In John 3:16 (ESV) Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” It is only one sentence. And that sentence contains only twenty-four words. Yet that one sentence is packed with so much truth that we literally will not have time to fully unpack it’s contents this morning. But I will try.
From this one verse we can find at least seven truths (probably more) about the love of God. Let’s look at them now.
1. THE LOVE OF GOD IS UNCONDITIONAL.
For God so loved the world,
The Greek word for world (kosmos) is defined as “the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and thearefore hostile to the cause of Christ.” This is the world that God loved. It doesn’t say that God loved all the good guys. Or that God loved all the Jews. Or that God love all the saints. It says, “For God so loved the world.”
That God should love the world only heightens the mystery of this love. Were we to imagine a pristine world, fresh from the hand of the Creator and uninfected by evil, we could more easily comprehend God’s desire to save it. But a wayward world which not only failed to recognize its maker (John 1:10) but openly hated His approach to it (15:18) would seem a poor choice for love.
So God’s love clearly isn’t based on our spiritual condition or our moral predisposition. It isn’t based on our behavior or our attitude toward him. Rather we see here that God’s love for mankind is universal and unconditional. He loves everyone. And this is one of the things that sets him apart from every other god held up by every other world religion.
Only Christianity dares to proclaim God’s love is unconditional. An unconditional love that we call grace. Christians boldly proclaim that grace really has precious little to do with us, our inner resolve, or our lack of inner resolve. Rather, grace is all about God and God freely giving to us the gifts of forgiveness, mercy, and love.
So God’s love for us is unconditional. It is as Philip Yancey once wrote: “There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.”
2. THE LOVE OF GOD IS SACRIFICIAL.
that he gave
According to a footnote in the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible an alternate translation of the first part of John 3:16 is as follows: “For this is how God loved the world…” How did God love us? He loved us by giving, by serving, by sacrificing. So here we learn something important about the nature of true love. Some people think they love others because of what those people do for them or how them make them feel. But God shows us that true love has nothing to do with what you can do for me, but everything to do with what I can do for you.
3. THE LOVE OF GOD IS VALUABLE.
Here we see the value of the Father’s love for us. Not only was he willing to give, but we see here that he was willing to give the only one he had. When you give to someone out of your abundance that is one thing, but when you give out of your poverty that is quite another. If you had several vehicles it might be seen as a noble thing if you were to give one of them to a family who had none. But if you were to give them the only vehicle you had that would be seen as something more than noble – something above and beyond the call of duty – it would be seen as real sacrifice.
How many times have you heard or even said yourself: “I can’t give you that because it’s the only one I’ve got.” We’ve probably all said that. But we learn here that God didn’t have a back up. God didn’t have a spare. But he loved us so much that he was willing to give us the only one he had. “The power and passion of God’s love comes across, not through a supposed special meaning of the Greek word involved, but through the length to which God was willing!
4. GOD’S LOVE IS PERSONABLE.
God’s love is not merely some abstract concept. It isn’t just a philosophy. God’s love was made manifest in this world through the person of Jesus Christ the only Son of the Father. Jesus Christ came into this world to reveal to us the love of God in human form.
A child was once trying to quote from John 3:16 in the King James Version, which says, “his only begotten Son.” But the child misquoted it and said, “his only forgotten Son.” It was one of those slips of the tongue that carried more truth than we would care to admit. For by most people in the world today Jesus Christ is truly forgotten. His life is forgotten. His love is forgotten. His sacrifice is forgotten. It is our job as Christians – as God’s ambassadors – to help them remember.
What a great story and what a powerful way to live. Are you living your life in such a way that you are reminding people of the only ‘forgotten’ Son of God?
God’s love is personable on the one hand because it was made manifest through a person – Jesus Christ – but also because it is bestowed on a person – you.
There are many reasons God saves you: to bring glory to himself, to appease his justice, to demonstrate his sovereignty. But one of the sweetest reasons God saved you is because he is fond of you. He likes having you around. He thinks you are the best thing to come down the pike in quite a while… If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart. And the Christmas gift he sent you in Bethlehem? Face it, friend. He’s crazy about you!
5. GOD’S LOVE IS ACCESSIBLE.
that whoever believes in him
IT IS NOT only accessible to those who were born with right color of skin or on the correct continent. Nor is it difficult to obtain. It is not reserved for only the intellectual elite or the power brokers or financial wizards. No, the love of God is accessible to “whoever believes in” Jesus – the only Son of God.
From the human perspective, when you compare [God] to the other gods of the other religions in the world, you have to say our God is really sort of odd. He uses the most common of people, people that aren’t any different from any of us here; he comes in the most common of ways, when by his Spirit an anonymous young woman is found to be with child. And the strangest thing is that he comes at all … he’s not the Above-Us-God, too holy to come down. This God’s love is so immense that he wants to come down. And he has proven his love by the fact that he did come down and touch our ground.
God has come down to our level. Not in the sense that he has lessened his holiness or lowered his standards. But only in the sense that he has made his love accessible to the average, ordinary person like me and like you. He is not a distant God who loves us only from some mystical, far away place that is completely removed from us. Rather he has entered into our world and he longs to enter into our lives.
Will you believe in his Son who made the ultimate expression of God’s love by giving his life on the cross for your sins? By choosing to believe in him you access the love of God, the grace of God and the forgiveness of God. By believing in him you access the new life that only he can provide.
6. GOD’S LOVE IS NONJUDGMENTAL.
should not perish
God’s goal in sending his Son from heaven to earth was not to condemn you are to show you how bad you are, how unworthy you are or how hopeless you are. God’s only desire in sending his Son was to show you his love and draw you into a love relationship with himself. Jesus didn’t come into the world in order to rebuke you. He came to rescue you. He didn’t come to criticize you. He came to cleanse you. He didn’t come to punish you. He came to pardon you. He didn’t come to destroy you. He came to deliver you.
However this does not mean that God is not a God of judgment. For there is a huge difference between recognizing right and wrong and being judgmental. There is a difference between judging the unrepentant sinner and being judgmental. Being judgmental means that one has a critical spirit that only looks for the bad in people and then is quick to condemn them when it is found. God on the other hand will judge us for our sins and even sentence us to hell, but only as a last resort – only over his Son’s dead body – only if we refuse to accept his offer of forgiveness. Another way of looking at it is that it isn’t so much that God sends us to hell as that we choose hell over heaven – we choose Satan over God – we choose sin over righteousness.
7. GOD’S LOVE IS BENEFICIAL.
but have eternal life.
We are promised by God to have life eternal. What a wonderful God we serve! He has provided everything we ever needed in His Son!
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