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Summary: This series is based on John 3, "The Heart of the Gospel."

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“FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD” John 3:16-18

INTRO – At 8:46 this past Tue. AM, population of USA reached 300 million. Kind of took me by surprise. I was still thinking in terms that I think I learned back in high school. If you had asked me what US pop. was, I would have told you about 230 million. I was only about 70 million off. Guess I just wasn’t keeping up w/ the times!

Census figures tell us that someone is born every 7 seconds and someone dies every 13 seconds. Good news is that we have more people who need to hear about Jesus. Bad news is that we’re not doing a very good job at telling them about Jesus. NAMB estimates tells us that there are over 200 million people in US who do not know Christ. Means that many of those who will die during this time that we are worshipping God are going to go to a very real place called hell. Means that we are going to have to do our very best to tell all those who are going to be born during this time that we are worshipping God about the wonderful love that God has for them and the plan that He has for their salvation and eternal life.

Most of all, for us as Christ-followers, it means that we need to know John 3:16 backwards and forwards. Means that we need to know it in our heads, believe it in our hearts, live it in our lives, preach it in our church, celebrate it in our worship, talk about it in our conversations, and stand on it in our beliefs. Luther called John 3:16 “the heart of the Bible – the Gospel in miniature.” It’s so simple that a child can understand it; yet it condenses the deep and marvelous truths of redemption into these few pungent words.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” Someone once said, "The real truth is that while Christ came to preach the gospel, His chief object in coming was that there might be a gospel to preach." (Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations)

Just think about this incredible verse:

“For God” – THE God; the ONLY God; not A God, but THE God who spoke the universe into existence; who is completely sovereign over all our lives and over all the world; who all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present. 1 Tim. 2:5 – “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

“so loved” – not love as portrayed by Hollywood, but agape love – totally unconditional, no-strings-attached love. God loves like this b/c this is who He is. He IS love! His character is love. 1 John 4:8 – “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:16 – “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.”

“the world” – (CP videos) No other god loves sinners. God loves everyone in the world, all 300 million in the US and all 6.6 billion in the world – rich, poor, middle-class, famous, infamous, vile, well-respected, disrespected, prostitute, alcoholic, drug addict, homeless, church member, never been in a church in their whole life, moral, immoral, prisoner, criminal, married, unmarried, upright citizens, down-&-out street person, Americans, Europeans, Russians, Muslims, Chinese, Africans, Koreans, Canadians, immigrants – legal and illegal, old, young, those who have really made something of themselves, those who have wasted their lives, educated, uneducated – GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD! Rom. 10:12-13 – “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." (NKJV)

“that He gave His only begotten Son” – God didn’t just SAY that He loved the world; He showed it in the most magnificent way possible. He GAVE His one and only, one-of-a-kind Son. That’s what “only begotten” means. It means that there is no other One like Jesus. Doesn’t mean that He was just an only child. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice, the spotless Lamb, given by God for you and for me. Rom. 5:6 – “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” Heb. 2:9 – “But we see Jesus, who for a short time was made lower than the angels. And now he is wearing a crown of glory and honor because he suffered and died. And by God’s grace, he died for everyone” (NCV).

“that whosoever believeth in Him” – Who does that include? It includes YOU! It includes anyone who believes that Jesus Christ is the ONLY Savior, the ONLY way to heaven, the ONLY Son of G given to save us from our sins and set us free to live for Him. 1 Tim. 2:4 says that God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” For this to happen, we must believe. One commentator said, “To “believe” is more than intellectual agreement that Jesus is God. It means putting our trust and confidence in him that he alone can save us. It is to put Christ in charge of our present plans and eternal destiny. Believing is both trusting his words as reliable and relying on him for the power to change.” (Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary)

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