The misguided way our generation has been taught in church about the Love of God, is best typified by by a famous anecdote about the death of a very prominent poet and Atheist, Heinrich Heine in 1856.
When He was asked by a Priest, on his deathbed, what if He had been wrong about God, as an atheist?
He replied, “Gott wird mir vergeben, das ist seine Aufgabe””, or in English “God will forgive me, that is his job“.
A good many modern Evangelicals and mainstream Christians in general have been taught false doctrines such as “self esteem” , “Unconditional love”, and other humanistic twists on the Christian doctrine, without even realizing it.
These Christians would worship and adore a God who is all accepting, non-judgmental, and in fact non confrontational. This God saves, and forgives but makes absolutely no moral demands of his worshippers. Of course almost none of them would put it this way, but their theology amounts to it.
Perhaps our greatest drift away from Biblical religion was in the last hundred years or so, the idea became accepted that it is love which is the prime issue in Salvation. The Love, mercy and compassion of God were to be stressed and emphasized above all else in our preaching and teaching.
Obviously I am a strong proponent of the Love of God, and have done much teaching and preaching on it over my forty year ministry. God’s love is amazing to me, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that God could love me. I am very conscious of my sins, and grieve and cringe over them constantly, whenever they come to my mind.
But is love the primary issue in Evangelism? If so, why do we not see the Apostles preaching Love, mercy and grace in the book of Acts, as so many modern preachers have been doing? We do not see the Apostles preaching Love in the book of Acts, when they confronted sinners. Instead we see them preaching the Lordship of Jesus, and demanding all men to recognize it and to receive Him as LORD.
Peter and the Apostles preached Jesus: Jesus as Messiah, Jesus as Lord, Jesus as conqueror of death and the grave,
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.( Acts 2:33-36)
In the Epistle to the Romans, the initial and main issue between God and Man seems to be Righteousness. The Gospel is a revelation of “the Righteousness of God…”, and in the Cross God has made a way for Himself to be both “Just and the Justifier of him who believes in Jesus”. The Resurrection could not occur until sinners could be fully justified,
“…The Gospel of Christ…For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith…” (Romans 1:16-17)
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26)
“…Jesus our Lord…Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”(Romans 4:24-25)
No one would ever listen to the Apostles preaching and teaching and presume on the Love of God, in the way that the German Atheist did in my opening quote, “God will forgive me, that is his job…”. ‘He wouldn’t have gotten that impression from Peter, John or Paul.
However that statement is a pretty good encapsulation of the Sentimentalized theology of millions of modern people, steeped in Humanism, Psychology, and other modern notions, and then preached to by false prophets eager to soothe troubled souls with their message of unconditional assurance, self oriented preaching and consumeristic approaches to God and the church.
The issue is Righteousness! Are you right with God? There is a judgment coming, where Righteousness will be the standard, perfect and absolute righteousness. Of course God loves you and me, but He doesn’t love us more than He loves his own Righteousness.
Do you have a perfect Rightousness to present to the infinitely Holy and Righteous God?
The good new is this, What God demands of man, God provides. We sinners can be accepted and pass through the judgment, for God has set forth His Son Jesus, to be our Righteousness.
“He has made Him who knew no Sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Christ…” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Don’t presume on the Love of God my dear friend! God doesn’t have to Love anyone, it isn’t his “job” to be merciful and forgiving. God is a Holy and Righteous God who hates evil and will soon make war on all that is false, perverse, filthy and evil.
But He has chosen to give humanity a way out, if they will but take it. God has sent his son Jesus to be a Propitiation for our sins, ( an offering of satisfaction). Jesus is the offering God made to Himself, that God might be able to forgive men and women, in a Holy way, consistent with His holy attributes.
Ironically, the false doctrine about Love, puffs men up and actually gives them the impression they have no need to sue for Peace, since the God they think they serve, is so indulgent and compromising. Thus this generation is very much like that German Atheist, and is soon to find out otherwise.