If you believe God’s love is unconditional, and by that you mean that God loves regardless if anyone accepts or appreciates His love then the answer would be yes. God does not need anyone to accept or appreciate Him, or His love. God is love and God is not a needy, ego driven Person. He is totally confident in who He is. God is eternally self-sufficient!
But if you are referring to God’s love being unconditional as it pertains to Him relating to people, then His love is not unconditional. It is in fact, uber-conditional!
If God has no conditions on His love does that mean He also has no expectations for His love? By that I mean, does God send His love out into a vacuum, or is it purposely directed toward a desired human target?
If God’s love has a desired human target does God not have conditions and expectations for that human target to be in a relationship of love with Him? Can God have no conditions and still have expectations?
How do you measure love that has no conditions or expectations? Who defines that kind of love? If there are no conditions or expectations how can anyone feel successful in loving God, or the people in their life?
The Psalmist said, “Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens,” [36:5a]. To me this means God is the Author and Definer of His love.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” [Ephesians 3].
The psalmist said God’s love reaches to the heavens and Paul says he prayed we would comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, length, height and depth of God’s love as expressed in Christ. His prayer was so “that you [we] may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
In other words, Paul is revealing that God’s love can be measured which means there are definable boundaries for us to understand how we are to relate to God and His love.
If God’s love is unconditional, then what about Jesus? He is God who came as a human being who lived within the limits of humanity even though He remained fully God? Did the perfect personification of God and His love love unconditionally and without any expectations?
Paul, the most revelatory teacher of God’s truth except for Jesus, wrote a basic but vitally important truth about how to obtain revelation into spiritual things.
1 Corinthians 15:46 – “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.”
Obviously, the spirit world preceded the natural world as God is Spirit and He is the One who spoke all things natural into existence, and personally hand made the original man in the beginning. So, what is Paul revealing in this verse? Paul is revealing that we can learn spiritual truths from natural things.
When you take a look at how God, in His infinite wisdom, made mankind physically so that the heart would have maximum protection, you can receive insight into the spiritual dynamic of God, His love, His love of relationship, His love for people in relationship to Him and others, as well as the prescribed rules He set out to be in relationship with Him and in representing Him.
God positioned the heart in the human body in such a way that it would take great effort and or great force to physically damage it. By this we can see that God was communicating that protecting our heart was of special importance to Him. If God made that kind of decision to protect the heart of His crown jewel of creation then what do we learn about God, His love, and how He protects His heart? We are made in His likeness and image!
It is absolutely dangerous for preachers, or any person for that matter, to say God loves unconditionally. God loves eternally! God loves perfectly! But there are ZERO verses that say God loves unconditionally. In fact, the word ‘unconditional’ is not found in any of the major translations that are considered the most accurate to the original texts.
If God loves unconditionally then Jesus must have loved unconditionally, since He was God in the flesh. Additionally, God must expect you and me to love unconditionally. If that is true would that not mean that He expects us to remain in genuinely abusive and unsafe relationships.
For instance, if Jesus loved unconditionally then why did he question those who struck Him in the face at His mockery of a trial. “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?” [John 18:23]
You do realize that God divorced natural Israel, don’t you?
Two times in the Old Testament [Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:8] it is recorded that God divorced Israel. And Jesus, in the New Testament [Matthew 23:38] put the final nail in their coffin when He wept over Jerusalem declaring He was leaving their house desolate [divorced and abandoned]. Why would God divorce Israel if He loved them without conditions?
For love to be real love there must be real, and definable parameters to define what love is.
There is not 1 [ONE] verse in the Bible that says – “unconditional love,” or “love unconditionally” as it pertains to God and His love. In fact, you cannot find one verse with the words “God”, “love”, and “unconditional” in it.
There are only two Bibles that have the word “unconditional” in them.
Good News Translation – Has 4 verses with “unconditional” in them
Leviticus 27:28,29 – “None of you may sell or buy back what you have unconditionally dedicated to the Lord, whether it is a human being, an animal, or land. It belongs permanently to the Lord. Not even human beings who have been unconditionally dedicated may be bought back; they must be put to death.”
- These verses have to do with what someone dedicates unconditionally to the Lord!
Numbers 18:14 – “Everything in Israel that has been unconditionally dedicated to me belongs to you.”
- This verse has to do with the Levites getting what God’s people unconditionally dedictated to Him.
Numbers 21:2 – “Then the Israelites made a vow to the Lord: “If you will let us conquer these people, we will unconditionally dedicate them and their cities to you and will destroy them.”
- This verse has to do with God’s people making a vow to the Lord of unconditionally dedicating the people and their cities God defeated to God.
The Message Bible – Has just two verses with “unconditional” in them
Daniel 6:8 – “Issue this decree, O king, and make it unconditional, as if written in stone like all the laws of the Medes and the Persians.”
- This verse speaks of a decree Darius made at the behest of his advisors so they could entrap Daniel, who was a covenant keeping praying man, in a plot born out of their jealousy of him.
Matthew 18:35 – “And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”
- This verse is in reference to forgiveness and unforgiveness. It is similar to what Jesus said in Matthew 6 about our being forgiven by God is directly connected to our willingness to forgive those who have wronged us.
I have searched the King James, New King James, New American Standard, New International Version, English Standard Version, J.P. Greene’s Literal Version, Young’s Literal Translation, as well as the Weymouth New Testament Translation and the International Standard Version of the New Testament, and have not found one  verse that says the words “unconditional love”, or “love unconditionally” in them. As stated above, there are no verses with “God”, “love”, and “unconditional” in them.
In fact, Jesus, who is God who came as a human being said:
“46 While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. 47 Someone said to Him, ‘Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.’ 48 But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ 49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.'” [Matthew 12]
- If love is not conditional why would Jesus put conditions on who He regarded His family to be?
“Why do you call Me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say.” Luke 6:46
- If love is not conditional then why would Jesus question the confession of those calling Him Lord, Lord?
“16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.“[ John 3]
- If love is not conditional then why did Jesus say people must believe in Him [who He says He is, what He came to do, etc] in order to be saved and not condemned?
“So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.'” John 8:31
- If love is not conditional why would Jesus tell the Jews who believed Him they must continue in His word to be genuine disciples?
“If you love Me you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15
Or, “Because you love Me you will keep [obey] My commandments [word].”
- If love is unconditional then why did Jesus attach obedience to being in relationship with Him?
“So that the world may know that I love the Father I do exactly as the Father commands Me.” John 14:31
- If love is not conditional then why would Jesus feel the need to demonstrate His love to the Father with His complete obedience to His Father?
“You are My friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:14
Or, “You are My friends because you do what I command you.”
- If love is not conditional why would Jesus place a condition on friendship?
There are many other texts that clearly communicate that God has requirements to His love, and that there are requirements to receive His love and to maintain a right [righteous] relationship with Him.
One of the great texts that is normally the “proof text” for the unconditional lover is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. “4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.”
The word ‘unconditional’ is not found or assumed in that text.
I repeat my opening statement: “It is absolutely dangerous for preachers to say God loves unconditionally. ”
Here is just one of many Old Testament texts that established early on what the will of God is as it pertains to His love for His covenant people in the Old Testament.
“Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” [Deuteronomy 7:9]
The Lord is God and God is faithful to keep His covenant and His love and kindness to a thousandth generation. But the condition is – with those who love Him and prove they love Him by valuing what He values with the value He places on it. God never stops loving but God certainly will stop relating to people who abuse Him and His love.
I feel like I am being a fool for focusing on this, but it is imperative that someone focus on it. There is zero, zip, nil, nada, none, nyet, NOT ONE verse that says God loves unconditionally!
Please, for the sake of your eternal state before, and with, God Almighty, do NOT believe those who tell you you can behave however you want and God is okay with you or your unhealthy and or unholy behavior. It is NOT true and it IS dangerous!
As a form of literary exclamation point I want to leave you with this text and thoughts.
Romans 2:4-8 – “4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to each person according to his deeds: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.”
If God loves unconditionally then why does God –
- Give kindness that leads people to repent?
- Care about people remaining stubborn and unrepentant?
- Have a day of wrath where there is a revelation of His righteous judgment?
- Render to each person according to their deeds?
- Deliniate between those who do good and those who don’t?
- To those who persevere in doing good they receive glory, honor, immortality and eternal life
- Care that people are selfishly ambitious, disobedient to Him but obedient to unrighteousness?
- To those who do not do good they receive wrath and indignation
Receive and steward God’s passion, power, presence, priority, process, promises, protection, provision, pruning, purging, purity and purpose!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury, DMin