Many preachers today are saying that God has unconditional love for sinners. Today, R.C. Sproul explains that while this message may be proclaimed with good intentions, it can have perilous effects on the unbelievers who hear it.
There is a border to the love of God because the Bible tempers its extolling of the transcendent majesty of the love of God with these warnings of the limit of His love beyond which there is divine wrath and there is divine abhorrence. I know that what I’m saying here goes counter to the message that is being preached every day from preachers that I never find in Scripture. And it is this concept: the unconditional love of God. First, I want to ask the question “Where did this idea come from that God’s love is unconditional? And what does this concept communicate?” Suppose I am preaching to nonbelievers and I’m saying to those people, “God loves you unconditionally.” They tell us in seminary that when you preach, you don’t preach one sermon. You preached three sermons. There’s the sermon that the people hear, there’s the sermon you thought you preached, and then there’s the sermon that was actually preached. And they’re not the same, and so we have to understand that. I asked myself, “What does that impenitent, unconverted person hear when they listen to a sermon and they hear this announcement, ‘God loves you unconditionally’”? Let me tell you what he hears. He hears this: “Well, God loves me just as I am. I don’t have to repent of my sins. I don’t need a savior. I don’t have to worry about going to hell because a God who loves everybody unconditionally won’t ever send anybody to hell. So, I can keep on living a hellish life just as I am and never worry again about offending God because He cannot be offended, so unconditional is His love.” I can’t think of a more perilous message to communicate to people than to stand there and announce the unconditional love of God. Now, the motive for it obviously is that the preacher, who has experienced the grace of God, who has experienced the redeeming love of God, is so overwhelmed by the redeeming love of God, he wants to express it in the strongest terms. He says: “God’s love is so wonderful. It’s so powerful. It’s so transcendent. We could even say it’s unconditional.” Don’t do it, because you give the wrong message. God has placed an absolute condition upon the salvation of any person. That person must embrace Christ by faith and trust in Him and Him alone, or that person will know only the divine wrath forever.