THE GIFT OF GOD’S LOVE
The LORD God made heaven and earth, and all that is in them. He gives morning and evening, seedtime and harvest. In Him we live, and move, and have our being.
The LORD God says of Himself: ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me’ (Isaiah 45:5).
God is wise and holy, and separate from sinners. God is righteous and good and true. Yet the attribute of God which stands out most of all is His love.
In the most famous verse in the whole Bible, we read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
The LORD is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other God. He alone is the true and living God.
When man was created, man chose to rebel against God. Man chose the way of death rather than the way of life. Yet God still loves sinful man. God devised a scheme to save man from sin and death. God loves us so much, that He gave His only begotten Son.
God’s Son is seen in the Scriptures as the wisdom of God, existing alongside God from all eternity: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3).
By Him, through Him, and for Him all things were created. The Son is begotten by eternal generation. He had no "mother" before the incarnation.
First God loved us. Then He gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. God became man in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. One of the names of Jesus is ‘Immanuel: God with us’ (Matthew 1:23).
The Lord Jesus lived a perfect life. Though tempted in every way as we are, Jesus never sinned. Yet in the crucifixion of Christ upon the cross of Calvary an incredible transaction took place.
The Apostle Paul says, ‘We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus is not a sinner, but in the Cross he bore the punishment of our sins. He suffered the separation from God the Father which we deserve. By becoming sin for us, He made it possible for us to be counted as righteous before God.
The sacrifice of Jesus was the only offering which could bridge the gap between God and man. Out of His love for us, God gave us His Son, so that: “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Without Jesus, mankind is perishing. Without Jesus, mankind is hastening towards the punishment of eternal damnation. Yet all a man or woman has to do is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is not just to believe the facts about Him: for even the devils believe, and tremble! It is to put our trust in Him as the only One who can save us from hell, and give us eternal life. If you do not believe, you will surely perish: “he who does not believe is condemned already!” (John 3:18).
If you do believe, you will have eternal life. Eternal life is a spiritual life beginning right here and now.
When we receive the gift of eternal life, we enter into a new relationship with God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of His Holy Spirit. Although we are still subject to physical death, we have the guarantee of a place in heaven when we die. We have an abundant present life in fellowship with God.
Jesus pointed to the basis for faith: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14).
How was Jesus lifted up? In the Cross, when He was crucified and raised up from the earth in that hideous cruel murderous execution.
He also said: “I, if I be lifted from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).
Jesus was “lifted up” in the crucifixion so that everyone who trusts in Him would have eternal life. This was, and is, the supreme act of God’s love.
Let us ask some questions of John 3:16 - cross-examine it, if you will.
"God so loved the world..."
Which god? The God who gave His Son - so quite obviously from the context of the New Testament, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So this God, what did He do? He loved. Not merely loved, but "so loved."
How so? By giving His only begotten Son.
Which came first, the loving or the giving? The loving.
What did this giving involve? It was the offering of a sacrifice which alone could bridge the gap between God and man. In order to accomplish that, God became man in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ; and Jesus suffered the separation from God the Father which we deserve, by becoming sin for us: the infinite God paying the infinite price for finite man's infinite sin against the infinite God.
Which Son did He give? His only begotten. The One who was there with Him in the counsels of eternity, before the creation of the world, and through whom the world was made.
In what way begotten? By eternal generation. There was no "mother" before Jesus became Man.
Why did He give His Son? Because he loved.
What did He do it for? "That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
So mankind is perishing without him? Yes.
What does a man or woman have to do in order not to perish? Believe.
Believe what? In Him - which is to put our trust in Him as the One alone who can reverse our perishing state, and give us eternal life.
What happens if I don't believe? You perish: "he that believeth not is condemned already!" - John 3:18.
If I do believe? You have eternal life.
What is eternal life? It is a spiritual life beginning in the here and now, in which we enter into a renewed - a right - relationship with God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Although we are still subject to physical death, it is the guarantee of our place in heaven when we die. Not "pie in the sky when I die" - but the fullness of a life of fellowship with God with its beginnings in the present.
Ah - but what about this "whosoever?" Well friend, that is where your responsibility lies. Your business is to obey the commandment to believe! Otherwise, by refusing the gift of God’s love, we make null the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf…