Edward F. Lundwall Jr.
Unconditional love has been cited as the greatest kind of love. It has been implied again and again that this is the nature of God's love when Christ died for the sins of the world.
The lost world of sinners did nothing to deserve it. Because they could not merit it and because forgiveness is offered to all (John 1:9; 3:16; 1 John 2:2), this love is alleged to be unconditional. As Revelation 22:17 reads: "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
But is this an unmerited offer unconditional from God?
It's kind of like a blind date. The dating couple don't know each other and have not solicited each other. Their interest is simply in pleasure and possibilities. In spite of the personal interaction on their date both have to receive or accept the other, at least for the date. Later, after more experience with each other, if one decides not to receive the other’s person and love, however great, the unconditional love will not be experienced. Even though for the Royal Crown of England, and associated benefits, unconditional love will profit nothing establishing marriage relationship.
The Lord Jesus offered himself as Israel’s long promised Messiah with all the benefits of God's Kingdom, but they wouldn’t receive Him. As the Lord anticipated their rejection, He lamented: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matt 23:37 KJV).
As with romance, each must decide if the other person is desirable and the things associated are acceptable with the proposed relationship. Faith must take place before the relationship and love can be experienced. The one proposed to must both believe the evidence of the person’s character and worthlessness of what the other person has to offer.
Unconditional love is basically one way. God in Christ, offers everything and humans have less than nothing to deserve the offer. Their basic nature was to be self-centered, self-fulfilling, and self-reliant. They are in fact: “. . . dead in trespasses and sins;” walking “. . . according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also . .” all natural humans have their “. . . conversation . . .” in the lusts of their flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and are by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (Eph 2:1– 3 KJV).
In the measure they are successful, to that measure, they feel no vital need for God their Creator. But when each human is so self–centered, conflict is unavoidable and destructive relationships will eventually follow. But as with any creation, when the design of its creator is not followed, it's destruction will eventually follow! It will be either by its violation of design or by the judgment of its creator. The witness of man as an inventor testifies to this principle. The easiest illustration is a vehicle, when it stops functioning it is turned into scrap.
In Christ, God is offering full forgiveness, a new nature, and an eternal future with unimaginable blessed conditions (Eph 2:7). God offers unmerited love to all of us, but as human love is not fully realized until faith establishes a family relationship, so must we receive Christ as our Savior/Husband (Eph 5:22–32).
As with dating, if unconditional love is not responded to, the joy and fulfillment of married life will not transpire. As the unconditional love of God’s patience and long suffering, if it is not received and a personal relationship of faith established, the possible benefits will not be experienced. There will be no joy of forgiveness, no assurance of full acceptance, no access of approval, no prospect of expectation of commendation for faithful service and deeds done to show forth the Lord’s worthwhileness, no basis to expect a Heavenly home when this life is over.
But for those who will seek the Lord in prayer and search His Word with its precious promises, a relationship. It will be a growing fulfillment and peace in this life. But will only be a beginning. For His promise continues as: “. . . Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard , neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor 2:9).
For those who don't respond to God's internal witness (John 1:9; Rom 1:20) and His promises (Rom 10:9–17), His unmerited love will profit them nothing. Unconditional love is only an offer! If this offer, is not received it will be a basis for condemning judgment, as seen in Christ’s woeful words to Israel! This judgment was fulfilled in Israel’s 2000 years of being persecuted and climaxing in the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7; Luke 23:27-31; Rev 6:1-17).
The immediate fulfillment of receiving God’s unmerited love is: “. . this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:11–13).
At the time of death: “. . Absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Cor 5:8b). And, “. . In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” (Ps 16:23).
And through out eternity: “. . in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Jesus Christ.” (Eph 2:7).