Across the Pastor’s Desk: God’s love and offer of salvation

Published 8:00 pm Friday, September 17, 2021

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Kent Otterman

I once heard someone say that God’s love saves us. This is not actually true. It is more accurate to say that God’s love gives us the opportunity to be saved. In a well-known passage from John 3 we read, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only son.” (John 3:16, 18)

Kent Otterman

If God’s love saved people, then everyone would be saved because God loves all people. But everyone will not be saved. As we just read, some will be saved and some will be condemned. Or as Jesus said in Matthew 13:40-43, “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The son of man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

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Another place in Scripture indicating that God’s love doesn’t save us, but rather gives us the opportunity to be saved is II Corinthians 5:14-15, 20-21: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

The love of Christ compels us to tell people that Jesus became the atoning sacrifice for their sin on the cross. But this wonderful truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection does not by itself reconcile us to God or save us. There is something we must do in response in order to be reconciled to God. There is something we must do in response in order to be saved. We must respond to God’s offer of salvation by personally repenting of our sins and trusting in Christ, and then we seek to live for him. The “righteous” are sinners who have been forgiven because they have accepted God’s gracious offer of salvation.

What a blessing it is that God loves us so much that he sent his only son to save us from our sin! Have you responded to this amazing offer of salvation in repentance and faith?

Kent Otterman is chaplain at Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea, and pastor of Round Prairie Lutheran Church of rural Glenville and Faith Lutheran Church of London.