Knowing the Love of God
Do you remember the famous playoff game on January 8, 2012 between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Denver Broncos that has gone down in NFL lore as "the 3:16 Game?"
Denver's quarterback was Tim Tebow, who had printed John 3:16 on his black eye paint. The first time he did this was during the BCS National Championship Game in 2009—it lit up the Internet, with Google reporting over 90 million searches for John 3:16. It was also the number-one trending item on Twitter.
During the NFL play-off game, a crucial moment came when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw the game's only interception, on third down and sixteen, which led to a Denver field goal. But there's more. During the game, Tebow threw for 316 yards, and he averaged 31.6 yards per completion, which was the highest single-game postseason completion average in NFL history. Tebow's yards per rush were 3.16. Pittsburgh's time of possession was 31 minutes and 6 seconds. CBS's ratings for the game also peaked at 31.6.
Without being irreverent, I have to confess it almost seems the Lord wanted to grab our nation's attention and remind us of His love, especially when we consider what Tebow said in his post-game interview: "First and foremost, I just want to thank my Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for the platform God has given me."
Later in a speech to students at Gordon College, Tebow said, "I remember standing in the hallway ready to walk into the press conference thinking, 'I thought it was about a game, I thought it was about the playoffs and moving on, but we serve a big God. He loves people and has a unique, special, purposeful plan for every single one of us and we can do amazing things in life.'"
I couldn't say it better. That's what this message is about— the infinite love of a God who loves you and has "a unique, special, purposeful plan" to do amazing things in your life.
Frederick M. Lehman, in his song “The Love of God” truly captivates what I will say in this Message:
Could we with ink the oceans fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure – The saints' and angels' song.''
For many of us, the “love of God” expressed in John 3:16 is the first verse we memorize. In verses 16-17, 36 we read,
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (17) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (36) He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Someone expressed John 3:16 in this way,
FOR GOD, that is the perfect, unchangeable, source of life,
SO LOVED, the one who has longed to see forgiveness,
THE WORLD, which lives in sin and pleasure mad,
THAT HE GAVE, the greatest gift He had,
HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, the one who had taken our place,
THAT WHOSOEVER, Oh, the matchless grace,
BELIEVETH, which is the placing of our simple trust
IN HIM, this one shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
Now let’s focus our attention on SEVEN things told us about the Love of God here in John 3:16.
FIRST: The ORIGIN of His love, "FOR God" John 3:16 begins where Genesis 1:1 began "In the beginning GOD…" In the beginning of creation there is GOD. In the beginning of redemption there is GOD.
Here we discover a Creator who loves us as we are. He never asks us to get rid of our baggage before He accepts us. He takes us as we are and continually, and throughout eternity, we have a God who looks at us just as we are, and He says, "I love you."
There's a very old story about a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained to the family that she had a disease exactly like the one her brother had recovered from earlier. Her condition was so far advanced that only a transfusion from her brother would save her. He had immunity built into his blood. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was the only donor possible. The doctor asked him, "Would you give blood to your sister?"
Johnny hesitated, and then he smiled and said, "Yeah, for my sister I will give my blood."
The day came for the transfusion, and the two children were wheeled into the hospital room. Mary, his sister, was pale and thin. Johnny was robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny smiled. As the nurse inserted the needle into Johnny's arm, his smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube out of his body. When the ordeal was almost over, his voice, slightly shaking, broke the silence and he said, "Doctor, when do I die?"
Only then did the doctor realize Johnny had misunderstood the process. He had been under the impression that if he gave his blood to his sister, that it would cost him his life. Yet he willingly agreed to do so.
It's hard to imagine a child capable of that kind of love; but perhaps children have a purer concept of love than we do.
But I can tell you this: In human terms, that is about as close to the quality of God's love as I can describe. The Bible says of Him: In I John 3:16; we read
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
SECOND: The TENSE of His love, "For God so LOVED." That He loves us now that we are His children, we can, in measure, understand; but that He loved us before we became His children passes knowledge. For in Romans 5:8; we read,
"But God commendeth His LOVE toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
This Greek word for love is the word AGAPE.
This is the love of the will, rather than the love of the emotions.
This is an everlasting, spontaneous, sovereign, uncaused, uninfluenced love.
Listen, a sinner will go to hell unsaved, but he cannot go to hell unloved.
THIRD: The MAGNITUDE of His love, "God SO loved." The little word "SO" signifies there are not enough words in all the languages of the world to explain the love of God.
True love is always willing to pay a price for the benefit of another. Over in Ephesians 3:14-19; we read these words of the love of God.
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (16) That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; (17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
Do you really want to know the HEIGHT, the DEPTH, the LENGTH, and the BREADTH of God’s love for sinners?
Then go to the cross of Calvary and write on the TOP of that cross, "The height of God's love."
Stoop down BENEATH the nail pierced feet that never walked in sin and write at the bottom of the cross, "the depth of God's love."
Then walk around to the LEFT of the cross to the side where the heart of God beats in the bosom of His Son, to the place where the heart weeps over sinners, and at the fingertips of the bruised and bleeding hand of the Saviour write, "The breadth of God's love."
Now walk around to the RIGHT hand side of Christ, that everlasting hand that not only cradles the universe but which also holds in His hands the blessed little children and which lifts up the fallen ones, and write there, "The length of God's love."
And when you have completed that walk around the cross of Calvary with that picture in mine, you have just begun to understand John 3:16.
FOURTH: The OBJECT of God's Love, "For God so loved the WORLD." Isn't this marvelous, this hunk of clay molded by his hand, marred by sin, now enemies, alienated and separated from God, yet by His grace and mercy God LOVES me, from the creation of man in the past to the end of time, in
I John 2:2 Christ is the "propitiation for the sins of the whole WORLD."
John 1:29 John said of Jesus, "Behold the LAMB OF GOD, which taketh away the sin of the WORLD."
By the “World” God means every one of us. Hebrew 2:9 says, “that he (speaking of Christ) by the grace of God should taste death for every man,” that every man includes all of us from creation past to creation present as well as future.
The world is made up of the unlovely and the unloving, the lonely and the loathsome, the arrogant and the lawbreakers. Yet God loves each and every one.
As Augustine said, “God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.” That’s the object of God’s love – all the world, including you and me.
FIFTH: The PRICE of God's Love, "God so loved the world that He GAVE his only begotten Son,…" Christ on the cross is the RESULT of God's love for the world, not the CAUSE of His love. Or let's say it this way, "The suffering of Jesus on the cross did not cause God to fall in love with man; the love of God for man ALLOWED Jesus to suffer on the cross." There is no way to estimate the cost of our "so great salvation."
In I John 4:10; we read, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
In Romans 8:32; we read, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things.”
The hymn writer wrote these amazing words.
I stand amazed in the presence,
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could LOVE me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.
How marvelous, How wonderful,
and my song shall ever be:
How marvelous, How wonderful,
Is my Saviour's LOVE for me!
SIXTH: The DESIGN of God's Love, "That whosoever believeth on Him should not PERISH." Again, notice those words: "…believeth on Him should not perish." "Whoso believeth shall not be condemned,…"
John 5:24 tells us, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation (judgment); but is passed from death unto life."
Here is the difference between HEAVEN and HELL.
A person who dies and goes to hell goes there for one reason – unbelief.
A person who dies and goes to Heaven goes there for one reason, his faith in the crucified, risen and living Lord Jesus.
SEVENTH: The BENEFIT of God's Love, "But have EVERLASTING LIFE." Please notice again the last verse of this great chapter, verse 36:
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
In these words, God's presents an alternative open to all – "eternal life" for all those who believe on the Son, and "the wrath of God" for those who refuse to believe Him. It's our choice.
One of the most meaningful and glorious phrases that was ever uttered is that which was so often upon the lips of our Lord Jesus Christ, "eternal life."
One of the most awful and appalling phrases ever uttered is that other phrase here in verse 36 – "the wrath of God."
It is between these two, the unutterably glorious, "eternal life" and the measurably and unspeakably awful "wrath of God," that each of us is called to make his choice.
Now before we close this message, let us move from the Heavens to earth, where we find:
NUMBER 1. The love of God reflects in His determination to see the comprehensive welfare of His children. This takes us back to Romans 8:35-39 where we read,
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This means that when God loves, He loves in such a way that He is not just concerned about getting you to heaven.
He cares about your comprehensive well-being, every minute detail of your life. Therefore, when your life is falling apart, when your world is crumbling, you can appeal to the love of God.
NUMBER 2. In this world of heart-broken lives full of tears and problems, how then can this eternal love of God be shown to this world around us? The only way our world in which we live will see God's eternal love is to see it lived through us. Over in I John 4: 7, 11-12 we read,
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. (11) “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (12) No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”
Did you notice the word "OUGHT"? The word means I “should” repay you because I owe you something. It speaks of a moral obligation.
Since God loved me, I now have a moral obligation to love others. So the question is, HOW DO OTHERS SEE THE REAL LOVE OF GOD IN ME? Remember this:
Real love is demonstrated in Action.
Real love is the visible compassion in my heart to meet another's needs.
Real love is the moist spot in the corner of the eye for another.
Real love isn't meant to be merely something we feel, it's meant to be something we do.
When the Christian only talks of love, the message of the Gospel can easily be turned aside, but when we demonstrate love one for another, our message becomes IRRESISTIBLE.
The story is told of a Salvation Army worker who found a destitute woman, alone on the street and invited her into the mission for help. But the woman refused to move. The worker assured her; we love you and want to help you. God loves you. Jesus loves you and died for you. But the woman would not budge. As if on divine impulse, the worker leaned over and kissed the woman on the cheek taking her into her arms. The woman began to sob, and like a child, was led into the mission where she received help and ultimately trusted Christ.
The woman said you told me GOD LOVED ME. But it wasn't until you showed me that God loved me, that I wanted to be saved.
Listen! The only way the Calvary love of God will become visible to the unbelieving world, will be when I, in the presence of the unbeliever, show I love the brethren in Christ. Remember this: it is not your belief, but your love that communicates.
They don't care about your profession of faith.
They don't care how much you know about the Bible.
They don't even care how many times you come to church,
Nor how much praying you do. BUT…
They want to see how you treat others in the family of God.
They want to see as the ghetto lady said, “Show me skin on your love and I will believe you.”
They want to see that you are for real.
What this area needs is one church that doesn't just have its sign out announcing its services. The people of this area need to sense a REAL GENUINE LOVE OF CHRIST through the action of our lives toward one another within this church.
Remember what our Lord said to his disciples on the evening before His crucifixion, "By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you have LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER." That's the kind of love the world around us needs to see. They need to see that the LOVE OF God IN ME IS FOR REAL.
If God has spoken to your heart, after reading the sermon “Knowing the Love of God” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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Finally, to all those who have help us financially, THANK YOU! Even though I have retired and moved, the Green Street Baptist Chapel (GSBC) will still be handling the account for our Bible Baptist Ministry (BBM). To continue your support, please make checks payable to the Green Street Baptist Chapel (Memo for BBM). Then send checks directly to our new address:
Pastor David Miklas
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In His Amazing Grace,
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