How often have you heard God’s love described as unconditional? How many times have you heard His grace defined as unmerited? Perhaps you believe both are true; perhaps you believe neither are true. Or perhaps you don’t know what to think anymore, because you have heard enough contradictory claims to thoroughly convince you that no one really knows what is true anymore.
My friend, I am going to try to show you that God’s love is anything but unconditional, and His grace anything but unmerited. While people can do nother to deserve or earn His grace; nevertheless, His grace never comes detached from the satisfaction of His justice. .
The fact is that God’s love is the most conditional love a man or a woman could ever encounter. There is nothing in heaven or on earth that is more conditional than God’s love. God’s love comes attached to a cosmically massive if-then condition. If you are one of His elect chosen from eternity, then He loves you. But if you are not, then He hates you. Can’t get more conditional than that.
According to some people though, the root cause of all sin and evil is a belief in a God of conditional love. These people claim that, in general, people are the victims of an if-then mentality.
For instance, we are told that we have been trained from childhood how to live by if-then conditions. That is, if you do this, then you will get that. If you get good grades, then you can stay up and watch television. If you eat all your vegetables, then you can go outside to play. If you behave in Sunday School today, then you can have a treat after church. We are also told that as we grow up, we carry this if-then thinking into adulthood. We learn that if we go to work every day when we are supposed to, then we will get a paycheck. We learn that if we drive the correct speed limit, then we won’t get a speeding ticket. If you do this, then you will get that.
Now, according to the theory of unconditional love, false religion gets in on this act too. Supposedly, after God had made man in His own image, man then returned the favor by remaking a god in Man’s own image. This god, inspired by Satan and born from the mind of men, came out looking just as one might expect, like a god of conditional love. That is, this so called god tells us that if we change, then he will love us, while the god of unconditional love tell us that he will first love us, and then he will change us.
The problem with this theory is that it is not entirely false. There is some truth to it. But just as there is some truth to it, there is also a whole lot of falsity in it, as well.
It is true that society functions by conditions. But this is far from Satan as its only cause. Rather, the society operates by conditions, because God’s law is in place. Do this and you shall live (Luke 10:28). The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:20). This is God. This is not Satan. This is God who says these things.
However, it is also true that fallen man is indeed inspired by Satan. He is inspired to believe the lie that Satan told our forefather, Adam, in the Garden of Eden.
In the Garden of Eden, Satan tempted Adam to believe that he (Adam) could righteous just as God is righteous. He told Adam that Adam could have life in himself stemming from a righteousness that is his and that he could establish. All Adam had to was declare his independence from God; that is, confess that while His righteousness might be good enough for Him, what Adam needed was to establish a righteousness that he could call his own. And this righteousness of his own he could can have and establish by simply obtaining the ability to discern what is good for him and what is evil for him by partaking of the fruit of the tree that God said not to partake of.
This is what the Bible calls a lie. It is the lie which man exchanged the truth about God for.
Romans 1:24-25 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
The truth is that you can never be independent of God. There is only one God, and like it or not, He is the only God that will ever be. His righteousness is the only righteousness that is established and will ever be established.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the people in His faithfulness.
He will judge the world with
and the peoples with equity.
Your righteousness is righteous forever,
and Your law is true.
There is a part of us which knows this. There is a part of us that knows that we are guilty of disobeying the only true God and that we deserve to die for disobeying Him. (Romans 1)
And so we try to make God justify our righteousness by offering Him the works which we have performed in an attempt to establish our own righteousness.
God says that reading your Bible and praying every day will never make you righteous? Well then, let’s offer Him Bible reading and daily prayer so He can see that we have indeed established righteousness by performing these things that He claimed would not make us righteous.
Inevitably, as is always the case, doubt begins to creep in for people like this. A question keeps nagging at the back of their skull. Have I actually succeeded in doing enough to make God see that I am righteous? God doesn’t answer the question, you see. He has never said to anyone, “That’s enough. You have fulfilled the condition.”
Where are people like this to turn to for assurance when the doubt begins to creep in? I will tell you one place they turn to. They turn to other people. That is, they begin to draw comparisons between themselves and others. You read your Bible for fifteen minutes today? Ha-ha, well I read mine for an hour. I must be safe then, because I am obviously more righteous than you.
For others though, who have heard enough about the Pharisees and the dangers of comparing themselves to others to know better than to venture down this road, they . turn instead to the theory of unconditional love. Don’t worry about your performance, says unconditional love, because God accepts your self righteousness just as it is. You’re a ragamuffin. Come as you are, you’ll be loved, see.
My friend, the man who came to the Son’s wedding feast sporting his own robe, because he thought his own robe was as good enough a robe as the Son’s, was bound hand and foot in chains, and then thrown into eternal fire. I tell you now that if you think you can make God justify you by coming to Him “just as you are”, then you are doomed. If, then. That’s God’s condition.
Let me make it plain. God’s love is restricted exclusively to those people whom He chose to love from eternity. From eternity, God chose to create two kinds of people; some whom He loved in Christ and would thus save from the just punishment for their sins, and some people whom He hated and would destroy as punishment for their sins.
From eternity, God made His choice without any input either past, present or future from the people He chose. His choice was based 100% entirely upon His own sovereign good pleasure.
But how did God save the people He had chosen to save?
God saved His people by sending His only begotten Son to die in their place. You see, God’s law demanded satisfaction. God’s law states very clearly, the soul who sins shall die. We have all sinned, we have altogether gone astray. God is not God if He ignores His own law!
Jesus Christ perfectly satisfied (past tense) God’s demand for justice. It was His death that had (past tense) secured (past tense) the redemption of all God’s people. There had to be an elect, and Christ had to have died only for those elect, because everyone who is ever going to be redeemed has already been redeemed. Not one whom Jesus died for will die lost. If they do, then Jesus Christ’s death could not have satisfied God’s demand for justice! This would leave God’s justice still unsatisfied. Which is exactly what the unconditional love folks think God’s justice is – unsatisfied until they add to it their two cents of working to not work and promising to not promise. Unconditional love still has the same problem though. How do you know you have not done enough today to be saved?