Is it correct to say or write "God loves you" or "Jesus loves you" - specifically on a Gospel tract?
Some questions to consider:
Will the phrase "God loves you / Jesus loves you" in and of itself leave the lost person with any possibility of thinking that everything is good between them and God? Therefore repentance and faith in Christ is not needed?
For example: A car sticker that has "Jesus loves you" written on it, will never properly qualify / define what is meant by love. The viewer might ask the owner "what does that mean?" But could they just walk away thinking "God/Jesus is all good with me."
Is the phrase in and of itself really enough or even accurate?
It is true that God has a love for all of mankind and all of His creation. ‘The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy, the LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works’ Psalm 145:8-9,
God is love but He is also Holy (set apart from sin), therefore should it not be defined in the way the Bible defines it - through the demonstration of the cross? Yes, the cross shows the love of God toward sinners, and how we can be reconciled to Him by the death of His only begotten Son, but it also demonstrates His holy hatred for sin. The unrepentant sinner remains at enmity with His creator, and Psalm 7:11 states that God is angry with the wicked every day.
So how can God love the sinner and yet be angry with Him too? In the same way that He commands us to love our enemies in Matthew 5:44-45. God still cares for, blesses their labours and is longsuffering towards them; but that does not mean He is reconciled to them. To simply say that God loves them without qualifying what that means, will give the sinner a false hope and security.
Also, the non-Christian will have a warped view of what love is unless it is explained to them,
The world's definition of love is grossly polluted - this is seen by the redefining of family life here in the UK. For example - the more the country goes away from Christianity, the ever increasing move away from that which is good and wholesome in God's sight.
- The discipline of children - society encourages far too much autonomy - distancing the child from parental responsibilities - sex education, discipline etc.
- Within adult relations - the increase in fornication (rather than Godly abstinence), cohabitation (rather than living together after marriage) and the redefining of marriage itself (rather than God's defined order, laid out in the scriptures).
The list can go on. But to summarise, it tends to only be a fleshly love "if it feels good, then it can be love." "Love is love" as the mantra goes.
Would it not therefore do us well to be cautious – to define and qualify how God’s love is demonstrated (by way of appeal for the reader to call upon the Name of the Lord)
rather than leaving carnal minds to decide what God's love might be. This will not only show them God's love in Christ, but leave them in a place of knowing where they truly stand with God.
The unbeliever who dies without Christ will never experience the full love Christ has for His bride the Church. Should it not be better to seek to be winsome and ask them if they want to know the love of God? So that they might experience the length, breadth and depth of Christ's love found within salvation?
Another question - Do we see the Lord directly saying "God loves you"? Whenever the love of God is mentioned in scripture, it is qualified by context. Are we properly qualifying it when we bring such a phrase to the unbelievers without explanation? Does it have the danger of being read in a worldly way?
I think we can certainly see it is never a loose phrase in the scriptures, left to be interpreted and unpacked by a mind that is at enmity with God.
Let us know what you think.
For His Glory,
Other related articles:
How to use one of our other tract designs
5 ways to reach thousands for Christ
How to encourage your church fellowship to give out tracts
63 (and counting) places to leave Gospel tracts
4 inspiring videos about Gospel tracts
Know the law regarding evangelism
The value of Gospel tracts / literature