God So Loved

God So Loved.jpg

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." - John 3:16

I believe this to be the greatest verse in all the Bible. It is the best loved and best known verse. There are only 25 words in this verse yet no other single verse in all the Scriptures has been as blessed in the salvation of so many people. Martin Luther called John 3:16 the miniature gospel. It has been called the gospel in a nutshell. It has been called a love letter from God written in blood and addressed to all. If ever there was a verse that has lightened the path to heaven for multitudes, it is John 3:16.

John 3:16 is divided into four parts, God's Grace, God's Gift, God's Gospel, and God's Glory:

1. God’s Grace - "For God so loved the world". What is love? It cannot be defined in words. The word "loved" occurs 56 times in the John. The dictionary says love is "to have a feeling, affection, or regard for, to be strongly attached to or attracted toward, to hold dear". As good a job a Webster does in trying to define "love," I still find this definition weak.

Many people have said that the closest illustration we can find to God's love, is the love of a mother for her child. We see it in the love of Mary for Jesus, which has become the model for women, everywhere, ever since.

God's love is an everlasting, unending love with no beginning. God had no beginning so His love had no beginning. All earthly love had a beginning but God’s love reaches back to before the world was, as well as forward to when this world will be no more. God’s love is infinite, unlimited, and extravagant.

2. God’s Gift - "That he gave his only begotten Son" The world knows a little about giving but God’s giving cost something. Most of the giving we know about is giving that really has no element of sacrifice in it. But God, He gave all He had in His only begotten Son. "He gave" means that there was suffering involved. We think a lot about the suffering of the Son but have you ever thought about the suffering of the Father?

And why did God give this precious gift to humanity? Because of His deep love for His creation, a love we especially feel and understand during Lent.

3. God’s Gospel - "That whosoever believes in him". This word "whosoever," means "all." All have sinned and all need a Savior. It means those who believe. It means you. It means me.

The word "believe" with its various endings, occurs 100 times in John. Believers deny salvation by any other way, but by faith. They deny salvation by works, even good works. We are saved by faith and not by works. We are not saved by a preacher, by a denomination, nor by a church, but only by Christ!

4.God’s Glory - "But have everlasting life." Life is mentioned 36 times in the John. Notice the verse begins with God and ends with life. Everlasting life is not just eternal existence. If that were the case, the devil and all sinners would have it.

What is everlasting life? It is having Jesus. Jesus said "I am the life" in John 14:6. The Bible says life is in the Son and whosoever has the Son has life. John 11:25 says, "I am the resurrection and the life." John 1:4 says, "In him was life." Eternal life is Christ living in me and Christ living in you.

I saw a poem years ago that I believe sums all of this up nicely. It is by the Rev. Dr. J. Mullinex, and it reads like this:

"For God - the Lord of earth and heaven,
So loved - and longed to see forgiven,
The world - in sin and pleasure mad,
That he gave - the only Son he had,
His only Son - to take our place,
That whosoever - Oh, what grace,
Believeth - placing simple trust,
In Him - the righteous and the just,
Should not perish - lost in sin,
But have everlasting life - in HIM!"

God, we are weak, human, and suffering, yet you love us the same. You have put us on Your heart, and spilled Your blood to save us. We, who are finite, flawed, and with boundaries, have been saved by You–the infinite, perfect, and boundless. Let us put You on our hearts and in our minds, that we may suffer with You, rejoice in You, and strive for You, this Lenten season and always. Amen.
Mar 11 2018