God Loves You Is the wrong message for out time

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When reading in the Book of Acts I noticed something I had never seen before. There are a number of very powerful sermons recorded there--and in none of them can I find the speaker telling his audience that God Loves Them. In fact, I could not even find the word "love" mentioned anywhere in the book. Nor could I even find a derivative of the word. This tells me at least two things: One: Members of the early church were not running around telling everyone that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives, and Two: No one was riding around with God Loves You bumper stickers on the back of their chariots. And why not? Because that is obviously not the main message of the cross. Since that is obviously the case, why then is thechurch of today spending so much time initially telling sinners that God loves them? What does this approach really accomplish? Why would a sinner come under conviction just by hearing that? It doesn't even require him to think that his present condition might be a problem.

-- Ralph Filicchia (ralcar@mediaone.net), May 02, 1999


Well, obviously, whether or not the Apostles preached 'love' or not, you have to know that 'love' was the motivation for the cross in the first place - to discount it's place in the plan of salvation would be doing a great disservice since Christ himself put so much emphasis on love.

Does a message of love convict? I wouldn't say that that approach wouldn't accomplish anything - who knows what message the Holy Spirit choooses to use when He convicts a sinner?

I think to forget the role of love in the plan of salvation is doing God a disservice - but, salvation isn't JUST love. It's repentence, too. To preach a gospel of 'love' without 'repentence' would be to seriously lead people

-- Tony Rush (trush@sportron.net), May 03, 1999.

Well, obviously, whether or not the Apostles preached 'love' or not, you have to know that 'love' was the motivation for the cross in the first place - to discount it's place in the plan of salvation would be doing a great disservice since Christ himself put so much emphasis on love.

Does a message of love convict? I wouldn't say that that approach wouldn't accomplish anything - who knows what message the Holy Spirit choooses to use when He convicts a sinner? I think to forget the role of love in the plan of salvation is doing God a disservice - but, salvation isn't JUST love. It's repentence, too. To preach a gospel of 'love' without 'repentence' would be to seriously lead people

-- Tony Rush (trush@sportron.net), May 03, 1999.

To preach a gospel of 'love' without 'repentence' would be to seriously lead people astray.

-- Tony Rush (trush@sportron.net), May 03, 1999.

C'mon, Tony, you really haven't said anything. Face some facts. According to the early history of the church (Acts) God Loves You was not the primary message. Now I'm asking again: Why not? Doesn't it seem a bit strange to you that Acts covers roughly the first 33 years of the church, and in that time span the writer (Luke) does not bother to record even one sermon or comment dealing with the subject of love? The main thrust of Acts can be summed up in 3:19 where it says, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." There's no big theme on love here, and for one simple reason: Telling sinners that God loves them (and I know this is true, my beef is in making it the primary message) does not ask the sinner to do anything. It doesn't even tell him to recognize the fact that he is a sinner and in trouble. Therefore, the warped emphasis on love in the present church is wrong.

-- Ralph Filicchia (ralcar@mediaone.net), May 03, 1999.

Preaching the love of God is "wrong"? That's an interesting comment. Actually, I'm not aware that there is a Baptist church in my area that preaches "love" at the exclusion of all else. But, you're saying that if love is mentioned at all, it's a 'wrong' position.

My original comments still stand. If someone wants preach as did the prophets of old, we could all stand on the street corner and preach "Repent or Perish"! I'm not discounting what you say you've found in Acts. I'm saying that what is or isn't in Acts does not discredit the teachings of Christ or the fact that love was the motivating factor in Christ's sacrifice in the first place. In addition, while lots of Baptists love to get 'hung up' on physical appearances and such, Christ plainly said that the identifying mark of a child of God is their LOVE for God and for one another.

As for "facing the facts" as you say, I find the facts to be these: "God SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE......" While you seem intent on 'getting around' the issue of God's love, I, for one, am thankful that He loved us enough to show mercy and not the judgment we deserve. Why would anyone want to NOT share that integral part of the plan of salvation?

So, my question is this: What do you want to change? Would you prefer to not mention love, but preach the message of "Repent or perish"? Help yourself - there are lots of people doing that and I'm not saying they're wrong. But, don't accuse those who talk about God's love of not being 'wrong' or not "facing the facts". I have neither the time nor the inclination to argue the matter as long as John 3:16 is still in the Bible.


-- Tony Rush (trush@sportron.net), May 04, 1999.

Brother, I think you're only gleaning half the story from your reading of Acts. Acts is the story of the early church, and the message of the hour was indeed "repent" in the face of persecution and martyrdom. The Apostles were dealing with the oldest forms of "religion" known (Judaism)and coming up against Greco-Roman paganism in its finest hour. Just because the message of God's love is not emphasized in the context of Acts does not mean it is not foundational to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

I would agree that the sappy "God Loves You" and the implied "he will tolerate your sin"...has NO place in the gospel. It is a false gospel.

BUT we go too far when we separate the love of God from the repentance that He requires. In my view, you can't have one without the other... I believe that God's love does bring Godly conviction of sin, when it is preached along with His Holiness and Righteousness. God is love, and He "so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son..." Paul reiterates that " But God commendeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". The full counsel of God's word establishes I believe, the perfect harmony of his unfailing, unconditional love, along with his perfect Holiness and Righteousness.

We do sinners no favor, and present an incomplete Gospel unless we preach both His Love, and His Holiness.

When I preach to young boys and men who are incarcerated in youth detention centers, I peer into some very troubled faces. Most of these kids have suffered brutal sexual, physical and verbal abuse all of their lives. They have been told they will NEVER amount to anything, that they are worthless. You should see the power of the Holy Spirit at work when we preach that they are precious in the sight of God, that He welcomes them with open arms, and that He has a plan and a future for their lives! For the first time some of them hear that they are not just human garbage, and let me tell you it makes a difference in their lives. God is not capricious and whimsical, like many of their fathers. They don't have to earn His love. This is the message which God uses time and again to convict hearts. How could you face that demonstrated love, the love of the Cross of Calvary, without being faced with your own human condition...lost and without hope!

On the other hand, we make it very plain that he will not tolerate or in any way compromise with their sin. Salvation is free, but discipleship is a cross to bear.

My point is that either extreme is an incomplete Gospel. Mark Jones

-- Mark Jones (mark_jones@peachnet.campuscwix.net), May 04, 1999.


While you may be correct on your observation of the Book of Acts, I don't believe that we need to take any portion of Scripture and attempt to build our ministry around it. A ministers of the gospel we should use the whole Scripture and teach it in context. God's love is a part of the gospel, as is man's present condition.

The message of the cross is that we needed a saviour. It was the love of God that provided that Saviour.

I am curious, though it does not lend any support to my point, what was it that lead you to Christ? Was it a turn or burn message, or a message about a loving God that gave us a way out of the punishment that we deserve?

-- Bill Ciocco (bciocco@yahoo.com), May 05, 1999.

The Bible says, "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:3-5)

The message of "love" is not just "God love's you" but is that the Cross is the love of God. It is the Cross (the love of God--Romans 5:8) that saves.

Both sides of this little debate are right.

1. The generic "love" message of the Robert Schuller/Willowcreek types is a soul-damning substitute for the real Gospel.


2. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the message of the love of God toward men. Love without the Blood is a fraud. The Blood without the love is empty.

Finally, I know that the love of God drew me to Him--the love that I saw as I heard the message of how Jesus Christ laid down His life for me even though I was a pathetic, lost sinner. The love of God is an awesome message when preached correctly.

BTW, the book of Acts is a book of transition and the purpose of it's writing is not to establish the message to be preached (which is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Such a use of the book of Acts has brought about the formation of cults like the Campbellites, Oneness Pentecostalism, etc.

-- Greg "Fudge" Miller (fudge@outofseason.com), May 05, 1999.

I appreciate the feedback from Messrs. Rush, Jones and Ciocco. All three of you have good points, but I keep wondering if maybe you aren't missing mine. I know that love is foundational to the gospel--I never said it wasn't. And as far as reaching troubled young kids with a message of God's love, that's fine. In that case I'd probably do the same. But when trying to reach the lost, that approach might not always be the best. If I came upon a whiskey soaked bum in an alley I woule not tell him that God loved him. What would be the point? I would be more inclined to tell him that he's in big trouble and that he had better straighten up and let Jesus clean up his life by receiving Him as savior, etc.(or something to that effect). I believe this would be much more effective and meaningful to the individual addressed. Yes, none of this would be operational without God's love, but God's love is not what this character needs to hear about at the moment. And I think the book of Acts demonstrates this! As a Christian I am of course in favor of loving God and also one another. But that is another subject. I am not anti-love. I just believe that when it comes to personal evangelism it's pushed too much to the exclsion of other aspects of the gospel. It becomes, as Jones says, an incomplete message. The mechanics of the plan of salvation are explained didactically in Rom 3&4 and Gal.3&4. If your system of salvation does not agree with the info in these 4 chapters it's wrong. I'm sure you will accept this. Yet even here, when this most imprtant doctrine is being explained--we read nothing about God's love (in fact I couldn't even find the word in the NKJV). Yes, we know God's love is behind it all, but even here when explaining it piece by piece, the concept of God's love does not dominate. Therefore, if the gospel can be explained here, and preached in Acts, isn't it then obvious that "God's love" does not necessarily always have to be in the forefront every time we present the Christian message to various individuals or parties? I come from a Roman Catholic background. (You might be interested in seeing my book "From Catholicism to Christ" Revival Literature, Asheville, NC.) If someone had told me when I was 20 yrs old that "God loved me," I probably would have replied, "Well why shouldn't He? I'm a nice guy, and I do my best to live up to the Ten Commandments." And since I always knew that God loves everybody, then what's the big deal? Fortunately I did not hear that. I heard instead that "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." And then I heard that no one is saved by living up to the Ten Comm. So now I was in big trouble. Then it was explained that through Christ's sacrifice on the cross I could acquire what I could not acquire on my own. I saw this in the Bible, believed it, and trusted Christ as my savior. And I was never told that God loved me, or that He had a wonderful plan for my life (which by the way, is not a spiritual law, but really a cleverly devised PR gimmick). Do I see God's love in all this now? Of course. But don't expect to see a God Loves You bumper sticker on my car. I don't want the sinner behind me to feel comfortable. I'd rather have a bumper sticker quoting Matt. 10:28. Ralph Filicchia

-- Ralph Filicchia (ralcar@mediaone.net), May 05, 1999.

Brother Ralph, from your last point, I see a little more where you're coming from and I tend to agree. Bro. Fudge is right...there's points on both sides of this debate.

And I must congratulate you brother...you've brought some life to this dead message board! Let's keep this thing going..."iron sharpens iron"...we can learn so much from each other and meaningful, even spirited, yet loving "in-house" debates among brethren.

Blessings...Mark Jones MA Religion Candidate-Bethany

-- Mark Jones (mark_jones@peachnet.campus.mci.net), May 05, 1999.


I agree that tha avg. yuppie needs to know that he is a sinner, but the wino already knows. What the wino doesn't know is that he doesn't have to live that way, that Jesus loves him and died for him so that he could be saved from that life of sin. To use a cliche: Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

-- Bill Ciocco (bciocco@yahoo.com), May 06, 1999.

Since this is such an old posting, perhaps you've done this by now, but a good idea would be to look up the word "love" in the New Testament. You'll find that it was essential in the messages of John, Paul and Peter, and other authors. I only scanned the other contributed threads, but I think doing this would clear up everything.

-- Duane Wallenstein (kswallenstein@basec.net), June 23, 1999.

Duane: No one is saying Love is not essential. I'm just saying the whole concept in evangelism is overdone. Check all the other comments under that thread. No sense in repeating them here. Ralph F.

-- Ralph Filicchia (ralcar@mediaone.net), June 24, 1999.

There's been so little said since June, no one may care, but the previous debate Was Interesting! Perhaps Bumper Stickers Should Say "God PROBABLY LOVES You,* Check Your OWNER'S MANUAL including Matt. 10:28 for Full Details". At least That would get them amused & make them "Think, & hopefully not be Lulled into False Security". My hat's off to All of you who work with the youth!! I was saved @ 17 in an "Almost Fundamental" Methodist church where a whole Large group of us 'Rowdies' were Totally Accepted by the 'ol folks!! We found LOVE, BUT No Punches were Pulled!! I believe the fellow in the 'above debate' KNOWS what we Learned @ the small, Shepherd Methodist. "KIDS NEED To KNOW the Consequences of BAD & Non-Decisions!!" I was never drunk or used dope, but I was Sure Doing a lot of things "On The WRONG Path!!" I was riding a motorcycle to church*, wanted to be a "Tough Guy" (put mildly) & don't know how I'd have turned out. "Kids then, as now, don't get enough LOVE OR Discipline. Thank GOD we Get ALL That Plus FORGIVENESS & more In Church!!" *Note: My wonderful wife of 12 yrs & I, sometimes still ride my GoldWing to Church... but It's got a Christian Flag & I ride for the Lord. I belong to the CMA-Christian Motorcyclists Association & MJM-Motorcyclists for Jesus Ministries. We do 'Ride & Witness' Events that are VERY Popular with Youth. I think "You need to get people's Attention by any method they can relate to before you can witness effectively!!" I'm also on the board of the 'Grape Fest'= the only local, family, Christian Festival. It's held the 4th Sat. of each Sept. & includes actual Barefoot, Grape Stomping, Gospel music & MORE. As they say down south,"Y'all Come, Ya Hear?" After a 2 year stint as a Christian Radio DJ, I'm on this web site exploring my own options for going into the ministry. I belong to Toastmasters Intl.(Something I'd suggest to ANY Potential Preacher...& Some boring, Monotone Ones). That's made me a Better Speaker than any of the "Speech Classes" I had in college. For 5 yrs, I've been a "Certfied Methodist Lay Speaker" & recently preached the whole sermon W/ emphasis on 'THE WORD' for my current "LARGE" church. People enjoyed it & many continue to tell me how I Should Go Into the ministry Full Time!! Say a prayer for me as GOD has his will with me. All Glory to 'Him'!!! ps Is the title of this article supposed to be...."Our" Time? Bud Anderson, So. Charleston, WV

-- Bud Anderson, So.Chas.,WV (ecbudarm@earth1.net), October 14, 1999.


What you say is absolutely correct. God's love is qualified and none of God's preachers in Acts or any other place in the Bible would make any blanket statement like that. Read in Psalm 5 where the Bible states "That God hateth all workers of iniquity." This means the unbeliever is at enmity with God and if that person does not become saved, they remain under the wrath of God. God loves His children and not the unbeliever. The Bumper stickers that say "Jesus Loves You" or "God loves you" are giving false hope to those who are reprobate. This all stems from programs like touched by an angel which spread that false doctrine of "unqualified love." Love is not the foundation of the gospel, it was the motivation for God's salvation plan.

Dr. Ken Matto www.scionofzion.com

-- Dr. Ken Matto (class of 90') (kmatto@earthlink.net), March 21, 2000.

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