AUSTRALIAN PRESBYTERIAN BIBLE CHURCH
August 8, 2004
Love Like This is the Major Discovery of Life
Compared with this, barren searches on Mars are child’s play
and what He has loved ... the world!
First, God loved. That is the first revelation about His attitude to us, the people whom He made. How He could have hated is not our concern; the fact that He loves, is.
Next, it was not some aristocratic segment or section of the world that He loved, but "the world".
Useless and in vain is it for anyone to point out that different sections or aspects of the world may be meant by the term, as in the 'sporting world' and so on, 'the world of finance'. These are plausible and arresting uses of the term to cover the declared intent.
Here the declaration concerns two major entities: GOD and the WORLD. God, we read in Genesis 1, MADE the heaven and the earth and thus in II Peter 3:6-7, we find this:
"Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
So there is a clear coincidence of the meaning of "the world that then was" with its scope in the phrase, "the heavens and the earth." What else! We are not discussing sub-enclaves but God and man, God the Maker and the world, the made. It is just the same in Colossians 1:19ff., where all in heaven or on earth are sought by the Lord, if by any means they might be reconciled to Him.
I Timothy 2:4 is completely parallel, as are that immense number of passages in the Bible which show the fatherly passion of the Lord, with mercy, patience and hope, in the plan of salvation, to rescue His people (cf. Hosea 7:1). In Timothy, we find there is "one God" and "one Mediator between God and man", who gave Himself for all, so that once again the dimensions of the action are pellucid, like a stream clear near the mountains, where you see with perfect clarity the fish swimming quietly on the bottom of the water course.
If your drug-broken son were to seek your home in his distress, would your father's or mother's heart be immune ? Has not God made us in His own image ? Does not Luke 15 show precisely this with the prodigal son!
HE SO LOVED
This is actually concerning a past event, but God does not change. GOD SO LOVED... There is an enormous expansion of the mere concept, love. It is remarkable, notable, to be illustrated in detail by a work of great significance. Many may love a little, but fail under test; and many marriages break for that very reason. But GOD SO loves ...
GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE
It was not some mere emotional splendour, important as that would undoubtedly have been, which God showed. It led to action. Let this be, once and for all, a warning to those whose relationship to the Lord is NOT one of action. If you believe, you act; if you do not act, you do not believe. Faith, says James, without works is dead (James 2:20).
Not so is our exemplar, Creator and King! God so loved that He GAVE... Now to give a little to some charity is common; to give one's time to some good work is not seldom seen. But to what are we here coming ? It is a love so marked, to this entire world, that a GIFT is used to express it. Perhaps He sent some emissary to earth, then ?
GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS SON
Emissary ? Son! Sometimes parents do even this. To Vietnam or elsewhere, they allow their children to go at incredible risk. Maybe, just maybe, they will be hurt or even, at the worst, killed. Not so here. THIS SON was sent on a mission which MEANT that He would be hurt, despised, forsaken, taunted, demeaned and desolate, and die slowly, very slowly in complete agony. God both foreknew this and detailed it in Isaiah 50-55. He knew JUST what He was doing. He knew just WHY He has doing it. It was out of love, and with grand purpose in view.
It was THIS which God showed when HE SO LOVED the world that HE GAVE HIS SON.
GOD GAVE HIS ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON
It is one thing, like Abraham, to have only one son, and to be willing to sacrifice even him. God however was not only willing, but actually ORDAINED that His Son would die. SO GREAT WAS HIS LOVE to the world that IT PLEASED THE FATHER TO BRUISE HIM! (Isaiah 53:10). What love is this that can take its most beloved, and its only Son, and be pleased for that love, being in perfect accord with His Son, to bruise the Son so that millions might escape judgment, guilt and exclusion from the divine premises in heaven!
More than this, God by miraculous and directly divine creative power set in Mary's womb the Son of God, the Eternal Word who had been there with Him for all time and before it (John 17:1-3, Micah 5:1-3, John 1:1, Philippians 2), and this was His OWN being set in HUMAN format, as His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON. It was not like someone adopted, but HIS OWN, HIS BEGOTTEN SON. Here was the offering of God to save men from their decrepit spiritual condition, and it was lively, lovely and pure, godly and indeed, the visible expression of the Word of God, God's utterance in flesh.
It was THIS unique, infinitely important, this unrepeatable expression of God, since in no way could God be two different persons as the WORD of God! He would die ONCE, it being inconceivable that He should die more than once, or that any such sacrifice could either be made of Him by others, or ever again (Hebrews 9:12ff). In one act, He wrought eternal redemption, we there read. To the uttermost, therefore, it was Christ Himself who thus gave all, His Father who yielded all, that to all there might come the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23), once and for all (John 6:40,50ff., 4:14,10:9, Romans 10:9, 5:9ff.).
Now we come to the next part.
No limit express or implied is here. IF YOU are part of this world, then to YOU is this love offered, this sacrifice and this remedy that releases your guilt and realises your true place in the Lord. If YOU do not desire it, so be it; but if you do, there is no way in which the Lord impedes! He loves, He so loves. To you alone is the responsibility if you refuse (John 3:19), and to God alone, who opens the hearts of sinful man, is the glory for all those who SO receive Him (Ephesians 2:8). As He is given, SO He must be received.
BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH
BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE
This same Jesus, being unique
¨ in works,
¨ in fulfilling whole ranges of prophecy,
¨ in His own predictions,
¨ in power,
¨ in His own masses of healings, even overcoming death and disease active in some from birth (Luke 6:19, Mark 12:15, John 7, 11-12),
¨ in predicted death date,
¨ in Gospel message in detail in precise accord with the prediction of the prophets (Isaiah 49-55, Zechariah 6,11-12, Psalm 2, 16, 40 ...),
¨ in performance, in poise and power of the necessary task,
¨ all covered by God in the book of the Lord, the Bible, and completed by this blessed Messiah:
is He less to be trusted than is yourself ?
He can be rejected in favour of your own illustrious self; but how ludicrous! to even compare you or me, with Him!
You can say, I do not believe He is the Son of God, but then, since He is so predicted and so speaks (e.g. John 8:58, 5:19-23), you are calling Him more insane than someone, as Professor Lewis of Cambridge put it, who thinks he is a poached egg! The facts are against you in any such appalling imagination: since NO ONE has EVER said such things, covered such predictions, done such works or fulfilled such prophecies on coming to this earth, far less provided such consistent, persistent truth both in and encompassing all time. This, it is NOT at all the same as insanity! Scarcely... It is with precision, its opposite, its contradictory.
WHY then did God the Father send Him (as you see, God is sending God in Isaiah 48:16, a fact which depends on His being a trinity of persons, one God), but why ? It was so that men and women, yes and children could have God displayed before their very eyes, His compassion, His love, His self-discipline, His action, His remedy, His Cross, His redemption, His resurrection so that men without hope, deprived of their Messiah could and did become fearless and driven by truth to proclaim His Gospel which captured the world.
Not for an assured spot in hell as frauds and liars did they risk their all on this earth as well. Candour was their language, patience their manner, fearlessness their mode, compassion frequently the very spirit of their endeavours. If multitudes of frauds have sought to cash in on this work, this too is predicted (II Peter 2:1, Matthew 24:24), and merely the more illustrates the signal nature of the founders, incandescent with the love and power of Christ, the things "we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20, 5:31-32).
As God says, “He makes His servants a flaming fire …” (Psalm 104:4).
Eternal life is a gift so profound, so precious, drawing us free from the limitations of this body and world for ever (II Corinthians 5:1ff., I Cor. 15), that even the extreme cost to God of this Salvation Program was well worth it! HOW was it worth it ? It was because HE SO LOVED ...
In John 3:15, you see the parallel drawn between this climax of Christ at the personal level, on the cross, and Moses' setting up a brazen serpent on a pole, as a symbol which led to healing from snake bite which in itself was a rebuke for their unbelief. So Christ, bearing the sin of others upon Himself, was skewered on the Cross, to settle the accounts, break the evil, and arise to present life from the dead to those who, believing in Him, so qualified for eternal life (II Corinthians 5:17-21, I John 5:11ff.).
This, His Gospel, is authorised and empowered to be preached NOW… until the end comes (Matthew 24:14), and then HE comes, already Saviour and Lord, now Judge (John 5:19ff.).