Why God Loved
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 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.
As we look and to many, celebrate this special occasion of Valentines day. What is it about us that God would show His love? To the married, there has to be a reason why we married our spouse, right! To those that are single, what is it that you are looking for a partner? When you see someone you like, for whatever reason of attraction, there is a reason right?
But what is it about you and I, that a great and Holy God would give us His love? Wrap your mind around that that question before we begin with the message. It can’t be for our personality. It can’t be for our looks or how good or nice we are. So what is it, or why did God show His affection of love towards you and I, that He had to sacrifice His Son to show His love for you and I?
John 3:16 is one of the best known and most loved verses in the whole Bible. Probably no other single verse of Scripture has led more people to salvation. Martin Luther called John 3:16 'the miniature gospel.' It has also been called 'the gospel in a nutshell,' and 'a love letter from God that was written in blood and addressed to all people.'"
Max Lucado called John 3:16 "a twenty-six word parade of hope: beginning with God, ending with life, and urging us to do the same. It's brief enough to write on a napkin or memorize in a moment, yet solid enough to weather two thousand years of storms and questions. If you know nothing of the Bible, start here. If you know everything in the Bible, return here. We all need the reminder."
John 3:16 is the heart of the Gospel straight from the heart of God. God so loved the world! God wants to touch your life with His love. God wants to transform your life with His love, and He will… if you will believe.
"For God so loved the world" This word "world" is found 79 times in the Gospel of John. And this word is not talking about the physical world or the sinful world system. It's talking about the world's people. God even loved us before the foundation of the world! "For God so loved the world!"
God loves the best Christian you have ever known. But He also loves the worst sinner you have ever known. God so loved the world! That's why one of the most astounding truths in God's Word is found in Romans 5:6…
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Christ died for the ungodly! Christ died for the worst of the worst. Murderers, thieves, drug addicts, and every other sin we could possibly think of. Christ died for the very people who are trying to lead our nation away from Him. Christ died for the people who are filled with hate for Christians like us. But, in due time, God willing…God will save them too!
One preacher was talking to some children about the things that money can't buy. He said, "Money can't buy laughter, and it can't buy love." Then to drive his point home, the preacher asked, "What would you do if I offered you a thousand dollars to not love your mother and father?" Stunned silence followed, but finally a little voice asked, "How much would you give me to not love my big sister?"
Church… There is nothing anyone could ever do to take away God's love for you!
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. . ."
Jesus Christ is the greatest gift that has ever been given, or ever will be given to anyone, anywhere. God gave His "only begotten Son." That means His one-of-a-kind, one and only Son, the God-man Jesus Christ.
The point here is that Jesus and God the Father share the same DNA so to speak. Jesus isn't begotten in the sense that He began, but in the sense that He and God the Father have the same essence, the same eternal life span, the same infinite goodness, the same perfect wisdom, and the same boundless power.
Every quality we can find in God the Father, we can also find in Jesus Christ. Jesus is and always has been God the Father's unique and sinless Son. But 2,000 years ago, the Lord humbled Himself to become a man. He came down to earth and became the only person who ever lived a perfect life, so the Lord's humanity is unique.
The Bible makes this truth clear in many places. For example, the Old Testament prophet Micah spoke of the pre-existence of the Messiah. In Micah 5:2 the prophet said…
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me. The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
Jesus also affirmed His unique existence. For example, Jesus claimed to have existed in Abraham's day, even though Abraham lived about 2,000 years before Jesus was born on earth. In John 8:56-58…
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
Then in John 17:4-5, on the night before the cross, Jesus prayed to God the Father and said…
4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together [a]with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
God the Father gave His one of a kind, only begotten Son for you, for me, and for the whole world! No one can save you but Jesus. That's why He is the greatest gift that has ever been given! "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (2 Cor 9:15)
3. GOD'S LOVE GAVE US THE GREATEST GIFT. IT ALSO SUFFERED THE GREATEST SACRIFICE.
In order to see the sacrifice, we've got to go back up to vs. 14-15. Here Jesus said…
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should [a]not perish but have eternal life.
This Old Testament story in found in Numbers 21:4-9. Fourteen hundred years before Jesus was born, God gave us an Old Testament picture of what Jesus was going to do on the cross for us. The holy Son of God was going to become like a hated, dead snake, lifted up on a pole for our sins. And what a sacrifice! God the Father sent His only begotten Son into the world to die on the cross for our sins. And Jesus willingly took all of the suffering and shame that belonged to us. He willingly took all of the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross for us.
Jesus was the only person who could make that sacrifice for us, because He had no sin of His own. And He did make that sacrifice, because He loves us.
On Sunday, August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines Flight 225 crashed just after take-off from Detroit. One hundred and fifty-five people were killed, and only one survived. It was a 4-year-old girl from Tempe Arizona. Her name was Cecelia.
When rescuers first found Cecelia, they didn't think she had been on the plane, because it hit several cars when it crashed onto the highway. But Cecelia's name was on the flight register.
And the investigators found out that Cecelia survived for one reason. When the plane was about to go down, Cecelia's mother, Paula Chican, unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and then would not let her go.
That is a picture of what Jesus did when He died on the cross for our sins. He sacrificed His life so that we might have eternal life. No higher price has ever been paid, no greater loss was ever felt, "for God so loved the world."
God's love calls for us to have the greatest confidence in Jesus. And we can because Jesus proved His love for us on the cross. But that wasn't the end of the story, because 3 days later Jesus rose again from the dead. Now our Risen Savior reaches out to give eternal life to everyone who will believe in Him.
"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." That "whosoever" means me, and it means you. Everybody has sinned, so everybody needs a Savior!
And Jesus will be your Savior, if you will believe in Him. But this believing means a whole lot more than just believing with your mind. It means believing with your heart, believing with your life. It also means receiving Jesus into your spiritual heart, having a real relationship with the Lord, following His ways, and allowing Him to lead our lives.
John Paton helped us understand this word "believe." John and his wife were pioneer missionaries in the South Pacific, and they were trying to work with people who didn’t even have a word for "believe" in their language.
That was a huge problem when John began translating the Bible into the native language, because this key word is found over 200 times in the New Testament. John was completely stuck until a villager came to visit one day. The man was exhausted from working in the hot sun, so he sat down in a chair. And in his native language, he said, "How wonderful it is when you are tired and can LEAN YOUR WHOLE WEIGHT ON SOMETHING."
When John Paton heard that phrase, he said it was like lightning struck, and suddenly he realized, "That's it! -- 'Lean your whole weight on something.'” That was the thought John Paton was searching for, and that’s what he used to translate "believe" into their native language.
This is what it means to believe in Jesus. You fully lean on Him. You trust in Jesus to hold you up for all eternity, and He gives you His life. Jesus makes clear that the salvation of those whom the Father gives Him is not a mere possibility but an absolute certainty. All of those whom God has chosen will Come to Christ, who has laid down His life only for His sheep and not for those who have not been chosen from the foundation of the world.
5.GOD'S LOVE CALLS FOR THE GREATEST CONFIDENCE. AND IT RESULTS IN THE GREATEST RESCUE.
16 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.
Jesus is talking here about the greatest deliverance from the greatest danger. People without Christ are going to spend forever in hell…
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That is talking about eternal death, eternal separation from God. Years ago, from a devotion, a story about a preacher who came to the conclusion that nobody is going to hell. He lost his church for it, but later began preaching in another church, and hundreds of people were flocking to that church. No hell. -- Everybody's going to Heaven. Sounds nice, but it's just not true. The Bible is perfectly clear about this fact. Here in John 3:17-18 say...
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
We must base our beliefs on the rock-solid foundation of God's Word. We must follow the Word. The Bible is always right. It doesn’t matter how we feel. It doesn’t matter what we think. The Bible is always right!
We must believe it when it talks about the greatest danger, and the greatest deliverance: "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."
This means everlasting life in a place too wonderful for us to imagine, living forever with our loving God. In 1 John 3:1-2…
1 John 3:1-2
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Christians… That's our rescue! The greatest rescue of all! Rescued from death. Rescued from hell. Rescued for everlasting life in Heaven. And it's all because of the love of God. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
So…God gave us the answer of why He did what He did. From the message that we just heard, it all about Gods love. There was nothing in us that would be…to our standards attractive. Its not our personality, how good we are, so we think. Its not in our looks, or any good works. Its all because He/God Loved. A holy God had to make a way for us not to perish and the only way is to sacrifice His perfect/sinless/Holy Son.
That is why… “God so loved”
Fruitful Growth In The Faith
2 Peter 1:2-8
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter begins his teaching by reminding them and us of the basics of authentic Christianity. If we continue to live by the divine power which God has given to us, and if we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, we will be fruitful. Thus, we are challenged to take full advantage of the divine power and promises of God. Peter then gives us the specific steps to follow so that we may be victorious through Jesus Christ. If we practice these characteristics of the divine nature not only do we grow in Christ-likeness, we also experience the assurance of eternal rewards.
I. DIVINE POWER, 3.
II. DIVINE PROMISES, 4.
III. DIVINE PROGRESS, 5-7.
IV. DIVINE PRODUCTIVITY, 8.
I. DIVINE POWER, 3.
The expectations of becoming Christ-like would be impossible if not for God’s divine enabling. Verse 3 teaches that Christ has provided everything believers need for life and godliness. “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue”.
The first amazing statement is not in the future tense. “give us all things” “to bestow, to endow.” and stresses the freeness and worth of the gift. The perfect tense also stresses the certainty of the fact and possession of this gift. Peter contends that God has already given us His divine power and through that power He has made everything which pertains to life and godliness available to us.
God has provided believers with all the resources necessary to make spiritual growth possible. Peter’s teaching sounds like that of Paul when he declared “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
How do we grow? ... through the true knowledge of Him who called us. All that believers need for spiritual vitality (life) and godly living is attainable through our knowledge of Him (Christ). In knowing Jesus believers have freely at their disposal all the resources necessary to enable them to work out the process of sanctification or growing into the likeness of Jesus.
An intimate “full knowledge”, of Christ is the source of spiritual power and growth (Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9-10; 2:2). As we get to know the Lord Jesus through prayer, through the Word, through worship through walking day by day with Him we grow. For the better we know Him, the better we understand how all things that pertain to life and godliness can function within us.
Notice that Christ called us to this [intense] life of godliness, worship, literally rightly directed worship, by His own glory and goodness. “Glory” expresses the excellence of His being, His attributes and essence. “Goodness” depicts His excellence of deeds or His virtue in action.
Christ attracts people enslaved by sin (2:19) by His own moral excellence and the impact of His glorious Person. Everything that has to do with life or serving God has been freely given so that we lack nothing. Christians are fully equipped to live a life pleasing to God, to overcome any obstacle we face, and to persevere under trial.
II. DIVINE PROMISES, 4.
Progress in the Christian life is made possible by the power of God (v. 3) and, as we see in verse 4, by the promises of God. “4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The promises are great because they come from a magnificent God and lead to an abundant life. The promises are precious because their value is beyond calculation.
We have so many magnificent and precious promises in the Word of God. The promise of the forgiveness of sin, rest to the weary, comfort to the sad, hope to the dying, resurrected life to the dead, and answered prayer. The promise of sharing the very nature of God by the gift of the comforting, teaching empowering Holy Spirit. The promise of eternal life in a new heaven and a new earth.
The promises of God are precious for at least two reasons. The first reason is because “by them” we “become partakers of the divine nature.” [“Participate” (genēsthe … koinōnoi) is literally “become partners.”] [What an utterly staggering precious promise that is. Jesus first gave it to His disciples shortly before His Crucifixion when He said…
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
That is exactly what happened to the disciples who gathered together on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came upon them, and His divine nature became their own. And that marvelous promise is for us and our children (Acts 2:39).]
A born-again Christian has the divine nature of God so that he/she is a new creation, a new being. And so Scripture says, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). The implications of this promise are incredible for us. We have the potential to live by the very power of God. God’s divine nature can replace ours as we follow Jesus as Lord and as we allow the Holy Spirit to possess us.
Second, by the promises of God we can escape “the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The craziness of the world can be traced directly to lust. Whether regarding money, sex, esteem, or approval, lust simply says, “I’ve got to have more.” God wants to deliver us from such a mind-set.
God’s way of escape lies in seizing hold of His promises and thereby growing in God’s own nature. Through them means as you apply them to life. That is a major concern. When we walk and live in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are walking in the opposite direction of our natural life. Paul stated that truth in Galatians 5:16, 17…
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
III. DIVINE PROGRESS, 5-7.
Because Christians have the power and the promises, Peter urges the essential goal of growing to be like Jesus and spells out the steps towards it in verses 5-7. Verse 5 begins the steps to becoming fruitful disciples. “5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge”.
“For this reason,” “having escaped the corruption that is in the world” (v. 4) through our "faith" in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we can now grow spiritually. We mature spiritually by conforming our being/nature and practice to our Lord’s. This growth happens when we put to use the divine nature we now possess, recognizing that He has provided all the resources we need.
This beautiful paragraph sounds like the Christian symphony of grace. Its practical advice concerns the basics of the Christian faith. These graces are to be applied to our life with all diligence, or “all zeal, applying. Peter urges the importance of applying every effort. For it takes every bit of diligence and effort a Christian can muster, along with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to “escape the corruption” of the fall so that we might be transformed into the image of Christ.
Spiritual growth does not come without effort. God though has provided all we need, but we must give “all diligence” for the process is much more than simply allowing the Holy Spirit to reside in our hearts we must pursue the character and habits that bring spiritual growth.
All of these virtues are dependent upon our faith. Our Christian life begins by faith and continues in faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is what separates Christians from all other people. Trust in the Savior which brings one into the family of God, is the foundation of all other qualities in the Christian life. The Christian life begins with faith and is carried on with “faith”. Without faith we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).
“6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”
Knowing God will deepen our knowledge of ourselves and where we need to exercise self-control.
To know is vitally important, but it is not enough. We are to do what we know we should do. In many of our lives, though there is a great gulf between our knowledge and our conduct. It was to this problem James spoke when he wrote, “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). It is one element of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:23. The real sense of the term means more than self… being in control. A more descriptive and accurate term would be “God-control.” Only when we are under the control of the Holy Spirit can we be self-controlled.
Add perseverance to self-control. A self-controlled, disciplined lifestyle must lead to perseverance, strength in the face of adversity. Both James and Peter write a great deal about the virtue of “perseverance” . This word means “enduring, continuance or patience”,which can mean “to bear trials, to have fortitude, to abide or to endure.”
Literally it means to “remain under.” In our vernacular, we would say “hanging in there.” There are only seconds which separate those who fail from those who succeed in running most races. Too many people drop out of the race just before it is to be won. Those who persevere by “hanging in there” are those who win the prize.
Perseverance produces or adds godliness. Godliness cannot be fabricated. We cannot merely pretend to be godly. The quality of godliness comes from God Himself. He must give that quality of life to us. We receive it as we are dead to self and alive to God and as we allow the Spirit to live within us. The fruits of the Spirit are attributes of the character of God. The more we are possessed by God, the more we will act like Him and the more His character will be revealed in our lives.
In verse 7 we find the 6th Christ-like character. Add brotherly kindness to godliness. Brotherly kindness is the wonderful warmhearted affection between fellow believers. “Brotherly kindness” is a special kind of love. Peter uses this word in instructing us regarding the importance of having unfeigned love of the brethren (1 Pet. 1:22); Paul teaches us to be kindly, affectionate to one another in brotherly love (Rom. 12:10). This is one of the amazing qualities of the church of Jesus Christ. We are to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ—and are members one to another (1 Cor. 12:27). We must live out our faith by having love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Kindness is one of the most powerful tools in the believer's kit of virtues. We cannot always do exceptional deeds; but there are thousands of small, generous things we can do that will help others and bring glory to God. Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see. May we seek to serve Christ through deeds of kindness and the sincerity of' our love.
IV. DIVINE PRODUCTIVITY, 8.
“8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Verse 8 gives a marvelous and precious promise to those who increasingly integrate these qualities into every part of their life. “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing”, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sharing the life of God should produce and the finest and most godly character for Him. That itself is reward enough, but it also leads to fruitfulness in our walk with the Lord. If we make these things ours and they abound, says Peter, two specific benefits will follow.
First, they will keep us from being barren. None of us want to be “barren” in our Christian lives. To be barren is “to be useless or idle.” The best defense against such a useless life is an active offense. If we are actively following Jesus Christ as Lord and are diligent in adding to our faith, we will never be barren in our Christian life.
Second, they will keep us from being “unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus gave instruction to Peter and to all of us concerning the life of bearing fruit when He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
The secret of fruit-bearing is to abide in Christ and to allow Him to abide in us. Peter encourages us to follow Jesus aggressively by adding to our faith with all diligence; then we will never be unfruitful.
The value of a promise depends on what is promised, who made it and whether or not they will keep the promise. We all have been impacted by promises that have not been kept, but that is not so with God. He, being God can keep all He promises and His integrity, His righteousness demands that He keep all His promises.
Pastor Richard Santos
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