THE LOVE OF GOD
By Henry Jaegers
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes on Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3: 16) This verse is the most popular verse in the Bible and I dare say, the least understood by those who quote it. There is no verse in the Bible that so clearly explains what God’s love is all about. It is my prayer that this simple exposition will help you to understand and experience this love for you.
I. THE SOURCE OF LOVE.“For God”
Love comes from the Great lover of our souls: God Himself. It was He who created us and provided for everything we might ever need. It is noteworthy that man was His crowning work. God created man on a separate day and all of creation was his servant. God did not create a puppet but a person with the freedom to make a choice. It was God’s love that fashioned man to enjoy God’s presence. No one can fully understand the greatness of how much God loves and cares for us. This verse does it better than any other. Love, originates with God. When Adam fell, it was God who came looking for him. When we fail it is God who always takes the first step in restoring us. How wonderful it is to have a loving God who cares. The religions of the world do not have such a God.
II. THE INTENSITY OF LOVE.“So loved” That’s an interesting statement. We often use the term “I love you so much” to express deep feelings of emotion for someone. It is the same with God’s love toward us. His love is so real and passionate that it causes Him to act. Some hold to the view that God is some impersonal force somewhere and has no interest in what He has created. The word’s “So Loved” debunks that Idea. God is not some void object that we can’t know about. He has emotions, just like us. It causes God grief when man, whom He has created, treats Him like He doesn’t care. When the Bible states that God created us in His image, it includes mind, emotion, and will. God grieves when we do that which hurts Him. Sin has consequences and it grieves the heart of God to see us suffer over them. He plans for our supreme good and Joy. How can we adequately express in human terms the great intensity of God’s love? As we continue, we will gain a clearer understanding that God so loved reveals that God so cares.
III. THE OBJECT OF LOVE“The World”When God speaks of “the World,” he is not speaking about saving the planet or natural creation. These cannot return His love. God created man distinctly different. When it said He so loved the world He had man in mind. What man? Is there just a select kind of man that God loves? What about those who kill others or deliberately break His commandments? We might wonder how a perfect God could love imperfect people. Only God knows the great potential that all of us have. He knows that having a free will, we will sometimes make wrong choices, but He never stops loving us. No man is outside the perimeter of God’s love. He knows all about us and He knows us personally. He knows our hurts, joys, successes, and failures and still loves us. He loves us enough to make the perfect sacrifice to save us. God loves us and thinks that we are worth saving even if we do not recognize it. Be aware, that when it says that “God loves the world” it includes you.
IV. THE DEMONSTRATION OF LOVE “That He gave”Love is never selfish or self- seeking. It always seeks the good of others. God is the great God of Love and He is always doing what will bring joy into our lives. When we become selfish, God may have to discipline us, but discipline always has the intent of improving us. God shows His love to us by providing everything that we need. Every day His blessings abound to us, but if we entertain selfish motives, we will not see them. The closer we remain to God, the more we will know His blessings. God not only gives, but He also provides for our enjoyment. Sometimes God’s gifts come at a great price. David once replied, “I will not offer to God that which cost’s me nothing”. His servants risked their lives to get Him a drink from a certain spring. He kept himself from asking for something which might have cost him the lives of his men. These soldiers acted in love toward their king and almost sacrificed their lives in doing so. That is a demonstration of Human love. In our next section, we will see the great sacrifice that God made in showing His love.
V. THE COST OF LOVE“His only Begotten Son”Man, because of his sin nature, (selfishness) could never be good enough to enter Heaven. Sin disqualifies us once for all. It doesn’t make any difference if it is large or small, sinful men cannot get to heaven without help. That help comes from God. God decided to send a substitute to make it possible for us to enter Heaven. This substitute had to meet certain requirements. First, he had to volunteer. Second, He had to be free from any sin, because God required a perfect sacrifice. From the time that man first sinned, God had planned that He would send someone perfect to be his substitute for sin. His name would be “Jesus”, (which means one who brings salvation) Christ (meaning the anointed one.)
Jesus lived a life of perfect purity in obedience to God. A woman gave birth to Him and He had no human father (eliminating a sin nature). He suffered rejection and great pain and revealed His love to us by doing so willingly. He who never sinned, became sin for us, so guilty men might find pardon. God allowed His only son to become an offering for my sin. Imagine that you had an only child, and it was necessary for you to sacrifice him for someone undeserving. That’s what God did for us and that is what it cost God for us to go to Heaven. I recall Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, agonizing over the great trial that lay before Him. He could have changed His mind and say, “these wicked people don’t deserve this. Why must I face the great agony of crucifixion and beatings for a people who could care less?” He could have said “it is not me that deserves this. They deserve to suffer for their own sins”. But he said, “not my will, but thine be done.” God offered up this kind and gentle, lamb-like, Jesus at great cost to Him. His only Begotten Son was the cost for salvation.
VI. THE CONDITION OF LOVE“That whosoever believeth on Him” Do not think that such actions by God, releases us from any responsibility. God did not give us the opportunity to receive salvation without a response to receive it. John 1:12, says, “that as many as received Him, to those He gave the privilege to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on His name”. Salvation is a gift but you must receive it for it to be effective. Faith is the hand that reaches up to receive that gift. It is ineffectual if you do not receive it. This matter of faith is false if it does not produce some action. The word “whosoever” tells us that this offer is made to all. There will be some who receive that gift and some who will reject it. Such great love from God ought to affect the way that we live. Being a receiver of that love should motivate us to share it with others.
I recall a story told by Billy Graham about a man crossing over Niagara Falls on a tightrope. After rolling a wheelbarrow across he asked. Do any of you believe that I can wheel a man across in the wheelbarrow? The people responded with enthusiasm believing in his ability to do so but when asked for volunteers to get in the wheelbarrow, you couldn’t see them from dust. Faith means to get in the wheelbarrow, and such faith changes the way that we live. Have you placed yourself into God’s wheelbarrow by receiving His gift of love?
VII. THE SECURITY OF LOVE“Should not perish” Sin is the great separator. It separates us from God. If we fail to receive the gift of salvation, we will experience separation that will never end. God offers to us eternal life that will have no end. When we receive this gift, God promises that we will be secure forever without the fear of losing eternal life. We no longer have to trust in our ability to hold on. God promises in John 5: 24 that once we have decided to become a follower of Jesus, God himself will keep us by His power. If we were to trust in our own strength we might fail but God’s promises are plain and we need never fear of losing the gift of Eternal life. Jesus says in this verse “truly I say to you that He that hears my word and believes on Him that sent me has eternal life.” This speaks of a life that is ours the moment we believe. The rest of the verse tells us “He will not come back into the state of being lost again but is permanently passed from the state of being dead in sins to a state of having eternal life”. God promises to keep us safe. In John 10:28, 29 we have these words of comfort that we are in Christ’s hands and Christ is in God’s hands and no one can pluck us out. This does not mean that we sometimes will not fail, but when we do, God is there to help us to keep going. When we decide to be faithful, God will always work for our good.
VIII. THE REWARD OF LOVE“ but have everlasting life” The eternal condition of the believer is described in two ways. In John 3:16, it states that we will have everlasting life. This speaks as duration of never-ending life. There is another term used similarly called “Eternal Life”. Once we become a child of God, we receive the promise of everlasting life, which happens when we get to Heaven. At the moment of conversion, we receive the gift of eternal life. That speaks of a quality of life that begins right away and continues forever. The presence of Jesus produces positive changes in our life. We begin to hunger for God’s word, are no longer comfortable in sinning, and we develop a concern for those without Christ. These are evidences that eternal life has begun. The book of Revelation describes some wonderful truths about Heaven that should bring us joy. The words, “No More” tell us the problems that once caused us concern on earth will no more be present in Heaven. Consider, tears will be replaced by joy, death will be replaced by eternal life, and pain will be replaced by singing. He continues His promise in making all things new. In these words, God speaks in the ever-present tense. “Behold, I make all things new.” He is the great “I Am”, not I was, or I will be. He is the Alpha and Omega, without beginning and without end. He was before all things, and by Him, all things exist. He is not yesterday or tomorrow but the everlasting “Today”. He is called Emanuel (God with Us). All of these things are true and reliable because it is the word from Him who cannot lie. To him who is athirst, He will give the fountain of the water of life without measure.
The word through John 3: 17, continues with the words “For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world but the world, through Him might be saved.” “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Have you received this gift? God wants you to have it. You can receive this gift by simply praying this prayer:Dear heavenly Father, thank you for making your love so plain to me today. Cleanse me from my indifference. I receive you into my life. May I never take your love for granted. I pray that thankfulness and faithfulness will reflect through everything I do. In Jesus Name I pray.