Does God Love Everyone?
Rev. Derek Dunn in the Ballymena Times (15
February, 2006) repeated the myth that God loves everybody. God loves
the world, but in Scripture that rarely means the entire human race
(John 7:4; 12:19; Acts 17:6; I Cor. 11:32). In the Old Testament, God
loved only the nation of Israel (Deut. 7:7), but even then not every
Israelite, because "they are not all Israel which are of Israel" (Rom.
9:6). In the New Testament God loves sinners from every nation, hence
the term "world." What is often denied is that God hates some sinners,
both them and their sins. For example, God hated Esau (Rom. 9:13) and He
"hates all workers of iniquity" (Ps. 5:5).
Christ came to save only those whom God loves, not
Judas, Herod, Pilate or any "whose names were not written in the book of
life from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 17:8). Rather, Christ came
to save those the Father had given Him (John 6:37-39; 17:2). Christ
"loved his own which were in the world" (John 13:1), not everybody in
the world. In Christ elect sinners are loved (Eph. 1:4-6), but outside
of Christ, sinners are hated by God, for God has "no pleasure in
wickedness" (Ps. 5:4) but "loves righteousness" (Ps. 11:7). Christ in
love died for His beloved sheep, but He neither died nor prayed for the
goats (John 10:26-27; 17:9).
God's love is effectual. He actually saves the
objects of His love. God's love seeks out those whom He loves, and
causes the recipients of that love to love Him in return (I John 4:19).
Since God is obliged to love nobody but freely chooses to love whom He
will, man cannot complain (Rom. 9:13-20). To teach that God loves
everyone (even those who end up in hell) is to rob the child of God of
comfort and "strengthen the hands of the wicked, that he should not
return from his wicked way, by promising him life" (Eze. 13:22).
Some may wonder, if God does not love everybody, why
the Bible uses universal language such as the Lord is "not willing that
any should perish" (II Peter 3:9) or "whosoever
shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:13). Such
objections disregard context and show ignorance of language. We often
use universal language. When the teacher asks, "Has everybody got a
pen?" he only means his class. When a father says, "Everybody get into
the car," he refers only to his own family. Consider Matthew 10:22 ("ye
shall be hated of all
men"), John 3:26 ("all men come to him"), Acts 19:19 ("they
burned [their books] before all men") and Romans 16:19 ("your
obedience is come abroad unto all
men"). In these Scriptures, "all men" cannot be taken to mean the entire
human race. Similarly, whosoever means "all those who ..." It does not
mean everybody. "Whosoever believeth" (John 3:16) means all those who
believe, or "all believers."
II Peter 3:9 is written as an answer to scoffers and
to give comfort concerning the perceived delay of the return of Christ.
The Lord has not returned because God is longsuffering to "usward." God
is not longsuffering towards everybody. God does not want His people
("us") to perish, and since the "longsuffering of God is
salvation" (II Peter 3:15) all those towards whom God is longsuffering
shall be saved.
Similarly, "whosoever [all those who] shall call upon
the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:13), does not mean that
everybody can or shall call upon the name of the Lord. The Word of God
teaches that sinners hate God (Rom. 8:7) and will not call on His name.
Isaiah laments "there is none that calleth upon thy [i.e., God's] name"
(Isa. 64:7) and Paul writes, "there is none that seeketh after God"
(Rom. 3:11). That some call upon God is the work of God's Spirit, who
graciously gives faith and repentance unto some (Acts 11:18; Eph. 2:8;
Phil. 1:29) but blinds and hardens others (Josh. 11:20; Matt. 11:25;
John 12:40; Rom. 9:18).