I was raised in religion and taught by well-intentioned individuals that “we were all God’s children,” that He “loved all men and women equally,” and that He wanted to and was trying to save everybody. They continually quoted John 3:16 and followed it up with Scriptures such as “God is love,” I John 4:16. To my natural unregenerate mind all of this sounded logical and was exactly what I wanted to believe.
I never imagined questioning their reasoning until God opened my eyes by His grace to see the glory of His love for His own. I realize now that God’s love is infinitely greater than the love of the “god” I worshipped in my former state of idolatry. The Bible knows and teaches nothing of God wanting to save and being unable to do it – “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”(Dan.4:35). “But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Ps.115:3). I don’t remember anyone EVER declaring this God to my ears! Do you?
I also discovered that God’s love, instead of being a mere wish or desire to save me if I’d let Him, actually was the cause for His sending His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ into this world, to do for sinners what they could never do for themselves. Think about John 3:16 -- “For God SO loved the world…” We need to remember Christ was talking to a Jewish Pharisee, Nicodemus, who thought Jews were the only people God had any intention of saving. So Christ used the word “world” to point out to Him that God’s purpose was to save all His people out of every nation. Since God “SO” loved His people, “…He gave His only begotten Son…”. Paul wrote – “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal.4:4,5). Now our natural reasoning latches on to this next phrase – “that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish…” Everybody tells us this verse teaches that man’s belief is what appropriates Christ’s work of redemption and makes it their own. Notice the last part of the verse – “…but HAVE (literally, already possess) eternal life.” The only reason anyone ever believes or rests in Christ is because they “already possess” eternal life which was obtained for them by Christ’s perfect work of redemption at Calvary – “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I Jn.4:10). Think about it like this: All those for whom Christ died were loved of God from before time, and nothing they do ever causes God’s love for them to increase or decrease because His love is PERFECT LOVE based on the PERFECT SACRIFICE of His Son, the believers’ Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ.