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DOES GOD’S LOVE INOCULATE A SINNER AGAINST JUDGMENT?
by Philip Owen

            It is a strange view which holds that because the Bible declares that “God is love” (I John 4:8, 16), everyone is free to do as he pleases because hell is locked up, heaven beckons, and everyone is going there.  This doctrine is maintained so steadfastly by such a large percentage of people who claim to be Christians that it has become rare to hear anyone suggest otherwise; as a consequence, countless millions of church-goers (not to mention many more who possess a faith no more profound than some general notion that God exists) believe that, regardless of what they believe or do not believe and irrespective of what they do or fail to do, they will somehow enter heaven and enjoy God’s blessings eternally.  I say it is a strange view because many of the same individuals who will adamantly maintain that God is love on the basis that the Bible declares that fact to be so (a statement, though absolutely true, made only twice, by the way) fail to affirm what the Bible says about God’s judgment on sin though He has much more to say on that subject by way of precept, warning, and historical instances.

            Even a very sketchy list of examples is staggering.  God loved Adam and Eve, but He cursed them and threw them out of Eden.  Who could overlook the universal flood that God sent to destroy the entire human race except for eight souls?  When He descended upon Mt. Sinai to give Moses the law and commandments, God warned Israel not to touch the mountain or they would die.  God permitted His children to be enslaved under increasingly harsh conditions during their four hundred years in Egypt.  Then when He graciously delivered them by supernatural means, all but two of those same people who at the time the wilderness wandering began were over twenty years of age, He slew—that is, the original entire adult population of Israel!  He used, among others, the armies of Philistia, Syria, Assyria, and Babylon to overrun the territory God had promised to His people.  He allowed those same nations to kill, perhaps, tens of thousands of the twelve tribes, while capturing and enslaving many thousands more.  Even at the time of Christ’s first advent, God’s chosen people were living under the iron boot of Rome.  Space does not permit a catalogue of names and the judgment of God that befell individuals, whether the thoroughly heathen like Samson, the completely reprobate like Ahab and Jezebel, or the genuinely righteous like King David. 

            Certainly, those who have true faith and sin are not consigned to hell.  But it should give no comfort to those who falsely believe that, come what may, God will finally welcome them into heaven, that we read repeatedly of God’s hand of reproof falling upon even those who are redeemed.  In fact, Scripture declares that “those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6).  Furthermore, Peter writes that “it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (I Pet. 4:17).  Nor is God chary of declaring the existence of hell and the certainty that many will go there.  Although the partial list of its ultimate inhabitants includes egregious sinners, it does not exclude such “little” sinners as liars and the unbelieving:  “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

            The idea that the truth that God is a loving God somehow precludes the possibility of judgment or eternal damnation is a fairy tale with less substance than the story of the tooth fairy.  Real saints who believe God’s Word will lovingly warn the deceived that God exacts a price for sin.  “The faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments” is the same God who “repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; he will not delay with him who hates Him, he will repay him to his face” (Deut. 7:9, 10).  The notion that sin or sinners escape judgment is utterly without scriptural foundation.  May we lovingly warn the ignorant or unwary.        

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