“We are not loving people when we’re telling them that God accepts them as they are without repentance, because we’re lying to them.” What does that mean exactly?
I see you quoted a famous theologian (whose name I left out), and I see what he’s saying. He is being very careful to convey a Holy God who does not tolerate sin, who must uphold justice, and who requires broken on-your-knees repentance. Or — he is just trying not to upset the doctrine-police.
I might have said something like this a few years ago. It’s a very aggressive, preach-to-the-choir, sounds-good-on-paper slogan. I get it: our sin is bad. God hates sin. Okay, check. Am I done being doctrinally sound for the sake of avoiding the heresy label? Should I be so afraid of Neo-Reformed bloggers that I must blindly agree with all similar statements?
And really, this is only one quote that I could be taking out of context, so it’s only a small fraction of this theologian’s thoughts. But by itself, it portrays such a measly, puny God. I do know guys who preach like this without a single ounce of Christlike love in their heart for people.
My friend, the truth is: God does love you and accepts you and desires to be with you exactly as you are. Yeah, I know. Scary, right? Nervous? Do I sound antinomian? Maybe you’re waiting for But even though He loves you …
The problem we have with God’s grace is that it’s all grace. That makes us uncomfortable, and I understand that. Our hearts are naturally built on legalism. Everyone feels like they should do something to get something, so we contort God’s grace into a manageable legalistic machine filled with daily QT routines and spiritual progress charts and how-to-avoid-sin and religious busy-ness. Nothing is inherently wrong with these things until they forfeit God Himself.
God’s love is NOT dependent on how you perform or even how you repent. Changing your behavior doesn’t get God and we don’t get God by changing our behavior. His love for you is constant. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 31:3 — I have loved you with an everlasting love. As in eternally. Forever. Always been the same.
SO: Once you really encounter the love of God, it’s impossible to stay the same. The Gospel — Jesus’ perfect life on earth, undeserved death on the cross, and his resurrection from the grave — always tenderizes us into the people we were created to be. His love explodes our hearts.
I often tell my church people who are struggling, “God loves you, and He’s going to keep loving you to a better place.” Repentance itself could only ever be possible when we recognize the magnitude of God’s love for us through His Son Jesus. It’s never the other way around, or else it’s not repentance.
So please hear, my dear friend, that God loves you no matter what. His love preempted your rejection, failure, and contempt. His love embraces your future disobedience, too. Look no further than the Bible “heroes” and you’ll see it. Nothing you do can change God’s heart towards you. He is not going to time-warp His Son off the cross. His love is the battering ram on your sin. It’s that very unchanging heart of God which will lead you to a changed heart. And as tough as it is, it’s also the same way we are called to love each other. No one is the exception with God; no one can be the exception with us, either.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
— John 13:34-35