I hope you can give me helpful answers for my questions. Is salvation unconditional love? What is God’s love like after baptism? Is it unconditional love? Do I still have obligations after baptism? Is it true that God will not love me if I don’t fulfill my obligations or if I do not grow? If not, will I lose my salvation? How does a believer have peace and joy after baptism? Do I need to do something for God first before I can have that peace and joy? Thank you for your attention.
It is a very common thing for Christians to talk about “unconditional love,” and to say that God has unconditional love. It is also very often said that the Greek word agape means unconditional love. I believe that the concept of “unconditional love” is a useful one, but we need to be careful to explain what we mean by this term. Here is the bottom line. The words “unconditional love” are not found in the New Testament. I believe that to simply state that “God has unconditional love for us” needs to be explained or qualified in order for us to defend it as a true statement. As a quick and helpful thing to say in a sermon, it is probably fine, but as a theological statement about God it is really questionable.
Here is what I mean. God loves everyone, but not everyone is saved. We do not earn God’s love by obeying him or by putting our faith in him, but salvation is conditional. Also, the New Testament in general, but the Book of Hebrews specifically are really clear that one can lose one’s salvation. Just look at Hebrews 6:4-6 or Hebrews 10:26-31, or any of at least ten passages in Hebrews, never mind many others in the New Testament. Although God’s love can be described as unconditional, his blessings certainly are conditional. God loves everyone, but only those who are saved by the blood of Jesus and who have the Holy Spirit in them are part of God’s church–his household. So, is God’s love unconditional? Well… Sure, but we need to be quite careful and specific what we mean by that, as one can create a case that, at least in some sense, his love is conditional–at least how he expresses that love.
We can use the parent analogy, although that is not a perfect one. I love my children no matter what. But the way I interact with them, even as adults, does depend on how they act. The quality of the relationship I have with my children does depend on whether they are willing to treat me respectfully or live within a certain range of kinds of behavior. Even if they go to prison or murder someone, I will still love them, but to simply say that there are no conditions in the way I show love is simply not true.
My suggestion is to look at the Book of Malachi. There the problem was not a lack of love of God for his people, but a lack of faithfulness, loyalty and love of the people for God. This was doing a “number” on their relationship with him. So, let us be faithful to God. He is always faithful to us, but we must be faithful to him to have the kind of relationship with him that we want.
Yes, you can have peace and joy after baptism, but that does not mean that “anything goes.” Right? Of course. We need to be somewhat nuanced in how we use the expression that God loves us unconditionally. God gives us peace that passes understanding, but if we live in constant rebellion to him–if we do not pray to him and show love to him–we ought not to expect such perfect peace. And we need to remember that we can even lose our salvation if we continue deliberately in rebellion (Hebrews 10:26-31). I am sure that is not true with you!!!
I hope this helps.