I want you all to picture a scenario for a minute, as I begin to describe the event:
A young couple, married for 5 years now, are having a date at a high-end restaurant. The man and woman are both enjoying their time together, as they are laughing about stories of the past, and little inconsistencies of their surroundings. As the waitress approaches with their meals and sets it down at the table, the man grabs his wife’s hand, and says these words, “I love you, I would die for you, and I will always be with you!”
Before the wife had a chance to even respond with her astonishment, the husband leaves the table. He walks up to another woman who sat alone in the restaurant and tells her, “I love you, I would die for you, and I will always be with you!” This woman was quickly left in her state of awe, as the man runs to another woman saying the exact thing, then to another, and so forth and so forth. After declaring his love for every woman in the restaurant, the husband sits back down with his wife. He returns to an angry, jealous, and disgusted wife who throws her wedding ring at his face, and bolts out of the dining area.
Though this story is admittedly far-fetched, and maybe even a little humorous, there is a point to the story. Many people within the Church are confused about who Jesus really loves. The majority of Christians believe that Jesus loves everyone. The basis for this is the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16 (ESV), which says the following, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” By quoting this passage, people have become to a simple fact that shouldn’t be ignored about the exclusivity of Christ: Christ only has one bride.
Indeed, we must understand that Jesus only betrothed to the one and only true Church. However, people would quote John 3:16 to prove that Jesus loves everyone, but before we begin looking at what the whole Bible speaks of concerning Jesus’ love there must be an understood fact: if Christ, who is betrothed to the Church, has exclusive for anyone else, He has become an adulterer. He wouldn’t be an adulterer in the sense of a fornicator, or an adulterer, but as one who flirts with other women, like the story I gave. The picture many people paint about Christ is that He is a man who is married, but loves other women as well. Is this a biblical picture? Is Christ really a married man who flirts with other women? Praise be to God that the answer is no.
Looking at John 3:16, we need to realize that it makes something very clear: only those who believe in Jesus Christ will have eternal life. We must understand that it is God’s nature to love, and that He is love. Of course He loves people in the sense that God allows even sinners to have a life, be blessed, have possession, etc. It is only by God’s patient love that He withholds anyone from the punishment of hell for a time. However, it also says in the Bible that God hates sinners.
In Psalms 5:4-6 (ESV) it says, “For You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.” How can we say God loves everyone after reading that? Jesus Himself said that we are to love our enemies, rather than to hate them. The reasoning behind this is that we can’t do both. God can’t love those who He hates. The truth of the matter is that God loves His bride, His Church, and not the whole world.
Jesus said that there is no greater love than a love that would cause someone to lay down His life for a friend. Then, we must ask the question: who did Christ die for? If Christ died for all, then He loves everyone. However, if Christ died only for the Church, then that would mean that He loves the Church, and only gives common grace to the ones who aren’t a part of the Church. If Christ only loves the Church, then it would mean that the world in John 3:16 wouldn’t refer to every individual, but God’s creative order, or maybe even those whom He calls out of the Jews and Gentiles (which would make more sense than you’d think).
The answer lies in Scripture. In Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV) says this, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Another passage that should be taken into account is in John 10:11 (ESV) where Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” It seems very clear that contrary to what many believe, Christ loves someone exclusively.
I honestly believe that marriage, and courtship was created by God as a means to demonstrate the gospel. There is a reason why we are taught the concept of a marriage between one man and one woman. There is a reason why men and women, who are pursuing each other, are commanded to stay pure for marriage. There is a reason why a man leaves everything, even his own mother, for a woman to be married. It is all to demonstrate the gospel, and Christ’s exclusive love for the Church that is still incomparable to any other relationship. If Christ loves everyone, He is a flirt. If Christ loves the Church exclusively, He is a faithful husband. If we know anything about the Bible, we will know that the only true conclusion can be the lateral.
Soli Deo Gloria.