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Summary: We all have our favourite verses from the Bible many we know by heart and they give us comfort in times of need. Many are from the Psalms or the Gospels and we focus on John 3:16 - God so loved the world..

The Love of God

John 3:16

We all have our favourite verses from the Bible, it could be a verse from the psalms: ‘The Lord is my shepherd : therefore can I lack nothing.’

It could be a verse that Jesus said from the gospels: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart – for they will see God’

Or as we have this morning one of the comfortable words – 4 passages of scripture used by the celebrant at the Holy Communion, their use in this way dating back to 1543 and adopted by the Anglican reformers.

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.

Here we find the very essence of the gospel and it’s message tells us some wonderful things about God our loving Father.

It tells us that the origin and initiative of all salvation lies with God.

Sometimes Christianity is presented in such a way that it sounds as if God had to be pacified, as if God had to be persuaded to forgive.

Some people draw a picture of a stern, angry, unforgiving, legal God, and a gentle, loving, forgiving Jesus.

Sometimes we present the Christian message in such away that it sounds as if Jesus did something which changed the attitude of God to us from condemnation to forgiveness.

But this text tells us that it was with God that it all started.

It was God who sent His Son, and God sent His Son because He loves us.

At the back of everything there is the love of God.

This is summed up beautifully in the 1st letter of St. John:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.

Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Both passages have the same theme and goal – our salvation through the love of God in Jesus Christ.

The mainspring of the being of God is love.

It’s all too easy to think of God as looking at mankind in our heedlessness and our disobedience and our rebellion and saying:

• ‘I'll break them:

• I'll humble them and lash them,

• I’ll discipline them and punish them,

• I’ll scourge them until they come back to me."

It is easy to think of God as seeking the allegiance of mankind in order to satisfy His own desire for power, and His own desire for what we might call a completely subject universe.

BUT 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.

The tremendous thing about this text is that it shows us God acting, not for His own sake, but for our sake.

It was not to satisfy His desire for power that God acted.

And it was not to bring the universe into submission.

Rather and more importantly it was to satisfy His love.

God is not like an absolute monarch who treats each person as a subject to be reduced to an abject obedience.

God is the Father who cannot be happy until His wandering children have come home.

God does not smash us into submission rather He yearns over us and woos us into His loving relationship.

And now I’m sure you have to mind that wonderful parable of the prodigal son – a father going out to meet his returning son, our Heavenly Father going out to meet and welcome home the repentant sinner.

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.

Here we see the infinite width of the love of God, it was the world that God so loved so much that He gave His only begotten Son.

It was not to a nation He gave His Son; it was not the good people; it was not only the people who loved Him; it was the world.

• The unlovable and the unlovely,

• the lonely who have no one else to love them,

• the one who loves God and the one who never thinks of God,

• the one who rests in the love of God and the one who spurns the love of God

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