3 September 2007

God so Loved the World

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.
John 3:16 is perhaps the best known verse of the Bible. It is a summary of the Gospel and it has brought peace, forgiveness and life to thousands of people, including myself. It is my prayer and desire that God would apply these truths to your heart, that you too may experience his marvelous love.

Loving the unloving

Who is the God who loved the world? He is the Creator of the universe, our Maker and Master. God created us special, as the bible says, ‘in his own image.’ That implies that we can love and be loved, for God is love. It is only in the experience of love that the purpose of our existence could be fulfilled.

However, from the beginning our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed the Lord. They ate the forbidden fruit and, in effect, they told God: ‘We do not love you; we don’t care about you or your commands; we shall live independently of you. We’ll do our will, not yours!’ That is what the bible calls ‘sin.’

Like our first parents we have also sinned against our Maker. There is no fear of God in our culture. We play down the seriousness of sin, calling it ‘a mistake’, ‘human weakness’ or 'a psychological problem' - anything, as long as we excuse or justify sin. Thus, although the Lord commands us, ‘You shall have no other gods before me,’ we say that it’s alright for everybody to worship according to his own religion. And though his God's Law says, ‘You shall not steal,’ pilfering and cheating in taxes and business is the norm for many 'good' people. Tragically, what appears alright to us is filthy in the eyes of God, for sin is rebellion against him.

Moreover, the consequences of sin are enormous. That's why the good world he created in the beginning is now in a mess. Take a look around you: there’s pain, suffering, misery and death. And that’s all because of our sin. According to John 3:16, we are perishing. We are on our way to the grave; but worse still, to appear before the judgment seat of God and to his just punishment in Hell forever.

You thought John 3:16 is good news! Believe me, it is! However in order to understand its beauty, first you need to see the ugliness of sin. We are sinners. We are guilty. We are perishing.

He gave his Son

Praise God, there is hope! A hope that’s not found in ourselves or in our strength or in our morality. The one and only hope is God – the God against whom we sinned. The good news is that ‘God so loved the world.’ He did not love the world because it is loving or loveable. He loves the world despite the fact that is it rebellious and sinful. Motivated by love, God did something incredible to save sinful people. God gave his beloved Son for the salvation of his enemies.

The ‘only-begotten Son’ is Jesus Christ. He was born in Palestine 2000 years ago to a young Jewish woman, Mary. He was human like us, except he was without sin. Moreover, Jesus is not a mere man. He is also Divine, and he exists with the Father and the Holy Spirit from eternity.

How did Jesus accomplish the mission entrusted to him by his Father? Did he simply teach us a new or better morality? No, he did not come down from Heaven merely to be a teacher. The prophets could fulfill that job well enough. Jesus is more than a teacher: he is first of all, the Saviour. Salvation is a task that only he could perform.

Jesus was given by the Father to die on the cross of Calvary. He had no sins of his own but he took responsibility for the sins of his people. The sin is ours and we deserve to suffer the just penalty in Hell for eternity. But when Jesus suffered and died, he paid the full penalty demanded by God’s Law for his people’s sin. He became their substitute -- the sinless dying instead of the sinful. Amazing love!

Whoever believes

Do you believe in the Son of God? If you do, you will not perish in Hell because the blood he shed is the sufficient payment of your debt. If you don’t believe, then you are a stranger to the God of love, and there is absolutely no hope for you.

‘To believe is Jesus’ is not merely an acknowledgement of his existence. Faith in Christ is the sure conviction that he is the eternal Son of God; that he died for your sins; that he rose from the death and that he is your living Saviour. To believe in Jesus means to trust in him alone – and have no confidence in your own ‘goodness’, anybody or anything else.

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. May the Lord set you free from sin and Hell; may he give you life eternal. It is the only life worth living.