One is hard pressed in this age to find anyone acquainted with so-called Christian religion who does not believe that a fundamental truth of the Bible is that God loves everyone. Most all know of John 3:16 and many can quote it from memory. The phrase "God loves you" is promoted on bumper stickers, on placards at sporting events, in soul-winning tracts and holiday cards, and also on just about every advertising media available to man.
Is God's love such a popular subject as it would seem?
Yes it is -- as it is defined by most and as John 3:16 is perverted by men's own opinions. The very fact that the world in general accepts and believes that God loves everyone, while they reject most all else they think comes from God, should cause any sound minded person to lay suspect to the thought of God loving everyone. However, spiritual truth is discerned only by spiritually alive persons (I Cor. 2:14).
Simply put, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the context of John 3:16, used the word world not once but five times. In not one instance can the word world be used to mean all of mankind without exception. Even John 3:16 itself demands a limited meaning for the word world, because, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to save believers, and believers only! Are we to say that God so loved everyone that He gave His Son to save only some? Of course not!
Actually, the "God loves the world" phenomenon is nothing more than men's outright rejection of the scripture revelation of God's love, thus men use the phrase "God loves you" as a cover-up for their heretical teaching. That is to say, they gain people's approval with an emotional tactic which throws up a smoke screen to hid their lies.
Men reject God's love for the Church; His love for the sheep; His love for Christ's bride; His love for true Israel; in summary, His love for His people! Thus, they can then reject His sovereignty in His foreknowledge, in His election of a people, in His predestination of those people unto adoption, His sovereignty in their blood redemption, His regeneration of these people, His conversion of them by the gospel of Christ, yea, His love for these people as these things manifest it -- while all the while laying claim to these truths but only as they define them. If God loves everyone as some men say He does, then:
(1) Did He always so love them, and if so why did He never declare it in the OT scriptures?
(2) Why did Christ, in not one of His messages, ever speak of God's love indiscriminately to the masses?
(3) Why did the apostles, in the messages we have recorded in The Acts, not speak to the masses of God's love for the masses, not even once?
The fact that God does not love everyone is the only answer!
Those who are offended by the truth of God's particular love do so, when all is said and done, because they think themselves to be worthy, yea, deserving of God's love in some form or another. Those who have been brought by the Spirit of God to see their foul state, their rebellion against God, their enmity against God, these are moved with spiritual wonder at the free grace and love of God for even one as they are. When the scripture quotes God Himself as saying: "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" they are admonished to cry not "foul" against God (Rom. 9:1-24). They are amazed, not that God could hate Esau, but that He would love Jacob.
Contrary to what can be said of our love and hatred, God's hatred is right in absolute holiness and judgement against sin and thus just, and His love is absolutely free and yet just through the sufferings and merit of Christ Jesus our Lord on behalf of His people. God did not offer His love, even to the elect, much less everyone without exception. God so loved the world (cf. Gal. 3:28; Rev. 5:9 for the world God loves) that He gave His only begotten Son to save believers.
And how does one believe?
(1) By the free, God given gift of faith wherein believing comes "...according to the working of his mighty power..." (Eph. 1:19-20).
(2) By grace (Acts 18:27).
(3) And through prior ordination by God (Acts 13:48).
When any person will tell another person who does not believe -- God loves you, rest assured, they are a con artist. They will make gain of men and women's souls to further their own cause or denomination, or line their pockets with filthy lucre. Christ loves His sheep and His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him!