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Don’t Tell Unbelievers, ‘God Loves You’: Tweet by Texas Pastor Sparks Online Debate

Another shares, “I became a believer when someone told me Jesus loved me enough to die for me. I was broken over sin already. She quoted 1 John 1:8-9 to me and said [Jesus] would have come for me if I was the only one, that’s how much he values me.”

Hughes responds: “Respectfully, ‘He would have come for me if I was the only one’ is self-centered. That is not God’s plan of redemption. If you follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit brought you to Him in spite of some of those words you were first told, not because of them. I say this in love.”

When another person points to Mark 10:21, Hughes says, “Jesus feeling a love toward the rich young ruler did not entail telling him, ‘God loves you.’ He told him his sin and to repent. So like Jesus, love unbelievers by showing them their sin as Jesus showed the young ruler, and tell them to repent and follow Christ.”

Does God Love All People?

Several replies to Hughes’ tweet take issue with the Calvinistic idea of God loving only certain people. “I suspect Gabe holds to the reformed position that God doesn’t actually love everyone, just the elect,” one writes. Another says, “I used to be in that [Calvinism] camp and it makes me sad.”

“I don’t know if I would have ever become a Christian if someone hasn’t told me 16 years ago ‘You know, Calvinism isn’t true. And so you can be 100% sure that God loves you,’” someone writes, adding, “Also, God’s ‘wrath’ and God’s love are the same thing.” Another notes, “John MacArthur used to warn against this trend toward Hyper-Calvinism.”

To Hughes, someone replies, “[I] Like a lot of what you say, but this is wrong. God DOES love the unbeliever, and He does not desire their destruction. The unbeliever is under the wrath of God, and that should be clearly articulated, but God absolutely does love the unbeliever.”

Several people express frustration at the entire debate. “You guys are ridiculous,” one writes. “Jesus is literally love. Loved the sinners. Loved the lowly. You can’t gate keep Heaven.”

Another asks Hughes, “What do you hope to accomplish for the Kingdom with takes like this? Among your potential audience are people who have left the church and people who are on the fence about leaving. You’re giving the former group further reason to believe that they made the right decision.”