Sermon Notes and Audio
Scripture Focus- John 3:16-21
Familiarity can sometimes cause apathy or ambivalence. This passage contains what is probably the best know verse in the Bible.
Martin Luther called John 3:16 “the gospel in miniature.”
My prayer is that you will look again at how amazing it is what God has done in sending His Son to save. This is a confessional summary of the Gospel- originating with God, it centers on God giving His Son Jesus to the world, to redeem sinners.
God is the author of salvation.
For God. . .
When we think about and speak of salvation, too often our thinking and speaking begins with man. Before we can really understand ourselves, where we came from, and where we are going, we look to God.
God is, and has always been- The first five words of the Bible, of the entire story of the Bible- In. The. Beginning. God. Created. This is a more than sufficient foundation to build our understanding of the world and life. Before there was day and night, before there were people, before there were nations formed, before a special people were chosen, before there were wilderness wonderings, or mountain-top experiences, before there were kings rising and falling, or prophets crying out for judgment and deliverance, before there was an exile or conquest or return. . . Nothing has happened in this world due to chance, it all has had a plan and a purpose from the time that time as we know it came into being.
Love is the motivation for salvation.
. . .loved. . .
1 John 4:8 God is love.
It is God’s nature to love. The love of God is acceptable to most all people, but not understood by many. People tend to make up a God of love according to their own definition, who fits their sinful lifestyle. The “love is love” movement as of late is an example of this. It is an unbiblical and unholy view of love.
God’s love is an expression of His holiness- A lot of people think God accepts us just the way we are. That is not true. He accepts us in Jesus, just as Christ is, and makes us new in Christ. God cannot and will not accept our sin.
Ephesians 1:4 Just as He chose us in Him (in Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him, in love.
God’s love is unchanging and infinite- Because God is unchanging, His love is unchanging.
Micah 7:18 He delights in unchanging love.
Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For his lovingkindness is everlasting.
God’s love comes to us underserved, through grace- He loves us not because we are lovable in our miserable condition. He loves us because He created us and sent His Son to die for us in a sacrificial expression of love and grace.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
D. A. Carson- The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God- He explains (pp16-21) that the Bible speaks of the love of God in at least five distinguishable ways-
- There is the peculiar love of the Father for the Son, and of the Son for the Father (John 3:35).
- There is God’s providential love over all that He has made (Gen 1, Matt 6)
- There is God’s salvific stance toward His fallen world (John 3:16)
- There is God’s particular, effective, selecting love toward His elect (Deut 7:7-8, Eph 1:4-5)
- There is God’s conditional love toward His own people, based on their obedience (John 14:21)
The world is the focus of salvation.
. . .the world. . .
Kosmos= the universe, and all created things.
God loved the Jews would not have been shocking to a Jew. They knew they were God’s chosen people and that he had set His special love on them. The Jew was ready enough to think of God as loving Israel, but there is no evidence that any Jewish writer believed that God loved the world.
God loved the sinful Jews would have been more difficult to understand. But even so they understood Moses had lifted up the serpent in the wilderness for a sinful people to look to and be saved.
The idea that God loved the world- would have been shocking, almost scandalous! When John’s Jewish readers heard “the world” they would have immediately thought “Gentiles.”
It is a distinctively Christian idea that God’s love is wide enough and deep enough to embrace the world.
John used the word in this Gospel to refer to sinful people who were hostile toward Jesus and eventually crucified Him. The love of God for the world goes beyond the Jews and the Gentiles to “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9
The love of God extends even to those who are His enemies.
Romans 5:6-8 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person- though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!
If God’s love is for the world, then why did He not save everyone? Some have said since God hates evil and wickedness, “world” in v16 must mean only the elect. But this denies God’s love for all sinners. Some have said God’s love means every person in the world in the same way. This errs because it leads to universalism.
D.A. Carson in The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God
Carson argues (pp74-77) that if you take any one of the aspects of God’s love and try to force all biblical references into one mold, you sacrifice sound exegesis of those texts.
He concludes- I argue then, that both Arminians and Calvinists should rightly affirm that Christ died for all, in the sense that Christ’s death was sufficient for all and the Scripture portrays God as inviting, commanding, and desiring the salvation of all, out of love.
Further, all Christians ought also to confess that, in a slightly different sense, Christ Jesus, in the intent of God, died effectively for the elect alone, in line with the way the Bible speaks of God’s special selecting love for the elect.
Practically, we can tell people who do not know God, that He sent His only Son to die for their sins, if they will repent and believe in Jesus. Pray that God opens blind eyes and gives new life so people can repent and believe. If they do, we will know it was a work of God in their life.
Jesus is the price of salvation.
. . .in this way. He gave His One and Only Son.
God’s love for the world motivated salvation. It was the giving of His Son that made it available. God’s love was expressed in the giving of His most priceless gift- His unique Son, His only begotten Son, One of a kind.
The Greek word is translated literally as “One and Only.” Word for word, the sentence reads- “that His Son, the only-begotten, he gave.”
He gave- encompasses His incarnation, His life, and His sacrificial death- it is the entire mission of the Son of God that is in view.
The phrase one and only was especially appropriate for a particularly beloved child. Ancient Jewish sources used it to highlight Abraham’s obedience to God, in that He was willing to sacrifice his beloved son Issac.
In the Old Testament, Genesis 22, what God asked of Abraham, He would in time do Himself. God told Abraham to take his son, his “only son” to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering, a sacrifice on one of the mountains God would show him.
Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took with him two young men and his son Isaac. He prepared the wood for the sacrifice and set out on the journey. On the third day, Abraham saw the place in the distance. Abraham told the two young men who were with them, to stay there with the donkey. He and the boy Isaac were going to worship. Abraham said, “we will come back to you.” Even this was a statement of faith, he was trusting that God would provide. So he took the wood and laid it on his son, and in his hand he took the fire and the sacrificial knife, and they walked together.
Isaac said to his father Abraham- “My Father, the fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham replied, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Then the two of them walked on together. When they arrived at the place God told Abraham about, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood. He put his son Isaac on top of the wood and reached out and took the knife to offer his son as a sacrifice as God instructed.
An Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said- “Abraham, Abraham!” He replied, “Here I am.” The angel said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.”
Abraham looked up and there in the thicket was a ram caught by his horns. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place “The Lord Will Provide.”
Around 2000 years later, God’s One and Only Son went up Golgotha and was offered up the ultimate sacrifice, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! The emphasis is on the astounding greatness of the gift!
It does not mean, God loved enough to give- it means God loved so that he gave. His love is not vague, or sentimental, it is costly. God gave what was most precious to Him, His only Son. That a parent would give up His only Son who is innocent, to die for others who are guilty, shows higher love than could be manifested in any other way.
Belief is the right response to salvation.
So that everyone who believes in Him will not perish. . .
A person is saved by believing. The gift is simply to be received, it cannot be earned.
John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
Believing in Jesus means believing in all that He is, and all that He came to do. It requires understanding who He is (the unique Son of God) and what He came to do through His death and resurrection. Entrust your eternal destiny to Jesus. Don’t trust in your own goodness or good deeds to get you to heaven. Trust entirely in Jesus and His shed blood.
Perish does not mean annihilation, but instead a final destiny of “ruin” in hell apart from God is who is life, truth, and joy. Our faith should be fixed on Jesus.
Eternal life is the gift of salvation.
. . .have eternal life.
Who doesn’t want to live forever? Since the beginning of time people have been looking for a way to live forever. There is only one way- through faith in Jesus. The word translated “eternal” comes from the Greek word for “age” or “eon.” The Greeks thought about eternity as continuous, successive, and unending. A close phrase in our language would be “forever and ever.”
The word translated “life” was used for life in general. The way it is mostly used in the New Testament is in reference to eternal life- the life of God and life with God. This life resided in Jesus and He made it available to all who believe.
Eternal life indicates it is perpetual, with no end. Yet it is more than an unending string of years. In fact, eternal life is not really associated with years at all, it is above that. It carries the idea of quantity and quality.
People are born with natural life and will exist eternally; but not everyone will exist eternally with God. John refers to the theme consistently. Jesus defined His mission emphasizing the presence of eternal life- living water that is a spring of water welling up to eternal life, living bread that satisfied hunger, the light of the world that leads to the light of life, the Good Shepherd who brings abundant life, the life giver who raises from the dead, the way, the truth, and the life.
John 17:3 This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent- Jesus Christ.
Judgment is the outcome for all who refuse salvation.
The purpose of the mission of Jesus is clear- so people will be saved. He came and lived and died and rose again to bring salvation. Some, however, will be condemned.
Judgment= separation and condemnation
Nobody is saved without believing.
The coming of the Son for salvation also results in the occasion of judgment and that is the reality for all who do not come to believe in Jesus for forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. Jesus has come into the world as Light in a dark place, to bring the light of salvation. People either come to the light, or they run from the light. A life that is lived by truth is evidence of the work of God in that life.
Are you believing in Jesus for salvation?