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Two Loves – John 3:16-21

Preaching Notes October 7, 2012

John 3:16–21 (ESV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

I.  God is Love, but what kind?

World wants God’s love to be …

World treats God’s love as …

The world cheapens any love which …

Love can never be demanded it can only be received. Thus, all love is a gift

So, what is the nature of God’s love?

This passage contrasts two loves …

God’s love for the world

vs

Our love for the world

II.  The 7 Attributes of God’s Love for the World

1. God’s love was preexistent to creation 

Ephesians 1:3–6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

2. God’s love’s is unearned 

John 5:42

I know that you do not have the love of God within you.

1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us.

Romans 5:8 and 10

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. … For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

3. God’s love is purposeful

Ephesians 1:5

He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

1 Peter 3:18

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

The word “might” expresses design.

If God wanted to destroy/judge us for our sins, He would not have sent Jesus!!

4. The purpose of God’s Love is Salvation

1 John 4:14

We have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

The Atonement was not the cause, but the effect, of God’s love

The benefit of God’s love is everlasting life.

Why God sent Jesus Christ to us:

1.  To be our Savior, because our sin (love for the world) kills us

2.  To bring life, because God does not wish that we not perish.

The Son of Man came into an already lost and condemned world. He did not come into a neutral world in order to save some and condemn others; he came into a lost world  in order to save.

5.  God’s love is a sacrificial and suffering love

It cost God so much for 3 reasons:

1.  Jesus gave up so much to suffer so much

Philippians 2:6–8

Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

2.  It required He who hates sin to suffer so much for sinners just to prove His love

Men are not easily convinced that God loves them. In order to remove all doubt, he has expressly stated that we are so very dear to God that, on our account, he did not even spare his only-begotten Son. (John Calvin)

3.  His love could only be revealed in fulness on the cross

A suffering love can never be demanded

6.  God’s love is not a condemning love

Romans 1:16–17

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Only when we reject God’s love are we condemned

Romans 1:24, 26, and 28:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.

Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind.

When we reject God’s love have not been condemned by lack of faith, but by their sin.

The reason many hate Jesus is their rejection of it leaves them in death

We were already in need of a Savior before God’s Son comes on his saving mission

7.  God’s love must be received in faith because it cannot not be earned (see 2nd attribute)

Jesus’ 3-fold emphasis:

John 3:15

That whoever believes in Jesus may have eternal life.

John 3:16

That whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:18

Whoever believes in him is not condemned

God has done His work, we need to receive it in faith, which is belief and trust

III.  Our Love for the World is a love is of darkness

Our love for darkness

Our love for the world is pictured metaphorically in terms of light and darkness

Our love for darkness proves our depravity!

We love darkness because our deeds are evil and we do not want them exposed

We hate God’s sacrificial saving love because it exposes our sin

We hate the light and refuse to come to (near) it because exposes their darkness

To expose someone’s sin summons them to repentance.”

The verb exposed suggests not only exposure but shame and conviction

Jesus (light) exposes our sins 

Revelation 3:19

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

Ephesians 5:11

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

1 Timothy 5:20

As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

This is why men refuse to read the Scriptures. God’s Word would condemn them.

Instead we desire a pandering and permissive love 

Sweet and permissive love leads to false happiness as it leads to death

We are ashamed of our love for the world

Our denial of our love for the world begins at an early age

Why do babies smile when they poop in their diapers?

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s That Smell

IV.  Those who love God’s love instead of the world’s

Those who love God do the truth

Semitic expression which means to act faithfully or ‘to act honorably

Suggests adherence to the truth as in adhering to Jesus

Those who acknowledge Jesus, recognize the good they do is by the grace of God

While the lover of darkness shuns the light out of fear of exposure, shame and conviction, the lover of light does not prance forward to parade his wares with cocky self-righteousness, rather he comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. (DA Carson)

We welcome and receive God’s love not because we are better, but because we desire what God’s love brings salvation and life, rather than what the world’s loves brings which is  condemnation and death

 

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Virtue brings light; indulgence brings fog. (1)

Virtue is a word we rarely use in today’s world.

We now consider practicing virtue as the restraining of one’s real desires. This goes counter to the philosophy of today’s world which says, “You are free to indulge in your pleasures.”

Indulgence brings pleasure for the moment and discomfort for the future.

Eat a huge Thanksgiving meal and your taste buds dance with joy, while your eyelids and blood sugars droop into sleep.

Drink a tub of beer and laugh your heart silly tonight knowing your brain will ache and brake in the morning.

Shop till you drop today so tomorrow you can beg the banker for cash while still on your knees.

The loss of virtue in our society is a cause of concern for me.  When an individual dishonors virtue, he invites problems into the lives of many, not just himself.

In all of my counseling, the loss of virtue in one’s sexual ethics brings with it a greater assortment of hardship and problems than one imagined in the heat of the moment.

Jim Wilson asks and responds to this question:

Can you name a single family (person) that is better off because of premarital sex or an extramarital affair? Sexual indiscretions shatter love, destroy trust, and ruin morale. (2)

Keeping to the virtue of a sound biblical sexual ethic in your personal life will always be a blessing to you and those you love.

It is a virtue which when held, brings light, yet when cast aside, brings darkness and problems.

Sunny days are a blessing.  It is good to walk in the light.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue. (3)

+ + +

  1. Lewis, C. S. (2009-03-17). A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 254). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
  2. Jim L. Wilson, Fresh Start Devotionals (Fresno, CA: Willow City Press, 2009).
  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 2 Peter 1:5.

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