The Most Wonderful Promise Ever Made
Key-verse: "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" (JOHN 3: 16).
John 3: 16 is by common consent the greatest verse in the Bible, and it seems almost a presumption to attempt to say anything about this sublime and inspired' sentence; and yet if by so doing we are enabled to see a little more of God's wonderful plan of redeeming love then it will be worthwhile. Why is it that this verse is so universally looked upon as the greatest verse in the Bible? Perhaps there are two reasons, the first of which is that no other verse is so full of the gospel. It consists of only 25 words and yet it contains a complete survey of the story of God's redemption. A second reason why this verse is looked upon as the greatest verse in the Bible is surely because no other single verse of scripture has been blessed to the salvation of so many souls. Here, then, we have the greatest statement of the gospel in the shortest possible space, and the theme is the wondrous love of God. Notice that the verse divides itself into three sections.
(1) THE CHARACTERISTICS OF GOD'S LOVE.
What kind of love is God's love? We have the answer to this in the words, "For God so loved the world ... " Notice the following points:
(i) It is Divine love.
It is "God" Who loved the world. The only love that we know anything about, apart from the revelation contained in this verse, is human love; but God, Who is the Author of all human love, is the great Lover Who is mentioned here. His love is Divine love, for "God is love"-look up 1 John 4:8, 16---and His love is the greatest love in the world.
(ii) It is unspeakable love.
We not only read that "God loved the world", but that He "so loved the world". The little word "so",shows us the intensity of God's love, but h.ow intense it is none can say. Nowhere does the Bible attempt to define God's love; it only illustrates it,' and John 3:16 is the great illustration. See how the Apostle Paul describes it-look up Ephesians 3:18-19.
(iii) It is eternal love.
'Ne read that "God so loved the world" .... When did His love begin? God's love had no beginning because God Himself had no beginning. It is not true to say that God did not love us until Jesus died for us. The fact is that Goo loved us, and because He loved us He sent the Lord Jesus to die for us. This is what our verse tells us-look up and compare Romans 5:8. His love is an everlasting love-look up Jeremiah 31:3.
(iv) It is a universal love.
"God so loved the world ... ", not just some part of it but all of it. Have you ever thought of the miracle of a universal love? Think of the millions of people in the world-people of all kinds and colors, good and bad, and yet God loves them all. He does not love us only when we are good and hate us when we are bad, but He loves us all the time, though of course He does not love our sin. "The love of God is broader than the measures of man's mind, And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind."
(v) It is unmerited love.
When we remind ourselves that God loves "the world", we at once realize how unmerited His love is, for there is nothing lovely in· any of us for Him to love. The word "world" refers to the lost (Luke 19:10), perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18) world of men and women who are separated from God by their sin.
(2) THE MANIFESTATION OF GOD'S LOVE.
How did God's love show itself? How do we know He loves us? His love is declared in the words, "He gave His only begotten Son ... !," and notice:-
(i) It was practical.
Thus we read that God "gave". Love must express itself, and love expresses itself by giving. The friend, the lover, the parent-all express their love by their giving. the proof that God loves us is that He gave His Son to be our Savior. The verse does not say, "God so loved the world that He sent His Son." This might mean that He came to do a special work, that He actually did that work, but that what He did not affect us in the slightest. The fact that God did not only send His Son but that He gave His Son shows us that God has once and for all bestowed this great Gift upon us, and He will never withdraw the Gift-look up Romans 8:32.
(ii) It was unique.
God's gift was that of , "His only begotten Son". The manifestation of God's love was therefore unique. Think of the method He employed of conveying His love to us-He sent His Own Son! This is the very heart of the message of the Gospel; this is the meaning and the significance of the Incarnation-look up and compare Galatians 4:4-5 and I John 5:11-12.
(iii) It was sacrificial.
God not only sent His Son, but we are told He sent "His only ... Son". If God had had ten Sons and had sent one to be our Savior this would have been a sacrificial gift, but He had only one Son, and He gave Him, and thus He gave His all. Think what it cost Him to give His only begotten Son, not only to live a perfect life upon the earth, but to suffer and to die upon the cruel Cross, to be "made sin for us"-look up 2 Corinthians 5:21.
(3) THE PURPOSE OF GOD'S LOVE.
What was God's great objective in sending His Son into the world? This question is answered in the words, "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
(i) The breadth of the purpose.
This is brought out in the word "whosoever". This does not mean everyone, but it does mean anyone. With the word "whosoever" we can go to anyone and tell them that God loves them. There are some people who think that salvation has been provided for only a certain number of people and therefore we must be careful that when we preach the Gospel we preach· it only to those people. But God loves everybody, everywhere!
(ii) The blessedness of the purpose.
This is brought before us in the words "should not perish, but have everlasting life". Everybody, everywhere, who does not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is perishing; but God has given Jesus Christ to save us from perishing, and when we come to Him and trust Him as our Savior we have the assurance that we shall never perish-look up John 10:28-29. We are not only saved from perishing, but to life eternal.
(iii) The limitation of the purpose.
God's offer of salvation is unlimited on His side, but often it is limited on man's side, as unless we believe, we must miss the blessing that He offers, for it is the man or the woman who "believeth in Him" who is saved from perishing and who receives the gift of everlasting life.
What, then, does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? This is the most vital question we could ask, for we are only saved as we believe. To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is to accept Him, to receive Him as our personal Savior, as John 1:12 makes perfectly clear.
Thus, we have taken a tiny glimpse at the most wonderful promise ever made.
Are you rejoicing in God's love? Have you received His wondrous gift of the Savior? Do you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you resting in the assurance that you have passed from death unto life?
"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."