Summary: God is love. And the greatest display of God’s love was when he sent his son Jesus. Love is the most important thing. Vinet said, “The Christian faith does not consist in the belief that we are saved, but in the belief that we are loved.” Oh, how he loves
OH, HOW HE LOVES US!
INTRODUCTION: 1st John 4:8 says that God is love. What this tells me is that everything that God is and does is love. Nothing God says and nothing God does is without love. And the greatest display of God’s love came when he sent his son Jesus. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Love is the most important thing. 1st Cor. 13:13, “and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.” Vinet said, “The Christian faith does not consist in the belief that we are saved, but in the belief that we are loved.” Oh, how he loves us.
1) Jesus laid aside his glory. Phil. 2:1-8. Imagine owning the most beautiful place on earth with everything you would ever need at your fingertips. Imagine having servants wait on you. Imagine having complete command and authority over it all. Then imagine leaving it all behind to go live in the scummiest place on earth. You lose all your comforts. You forsake all your command. You become willing to subject yourself to authority; unloving and ruthless authority at that. You still have power to wipe anyone out who opposes you but you choose to restrain it to accomplish the greater purpose. You leave behind riches and become clothed with poverty. You remove yourself from being treated as the king you are to become subject to being treated like yesterday’s trash. And you aren’t forced to do it; you do it all willingly. And on top of that, you will be doing all this for people who hate you. You will be making this complete sacrifice for people who won’t recognize or appreciate any of it. Yet, despite all this, you are still willing to go through with it. You know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it; and you have nothing to gain from it-it’s everyone but you who has everything to gain. Jesus laid aside his heavenly conveniences and came to be with us so that there could be an opportunity for us to have the treasures of heaven alongside him. He laid aside his crown that we would gain the crown of life. He was willing to leave his Father’s side so that we could someday be by the Father’s side. He laid aside his life so that we would gain life eternal. Oh, how he loves us.
2) Jesus died for us. 1st John 3:16a, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” The Greeks had three words for love: “Phileo”, specifically referred to the love between two friends. It’s where the name “Philadelphia” comes from, which means “City of brotherly love”; “Eros”, refers to romantic love. It is from this word that we get “Erotic”. But then there is “Agape” or “Agapao”. It is a totally self sacrificing kind of love; asking nothing in return. It is a love that spends itself completely and unwaveringly on its object. This is the kind of love John was talking about in John 3:16, and here in 1st John 3:16. Therefore, we can render it as saying, ‘this is how we know what pure, complete, self-sacrificing love looks like’. John Stott said, “Only one act of pure love, unblemished by any taint of ulterior motive, has ever been performed in the history of the world, namely the self-giving of God in Christ on the cross for undeserving sinners.” “Laid down his life”. This is an interesting way to say it-laid down his life. This shows that Jesus didn’t die against his will. He laid down his life; it wasn’t forcibly removed from him. Jesus stated this fact in John 10:17-18. This shows an awesome aspect of Jesus’ love for us. He could’ve not gone through with it. There were times where he was tempted not to go through with it. But Jesus resisted; he restrained himself-all because of his great love for us. Isaiah 53:3-6. Jesus, how much do you love me? He answered, “This much…” and he stretched out his arms and died. Oh, how he loves us.
3) Though we’re sinners, he loves us. Rom. 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Col. 1:21 says that because of our evil behavior we were once enemies of God. We hated him; yet he loved us. We were his enemies; yet he loved us. We didn’t care about him, gave no thought to him; yet he loved us. Eph. 2:1-9. Although we were foolish and disobedient, God loved us. We were living for worldly passions and pleasures-yet he loved us. We were dead but because of God’s great love for us we were made alive through Jesus’ great love sacrifice. And we did nothing to make him love us; yet he loved us from the beginning. And what’s interesting is that God’s love for us doesn’t get stronger once we become a Christian. Malachi 3:6 says that God doesn’t change. Therefore, his love doesn’t change. There are times when God is not pleased with us, because He hates sin; but that doesn’t translate into a decrease of his love. His love doesn’t fluctuate according to how we’re doing at any given time. That’s the unbelievable aspect of God’s love-it doesn’t grow and it doesn’t weaken. It can’t; because it’s always been at full capacity. [Experience with Shaun’s birth.] Shaun didn’t know me; he hadn’t shown me love-yet from the moment I saw his face I had an instantaneous and complete love for him. And in that moment I got a glimpse of God’s love for me. But my love for Shaun, as strong as it is, is still way inferior to God’s love for me. Eph. 3:16-19. Paul wanted everyone to know this love that surpassed all knowledge and understanding. He wanted us to try to grasp its vastness. God’s love is completely different than the world’s love. The world has watered-down love. I love you today but if you mess with me I’ll hate you in an instant. God doesn’t fall out of love like we humans do. God’s love isn’t based on feelings like ours can be. We have been shown what true love looks like. Oh, how he loves us.