An overzealous preacher felt it was his calling to aggressively "make" people become Christians as they would ride on the city bus system. One day a drunk stumbled onto the bus that the preacher was on. He sprang into and shook his family Bible in the face of the inebriated man and yelled, "Did you know you’re headed for Hell?" And the drunk replied, "Oh, no, I’m on the wrong bus again!" TS-The world doesn’t need to be told it’s going to hell; the world needs to be shown how to get to heaven.
Last week we left off with Jesus visiting with the Pharisee Nicodemus. Nicodemus was searching for some answers about the Kingdom of God. Last week we learned that Jesus taught that a person must be born again (born of the water and the Spirit) in order to see or enter the Kingdom of God.
This week we are going to finish our conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.
This is the gospel in a capsule (3:16-18)—it is the crowning jewel of the New Testament. Nowhere else has theology been so simplified and yet reached such awe-inspiring heights. We almost need to read the text with an exclamation point behind each word.
In the conversation that Jesus has with Nicodemus, Jesus unlocks the very nature of God.
The title to today’s message is “A LESSON ON GOD’S LOVE”
Today we are going to learn about the love that God has for us. We will see its depth, its reach, its purpose and its limitations. God loves you more that you will ever know.
Let us learn a lesson on God’s love today.
I. ITS DEPTH V16
In verse 16 we learn of the depth of God’s love for us. It tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.
God freely gave His Son because of His love. God’s love is the foundation of His redemptive work.
1 John 4:8-10 (NLT) says But anyone who does not love does not know God—for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
In 1944, C.E. Goodman of Hallmark Greeting Cards wrote a slogan: "When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best." Ever since, that motto has been used to sell greeting cards. When we look at Jesus Christ, we know that God cared enough to send the very best.
It takes a deep love to give up your best for another. It shows even a greater depth of love when you give up something when the object of your love may not respond to you. ROMANS 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
The other thing that we learn about God’s love is its reach.
II. ITS REACH V16
The Big picture.
In verse 16, John says that God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son.
It was not that God just loved the Godly, but He loves all people.
The idea that God loves the whole world is a new idea. The Jews believed God loved the religious (the true Jew) and hated the non-religious (the Gentiles). The same thoughts are held by many in every generation, especially by religionists. The fact that God truly loves is shocking to many. Some wonder and others question how God could possibly love the...
2 PETER 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
God loves every man, not just the religious and the good. He does not love only the people who love Him. He loves everyone, even the unlovely and the unloving, the unbelieving and the obstinate, the selfish and the greedy, the spiteful and the vengeful.
An Arab chief tells a story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and the big, black door. As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, "What will it be: the firing squad or the big, black door?" The spy hesitated for a long time. It was a difficult decision. He chose the firing squad. Moment’s later shots rang out confirming his execution. The general turned to his aide and said, "They always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet, we gave him a choice." The aide said, "What lies beyond the big door?" "Freedom," replied the general. "I’ve known only a few brave enough to take it."
God’s love is open to everyone, but the thing is we have to be willing to step up and accept it.
God has shown you the love that He has for you by sending His Son to die for your sins. You have to be brave enough to take hold of it.
God does not just love people who are sitting in the church this morning; He loves everyone who is at home today skipping out on church. God loves those who are disobedient to Him.
One line of theology that is popular today is to say that Jesus just died for those who are predestine to be saved. Jesus dies for all of mankind.
1 TIMOTHY 2:3-4 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Jesus told us the Parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son in Luke 15 to show us how much God desires us to come to the Kingdom of God.
People are important to God, especially lost people. People should be important to those who are in the church also. Our desire should be to reach all the people we know with the Gospel of Jesus.
God love is available to you today; you are not beyond the reach of God’s love; will you take hold of it?
Why does God love us? What is the purpose behind His love?
III. ITS PURPOSE V16,17,18,21
So we do not perish
Verse 16 tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish!
One of the purposes behind God showing us His love by sending His only Son was so that we will not perish.
This is not talking about physical death nor is it about being annihilated out of existence.
Verse 17 explains what not perishing means. It means that God gave His Son so that we will not come under divine condemnation. This condemnation will be complete and everlasting so that the one under it will be banished from the presence of the God of love and will dwell in the presence of His wrath.
Verse 18 tells us that that God does not want us to fall under His judgment.
Verse 17 also tells us that God did not send Jesus into the world the first time to judge the world, but to save it. Man deserved condemnation, but His love gave us a chance for salvation through Jesus.
We find in Acts 17:31, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Matthew 25:31-ff among other passages that when Jesus returns the next time it will be for judgement.
When Jesus returns, he will accept those who accepted the means of salvation provided by the 1st coming.
To have eternal life!
Jesus tells Nicodemus on the conversation that He came to give eternal life to people.
As we said earlier, God desires all of mankind to come to the knowledge of the truth and to be saved. God does not want any to perish, this is why He sent Jesus.
Eternal life is what God wants for you. It not only is a quantity of life (eternal), but it is a quality of life.
God wants us to be able to enter into the place that Jesus has been preparing for those who believe in Him. (John 14:1-ff)
To come to the light
Verses 19-21 talk about the light. One of the purposes of God showing His love by sending His Son is so that we would come to the light.
The light is Jesus.
Jesus said in John 14:6, Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
John 1:5 says that Jesus is the light. In John 8:12, Jesus says that He is the light of the world.
Verse 21 tells us that one, who habitually practices the truth, will want to draw near to Jesus and learn more of what pleases Him. This person will want to make sure that his actions and attitudes are shaped by God’s desire for our life.
I have tip toed a bit so far. If you cut me off now, it would sound as if God will save everyone. The same love that God has for us that caused Him to send His Son is the same love that has some limitations.
IV. ITS LIMITATIONS V16, 18-20
In verse 16, Jesus says that there are limitations on who will receive the rewards and blessing of God’s great love. Jesus says that only those who believe in Jesus will receive eternal life.
In verse 18, Jesus says that only those who believe in Jesus will be the ones who are spared a judgment of condemnation from God.
In verse 18, the words for “does not believe” imply that a person in this state makes a willful choice not to accept Jesus.
Jesus is saying that only those who believe in Him will be the ones who are saved.
Some would say that is not fair, but a loving God would not force you to go to a heaven that you did not want to go to when you were alive.
Verse 19 says that the person who does not believe in the Son of God has already been judged, or condemned.
We will all face the judgement seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10, 2 Cor 5:10). When we all stand before Jesus, it will not be for Him to judge us, that has already happened. Judgment will be a time in which the sentence is pronounced for the judgment already made. There will be no second chances, there will be not smooth talking. Once you die if you are in Christ, you will go to heaven. If you die outside of Christ, you will be lost for eternity.
Believing in Jesus means that you cast your whole self upon Him. It means that you will be faithful until death. (REV 2:10) FAITHFUL. Believing in Jesus does not mean that you carry some baptism certificate as an insurance policy, it means that you have given your life completely to Jesus and that you are living faithfully for Him to the best of your ability. A believer allows the Holy Spirit to work in their life to change them into the image of Christ. (2 Cor 3:18) A believer in Jesus wants to be Christ-like, they will walk with Jesus every day. (Mark 8:34)
Verses 19-20 explain to us why there are limits on receiving the benefits of God’s love.
Verse 19 shares with us the reason that judgment is fitting and proper for those who reject Christ. Jesus came into the world to show us the way and some will not like the way He shows, they will chose to hide in the darkness because they do not want their deeds to be exposed.
A person who refuses to follow Jesus loves to do what is evil instead of following Jesus.
Verse 20 explains why so many people get so easily offended at the gospel. READ VERSE 20.
Verses 19-20 basically say that a person who will not come to the Light (Jesus) is rejecting to love that God has shown to them.
I want to close things out today with a story that claims to be true and I cannot find anything that would suggest it is not. D. James Kennedy has related this story before in a sermon. If you have heard this, please listen again.
John Griffith grew up with one dream in his heart--a dream of travel. He wanted to travel to faraway places and see exotic sights. Those strange-sounding names of strange-sounding lands--that’s what he dreamt about and read about. That was his whole consuming passion of life. But that dream crashed with the stock market in 1929.
The Great Depression settled like a funeral cloak upon the land. Oklahoma, his native state, was turned into a swirling dust bowl by the dry winds, and his dreams were swept away with the wind. So he packed up his wife, his tiny baby boy, and their few meager belongings in an old car and drove away to find greener pastures. He thought he might have discovered those on the edge of the Mississippi, where he got a job caring for one of those great, huge railroad bridges that cross the mighty Mississippi.
It was in 1937, when this true story took place.
For the first time, John Griffith brought his 8-year-old son, Greg Griffith, to work with him to see what Daddy did all day. The little boy was wide-eyed with excitement, and he clapped his hands with glee when the huge bridge went up at the beck and call of his mighty father. He watched with wonderment as the huge boats steamed down the Mississippi.
Twelve o’clock came, and his father put up the bridge. There were no trains due for a good while, and they went out a couple of hundred feet on a catwalk out over the river to an observation deck. They sat down, opened their brown bag, and began to eat their lunch. His father told him about some of the strange, faraway lands that some of these ships were going to visit. This entranced the boy.
The time whirled by, and suddenly they were drawn instantly back to reality by the shrieking of a distant train whistle. John Griffith quickly looked at his watch. He saw that it was time for the 1:07, the Memphis Express, with 400 passengers, which would be rushing across that bridge in just a couple of minutes. He knew he had just enough time, so without panic but with alacrity he told his son to stay where he was.
He leaped to his feet, jumped to the catwalk, ran back, climbed the ladder to the control room, went in, put his hand on the huge lever that controlled the bridge, looked up the river and down to see if any boats were coming, as was his custom, and then looked down to see if there were any beneath the bridge. And suddenly he saw a sight that froze his blood and caused his heart to leap into his throat. His boy! His boy had tried to follow him to the control room and had fallen into the great, huge gear box that had the monstrous gears that operated this massive bridge. His left leg was caught between the two main gears, and the father knew that as sure as the sun came up in the morning, if he pushed that lever his son would be ground in the midst of eight tons of whining, grinding steel.
His eyes filled with tears of panic. His mind whirled. What could he do? He saw a rope there in the control room. He could rush down the ladder and out the catwalk, tie off the rope, lower himself down, extricate his son, climb back up the rope, run back into the control room, and lower the bridge. No sooner had his mind done that exercise than he knew--he knew there wasn’t time. He’d never make it, and there were 400 people on that train.
Suddenly he heard the whistle again, this time startlingly closer. And he could hear the clicking of the locomotive wheels on the track, and he could hear the rapid puffing of the train. What could he do? What could he do! There were 400 people, but this was ... this was his son, this was his only son. He was a father! He knew what he had to do, so he buried his head in his arm and he pushed the gear forward.
The great bridge slowly lowered into place just as the express train roared across. He lifted up his tear-smeared face and looked straight into the flashing windows of that train as they flashed by one after another. He saw men reading the afternoon paper, a conductor in uniform looking at a large vest-pocket watch, ladies sipping tea out of teacups, and little children pushing long spoons into plates of ice cream. Nobody looked in the control room. Nobody looked at his tears. Nobody, nobody looked down to the great gearbox.
In heart-wrenching agony, he beat against the window of the control room, and he said, "What’s wrong with you people? Don’t you care? I sacrificed my son for you. Don’t any of you care?" Nobody looked. Nobody heard. Nobody heeded. And the train disappeared across the river. D. James Kennedy