Summary: There’s an old saying "God hates the sin, but loves the sinner." But the Bible actually tells me God hates sinners. How can that be?
A man was driving down a country road, and - off to the side of the road - he saw an old tumbledown barn. On the side of the barn- a young man had apparently painted this message: "I love you, Kathy." The man smiled as he drove on and thought about the beauty of those few simple words.
A few weeks later, he was driving down that same road and he looked in anticipation for that same romantic message. But to his disappointment - not only was the message gone - so was the barn. It seemed to sadden him somehow to have this statement of love torn down.
But then, he noticed - beside that field, on the back of a large road sign - were painted these words:
"Kathy, I still love you."
Whether the young man was making that statement for his wife or girlfriend, that simple declaration of love said it all.
APPLY: The Bible is a declaration of God’s love for us. The repeated message of Scripture is that God loves us and cares for us. And it tells us all we need to know of God’s affection for us.
And of course, everybody’s favorite verse is: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (quickview)
ILLUS: During His ministry on earth, Jesus told a parable about how much God loved us. He told about a young man who demanded his inheritance and then – without so much as a goodbye or a “love you dad”, he "…set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” Luke 15:13 (quickview)
As long as he had money, he lived the high life and had all kinds of friends. But once the money was gone… so were his friends. Then, when all him money was gone, a famine struck the land, and without money or friends this boy had to find a job. But the only job he could find was working for a pig farmer – one of the lowest forms of life a Jew could imagine.
At one point, he gets so hungry, he looks at the slop the pigs are eating and starts to wonder if it would be something even he could eat.
It was at this point he finally realizes what a mess he’s made of his life. And it occurs to him that even his dad’s servants were eating better than he was.
So, he made a plan.
He’d go back to his father and say: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.”
Now, the Pharisees apparently told a similar story. But in their story, when the son came back and told the father he wasn’t worthy to be called his son… the dad agreed. “Yes, you aren’t worthy be called my son. So you’ll work as a servant for a few years to prove your repentance. THEN maybe I’ll let you be my son again.”
But that wasn’t how Jesus told the story, because Jesus was teaching us how much God loved us. "… while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him…