For God So Loved the World
For God So Loved the World
The Gospel of John
John 3:14-16 (Reading vs. 1-16)
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 10, 2019
(Revised July 10, 2019)
*Tonight, we continue our verse by verse study of John Chapter 3, and we will take a close look at vs. 16. But for context, let's begin by reading vs. 1-16. And as we read, please think about God's great love for us all.
*"John 3:16 is one of the best known and most loved verses in the whole Bible. Probably no other single verse of Scripture has led more people to salvation. Martin Luther called John 3:16 'the miniature gospel.' It has also been called 'the gospel in a nutshell,' and 'a love letter from God that was written in blood and addressed to all people.'" (1)
*Max Lucado called John 3:16 "a twenty-six word parade of hope: beginning with God, ending with life, and urging us to do the same. It's brief enough to write on a napkin or memorize in a moment, yet solid enough to weather two thousand years of storms and questions. If you know nothing of the Bible, start here. If you know everything in the Bible, return here. We all need the reminder." (2)
*John 3:16 is the heart of the Gospel straight from the heart of God. God so loved the world! God wants to touch your life with His love. God wants to transform your life with His love, and He will, -- if you will believe.
1. SO NOTICE FIRST THAT GOD'S LOVE STRETCHES TO THE WIDEST SPAN.
*"For God so loved the world" This word "world" is found 79 times in the Gospel of John. And "this word is not talking about the physical world or the sinful world system. It's talking about the world's people.
*Walter Wilson said: 'No one in all the world could possibly love everyone in the world. In fact, most people find it hard to love all their relatives.' But in spite of our faults, God's love is so great that it's possible for Him to love every person in the whole world! God loves the Jews -- but also the Russians, Chinese, Arabs, Americans, English, Japanese, everyone." (1)
*You have probably heard this truth in the song our daughter Katie and I used to sing every day on the way to Kiddie Korral Day Care. The tune was first written as a marching song during the Civil War. The original words were "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching."
*But after the war, Claire Woolston wrote new words that turned it into one of the all-time favorite Christian songs for children:
"Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world." (3)
*Jesus loves the little children and all the big children too. God so loved the world! That means God loves the youngest to the oldest! And He didn't start loving those little babies when they were born. God loved them as my daddy used to say, "when they were just a twinkle in their mother's eye."
*God even loved us before the foundation of the world! "For God so loved the world!" That means God loves Baptists, but He also loves the Methodists, Lutherans and Presbyterians too. He also loves the Muslims we are praying for in Pakistan. And He wants them to get saved by trusting in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
*God loves the best Christian you have ever known. But He also loves the worst sinner you have ever known. God so loved the world! That's why one of the most astounding truths in God's Word is found in Romans 5:6. There God tells us that "when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."
*Christ died for the ungodly! Christ died for the worst of the worst: Murderers, thieves, drug addicts, and every other sin we could possibly think of. Christ died for the very people who are trying to lead our nation away from Him. Christ died for the people who are filled with hate for Christians like us.
*Christ died for the ungodly. He did that because "God so loved the world." And joy of joys, this means God loves you and me! That's great, because we needed God's merciful love as much as the worst sinner who has ever lived.
*We can only make it to Heaven because "God so loved the world." Aren't you glad today that God loves you?
*One preacher was talking to some children about the things that money can't buy. He said, "Money can't buy laughter, and it can't buy love." Then to drive his point home, the preacher asked, "What would you do if I offered you a thousand dollars to not love your mother and father?"
*Stunned silence followed, but finally a little voice asked, "How much would you give me to not love my big sister?" (4)
*Church: There is nothing anyone could ever do to take away God's love for you! So Joseph Wallis wisely said, "A sinner may go to hell unsaved. But he cannot go to hell unloved." (1)
2. GOD'S LOVE STRETCHES TO THE WIDEST SPAN. IT ALSO GAVE US THE GREATEST GIFT.
*"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. . ."
*Jesus Christ is the greatest gift that has ever been given, or ever will be given to anyone, anywhere. God gave His "only begotten Son." That means His one-of-a-kind, one and only Son, the God-man Jesus Christ.
*The original word for "only begotten" is "mon-o-gen-es." "Mono" means "one," and "genes" is where we get words like "genetics." The point here is that Jesus and God the Father share the same DNA so to speak. Jesus isn't begotten in the sense that He began, but in the sense that He and God the Father have the same essence, the same eternal life span, the same infinite goodness, the same perfect wisdom, and the same boundless power. (5)
*Every quality we can find in God the Father, we can also find in Jesus Christ. Jesus is and always has been God the Father's unique and sinless Son. But 2,000 years ago, the Lord humbled Himself to become a man. He came down to earth and became the only person who ever lived a perfect life, so the Lord's humanity is unique.
*The Bible makes this truth clear in many places. For example, the Old Testament prophet Micah spoke of the pre-existence of the Messiah. In Micah 5:2 the prophet said: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.''
*Jesus also affirmed His unique existence. For example, Jesus claimed to have existed in Abraham's day, even though Abraham lived about 2,000 years before Jesus was born on earth. In John 8:56-58, Jesus said this to the Christ-rejecting Jews:
56. "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.''
57. Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?''
58. Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.''
*Then in John 17:4-5, on the night before the cross, Jesus prayed to God the Father and said:
4. "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
5. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was."
*God the Father gave His one of a kind, only begotten Son for you, for me, and for the whole world! No one can save you but Jesus. That's why He is the greatest gift that has ever been given! As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 9:15, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"
3. GOD'S LOVE GAVE US THE GREATEST GIFT. IT ALSO SUFFERED THE GREATEST SACRIFICE.
*In order to see the sacrifice, we've got to go back up to vs. 14-15. Here Jesus said:
14. . . As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15. That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
*This Old Testament story in found in Numbers 21:4-9. Fourteen hundred years before Jesus was born, God gave us an Old Testament picture of what Jesus was going to do on the cross for us. The holy Son of God was going to become like a hated, dead snake, lifted up on a pole for our sins.
*And what a sacrifice! God the Father sent His only begotten Son into the world to die on the cross for our sins. And Jesus willingly took all of the suffering and shame that belonged to us. He willingly took all of the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross for us.
*Jesus was the only person who could make that sacrifice for us, because He had no sin of His own. And He did make that sacrifice, because He loves us.
*Brian Chapell gave one of the best pictures of this sacrificial love I have ever heard. It's the story of Northwest Airlines Flight 225. On Sunday, August 16, 1987, Flight 225 crashed just after take-off from Detroit. One hundred and fifty-five people were killed, and only one survived. It was a 4-year-old girl from Tempe Arizona. Her name was Cecelia.
*When rescuers first found Cecelia, they didn't think she had been on the plane, because it hit several cars when it crashed onto the highway. But Cecelia's name was on the flight register.
*And the investigators found out that Cecelia survived for one reason. When the plane was about to go down, Cecelia's mother, Paula Chican, unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and then would not let her go. (6)
*That is a picture of what Jesus did when He died on the cross for our sins. He sacrificed His life so that we might have eternal life. No higher price has ever been paid, no greater loss was ever felt, "for God so loved the world."
4. GOD'S LOVE SUFFERED THE GREATEST SACRIFICE. AND IT CALLS FOR THE GREATEST CONFIDENCE.
*God's love calls for us to have the greatest confidence in Jesus. And we can because Jesus proved His love for us on the cross. But that wasn't the end of the story, because 3 days later Jesus rose again from the dead. Now our Risen Savior reaches out to give eternal life to everyone who will believe in Him.
*"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." That "whosoever" means me, and it means you. Everybody has sinned, so everybody needs a Savior!
*And Jesus will be your Savior, if you will believe in Him. But this believing means a whole lot more than just believing with your mind. It means believing with your heart, believing with your life. It also means receiving Jesus into your spiritual heart, having a real relationship with the Lord, following His ways, and allowing Him to lead our lives.
*John Paton helped us understand this word "believe." John and his wife were pioneer missionaries in the South Pacific, and they were trying to work with people who didn’t even have a word for "believe" in their language.
*That was a huge problem when John began translating the Bible into the native language, because this key word is found over 200 times in the New Testament.
*John was completely stuck until a villager came to visit one day. The man was exhausted from working in the hot sun, so he sat down in a chair. And in his native language, he said, "How wonderful it is when you are tired and can LEAN YOUR WHOLE WEIGHT ON SOMETHING."
*When John Paton heard that phrase, he said it was like lightning struck, and suddenly he realized, "That's it! -- 'Lean your whole weight on something.'” That was the thought John Paton was searching for, and that’s what he used to translate "believe" into their native language. (7)
*This is what it means to believe in Jesus. You fully lean on Him. You trust in Jesus to hold you up for all eternity, and He gives you His life.
5. GOD'S LOVE CALLS FOR THE GREATEST CONFIDENCE. AND IT RESULTS IN THE GREATEST RESCUE.
*"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
*Jesus is talking here about the greatest deliverance from the greatest danger. People without Christ are going to spend forever in hell, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). And "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). That is talking about eternal death, eternal separation from God.
*Years ago, I saw part of a TV news story about a preacher who came to the conclusion that nobody is going to hell. He lost his church for it, but later began preaching in another church, and hundreds of people were flocking to that church.
*No hell. -- Everybody's going to Heaven. Sounds nice, but it's just not true. The Bible is perfectly clear about this fact. Here in John 3, vs. 17-18 say:
17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
*Then in John 3:36: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
*We must base our beliefs on the rock-solid foundation of God's Word. We must follow the Word. The Bible is always right. It doesn’t matter how we feel. It doesn’t matter what we think. The Bible is always right!
*We must believe it when it talks about the greatest danger, and the greatest deliverance: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
*This means everlasting life in a place too wonderful for us to imagine, living forever with our loving God. In 1 John 3:1-2, the Apostle John spoke of this with the greatest anticipation and said:
1. Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
2. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
*On the night before He died on the cross for us, in John 14:1-3, Jesus said:
1. "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
2. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."
*Christians: That's our rescue! The greatest rescue of all! Rescued from death. Rescued from hell. Rescued for everlasting life in Heaven. And it's all because of the love of God. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
*Joseph Wallis gave this testimony: "Years ago an ICU doctor gave me only two minutes with a lost and dying woman. She had called for me in her dying hour. The doctor told me he would only give me 120 seconds with her.
*What could I say in so short a time? God spoke to my heart and said, 'Give her John 3:16, and pray the sinner's prayer with her.' It was all she needed. She died in peace, and at peace with her Savior." (1)
*Do you have that peace? You can have it right now because of the soul-saving, life-changing love of God. Let's pray.
(1) Adapted from SermonCentral sermon "John 3:16 - The Greatest Story Ever Told" by Joseph Wallis - John 3:16
(2) "John 3:16 - The Numbers of Hope" by Max Lucado - John 3:16 Sermon #1 from Outreach.com
SermonCentral sermon "Teach Your Children Well" by Jonathan Busch - Ephesians 6:1-4
SermonCentral sermon "Psalm 107" by Dan Cormie - Psalm 107:1-32 - 05072006
(5) Adapted from "He Gave" - John 3:16 Sermon #3 from Outreach.com
(6) IN THE GRIP OF GRACE by Bryan Chapell, Baker, 1992 - Source: Dynamic Preaching sermon "So, You Want to Know About Love? by King Duncan - John 13:31-35 - Mother's Day 2001
(7) KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 4461 - SOURCE: 50 Day Spiritual Adventure, Chapel Of The Air; Sermon: Trusting The God Of Surprising Outcomes - TITLE: How To Translate "believe" - AUTHOR: Rev. Robert L. Moss; First Church Of God; St. Joseph, Michigan - DATE: 4796