Dr. Jerry Vines is the president of Jerry Vines Ministries in Woodstock, Ga. He has served at president of SBC from 1988-90. He and his wife, Janet, have four children and seven grandchildren.
In the 1870’s archaeologists discovered an obelisk and named it Cleopatra’s needle. They made it into a time capsule of sorts. In that time capsule, they placed John 3:16 in multiple languages. Let us all recite John 3:16 together.
You would basically have the entire message of the Bible in this verse. Every boy and girl can understand the basic meaning of this verse. Every adult can understand the profundity of this verse as well. No one has ever been able to plumb the depths of this verse. Think of how inexhaustible this verse is. I preached it here in this pulpit eleven years ago-if you are still here, I pray that you graduate soon! Henry Moorhead used this text as his preaching text every time he preached. I am going to attempt to talk to you today about the inexhaustible love of God found here.
God’s love is global
“For God so loved the world…” The verb is love. The greeks had many words for love. One of those was eros-erotic. Another word is philos-social love. The word used here is agape-love to the highest degree. This love originates in the heart of God.
We use “love” in many ways. “I love peanut butter” or “I love my wife” or “I love football.” But, when we open the door of John 3:16, we find a deeper love-a love of God. This love is of the God.
When Jesus came, He talked about God as a God of love. This is unlike talk of any other gods. The entire Bible teaches us that God is a God of love. 1 John tells us “God is love.” This is a complete love understood by the original greek text. There was never a time in the past that God did not love-He loved you before you were born. Also, there will never be a time in the future that God will love you.
“World” in the greek is kosmos. This implies putting things in order. This word can mean the universe or world system. The meaning here in this verse means “the world of humanity.” This means God loves every person regardless of race, gender, and nationality. Think about what kind of world God loves.
This world is pictured in the Bible as a sunken vessel diluted with depravity. The whole world is in rebellion against God. Yet, God loves every person on this earth. There is not one person that God would not say, “I love you.”
Do you believe this morning that God loves you? Many people do not always believe this. There are some here today in this chapel that you do not think or believe that God loves you. His love is not conditioned on your worthiness.
Let me break it down personally. God loves the world. God loves the church. Gal. 2:20 says I am crucified to Christ…God loves me. Why do we do anything? Because God so loved the world.
God’s love is sacrificial
“He gave His only begotten son.” Love is a noun and a verb and an emotion. Do not minimize the emotional aspect found in love. Think back to when you were a child about your first puppy-love.
Love is also a decision. It is the nature of fire to shine and burn. It is the nature of love to give. You cannot love without giving. You cannot give without love. Once again, the aorist tense gives the idea of totality. God gave His son in totality. God gave His son definitely. I can imagine the angels telling Jesus not to go down to earth because of what awaited Him. Yet, Jesus came. God gave him.
God gave him uniquely. God gave him only…we have an idea of uniqueness in the greek. God was made manifest in the flesh through Jesus. There was a mystery about Him. Jesus was uniquely born. Don’t be fooled by those who say it does not matter if jesus was born of a virgin. I am here to tell you IT DOES MATTER! If there was no virgin birth, then there was no savior.
Romans 8:32 says that God delivered Jesus both to and for the world. We can only imagine what the crucifixion was like in totality. Think of the emotional and spiritual aspect of the crucifixion. Now think of the physical aspect of it. The cross is the gospel. God demonstrated His total love on the cross. When Jesus died on the cross, God showed his unconditional love.
God’s love is personal
“Whoever believes in him shall have everlasting life.” In this portion of the verse, you and I are the subject. “Whosoever” occurs over 1,200 times in the Greek New Testament. This word invites the whole world to God. “Whosoever” implies anybody, anywhere and at anytime. Here is where your name would appear in the Bible…if it were to appear. There is no case of mistaken identity. This word gives us assurance in our salvation.
Whosoever is you. This is personal to you. Whosoever believes should not perish. Here it is referring to a spiritual condition. Many people are perishing as we speak. However, whosoever should believe will not perish. I believe there is a hell…Jesus said more about Hell than anything else. Matthew 26 (?) talks of everlasting punishment. It is final.
What an awful thought! That people may go to hell is an unbearable thought. It is one thing to say there is a hell. It is another to believe in hell. If you believe in Hell, it should drive you to share the gospel. There is no light, death, or love in hell. We don’t want anybody to go to hell.
The moment you receive Jesus as your personal savior, you are taken out of hell. You are no longer perishing! You will see heaven wrapped up in this one verse. I can’t wait to see men like Adrian Rogers and Jerry Falwell and my daddy in heaven.
John talks of saving faith as one who believeth (trusts) in Him (Jesus). There are three aspects to saving faith. First, there is the mental aspect-there is confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, there is the volitional aspect-there is a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Third, there is the moving toward Jesus-there is communion with the Lord.
We have only scratched the surface of John 3:16. We will spend eternity understanding this verse.