God’s attitudes towards sinners

My friend and I are both WELS, but he strongly believes that God hates us, which I disagree with. His argument is that God hates sin, and we are sin, so therefore God hates us to the core of our being. I pointed out John 3:16 to him but he said the context of the passage means it's talking about something else. I am somewhat unsure now because I don't have the complete biblical knowledge to disprove his point. Does God actually hate us? And how do I talk to my friend about this issue?

The message of the law is that God hates sinners (Psalm 5:5). The message of the gospel is that God loves sinners (Romans 5:8). These are not contradictory messages; they are different messages. We see the intersection of those messages at the cross of Calvary. There God punished Jesus in the place of all sinners, sparing them the punishment they deserved (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 4:10).

As Christians, we stand in grace (Romans 5:2) and enjoy God’s forgiving love. The message of God’s law regarding sinners serves as a warning for Christians not to reject salvation by impenitence and unbelief.

Perhaps you and your friend could benefit from Law and Gospel: Bad News—Good News. The book explains very thoroughly the different messages of the law and gospel. It is available from Northwestern Publishing House.