Our society seems to place a great deal of emphasis on love. Some of it is good, some not so good. Some of it is more surface level, feel good rhetoric than substantive action. Many people are quick to judge others as being unloving, or even hateful, who do not conform to their superficial standard of love. Increasingly, such standards have become pretty open ended. Love should be long suffering, but even Godly love is not without limits. When it comes to our salvation, and when it comes to teaching the gospel to lost souls, just what does love demand?
Some people might find it difficult to believe that there are limits within God’s love for man, but there are. His love certainly shines far brighter than anything we might exhibit, but it does set boundaries. So, if God has drawn some lines beyond which even His love cannot extend, then certainly we cannot go farther than that in the name of our love.
What does love demand in response to what God did for us? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn.3:16). We can do nothing to compare with God sending Jesus to this earth to die on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. But God’s love is open ended. When Jesus instructed the Apostles to go everywhere teaching the gospel, He drew a line that mankind must cross in order to be saved through that gospel message (Rom. 1:16). Any person who does not believe in Him and obey His teachings will be eternally lost (Mk. 16:15-16; 2 Thess. 1:7-9)!
God does not owe us salvation. Because of our sinfulness we deserve His punishment. It is only because of God’s amazing grace that He offers us the opportunity for salvation in spite of our guilt due to sin. But even God’s grace is not limitless (Gal. 5:4). He expects our consistent, faithful obedience to His teachings if we want to live with Him in Heaven for eternity.
What does love demand us to do in reaching out to the lost with the salvation of the gospel of Jesus Christ? It demands that we do just that, reach out to the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ! God’s love for us should be reflected in our efforts to teach the lost about salvation. Our efforts should not be careless or limited to just surface gestures. We must literally go everywhere, all over the world, with the gospel message and strive to teach every soul possible about salvation in Christ. It should be a relentless, ongoing effort to communicate God’s plan for man’s redemption throughout the far reaches of the world. We should try to utilize every effective means available to communicate that message for which Jesus died.
But, in teaching the gospel we cannot go beyond that very gospel message. It has not changed since Jesus first communicated it to mankind. We should use every ounce of energy within us to persuade people of their need to obey Jesus. But if they choose to not obey, we cannot make up some new way for them to be saved anyway, in spite of their refusal to do what Jesus said they must do. Their choice to disobey is on their own heads. Jesus said that most people will be lost (Matt. 7:13-14). That prophetic knowledge did not make Him happy, nor should it give us any joy. It is, nonetheless, reality. Our love for the lost cannot erase their responsibility to respond to the Savior in obedience. Love demands that we teach, but love cannot erase the responsibility to obey the teachings of Jesus. True love will emphasize that responsibility...
Gary L. Hutchens