A man recently explained that the main tenet of his faith was to love people. “How is that possible?” I asked. He said unconditional love of others is our human responsibility and possible entirely through self-effort.

I asked him how one knows if they have loved well enough to avoid condemnation when they die? His reply was an unsatisfactory “we have to always love.”

His faith system, like so many others, grades on the curve with some arbitrary idea of what constitutes enough good works or enough love in order for human beings to escape punishment and enjoy pleasure after death. Sadly, the teaching he follows lacks the power to love unconditionally and the promise to live eternally.

God’s Word teaches that the power to love comes from God, not self. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He that loves not, knows not God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).

Unconditional love comes from God and is possible only if we are “born of God.” In order for us to express love, we must first experience it. We cannot give what we do not have.

God’s love is experienced through His Son. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) “Atoning sacrifice” means that Jesus’ death paid the penalty we deserve for our evil thoughts, words, and deeds.

God’s love made it possible for humans to be forgiven, become His children, escape God’s judgment, and gain eternal life. But how do we make all of this personal?

“To be born of God” means personally turning from our self-effort to trust in Christ’s death and resurrection. This applies His payment to our sins, secures our pardon, and sets us apart as God’s children (Romans 4:25; 5:1).

A relationship with God through faith in Christ comes with the promise—not the potential—of eternal life. “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life… These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:11-13)

God doesn’t grade on the curve based upon our behavior, but on whether or not we believe in Christ as Savior. According to God’s grading scale, only those who believe will pass and not fail.

I urge you to believe to receive forgiveness and entrance into God’s family forever.

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