Why The Love of God alone just Isn’t Enough to get one to heaven:
Let’s face it, the title of this little article made you at least a bit curious if not altogether furious didn’t it? And you just had to read or at least skim through it because of that – didn’t you? Okay; fair enough. But before anyone seeks to “tar and feather” me for heresy, please read through and really think about what I – and especially the scriptures – have to say…
There is a billboard advertisement for a local denomination reminding everyone as they drive out of our little town that “God loves [them].” John 3:16 – the most recognized and quoted verse in the entire bible – rings forth with that same great message: “For God so loved the world…” Romans 5:6 and following also reminds us one and all how much God loves everyone – not just the “good,” but the “bad and the ugly” as well. And on and on we could go. It is absolutely and abundantly crystal clear that God almighty loves each and every soul He ever created. God’s unlimited and unconditional love is simply not in question. Golgotha’s cross stands and spreads its blood-stained shadow across the centuries as a stark reminder to all, and for all time, just how unfathomably much God in heaven loves all of us on the earth (see Eph. 3:8-21).
And so God’s love for us is not in question. In fact, because of His great love for each and every one of us, if He had His way, every single soul He ever created would be with Him for all eternity in heaven (2 Ptr. 3:9). But the same bible that says that, also says in many places, that the vast majority will indeed NOT go to heaven; places such as Matthew 7:13-21 for example: Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it… Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
“Wait a minute,” some might say, “how can that possibly be? Doesn’t God love everyone?” Yes! “Even those “many” whom He will send to spend eternity in hell?” Yes! “And doesn’t God want everyone in heaven with Him forever?” Yes! “Even those “many” whom He will send to spend eternity in hell?” Yes! “Then… what happened?!?” Simple… The only difference between those who will be saved and those who will be lost will not be that God loved one group more than the other, or that He loved anyone less than anyone else, “For God so loved the world…” But just like electricity requires an unbroken current/circuit that “completes the circle” as it were, God’s love alone, extended in one direction but yet unaccepted and unreturned, will not “complete the circuit” and place us in the eternal light in which He dwells (see 1 Tim. 6:11-16).
Those who perish and are thrown out “into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 22:13) will not be some souls that God somehow didn’t love, because God loves everyone. But those who perish and are thrown out there will be those who did not return His love; while those who are saved will be those who did return it.
So the question then becomes, “Well then, how do we return His love?” And once again the answer is simple, straightforward and scripturally well-supplied in the verses which immediately follow the above: “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matt. 7:24-27). Jesus would also go on to tell us exactly how to return His love and what the evidence of that love would look like in many other places, including Jn. 14:15, 21, and 15:14: “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love Him and manifest Myself to him,” “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” The apostle John would repeatedly re-emphasize this vital truth again and again in his later letters which we lovingly refer to as First and Second John, as well as the Revelation he received directly from Jesus (Rev. 1:9)…
- Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected (NOTE: i.e. “completed,” like a circuit!) in him (1 Jn. 2:3-5).
- And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him (1 Jn. 3:22-24).
- By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome (1 Jn. 5:2-3).
- This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it (2 Jn. 1:6).
- Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them (Rev 14:12-13).
And so we see that the answer to the question of how do we return God’s love and so make the circuit complete that will subsequently take us to heaven is so very simple. As wise King Solomon put it so many centuries ago, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Eccl. 12:13). Or as the apostle Paul instructed the congregation of the church of Christ (Ro. 16:16) in first century Corinth, “…keeping the commandments of God is what matters” (1 Cor. 7:19).
When we truly and fully love, and believe, and trust, and obey God by keeping His commandments, because of Who and What He is and what He’s provided for us in His great and grace-laden love, we thus return His love by showing Him our love for and devotion to Him, and hence “complete the salvation circuit,” according to Scripture. His commandments He said we must thus obey would include but certainly not be limited to those regarding:
- His commandments as contained and conveyed in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt. 5:19).
- His commandments regarding worshipping as He requires and not according to the traditions of men (Matt. 15:1-9; Mk. 7:5-13; Ro. 16:17-27; 1 Cor. 14:33-37; Col. 2:18-23; Titus 1:10-14; 1 Tim. 1:3-7).
- His commandments regarding loving God and one another (Matt. 22:34-40; Mk. 12:28-34; Jn. 13:34-35; Ro. 13:8-10).
- His commandments regarding sexual purity (1 Thess. 4:1-8; Hebs. 13:4).
- His commandments regarding not turning back to the world once we have been saved and set free from sin (2 Ptr. 2:21).
- His commandments to be governed by the apostles’ doctrine exclusively and absolutely nothing else (Jn. 16:12-15; Acts 2:42; 2 Ptr. 3:1-2, 14-18; 2 Jn. 1:4-6).
In conclusion then, it is tragically apparent that those denominations that focus on ONLY letting people know that God loves THEM, and who do not focus on people’s having to humbly surrender and give the God-required and appropriate response to God’s love for them with their love in return (in the form of their loving obedience of faith to the gospel: Acts 2:37-41; Ro. 1:4-7, 16:25-27; and 2 Thess. 1:7-10) have sadly only given them half the story and have completely “short-circuited” any chance they had at all of salvation, while leaving them totally “in the dark” as it were for all eternity…
Yes God loves YOU – and everyone else on earth as well. And He likewise loves each and every one of those He will have to send to Hell in the end as well. For it is only those who truly love Him enough in response to complete the circuit by keeping His commandments, who will live with Him forever in heaven. Are you one of those few… or not?