God Loves You And Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life

“God Loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” So said a high profile ‘evangelist’ 50 odd years ago and that script has been hardwired into Evangelicals the way Bill Gates hardwires his machines with Internet Explorer. But is it true? Does God Love everybody and have a wonderful plan for his or her lives?

About a year ago this issue came up when I attended a Mormon open house designed to turn their best face toward John Q. Public. A blanket invitation was given in the local newspaper and I decided that it might be interesting to see what the Mormons look like when they have all their makeup on. Upon arriving one was greeted with the requisite punch and cookies as well as the ubiquitous Mormon smile. After the general bonhomie settled down they invited us into an all purpose room to watch a promotional film for the Mormon ‘faith.’ The lights went dim, the VCR whirred and the beautiful people came on screen. Imagine my surprise when one of the first things out of the TV people’s mouth was … “God Loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” (or something very much like that). Now in my exuberance I yelled out … “Stop the tape, Stop the Tape,” which they very obligingly did (when somebody is trying to impress you with how nice they are you can get away with murder). They assured me that they were glad for my questions wherever they came in the program and encouraged me to go ahead and ask my question. And so I did. I asked them, “If God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life then what is the purpose of becoming Mormon?” I mean, if God already is so hotsie totsie for me in my non-Mormon state then why should I change anything?


More Silence.

Of course the Mormon oi poloi are taught to evangelize according a very set pattern and if you get them out of that rut (which my question accomplished) they take on the statuesque demeanor of a herd of deer frozen in the mystery of fast approaching headlights. Perhaps some other time I will tell the rest of my ‘Mormon Open House’ story but the point that I made that night in that simple question with the Mormon tribe is the same point that Evangelicals need to consider when they embrace the notion that God loves everybody. The news to the lost that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life pre-empts the attempt made later in the conversation to set the Evangelical hook regarding repentance for what need is there for repentance if God already loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life?

Now, it might be the case that people will say at this point that repentance is implied in the statement about God’s universal love for everybody. To which my rejoinder would be, ‘Well if repentance is required before God loves people then it obviously is the case that those who are not repentant God doesn’t love, and therefore it is not true that God loves everybody.’ Then my rejoinder might go on to wonder if God doesn’t love the non-repentant then what is His dispositional state towards the non-repentant? Could it be a disposition of opposition? Could it be the case that the Psalmist is correct when he says that God hates workers of iniquity? And if those who are un-repentant are by definition workers of iniquity (what else could they be working) then it might be just as appropriate to say those who show up for your open house that ‘God hates you and unless you repent He has every intent to punish you for your iniquity working,’ though I wouldn’t suggest leading with either sound bite.

But we don’t say that and we never get to it. We don’t say that because even the hearing of that grates against the hardwiring even though the Psalmist can confess that he hates God’s enemies with a perfect hatred. To suggest that God Hates people is just not something that we have grown up being taught and early-learned ways of thinking are difficult to re-program. Another reason we don’t say it is that we think Evangelism is akin to selling cars and nobody buys a car when the Salesman starts off by saying, ‘if you don’t buy this you will be damned.’ So, thinking that we have to make the sell and close the deal, we look out for the esteem of the buyer and avoid those truths that would violate their esteem. Now, the idea that God hates both sin and the sinner, I am sure you would agree, definitely falls into the esteem-crushing category. But then perhaps that is what we mean when we talk about ‘the stone that makes men stumble and the rock that makes them fall?’

Why do we find it odd though to hear the words, ‘God hates workers of iniquity?’ Even we mortals who love certain truths find the countervailing truths and the people who hold them to be loathsome. For example, if we love the notion that abortion is wrong we are foursquare opposed to those who love the notion that abortion is right. Every truth that we embrace and cherish comes with the notion of despising the opposite. If we love freedom we will hate slavery AND those who would seek to enslave us. If we love Christian Education we will hate non-Christian education AND those who would seek to force non-Christian Education upon people. To love something is always to hate its opposite. A person cannot love without hating at the same time. Even the Scripture recognizes this when we are taught to ‘cling to that which is good and to hate that which is evil.’ And again the Psalmist can say, “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104). There is such a thing as Biblical Hatred and it is defined as the revulsion we have towards those things that are the opposite of what we are commanded to love.

Now, if this is true for we mortals, how much more so is it true of God? God’s love is ultimately set upon Himself in His Trinitarian Self and all those that despise Him God despises since He hates those who hate what He loves. If God loves in one direction then God hates in the opposite direction. If He loves the good He hates the wicked. If He loves the glorification of Himself He hates those who would steal His glory. If He loves His people then His wrath is upon those who oppose His people. If He loves workers of righteousness then He hates workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5, 11:5). His Hatred, like ours, is but the reverse mirror image of His Love. As a principle it is impossible to Love without also hating, for to love that which is estimable is to hate that which is desultory.

But here is where it gets interesting. In matters touching Evangelism God’s Hate is often based on His love. That is to say in many cases His Hate is serving His love. Augustine, the 4th century Church Bishop had this in mind when he said, ‘Even when God hated us He loved us.” When God through the proclamation of the Gospel reveals His opposition to people who are by nature children of Wrath (Eph. 2:3) it is often with the purpose that His people would flee to Jesus for safety from His present wrath (Rmns. 1:18). That is to say that in God’s economy the reason God makes known His wrath against workers of iniquity is so He might pour out His love out upon those who take refuge in the self-appeasement He has provided in His Son. We who proclaim such a message do not take some kind of maniacal pleasure in God’s opposition to sinners, enjoying seeing people squirm, but rather the reason we declare God’s wrath (and what is Wrath but hatred expressed?) is so that His people would discover their sin and dreadful situation and flee to Jesus and in Jesus learn that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives. When we proclaim God’s opposition it is with the express purpose that people might discover His unmerited favor.

We proclaim God’s hatred of the workers of iniquity so that we might proclaim to them that God’s hatred for those who look to Jesus has already been extinguished in the cross. That is to say that workers of iniquity can now become beloved of God because the hatred God had for them was poured out upon their substitute in the work of the Cross where His wrath against His people is exhausted. We also tell them though that if they will not look to Jesus and become part of a local covenant community (Church) then the Wrath of God remains on them. If we start by telling unbelievers that God loves them then the Cross makes no sense in the telling. The Cross only makes sense in the context of God hating sin and workers of iniquity. If God does not hate sin and workers of iniquity then the Cross was certainly stupid and definitely un-necessary.

If the objector now insists that God only loves people who repent then he ought to quit telling people who haven’t repented that God loves them because what he is saying is different then what he means and it certainly isn’t what Scripture teaches. What Scripture teaches is that God Loves and receives all those who labor and are heavy laden and are looking to Him for rest. What Scripture teaches is that God Loves people who are broken and contrite in heart. What Scripture teaches is that God loves those in the far country who come to themselves. Scripture does not teach that God loves everybody and has a wonderful plan for their lives and saying such things is putrid evangelism that gets in the way of someone who God is pursuing through their seeking and detracts from God’s Glory.

So, lets be done with ‘God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.’ The use of it is getting in the way of those of us who are trying to communicate something besides limp wristed notions of both God and love. If nothing else the present state and condition of the Church in the West testifies to the effectiveness of using that winning insight for the last 50 years. Indeed, it would be nice to be done with canned approaches in general. Certainly I am not advocating that the first thing out of our mouths to an unbelieving acquaintance is the truth of God’s hostility towards them. Shoot, given our culture the first thing may be time explaining the notion of God, the wickedness of autonomy, the reality of right and wrong, the idea of a Bible and other such topics.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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