Answer: There is a sense in which God loves everyone in the whole world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2; Romans 5:8). This love in not conditional—it is based only on the fact that God is a God of love (1 John 4:8, 16). God’s love for all of mankind results in the fact that God shows His mercy by not immediately punishing people for their sins (Romans 3:23; 6:23). God’s love for the world is manifested in the fact that He gives people the opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3:9). However, God’s love for the world does not mean He will ignore sin. God is also a God of justice (2 Thessalonians 1:6). Sin cannot go unpunished forever (Romans 3:25-26).
The most loving act of eternity is described in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Anyone who ignores God’s love, who rejects Christ as Savior, who denies the Savior who bought him (2 Peter 2:1) will be subject to God’s wrath for eternity (Romans 1:18), not His love (Romans 6:23). God loves everyone unconditionally in that He shows mercy to everyone by not destroying them immediately because of sin. At the same time, God only has “covenant love” for those who place their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:36). Only those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will experience God’s love for eternity.
Does God love everyone? Yes. Does God love Christians more than He loves non-Christians? No. Does God love Christians to a different extent than He loves non-Christians? Yes. God loves everyone equally in that He is merciful to all. God has a unique relationship with Christians in that only Christians have His eternal grace and mercy and the promise of His forever love in heaven. The unconditional love God has for everyone should bring us to faith in Him, receiving in thankfulness the great conditional love He grants all those who receive Jesus Christ as Savior.