June 26, 2011
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)Charles Spurgeon once said, when preaching on the love of God, “This morning we come to a subject so vast that we cannot measure its breadth, so deep that we cannot sound its depths. We can only hope if God should grant us grace to have a favorable wind to sail across its surface, and by His grace, find some refreshment for our souls.”
The message that is hammered home in the first fifteen verses of the 3rd Chapter of John is “in spite of all your learning, in spite of your pedigree, in spite of your birth, in spite of your study, in spite of all of your knowledge, you must be born again to see the Kingdom of Heaven.” In verses 14-15, Jesus, in effect, asks “who can help you?” The answer: the Son of Man, who has come down from Heaven possessing the power of eternal life. Look to the Son of Man, but also, look to the Cross.
We now come to the question: “Why has God acted in such a way; why has He sent the Son of Man into the world to die on a cross?” We look beyond the Cross to the heart of God. Like the depth, breadth, width of the Grand Canyon, we see the panorama of the love of God.
Fallen man thinks he’s lovely, he thinks God ought to love him. He thinks of God casually and in entirely wrong ways, such as “the Man Upstairs” or as a spiritual, good-natured grandfather. Sin has fostered these delusions. In fact, God is Holy; God is Righteous; fire comes from His throne. Yet, the reality is that the love of God is so wonderful, so amazing, that what man imagines to be true is like a drop of water compared to the Pacific Ocean, when the love of God is seen rightly.
Since the Fall, man has believed the lie that God is forbidding something that is good for us. Part of the Gospel is coming to know God as who He is, not mistrusting Him; coming to understand that He is eminently trustworthy.
“For God so loved the world” shows us the reality of the love of God and the reason why God did what He did. The stress of the phrase is on “Love” and “so” intensifies the meaning, indicating both “in this manner” and “so as”. The eternality and relationship of the Persons of the Trinity shows us the importance God places on relationship and love.
The word “world” would have been shocking for Nicodemus, as he would have been expecting God’s love to be limited to the Jews. Here we are invited to view the panorama of the universal love of God, even in light of the particular love He has for the elect taught in other passages. When we question the perceived conflict between the two concepts, we should be careful: we are walking on Holy ground. We have to understand that God invites everybody to be saved, but nobody comes. Only those He chooses and regenerates come.
- Pastor Ty Blackburn
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