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 God Loves Us Unconditionally by Zac Poonen

Satan asked permission from God to sift Peter as wheat (Luke 22:31). And God permitted him to do so - because Peter had a more important ministry than all the others who were not thus sifted. Jesus only prayed that Peter's faith would not fail (Luke 22:32). Peter denied the Lord thrice. But, as a result, he was thoroughly broken and humbled and wept bitterly and repented (Luke 22:61,62). Thus, God's plan was accomplished and all the chaff of pride in him was sifted away. God used Satan to accomplish that. That is one reason why God has not destroyed Satan as yet. Praise the Lord.

After the resurrection, God sent a special message through the angel at the tomb saying, “Go and tell His disciples and Peter that Jesus is risen and going in front of you” (Mark 16:7). That phrase “...and Peter....” is so typical of our Lord. Wasn't Peter also a disciple? Why did the Lord make special mention of him? Because Peter was the one who might have felt that the phrase “His disciples” could not possibly include him any longer, because of his terrible failure. So that phrase was meant to tell him that the Lord still considered him as His apostle.

But in spite of that message, Peter was still so discouraged that he decided to go back permanently to his old profession of fishing (John 21:3). So, the Lord went and called Peter back to his apostleship, personally. Such is the love of the Lord. He will keep on coming after us. It was thus that Peter came back and his “faith did not fail”. It was not because Peter never failed or made a mistake.

So, if we are truly born again and have become disciples of Jesus, we must believe that God has accepted us in Christ and loves us unconditionally - because God IS LOVE. There are two types of believers:

(1) Those who believe that their heavenly Father's love is unconditional.

(2) Those who believe that their heavenly Father's love is conditional.

Those in category 1 will be at rest because they believe the truth. The others will remain in perpetual unrest because they believe they must perform well in order for God to continue to love them. Every false religion in the world teaches that God's love is conditional - that His love is “performance-love” - a love that is based on how well we perform! Jesus came and taught the opposite. Yet most believers are still heathen in their thinking. We must expose Satan's lie. Because the truth is that God loves His children unconditionally. We can reject that love and fall away from God and be lost. But His love for His children is still unconditional. The story of the father's love for the prodigal son illustrates this perfectly.

It is true that there are different degrees in God's love for people. God loves all the people in the world to a certain degree (John 3:16). But God loves His born-again children to a greater degree. And among His children, He loves some more than others, because they fulfill certain conditions - as Jesus said in John 14:21: “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father”. And beyond those, God loves to the highest degree, those disciples who have forsaken everything to follow Jesus - God loves them as much as He loved Jesus Himself (See John 17:23).

But yet God's love itself is unconditional.

One distinguishing mark of God's love is expressed in Luke 6:35 as “expecting nothing in return”. Human love always expects respect, love, and gifts in return. But Divine love expects nothing. It has no inward demands on those it loves. God makes the sun to rise equally on the good and the evil and is kind and merciful to the evil and the ungrateful. Only if we live in this Divine love can we be saved from all Phariseeism.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2023/9/17 9:34Profile
erikperk
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 Re: God Loves Us Unconditionally by Zac Poonen

Your text is a beautiful and inspiring meditation on the unconditional love of God. I am particularly struck by your distinction between the two types of believers: those who believe that their heavenly Father's love is unconditional, and those who believe that their heavenly Father's love is conditional.

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 2023/9/18 8:25Profile
CofG
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 Re:

Can someone correct me in thinking John 15 completely contradicts Brother Zac’s argument. Unless Im grossly mistaken, failure of any believer, disciple, person in Christ, to obey Jesus’ commandment, especially to love the brethren, results in them being broken off and thrown in the fire. I think, unless I’m crazy, that one “remains “in Christ’s love” by obedience, especially to love all the saints, First, there is no distinction among saints on this special John 14:21 love. Second, there is a great deal of God supplied obedience in order to receive God’s ongoing faithful love. Thus continuing in His love and continuing to receive it in the future is absolutely conditional. Of course, having faith in His help to obey and faithfully stepping into obedience with all the strength and Grace He supplies will meet those conditions. That is the new covenant.


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Robert

 2023/9/18 20:46Profile
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 Re:

God’s love is never a response.


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Todd

 2023/9/18 21:24Profile
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 Re:

CofG,

I am in agreement brother. While I understand our brothers point, I think it cheapens grace with the glaring omission of Jesus nature in us empowering us to obey. John 15 is one teaching of Jesus that balances the entirety of Christian theology and living. It's very interesting to me that you could simply quote a sermon of Jesus and completely refute someone's teaching, and yet the teaching is still applauded and said to be from scripture.

Pharisees have outward shows of piety and man made religious rules with no inward reality of Christ. This is how we exceed their righteousness, as Jesus put it, because we are made the righteousness of God in Christ. We have been born again, and Christ has been formed within, and He obeys and lives through us. The biggest issue in our day is the neglect of "teaching them to obey" as an evangelistic message, and as a Christian teaching. Discipleship is misunderstood as simply believing, and the justification limited to the justification of the sin, not the sinner.

To use a Peter as an example, or really anyone pre Pentecost and before the physical death, burial, resurrection and glorification of God the Son, is a total misunderstanding of Christian theology. The love of God expressed on the cross is that in our identification with that act of God suffering and death, resurrection and glorification, we become actual partakers of the same. This identification is by faith alone, and grace alone, but the new birth and the sanctification is gives to the one who believes is omitted, and therefore the entire message is lost. A God who leaves us in our sin, abides with evil, loves Satans world system and leaves us bound in it, is not a loving God.

His love is such that He will make His rain fall on the just and the unjust, and give even better gifts to His children. He will provide for the sparrow, and even moreso for the Son. This is not a salvific reference, but an illustration of God loving His own in contrast to what man thinks love is, as God is love, He doesn't have it to give. Every act of God is loving, because it is in fact His very nature and when He indwells a believer by the Holy Spirit is the only possible way by which a believer himself can love, as it is in fact God loving through Him. Our love for God is in fact the Trinity loving one another through us, The Son loving the Father, the Father the Son, the Holy Spirit the Father, etc. Our love for the brethren is in fact this very same thing, as Jesus dwells within every believer via the Holy Spirit.

Gods love and grace is actually much wider and deeper than this article portrays. But I think our brother is mixing the different forms of love found in New testament theology.

Regardless, the sentiment is still there. Sadly doctrine binds many men and movements these days, it is the plague of our age. God actually saves us from sin and the world, and calls us to follow Him out of both, while all the time performing the very commands through us. This is the overwhelming depth of the love of God, and how we can truly say, God alone is righteous.

This view has always been reactionary in nature, and it simply tries to balance the scales against legalism, but fails in that it over corrects and turns love into God, rather than acknowledging that God is love.

The end of his article proves this when he separates God from His love (he says "God's love itself", personifying the love apart from God), and says that even though Jesus said one thing, the love God has is still unconditional. He essentially said, Jesus said something my doctrinal statement won't let me agree with, so I will build a philosophical view of God's love and hope no one notices the contradiction and if they do, they will use my definition of love and grace and overlook my error.


 2023/9/18 21:48Profile
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 Re:

Todd,

I will give you 4 Scriptures (in addition to John 15) in response to your own view. Your use of “never” goes too far. If you have a Scripture to the contrary, I sure would take serious note. While interpretations, traditions or conclusions are sometimes helpful, they must give way to clear Scripture.


Exodus 20:5 - “You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, inflicting the [fn]punishment of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,

“ but showing faithful love to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

John 14:21- The one who has my command and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I will also love him…

Jude 20-21 - But you, dear friends……keep yourselves in the love of God.

John 16:27 - the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.

God’s faithful love has always been dependent or conditioned on faithfulness towards God. His love is initiated without regard to us. It is maintained by our response. At least that is what Scripture says.





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Robert

 2023/9/18 23:20Profile
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 Re:

/God’s faithful love has always been dependent or conditioned on faithfulness towards God. /

If true we are still dead in our sins.


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Todd

 2023/9/19 8:13Profile
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 Re:

He makes provision and His offer and we must respond with faith and then He responds with blessings beyond imagination. His Provision, His Offer, our response, His Response. Now I believe He enables our response also. Perhaps you don’t. Immaterial.

He is faithful to those who are faithful. OT verses and NT verses confirm this.

Todd, no offense but you don’t really offer Scripture that clearly affirm your position. I could give you nearly 10 more to the 5 I’ve provided that clearly make the case that He keeps faithful love with those who keep His covenant. I’m fact, that statement is from the Psalms.


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Robert

 2023/9/19 9:34Profile
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 Re:

Ones doctrine says God does everything.

Ones doctrine says man does everything.


I feel like these threads always go off the rails when one liners and dogma end up the focal point, rather than love, which ironically is the very thing this thread is about.

If God did not command and perform His covenant, than we are all hopeless. Jesus says love, and than also says apart from me you can't. This is the wonderful paradox of the life of Jesus within the believer. He in fact performs every command He issues through us.

This includes love to God, and love of the brethren.

God is love, I say again (please thoroughly read my other post) and in fact has no love apart from Himself to give. He gives us Himself, not in part but the whole.

 2023/9/19 10:10Profile
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 Re:

Scripture agrees.


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Robert

 2023/9/19 10:20Profile





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