Sermon – November 4, 2018
If there is one thing that Christianity, in all its various stripes and manifestations, can agree on is the refrain from 1 John 4:8, 16 – “God is Love”. He is the essence of what love is, his actions define love, and love is only knowable by us because God manifests himself to the world. But, the manner and means by which God loves the world, a world filled with sin, hatred, jealousy, and spite, is quite another thing altogether. John 3:16 is perhaps the best-known biblical verse of all time and is able to be repeated by people who have never broken open a Bible, never heard a sermon, and have never darkened the door of a church. But what is John saying in this verse?
1. The object of God’s love
Here, John tells us that God loves the world. This is likely not just to say that God loves everyone, but that he loves even those who are sinful before him. The greatness of God’s love is not seen in how wide it is spread, but rather in how great his love is even for those who, in their sin, were openly hostile to him.
2. The measure of God’s love
The fullness of God’s love is not just seen in his loving his enemies, but how he loved them. He didn’t give a worn out trinket for them, but rather the most precious gift he could give: his Son. There is no measure for the amount of love that God has for his only-begotten Son, and thus for those who believe in him. God’s love is great, for he loves his faithless enemies with the most precious gift he can give.
3. The means of God’s love
But how do we get to that love? It is only through Christ! God does indeed love the world through common provision, but this love is limited and will one day run out. These demonstrations of God’s love are meant for a further purpose: to lead us to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Indeed, this is the only way for us to enter into God’s love in Christ – trust and belief. Do you trust Christ with the whole of your life? With your body, heart, money, schedule? Christ has proven himself trustworthy, and thus calls for your trust.
4. The purpose of God’s love
The purpose of God’s love is nothing less than eternal life. This eternality is not just an extension of the life that you now know, but it is knowing God personally and to enjoy him forever. While we cannot experience the fullness of this joy in our current state, we can experience something of it now, as Christ has promised. Let us not just wait until our death to know the blessing of eternal life in Christ – know it and experience it now, through faith and trust in the great gift of Jesus Christ!