Engaging views and analysis from outside contributors on the issues affecting society and faith today.

CP VOICES do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

How can you be loved yet also under God's wrath?

iStock/shuang paul wang
iStock/shuang paul wang

While God’s love for everyone is unconditional, your particular participation in God’s love is conditional. That is to say, you may or may not choose to participate. It all depends upon whether or not you get past some of your natural impediments to knowing and loving God.

The primary impediment of course is unbelief. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Those who do not please God with their life are unable to enjoy the love of God in their heart. In addition, if you are unwilling to take God at His Word and believe the good news of the Gospel (John 3:16) you will not be allowed to enter Paradise. Every angel and every human being in Heaven enjoy pleasing God and glorifying His name.

No one is born into this world as a believer in Jesus Christ or a lover of God. Once a person is born again, however, he experiences God’s love in his heart as he trusts the Savior to wash away his sins.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

Thankfully, the unconditional love of God was put into action at the cross. “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Nothing will ever undo the glorious historical event where God proved His unconditional love for us by sending His only Son to be a sacrifice for our sins. Your life contains high points and low points, but the cross endures through it all.

A Christian is someone who places his or her confidence in the love of God that was poured out for us on the cross. This is where your sins were paid for once and for all. And while I do not know you personally, I do know what God did for you because He did it for me too. Jesus said, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Each person is part of the “world” Jesus died to save. “Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). “Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). There is no doubt about it! “God our Savior wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Another major impediment to participating in God’s love is a heart filled with hate. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). Those who choose hate over love are unable to participate in the unconditional love of God. God commands bitter and angry people to repent of their hatred. In fact, “God commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

While God loves everyone in the world, multitudes choose not to participate in God’s saving grace and the Lord’s unconditional love. They harden their heart and refuse to submit to God’s plan of salvation. “Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Romans 10:3). You will never participate in God’s love while striving to earn your way into Heaven. Such a feat is impossible!

You see, “All who rely on observing the Law are under a curse” (Galatians 3:10). In other words, everyone who attempts to earn salvation remains unsaved and lost in sin. And this explains why man’s participation in God’s love is conditional. Apart from repentance and faith in Christ, a person remains unconverted (see Mark 1:15; Luke 24:47). Unbelievers do not have the love of God dwelling within them. How could they? Christ must come to live inside you before you ever experience the unconditional love of God in your heart (see 2 Corinthians 13:5; Ephesians 3:16-19).

Jesus put it this way: “You must be born again” (John 3:7). There is no other way to receive the everlasting love of God into your soul. “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:35-36). 

Wait a minute. How can an unbeliever be loved by God, yet at the same time be under God’s wrath? The same way that Jesus is dearly loved by the Father, but nevertheless bore the wrath of God’s anger against sin when He died for us on the cross.

God is perfect in love and perfect in justice. Justice demands punishment for sin, while love provides the payment for sin. As the prophet Isaiah wrote, “The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus bore the punishment on the cross that you and I deserve to pay for our sins. And the moment you embrace Jesus as “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29) who was sacrificed in your place, you are instantly forgiven, and you receive the love of God into your heart. “God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:5).

If your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, then you are saved, redeemed, justified, born again, and forgiven. And if the Holy Spirit does not dwell in your heart through faith in Christ, then you remain unconverted as you draw ever closer to your dreadful courtroom appointment on Judgment Day (see 2 Corinthians 5:10) when you will be sentenced to Hell to pay for your sins. But there is still time for you to avoid that gruesome outcome. God definitely wants to bring you to Heaven, which is why Christ willingly gave up His life for you on the cross. But your participation in the unconditional love of God is conditional. 

So, where will you spend eternity? You can either repent of your sins and receive Jesus as your Savior, (see John 1:12) or you can refuse to participate in the unconditional love of God. The choice is yours.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More In Opinion