Let's Go Back to the Bible

Having Rules Is a Sign of Love

There has long been a discussion regarding the Bible as to whether it is “A Rule Book” or “A Love Letter.”  (Note: The Bible nowhere uses those kinds of terms to describe itself, so recognize that we are using language that man has created in an effort to describe the Bible.  Thus, this language falls short in many ways of adequately and accurately describing Scripture, but we are using it here accommodatively to examine a particular point.)

Some have argued over the years that the Bible is “A Love Letter” from God and should never be viewed as “A Rule Book.”  Their proposition is based upon what they perceive to be an unhealthy emphasis by some to teach the need to obey commands in the Bible rather than accept and experience the love of God.  What these individuals have attempted to do is to strategically (yeah, in a surgical manner) to separate God’s expressions of His love for mankind from any requirements that He may impose.  The question you need to consider is—What does the Bible teach?  Are “love” and “rules” mutually exclusive?

First, the Bible teaches with absolute clarity that God loves us (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:7-11; etc.)  That thought, in and of itself, just boggles the mind.  We are so unlovable, and yet His love for us is unconditional.  Yet, unconditional love does not mean unconditional approval.

Second, the Bible teaches that God wants all to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4), and He does not want any to be lost (2 Pet. 3:9), but His salvation is conditional (Matt. 7:21-28).  God loves all mankind, but not all of mankind will be saved (7:13-14).

Third, the Bible teaches that obedience to the commands of God is absolutely essential in order to be saved (Heb. 5:8-9), and everlasting punishment awaits those who do not obey (2 Thess. 1:8-9). 

Fourth, the Bible teaches that there are commands given by God in the Bible (the word “command[ments]” is found 24 times in Psalm 119), and that God does “require” that we “keep the commandments” (Deut. 10:12-13), but what He commands is “for your good” (10:13) “always” (6:24).

Put all of this together.  God loves us!  God loves us so much that He wants to save us!  God loves us so much that He laid out detailed steps for us to take to be saved!  God loves us so much that He warned us what would happen if we chose to not respond obediently to Him extending His love to us!  He loves us so much that He gave us “commands” (He uses that word instead of “rules”), so that when we “keep” them, we demonstrate our “love” back to Him (John 14:15).  Wow!  What a loving, wonderful God we have!