Summary: God so loved the world doesn’t refer to the whole mass as one entity but as individual persons by persons, God’s love is for me, for you as individuals not as one world. Every one, every individual is so important and so precious in the sight of God.
Text: John 3:16-21
Theme: God’s Love and the World
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life”
God willing, we will be contemplating into the theology of Methodism throughout this year 2019. Our founder John Wesley was so much disturbed and confused in his life and finally he arrived at with a crystal clear understanding of God’s plan for his own life and for his followers or Methodists. We would base our thoughts from the passage of Romans 8:28-30. These three verses are having very deeper theology of St. Paul, and later claimed by Martin Luther and also by John Wesley.
The thoughts of this passage are follows as: Jn. 3:16-17 are the object of Christ’s mission. Jn. 3:18-19 declare the historic results in faith and unbelief. Jn. 3:20-21 exhibit the causes of faith and unbelief. Let me take you to the concept of Love of God and Salvation to all from Jn.3:16. It expresses three teachings Boundless Love of God, Limitless laurels of believers, and endless of life of a disciples.
Boundless Love of God
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son: ‘this verse need to be felt, experienced personally rather than taught and expounded’ (Ellicott).Jesus was conversing and explaining with Nicodemus on the nature of God. Jesus said to Nicodemus that ‘God one who was pictured as violent, angry, retaliating God in OT’ is the same ‘God is loving, giving and forgiving God’. He further makes him to understand that ‘the kingdom of God which was solely owned by Jews is now open to all nations’.
God so loved the world doesn’t refer to the whole mass as one entity but as individual persons by persons, God’s love is for me, for you as individuals not as one world. Every one, every individual is so important and so precious in the sight of God. He knows each one of us; he loves each one of us. So it’s not a generalized term but individualist concentrated theme.
We had seen and experienced the great devastation in 2015 with Chennai flood. You know sometimes relief materials are thrown from helicopter to the people who are standing as group. The food pockets are thrown for all but all may not get. Whoever is mighty, whoever able, can get. The weak, the disabled may not get. Some think that the love of God is pouring out like that on the world. But you know that God’s love was given to each individual with care and concern but some accept it, many despise it, trample it and die. It’s a willful choice.
‘The Divine love is the sublime source of the whole proceeding, and it has been lavished on "the world"(Pulpit Commentary). This “world” cannot be the limited "world" of the elect as Augustine and Calvin understood but "whole world" (1 Jn. 2:2 & 1 Tim 2:4)’. God so loved the world means all men under heaven, even those that despise his love are loved by God. Otherwise not to believe would be no sin to them.
For what should they believe? Ought they to believe that Christ was given for them? Then he was given for them. He gave his only Son - Truly and seriously. And the Son of God gave himself, Gal.4:4 truly and seriously. The given love and its acceptance by each individual are more important. Giving only Son is referring to Abraham’s faith and the great sacrifice he offered unto God when he bounded Isaac and laid him on the altar, and took the knife to kill him.
God so loved the World…it talks about God’s generosity, inclusiveness, not excluding anyone, any nation, any tribe, any nation all are included (Rev.19:1; 7:9-10). God’s love is available to all such as, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, skilled or unskilled, good or bad, righteous or wicked, King or beggar. His love is boundless to all. “SO” makes us to understand the greatness of God, glories of God, generosity of God.
However, God’s love is vulnerable for acceptance or for rejection. God’s rope of love is boundless. He never sets any time limit while we live on the earth. His love ever flows towards the sinners. He stretched out his hand for a long time. Prevenient grace is depended on our response to God’s love.
Limitless Laurels of Believers
‘so that everyone who believes in him’: The freewill plays a vital role. Rejection or acceptance this love completely personal. It’s not God who rejected man but man who rejects God. God’s initiative and God’s openness either not understood or rejected. Sometimes initially rejected but later accepted. There is a possibility of responding to God before death.