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Does God love everyone or just Christians?

In a certain sense, God loves everyone in the entire world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2; Romans 5:8). This love is unconditional and is based on the fact that God is a loving God. It is rooted in God's character (1 John 4:8, 16). God's love for everyone could be referred to as His "merciful love," as it results in God not punishing people for their sins right away (Romans 3:23; 6:23). "Your Father in heaven causes his sun to rise on the good and the bad, and sends rain on the just and the unjust," the Bible says (Matthew 5:45). This is another illustration of how God loves everyone and extends His goodness and merciful love to everyone, not just to Christians.

The fact that God offers people the chance to turn from their sins is another example of how merciful God is toward the world: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise.... Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). God's general call to salvation and what is frequently referred to as His permissive or perfect will—that portion of God's will that expresses God's attitude and defines what is pleasing to Him—are related to His unfailing love.

God loves everyone, but that doesn't guarantee that everyone will be saved (see Matthew 25:46). God is a God of justice, so He will not tolerate sin (2 Thessalonians 1:6). Sin has to be punished at some point (Romans 3:25–26). God would not be love if He simply ignored sin and allowed it to wreck havoc on the world indefinitely. It is God's wrath (Romans 1:18), not His love, that will be unleashed against us forever if we reject His steadfast love, reject Christ, or deny the Savior who paid for us (2 Peter 2:1).

Only those who have faith in Jesus Christ are given access to the love of God that justifies sinners (Romans 5:1). God's love, which draws people into intimacy with Himself, is reserved only for those who love His Son (John 14:21). This love, which is conditional and given only to those who put their faith in Jesus for salvation, could be thought of as God's "covenant love" (John 3:36). Those who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are secure in that love forever.

Is God a loving God? Yes, He extends kindness and mercy to everyone. Does God have a special love for Christians compared to non-Christians? No, not in terms of His loving mercy. Does God have a different kind of love for Christians than He does for non-Christians? Yes, believers are saved because they have put their faith in God's Son. God and Christians have a special relationship because only Christians are eligible for forgiveness under God's unchanging grace. God's covenantal, conditional love for those who accept Jesus Christ as Savior should inspire faith in us and lead us to accept the merciful, unconditional love He has for everyone.