The expression “unconditional love” is often bandied in evangelical circles. However, different people may mean different things when they use this term. If the doctrine of unconditional love is not understood correctly, it can lead to abuses and licentious conduct.

The unconditional love of God refers to how God extends His love towards us even though we do not merit it. Consider John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ into the world to die for sinners so that man may be redeemed from his sin. This offer of salvation is open to the whole of mankind. Whosoever would repent of his sin and believe in Christ Jesus will have everlasting life. There is not one thing that merits us a place in heaven. We are simply resting in the redemptive work of Christ Jesus.

The unconditional aspect of God’s love can also be seen with respect to the election of the saints. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:8-10) In His foreknowledge, God chose us before the foundation of the world even before we existed and set His love upon us (Eph 1:4; Rom 9:11, 16).

An illustration of God’s unconditional and electing love can be seen in his dealings with Israel. “The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deut. 7:7-8) God did not choose Israel because they were rich and powerful. Neither was it because they were obedient and kind. In fact, Israel was a rebellious and stiff-necked people. God simply set His love upon them. Similarly, God set His love upon us even though we were His enemies and great sinners in His sight. How marvellous is His love!

Sadly, there are those who twist this doctrine and make it appear as though there are no obligations in God’s love. They teach that we can sin all we want since God has already forgiven all our sins. Many of the so-called “Christian counsellors” promote such perverted thinking. These include popular authors such as Rick Warren, Larry Crabb and James Dobson. Some of these writers even go to the extent in claiming that God is not displeased with His saints even if they sin since He is a God of love. “Go ahead and sin!” they claim, “for grace is greater than all our sin.”

What doth the Scripture say? Paul, in anticipation of such twisted teaching, wrote in Romans 6:1-2, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” To teach that Christians are free to live a life of sin and wickedness is to deny the holiness of God. Moreover, God made it clear in His Word that as saints of God we are obligated to abound in good works. Ephesians 2:10 states that while we are Christ’s workmanship, we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God had before ordained that we should walk in them. The same teaching is found in John 15:16 – “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” Yea, did Christ also not say that if we love Him, we are to keep His commandments (John 14:15, 21; 15:10)?

If by “unconditional love” one means that God’s love to us is unmerited and not based on how worthy we are, then such a teaching is scriptural and brings glory to the name of Christ. The Bible tells us that without Christ, we are most undone. However, if what is meant by “unconditional love” is a divine love without obligations, such a teaching is a perversion of the Scripture and ought to be rejected. E. S. Williams rightly points out that such a concept of unconditional love “only exists in a mythological world in which there is no sin, no evil and no law, which people are free to live as they like without fear of judgment and punishment. In the real world, unconditional love is no more or less than licentiousness – an attitude that denies the accepted rules and morals that govern human behaviour. It is an attitude that allows us to do what we want without sanction or control.” In other words, it is rebellion against God, plain and simple.

I am especially blessed by the message spoken by the Principal on FEBC’s Day of Prayer on 2 January 2019. The message was on unconditional service based on Matthew 10:37-38. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”

In the message, the Principal exhorted the students on three points of unconditional service:
Pay or no pay, we preach.
Thanks or no thanks, we preach.
Good times or bad times, we preach.

These principles are not only for full-time ministers of the Word, but should be applicable to all of us who are serving the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Pay or no pay, we serve. Thanks or no thanks, we serve. Good times or bad times, we serve. Let these be our guiding principles for the coming year.

The recent troubles of Tabernacle BPC have moved the Session to see the need for a Church Premises Fund. This fund is set up in the hope that the Lord would lead us to a place where we can call our own. Suitable premises would provide the church with room and facilities to extend her ministry. Having the church premises fund would enable us to purchase a suitable property should the opportunity arise. On the other hand, the church premises fund may also serve as an emergency source of funds should there be a need to move to any place urgently.

We pray that the Lord will move your heart to contribute to this work. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew