Summary: One of the qualities of God that draws us to him is his loving nature. This is a brief look at the power of that love.
1. D. L. Moody was a great American Evangelist in the late 19th Century.
John 3:16 was the verse through which D. L. Moody learned to appreciate the greatness of God's love. Moody had been to Britain in the early days of his ministry and there had met the young English preacher, Henry Moorhouse. One day Moorhouse said to Moody, "I am thinking of going to America."
"Well," said Moody, "if you should ever get to Chicago, come down to my church and I will give you a chance to preach."
Moody was merely being polite and hoped Moorhouse would not come, for Moody had not heard him preach and had no idea of what he would say should he come to Chicago.
Sometime later, after Moody had returned home, the evangelist received a telegram that said, "Have just arrived in New York. Will be in Chicago on Sunday. Moorhouse." Moody was perplexed about what he should do, and to complicate matters he was just about to leave for a series of meetings elsewhere. He said to his wife and to the leaders of the church, "I think that I should let him preach once. So let him preach once; then if the people enjoy him, put him on again."
Moody was gone for a week. When he returned he said to his wife, "How did the young preacher do?"
"Oh, he is a better preacher than you are," his wife said. "He is telling sinners that God loves them."
"That is not right," said Moody. "God does not love sinners."
"Well," she said, "you go and hear him."
"What?" said Moody. "Do you mean to tell me that he is still preaching?"
"Yes, he has been preaching all week, and he has only had one verse for a text. It is John 3:16."
Moody went to the meeting. Moorhouse got up and began by saying, "I have been hunting for a text all week, and I have not been able to find a better text than John 3:16. So I think we will just talk about it once more." He did. Afterward Moody said it was on that night that he first clearly understood the greatness of God's love.
2. John 3.16-21
3. A Proper perception of God is critical -- He is NOT distant; cold; angry; or disinterested in us
4. Consider some aspects of God's love for us
I. God's Love Is Astonishing -- SO Loved the World -- Surprising to us!
A. God's Nature is Love -- 1 John 4.7-8
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
A few years ago there was an article in a newspaper about a dog named, "Lucky." It read:
Lost, One God; brown hair with several mange spots, right leg broken due to auto accident; left rear hip hurt; right eye missing; left ear bitten off in a dog fight; answers to the name, Lucky.
This dog was lucky because it had an owner that loved it so much -- in spite of its shortcomings -- he or she would pay someone money to help them find it.
B. The core of the gospel -- Romans 5.8
[Martin Luther said that John 3.16 was "the gospel in miniature."
II. God's Love Is Active -- He Gave
Love must be expressed.
A. God Expresses His Love Personally
1. His desire for closeness to us -- Walked with Adam and Eve and with Enoch; Abraham was God's Friend; David had his heart; you and me
2. He expresses his love in his Son
3. He expresses his love on people -- Galatians 2.20
B. God Expresses His Love Sacrificially
1. What more could God do?
2. He paid our way -- "It is finished" = an accounting term meaning a debt was paid in full
III. God's Love Is Audacious
A. BOLD in its Extravagance
1. Greater Love
12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. John 15.12-14
2. Greatest Love -- give an only son -- it is one thing to lay down your own life; it is quite another to give up the life of your only child for disrespectful people
3. Compare to Jephthah's Tragic Vow in Judges 11.30ff
30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, "If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering."