Is God's Love for a Believer Unconditional?

July 12, 2012

Jesus taught His disciples in the Upper Room Discourse, “At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God” (John 16:26-27). He seems in this teaching to say plainly that the Father Himself loves the disciples because they have loved Jesus and have believed that He came out from God.

If God’s love for a believer is unconditional, as nearly almost everyone argues that it is, how do we explain Jesus’ teaching at this time to His disciples that the cause of the Father’s love for them was that they had loved Him and had believed that He had come out from God?

Rajesh

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6 responses to Is God's Love for a Believer Unconditional?

  1. I’m assuming that we have to interpret Scripture with Scripture here, that verses like I John 4:19 (we love because He first loved us) and Romans 5 and others teach that our love flows from God’s gracious, *initial* love for us.

    Seems to me — and I’m not saying I’ve poured tons of thought into this — that suggesting God loves us because of anything that WE do would mean that we initiate our salvation, not God.

    • We certainly have to interpret Scripture with Scripture, and God does makes it plain that we love Him only because He first loved us. As a believer, however, it seems to me that in some sense there is a responsive aspect of God’s love for those who obey Him, etc.

  2. Add to this John 14:21 where Jesus seems to imply that the disciples keeping his commandments yields increasing love from the Father and increasing love from and manifestation of Christ.

    • We are thinking similarly, Wes. In fact, John 14:21 probably comes as close to being a life verse for me as any other Scripture.

  3. Bradley McKenzie July 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Your comments have to do with God’s love for a believer, but the same sort of question could be extended to unbelievers. I’m talking a bit off-the-cuff, but while not wanting to lose sight of Ephesians 2 – “and that not of yourselves” – there are indications that some sorts of behavior or attitudes – no doubt, behavior and attitudes that God enables a person to produce – may place a person in a better position to be saved, humanly speaking. Cornelius responded properly to the light he had, and the Lord granted him Words by which he could be saved. Luke 8:15 says that the good soil is “an honest and good heart,” although Jeremiah says that the heart is incurably sick (Jeremiah 17:9). This “honest heart” is enabled by God to respond to the heard Word by keeping it, etc. Proverbs 8:17 says that Wisdom loves those who love her. So, there are once again two sides to this story: individual will and the sovereignty of God. I would tend to think that the sovereignty of God allows a person to exercise his individual will in accordance with the expectations of God, but I am not a scholar, just a student (if we can make that distinction).

    • You are right, Brad, my comments and post had to do with believers. Your extension of that line of reasoning to unbelievers in the way that you explain seems plausible. I agree that to whatever extent there are inclinations in a lost person to seek God, etc. are the work of the Spirit in them. Thanks.