Is Just Love Enough?

Can we love people into repentance and becoming born again, and into being saved? God says no, that it is His Word alone that has the power to change hearts.

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To love is good. A deep, abiding and true love is even better. Perhaps things would be so much easier if that were enough, but even God's perfect love wasn't enough, and so He had to give His only Son. While that made Salvation possible it still did not bring people in to God.

There is not one place in the Bible that tells us, or even hints that we are to just love the unsaved and they will come to be saved. Neither does the Bible teach or suggest that love alone is enough to change a sinners heart. We are told, even commanded, to; love one another (John 15:17), but when we look at the context of these verses we see that the referral is to believers. This does not mean we should not love unbelievers, but clearly what John is teaching here is that if we truly belong to God the world and those in the world will not love us. In fact they will hate us and if they hate us, our love means little to them. If love alone can bring people to Salvation, Jesus died in vain, and the Father sent the Holy Ghost in vain. But He did not die in vain. He died to make a way for sinners to receive forgiveness and to teach others the way.

A statement often heard these days by many professing Christianity goes something like; He is making me to understand that we must just love people. Not criticize, not judge, just love. Actually I have been told this personally by a number of critics who don't like sin to be mentioned.

For Bible readers such a statement is immediately recognized for what it is, un-biblical, ungodly, and unproductive. It is not from God, His Word or anyone who truly knows Jesus Christ and why He died. The Lord never contradicts Himself and that statement contradicts the plain teaching of the Bible. It sounds good to Christians and everybody else because it is an easy way out for the one professing to just love. Such a doctrine expects nothing of the sinner who is the one that is being just loved. It simply doesn't work except in the pleasing of the flesh on both sides with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Did Jesus just love the woman at the well? Did He just love the Pharisees, those teaching lies and false doctrine? Not at all, in fact sometimes He seemed quite harsh by todays easily offended standards. The reality is that He pointed out the sins of each of them. He didn't tiptoe around it, or lie about it, and He sure didn't ignore it. One of the reasons He did so was for our example that we might follow in His methods and ways.

Incredible as it may seem to many it was His love for the Pharisees that prompted Him to call them serpents and vipers and said woe unto you hypocrites! (Matthew 23:13; & more.) To believe otherwise is to disbelieve II Timothy 2:3-4 which says that God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were beautiful on the outside, but like dead mens' bones on the inside. We should ask ourselves, was Christ being mean, judgmental, or just criticizing for the sake of criticizing? John 12:47 tells us He did not come into the world to judge the world, He will do that later (Acts 17:31).

Christ Jesus was a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3) and did not come to play and toy with mens lives and emotions. His whole goal was to get them to see themselves as they really were and to realize how a Holy God sees them, lost and going to a fiery Hell. He wanted them to understand that they needed a Savior because their own good works could not erase their sins.

If we are just loved and never told or shown that we need to change, we go right on like most people do, thinking that we are good not having made the headline news or anything close to it for bad behavior. It is human nature (fallen nature) to resist change in ourselves and it has to do with pride which is seldom recognized as such. Part of surrender to Christ is admitting fault within ourselves and dying to self, meaning no longer doing things the way we might wish, but deferring to what Christ wants us to do and how He would have us do such things.

The Apostle Paul admits to the Church at Corinth that he caused them sorrow or inner grief by his letter of first Corinthians. In that letter he admonished and rebuked them for their sins and failings in the Gospel, but points out that their sorrow was only "for a season" or a short time. Paul says I do not take back what I said, I still stand by it though it hurt me to make you sorrowful. Now I am glad I caused you grief because it made you to repent, so we see it was a good sorrow which brought repentance unto salvation of the soul. Something all of Paul's love and care alone had not done. So again we see that it is sorrow mixed with Gods truth that brings repentance, and God often uses sorrow and hard times wherever or however they come to us.

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit ~ Psalms 34:18

God says He dwells with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit and that He will look to or acknowledge the man that is poor and of a contrite spirit and obeys His word (Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 66:2). Poor here means literally depressed. Contrite means crushed, and one who has a crushed spirit has come to the end of himself, making it possible for God to change him and to use him. When we have reached the point of our spirit being crushed, our heart is broken, and we are depressed, and we don't see much hope for our future, God rejoices. That is because it is only in personal adversity and pain that we truly turn to Him with our whole heart as Salvation requires. The practice of just love can never accomplish this.

Such brokenness comes about only by self realization or by someone telling someone the truth, telling them what the Word of God says about their activity, beliefs, lifestyle or whatever it is that is found to be contrary to Bible doctrine. Repentance may be immediate but chances are you are sowing seed for the future and that person may not come to see the truth for years, even decades, and sadly the hardheartedness and stubbornness of some prevent their ever doing so.

Satan's job is to make and keep us ineffective for God's purposes. Satan knows that people who are trying to just love sinners into Salvation and the Church are no threat to him and his work because just love does not bring about a broken and contrite heart and spirit, necessary for repentance to Salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Paul instructed the Church at Galatia to restore those overtaken in a fault or sin and to bear ye one anothers’ burdens. Warn them that are unruly . . . says 1 Thessalonians 5:14, and rebuke those that sin, before all, that others may fear to do the same thing. (1 Timothy 5:20). Jesus Himself said, As many as I love I rebuke (Revelation 3:19) and in Luke 17:3 Jesus also said; If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. He did not say ignore it, quit speaking to him, or to just love him. He said REBUKE thy brother meaning fellow Christian! If he repents the Lord said, admits wrong, or apologizes, be quick to forgive for this should have been the goal from the first. Regardless of what some will tell you, pointing out error does not cause division! ERROR, and DISOBEDIENCE, and all the sins that go with them cause division. The division happened before the rebuke so don’t be intimidated by the devil and his ploy to keep us quiet.

The responsibility of preaching the Word falls not only to Preachers like the young Timothy who was told to; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. ~ 2 Timothy 4:2

As Christians and good stewards we are all responsible for in some way spreading the Word of God to the unsaved for we have been made priests and fellow labourers with God. (Revelation 1:6; 1 Corinthians 3:9).

Folks, we have to do more than just love if we intend to be effective and obedient to Jesus Christ. While it is love that motivated Christ to be obedient unto death on a cruel cross it is not the Gospel and cannot be a substitute for the Gospel.

It should be clear that just love is not enough, nor was it ever meant to be. It is more of a foundation and a reason for everything else that God uses to bring us to Him and mold us spiritually. Those who advocate the just love method of winning the lost or correcting their brothers, need to heed Paul's admonition to the Church at Corinth (II Corinthians 13:5) when he said to; Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? tiny cross