God’s love is often referred to as ‘common grace’. The nuances of the various terms are subtle, but important. Although very few resources can be found on God’s love for unbelievers, resources abound on common grace and providence. This does not mean, however, that God’s love is only limited to the elect and that His providence and common grace in the lives of the non-elect is separate from His love. Berkhof realizes the nuances of the various words when he writes
“It [the goodness of God] may be defined as that perfection of God which prompts Him to deal bounteously and kindly with all His creatures. It is the affection which the Creator feels toward the sentient creature as such. As manifested towards His rational creatures, it is sometimes called His love of benevolence or His common grace, to designate the fact that its bounties are undeserved.”L. Berkhof. Manual of Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950, 66
Defining common grace a little more specifically, John Feinber affirms,
“Common grace refers to God’s gracious activity in sustaining all creation, in restraining evil and wickedness so that societies don’t collapse altogether, and in allowing mankind to develop and function in societies. This grace is called common because it falls on all members of the human race (and more generally on all creatures in the universe) regardless of whether they are God’s children by faith.”John S. Feinberg. No One Like Him. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001, 354.
J.I. Packer [in Knowing God] calls God’s love His supreme manifestation of His “cosmic generosity” and William Hendrikson [in his commentary on Luke] reminds us that just because there is not always common gratitude, that it does not mean common grace is not a reality. For the sake of accurate Biblical theology, we therefore confidently define God’s providence, goodness and common grace as expressions of God’s love instead of separate and inferior to His love.