God’s Love Is Unconditional, Salvation Is Not!July 17, 2023
Probably one of the most quoted verses in the Bible, John chapter three verse 16, embodies the foundation on which many Christian organizations build their doctrine. It also demonstrates God’s unconditional love for His children, even being born as a child to die later so they could have salvation.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Many (if not most) Christian organizations today recognize God’s unconditional love but will try and argue that salvation is given to anyone who believes in Jesus, but they do not explain what that means. Does it mean to believe that Jesus existed? That Jesus is God who was born in the flesh? That He sacrificed Himself for our sins? Someone can believe that Jesus died for our sins and not believe that He is God in the flesh. So what exactly does it mean to believe in Jesus? If one cannot explain the meaning of “whoever believes in him,” how can one honestly believe in Him? They cannot.
What if believing in Jesus wasn’t enough for salvation? In the Gospel of Matthew, despite God’s unconditional love, Jesus describes a situation where he would deny some who appear to be staunch believers that He is Christ.
Matthew 7:21-23 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
From this, it’s clear that not every professed Christian will receive salvation. Even those who perform miracles in the name of Christ are not guaranteed a place in heaven. And they believe in Jesus but Jesus said to them ‘Away from me’ and called them ‘evildoers’ or ‘those who commit lawlessness’ in other versions of the Bible. Then is there any hope of going to heaven? God loves His children and wants to save every one of them, so we must never be those who commit lawlessness.
What Is Love?
By believing the words of Jesus, our Savior, who came to seek and save us as the lost children from heaven (Luke 19:10), we have hope for the Kingdom of Heaven. So what exactly did Jesus say?
John 14:15; 23-24 “If you love me, keep my commands.” Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Jesus said only those who keep His commands love Him. Can we be saved if we do not love our Savior? Those who love Christ by keeping His commands share a home with God, meaning they are worthy to go to heaven. We can have confidence in our salvation only by knowing and following Christ’s teachings. Let’s look at some of His teachings.
The Great Commission
Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
From this scene in the Bible, referred to as the Great Commission, Jesus tasked His disciples with baptizing and teaching newfound Christians to obey everything Jesus taught them for three years. If someone believes in Jesus, it is safe to say they would do what he instructs. Further investigation confirms that Jesus was setting conditions for salvation.
Mark 16:15-16 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Even before the Great Commission, Jesus instructed His disciples to baptize those who believed in the gospel, which is the good news of everything He taught His disciples. Baptism is definitively a condition for salvation. Through other verses in the Gospels, we can see more conditions Jesus placed on salvation.
Love Is Unconditional, Salvation Is Not!
John 6:53-54 When Jesus spoke to the crowd after feeding them he said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…”
Following the miracle of feeding the 5,000, Jesus spoke to the crowd, sharing the secrets of salvation. Jesus placed another absolute condition on receiving eternal life: having to eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood. By using the word “unless,” Jesus left no room for interpretation. And by saying “you have no life in you,” he referred to spiritual life, that is, eternal life. This teaching was too difficult for the crowd to accept, and they dispersed and left him. Jesus showed us exactly what he meant by teaching us how to eat his flesh and drink his blood.
Luke 22:15; 19-20 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
By giving us his flesh and blood, he demonstrated his unconditional love. Most Christians have been misled into believing that the salvation is simply proclaiming that you believe in Jesus while disregarding the teachings of the Savior. In this life, if someone believes in something, they follow it with conviction. All Christians should take that approach when they claim to believe in Jesus and follow him with that same conviction to the kingdom of heaven.