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I have spent much of my Christian life believing the false hyperbole of God’s unconditional love. Why? Because this notion has been promoted by many well-meaning icons of the faith, and repeated by many well-meaning pastors and teachers. And frankly, it just sounds good to me.

The problem is, neither the sound of a truth claim, nor the well-meaning behind its proclamation, makes a truth claim true.

At this point, I suspect more than a few of you are disturbed by this counter claim. That is what happens when our more comfortable paradigms are challenged. It may help you to know that other icons of the faith have also refuted this notion, most notably John MacArthur and R. C. Sproul.

I know what you are thinking: Perhaps MacArthur and Sproul are wrong. So, let’s see what the Bible has to say about the subject. We will do it quickly, because I am actually trying to get to another matter.

It seems to me that John 14:21 puts the matter quickly to rest.

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.

The love of the Father and His Son is conditional to our love for Jesus, which is expressed in our having (to hold fast) and keeping (to attend to carefully) His commandments. Some have tried to reinterpret this by exchanging the two phrases in the first sentence – something like, “he who loves Me will be empowered to keep My commandments”. None of the translations provided by BlueLetterBible.org support this understanding.

Others use John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 to argue God’s unconditional love. After refuting this argument, I will use the same verse to assert something very different and very critical to our relationships with God and the brethren.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

In John 3:16, we see that the love of God expressed in His offer of salvation is reserved for those that believe in Him (a condition). Furthermore, those that believe are the “us” of Romans 5:8. Our belief is another condition of God’s love toward us (along with the loving obedience of John 14:21). As difficult as it may be on our paradigms, we must either accept the conditionality of God’s love or remove these passages from our religious vernacular.

Before moving on, I must strongly encourage you to search out this matter for yourself. You will find that the “unconditional love of God” deception has created more damage than one might imagine. Raising those concerns is not my objective here; I have another matter to share. Read the rest of this entry »

God meets with me when I ride my bicycle. Exercise and communion with God, who wouldn’t love that? I try to remember to ask Him what He would have me pray. A couple of days ago, He encouraged me to pray for the grace to love Him more. Here’s what came to me.

Father God, I come to You, in Jesus Name, for the grace to love You with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.

I come believing, with all my heart, that You created me with the desire to know and love You, Your Son and Your Holy Spirit. I believe that You first loved me, and sent Your Son to die for my reconciliation with You. I believe that You allowed Him to be buried for me; that I might put off my old nature and put on Christ. I believe that You raised Him from the dead and seated Him with You, at Your right hand; and that I am raised with Him into saving life, to sit beside You, in Him.

I come to You for the renewing of my whole mind; to be transformed into the image of the glory of Your Son, and this by the Holy Spirit. I submit to His work; and I reckon Your word to be true for me. I commit, by Your grace, to put on the mind of Christ – to be humble and sacrificial in my love for the brethren.

I come to lay down my whole soul for the sake of Jesus Christ and the gospel; that I would find His life and salvation. I surrender my will to You; and I eagerly anticipate Your working in me to will and do to Your good pleasure. I receive Your kingdom. Your will be done.

I come to offer my whole body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You, as my reasonable service. I desire to be used as Your instrument of righteousness. I deny myself, to be used in Your service to others.

Father God, I come for grace to love my neighbors as myself. I believe You have put this desire in my heart – and the faith for it. I believe You have given me the mind of Christ for that love. I surrender to Your will for them; and offer my strength for Your use in making Yourself a glory in their sight.

Father God, I come to surrender, sacrifice and submit myself to Your work in me, and in the world – for Yourself, Your kingdom and Your glory. Amen.

I hope this prayer will be a useful blessing to you in your communion with our Father. I believe we should pray it every day.

Humbly yours and forever His,

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