in 1 Timothy 4.10, where we read: “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”
II) God’s general love for all people (1 Timothy 4.10)
The verse which we just read is the words of Paul in his first letter to Timothy, which we just finished studying.
In this portion of the letter, Paul exhorts Timothy to strive diligently to advance the work of God where he has been called. He reminds Timothy that in working for the gospel, he accomplishes God’s work of bringing men to salvation.
But it is interesting to note what Paul says in the last part of the verse: “because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”
By this phrase of the apostle Paul, we are reminded that God is benevolently disposed towards all the men who he has created. In effect, the apostle Paul says:
- God the the Savior of all people.
How do we understand this phrase, “God is the savior of all people”?
The word savior, in the Bible, is of course often used in reference to the eternal salvation that God offers. He is therefore the savior in the sense that it is He who conceived and put into action the means by which we may be pardoned for our sins.
But the word savior can also have a broader meaning, in the sense of someone who looks after the needs of a person in distress. A savior in that sense can be understood as someone who comes to the aid of someone in need, aid without which they would not survive, or at least suffer some serious difficulty.
Thus God is the savior of everyone in the sense that God comes to the aid of all men. Everyone on earth benefits every day from the aid and the providence of God. Jesus reminds his disciples of this truth when He says in Matthew 5, verse 45, that God “… makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
God is love, and in a sense, He acts lovingly towards everyone.
It is God who gives life to everyone, it’s God who sustains the breath of life.
It’s God who gives to men their families, their loved ones with whom they experience the pleasures of this life.
It’s God who gives to men their abilities, the enjoyment of their activities in work and in recreation.
God is love and everyone, every day, whether they recognize God or not, benefit from the love and the blessings of God.
It’s true that many people experience great suffering, because we live in a fallen world, deprived of the full presence of God. It remains no less true however that everyone created by God is loved by Him and enjoys His blessings.
So God is love, but it would be a distortion of the word of God and of God himself if we were to stop there.
As we have already seen in recounting the attributes of God, God is also just. As Lord of creation, He has fixed a day when He will judge all men in accordance with their acts.
As it says in Hebrews 9.27, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment”
This implies that even though all men benefit from the love of God and from his blessings, for certain men this will not continue for all eternity but will end with their death. And after their death they will face the judgment of the same God who had given them all that they had in this life.
- God will judge all men.
God could be pictured a bit like a judge who in his personality and his character is loving and on good terms with all those around him. And one day he puts on his robes to render judgement and in front of him is someone he likes. If he is a good judge, he must and he will render justice regardless. A good judge must watch over the morality of the society; he must ensure that the innocent are not punished, nor the guilty left unpunished but are justly sentenced.
It is the same with God. All men benefit from his love and his generosity in everything that He gives them every day, but that we do not deserve. But there will come a day when, although he is a loving God he will also be the God who exercises final judgement, and who will give to all men that which they have deserved by their actions.
The Bible indicates that in this judgement, some men will be condemned. It says that all those who have benefitted from the blessings of God, even while rejecting God, who have not honored Him but rebelled against Him and His words will experience eternal punishment. They will be forever separated from the presence of God and all of the good things that He gives and from which they have benefitted, that is, everything.
In Luke chapter 16, the Lord tells the story of the man who finds himself in hell and who requests a drop of water. We understand from this that those who suffer eternal torment will not benefit from any of the good things that God has created, not even a drop of water.
Thus, even though God is love and all men benefit from His love and His blessings, for some men there will be a day that all this comes to an end.
But this will not be the case for those who have believed in Jesus. For this reason the apostle Paul says that God is “the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe”.
We understand here that believers, like all men, benefit from the love of God and His blessings. But they do so in a particular way.
The love of God is manifested towards believers in a special way.
III) The particular love of God for the believer (1 Timothy 4.10)
For those of us who are children of God, we recognize that being a child of God will not make us richer, we will not necessarily enjoy better health, we will not be more intelligent, etc. We experience the material blessings of God like everyone else, in the same sense in which God is the savior of all men.
But unlike that love which is exhibited towards all men, the love of God for the believer has several unique aspects:
- An eternal love
First of all, the love of God towards those who have placed their trust in Jesus is an eternal love which endures even after death.
As Paul writes in Romans 8.35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” And in verses 38 and 39 he says: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
If we have placed our faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, the blessings of God towards us will never come to an end, even after our death. But after death we will benefit from a better communion with God where we will be fully in His presence. We will see Jesus and know Him as He is.
- A deep and unconditional love
If we have placed our faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, God loves us with an unfailing love.
We read in Isaiah 54.10: “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
Often as children of God, we can feel miserable when we have an attitude that is not pleasing to God, and we can even begin to doubt the love of God. If you are a child of God, ask yourself this question: can your sins move mountains? Can your failures cause the hills to tremble? Even if the mountains depart and the hills be removed, if you are a child of God, the love of God for you will never waver.
God loves us with an eternal and infinite love, and His love for us will never fade and will never come to an end.
God loves us as a man loves his only son, and He has given his only son for us.
We can understand that with the image of Abraham. He must have been a loving man, and he must have been a loving master with his servant, but he certainly didn’t love his servants as much as he loved his unique son Isaac. In the same way, God loves every people, but not with the same depth and passion that He has for His sons and daughters.
For believers: recognize that you are loved by God.
There are few things that can build up our faith like the knowledge of the love of God and to know that we are loved by God.
The apostle Paul said to the Ephesians in chapter 3 verses 18-19: I pray that you “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Here, most of us are children of God, but on occasion we feel excluded [from this world] on account of our faith. In these times we need to be reminded of the love of God for us. The love of God in the communion we have with him far surpasses even ten thousand exclusions.
Think how a small child recovers when he sees again his parents from whom he’s been separated even for a short period.
Let us pray that we would know and experience the God’s love for us.
For those who are not believers: leave that which is temporary for that which is eternal.
God loves you, but that may not always remain true. The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The life on this earth is transitory. We are deprived of the glory of God, though not completely. We benefit still from his love. The world will one day end, and afterwards, each man will know either total separation from God or eternal union with him in His love. Today you can put your trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and God will freely pardon all your sins for the sake of Jesus.
God is just, and He must judge men for their sins. But, as it is written in the gospel of John chapter 3 verse 16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Some might say “we are Calvinists, we believe in the sovereign grace of God, He will call whom He chooses.” Indeed, but the Lord Jesus has also given us the task of announcing his death and calling all men to repent from their sins and to put their trust in Him for the forgiveness of sin. And Jesus promises that “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
If this is not the case for you, I plead with you to be reconciled with God.