The Conclusion

All of this is to say that God does not love His obedient children the same as He loves sinners. He loves sinners only with a merciful love, and that love is temporary, lasting only until they die. At the same time that He loves them with a merciful love, He hates them with a hatred that stems from His disapproval of their character. This is what Scripture teaches.

On the other hand, God loves His children much more than those who are not born again. He primarily loves them with an approving love because they have repented and are striving to obey His commandments. As they grow in holiness, He has less and less reason to love them with a merciful love, and more and more reason to love them with an approving love, which is exactly what they desire.

This is also to say that many portrayals of God’s love by modern preachers and teachers are misleading and inaccurate. In light of what Scripture says, take a moment to evaluate the following familiar clichés about God’s love:

1.) There isn’t anything you could do to make God love you any more or less than He does right now.

2.) There is nothing you could do that would make God stop loving you.

3.) God’s love is unconditional.

4.) God loves everyone the same.

5.) God loves the sinner but hates the sin.

6.) There is nothing you can do to earn or deserve God’s love.

7.) God’s love for us is not based upon our performance.

All of the above statements are potentially misleading or outright false, as the majority completely deny God’s approving love and many misrepresent His merciful love.

Regarding (1), there is something believers can do that could make God approvingly love them more: they could be more obedient. And there is something they can do to make God approvingly love them less: disobedience. For sinners, there is something that they could do that could make God love them much more: repent. Then they would gain God’s approving love. And there is something they could do that would make God love them less: die. Then they would lose the only love God had for them, His merciful love.

Regarding (2), a Christian could stop God’s approving love by returning to the practice of sin, putting himself in a position to only experience God’s merciful love. And, again, the non-believer could die, and that would stop God’s merciful love, the only love God ever had for him.

Regarding (3), God’s approving love is certainly conditional. And even His merciful love is conditional upon a person being physically alive. After death, God’s merciful love ends, so it is conditional in that it is temporary.

Regarding (4), it is more likely that God doesn’t love anyone the same, because all, sinners and saints alike, He disapproves or approves to various degrees. Certainly it is true that God’s love is not the same for sinners and saints.

Regarding (5), God hates sinners and their sins. It could be better said that He loves sinners with a merciful love and hates their sins. From a standpoint of His approving love, He hates them.

Regarding (6), anyone can and everyone should earn God’s approving love. Of course, no one can earn His merciful love, as it is unconditional.

Finally, regarding (7), God’s merciful love is not based upon performance, but God’s approving love certainly is.

All of this is to say that the disciple-making minister should present God’s love accurately, as it is described in the Bible, because he doesn’t want anyone to be deceived. Only people whom God approvingly loves enter heaven, and God only approvingly loves those who have been born again and obey Jesus. The disciple-making minister would never teach what might lead people away from holiness. His goal is the same as God’s goal, to make disciples who obey all of Christ’s commandments.