David Jeremiah - God Wrote His Love in Red
You know, one of the things about the love of God is it shows up at football games all the time. You'll often see somebody with a little sign at the end of the stadium that says, "John 3:16" and most people don't even know what that is. That statement says that God loves us and proved his love by sending his Son to die for our sin. And when we understand John 3:16, we have understood the message of the gospel. We have understood God's purpose in sending his Son to this earth. John 3:16 is not just a moniker, just a statement. It is the presentation of the love of God in the greatest phraseology you ever read.
John 3:16 is the most famous verse in the Bible, and it is the gist of the whole Bible wrapped up in just 25 words. If all the Bible were to be lost or destroyed except for John 3:16, there would be more than enough information for the entire world to be converted. John 3:16 tells us more about God and his plan for this world than any other Scripture to which you could turn. Whenever you hear the story of God's love, it strikes a resounding note in your heart because there's something that's in each of us. It's the fact that we've been created in the image of God. There's something that's in each of us that somehow, maybe it's in the distant recesses of our mind, but we know that God loves us. Then when somebody preaches it, it strikes fire with this intuitive thing that God has put within us.
So, here from one verse in the Gospel of John, the most famous verse in the Bible are seven incredible truths about God's love. Number one, God's love is extravagant. For God SO loved the world. When John wrote these words, God was considered to be a tyrant driving men to hell. Even today, heathen religions try to satisfy their gods. Medicine men and witchdoctors go through all kinds of incantations in their attempt to placate God. In their minds, God is an angry God who's waiting to punish all mankind and you gotta do something to talk him out of it and against that backdrop is John 3:16 which astounds us and reminds us that God is not a tyrant, but God is a God of pure and holy love. And the message of the Bible is not that man can satisfy God but that Jesus Christ has satisfied God in our behalf and that we can put our trust in Him.
The most significant word in John 3:16 is the little word "so". "For God so loved the world". In that word are all the agonies of the cross, all the suffering that Jesus experienced while he was on earth. God loved us and he loved us in a special way. He so loved us that he did something about that love. How did God love us? He so loved us. It's like, you go to somebody that you love today and you say, "I love you. I love you so much". God did not just say, "I love you". God said, "I love you," and then he did something to prove that he loves us. As he hung on the cross writhing in agony, God was writing his message to love to us in red. He knew that we were doomed and damned to death because of our sin and he sent Jesus Christ and Christ suffered and he demonstrated the Father's love for you and me.
1 John 3:1 says, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us". God's love is extravagant, my friends. God did not just say, "I love you," but God said, "I so love you". Then he did something to prove it. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us". God's love is extravagant. God's love is extensive. "For God so loved the world". The Apostle John is known as the apostle of love. He's the one that called himself the disciple that Jesus love. How incredible is it to discover that the first time John ever uses the word "agape," the New Testament word for love, is right here in John 3:16. He would go on to use that word 35 more times his gospel, 31 more times in 1 John, a total of 57 times in just the gospel and in 1 John. But here in John 3:16, he uses it for the first time and we're taught to believe that the first use of the word in the New Testament Greek language is to define the word for its use from that point on.
So, here we are told that God so loved the world. God loves the lovable and the unlovable. He loves those who know him and those who don't know him. He loves them from every tribe and nation in the entire globe. God loves the whole world. One of the reasons why we are so committed to missions at Shadow Mountain is because we believe God has called us to express his heart to the world. What is the heart of God? He loves the world. Missions is simply our way of taking the love of God in every possible imaginable way we can come up with and sharing that with everyone in every corner of the globe through radio, and television, and individual missionaries, and through the streaming of our services, and through books, and every way you can think, every imaginable way. What we wanna do is we wanna stand on the mountaintop and shout, "God loves you. He always has and he always will". That is a message for the whole world. If there's anybody in this whole world that does not fit this statement of God's love, then the Bible cannot be true. You may know somebody you think is terrible. You may think, "Oh, that person God couldn't love him 'cause God could not love a Hitler, or a Stalin, or all these people that we know of". God loves the whole world. There's nobody that God does not love. His love is extensive.
Now, we know that love is different in the ways that we describe it. For instance, I love the United States of America. I'm glad I was born here. I'm excited about being an American. Literally, every time I hear somebody stand up, like when we go to our arena events around the country, we start the event, Joi Bowling comes and she stands up and they put a big flag on the screens behind her and she sings, "God Bless America". And she's not into the third measure of that song before everyone's on their feet and they cheering. When that happens, something happens in me as it does in you. I love America but I have a grandson named Levi and I love Levi. His little brother calls him Leviticus. I don't know why he does that but his name is Levi.
Now, for me to say that I love the United States the same way I love Levi would not be true. I love Levi with an emotion in my heart and an intensity in my heart that is not possible for anyone else, anything else. But when God says that he loves the whole world, it is possible for God to love the world and yet at the same time, love every individual in the world in the same intimate, personal way that I love my grandson. When the Bible says that God loves the world, it does not differentiate between the two kinds of love I've expressed. God loves each individual in the world as if they were the only person in the world who needed to be loved. God's love is extensive. "For God so loved the world"... And thirdly, God's love is expansive. It's free to us, but it costs God everything. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son". God's only begotten Son means God's unique Son. The word "only begotten" means unique, means the only one God had. God only had one Son. His unique, his only begotten Son.
The Bible says that Jesus is the image of God and he's the only begotten of the Father. And this is a love, according to John 3:16, that God demonstrates to us by giving us the most expensive gift he could possibly give. There is nothing else God could have done that would have exceeded the expense of the gift of his own Son. He looked around heaven and said, "What shall I do? I need to send this message of love to my creatures". And he put his hand upon his Son and said, "This will I do. I will send you there to be my message". He sent his only begotten Son into this world to pay the price of our sin and to demonstrate his love. Listen to 1 John 4:9, "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, in that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him". In other words, in this God communicated his love to us. In this, his love is communicated to us, is shared with us. In this, he shares his love with us. And how does he do that? He sends his only begotten Son into the world. The Bible says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever, whosoever might be saved".
Richard Baxter used to say that he was glad that God put the word "whosoever" in John 3:16. He said, "I'm glad he didn't put the word Richard Baxter in there". He said, "If he had put Richard Baxter in there, I would be tempted to believe that he loved some other Richard Baxter, some Richard Baxter who was less sinful than I am. But when I read the word 'whosoever,' I realize that it has to include me for that word includes everybody". The Bible says that God loves the world and because of that, whoever believes can receive his love. Each and every person, no matter who they are, where they come from, what language they speak, what color their skin is, what their background is, what they have done or haven't done, the Bible says God loves the whole world and he sent his Son to be the Savior of the whole world and whoever believes can be saved.
Well, then you say, "Pastor Jeremiah, why isn't everybody saved? Why isn't everybody a Christian? Why doesn't everybody have a free pass to heaven"? Because you see, God's love is expansive, but it's also exclusive. Here's what I mean. Whosoever, what's the next word? Believes. Four times in these few verses, Jesus uses variations of the word "believe," perhaps the most important keyword in John's gospel. The love of God will prove useless to everyone who does not believe. You see, God can offer you his love, and he offers it to the whole world and to everyone. If there's any gospel that you have heard that doesn't work in any place in the world, it's not the Christian gospel. The Christian gospel is for the whole world, the third world, for our world, for any world. But listen, just because God offers you his love doesn't mean that you get his love because in order to get his love, you have to receive it. You have to reach out your hands and take it. But God isn't just gonna force his love on you. God offers his love. His hands are wide open. The cross is a picture of his extended arms welcoming everyone to the shed blood of the cross. But my friends, you can't have what you don't receive.
Listen to John 3:18, just a couple of verses ahead of one that we are talking about. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God". While it is true, my friends, to say that God loves everyone, it is not true to say that everyone receives that love. God's love is extravagant, and extensive, and expensive, and it's expansive, and it's exclusive. Whosoever believes will not perish. Let me straighten ya out a little bit. Perish does not mean to be annihilated. Perish does not mean that you cease to exist. Every one of you here today will be alive somewhere forever. You know, some teach that when you die, that's it. You cease to exist. But that's not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that we all live forever and we're either gonna be alive forever in heaven or we're gonna be alive forever in hell but we will be alive somewhere forever.
Now, the Bible says if we put our trust in Jesus Christ, if we believe that he came to this earth and he was God's love gift to us, that he died on the cross and paid the penalty for our sin, if we put our trust in him and believe that, we will not perish. The word "perish" means to be separated from God forever. Sometimes it's referred to in the Scripture as the second death. To be separated from God is far worse than all the pictures of fire and brimstone you've ever seen about hell. To perish means to be cut off from God. The word means to be separated forever from the loving God and the Bible says that when we receive God's love, we will never be separated from God's love. When you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you receive eternal life and you don't get eternal life after you die. You get eternal life the moment you believe. When you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you receive eternal life.
When does eternal life start for you? The moment you believe. And that means from the moment you believe all the way out into as far as you can imagine in eternity, you are not separated from God. You cannot be separated from him. Some people ask me do I believe in eternal security. And I try not to argue with them. I just know what I know and what I know is the Bible says when you accept Jesus Christ, you get eternal life. And there aren't any cul-de-sacs on that life. There aren't any conditions on that life. There's no ifs on that life. Eternal means eternal. It means it cannot ever end. Listen to Romans 8, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus".
What part of this don't we get? John says it, "And I give them eternal life and they shall never perish". And Romans 8:1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus". When you become a Christian, when you truly put your trust in Jesus Christ, you are given the gift of eternal life. And some of you say, "Well, I know somebody who said they were saved and now they're not. They're not living..".. You know what? That's not my problem and really, friend, it's not your either. All I know is what the Word of God says and the Word of God says, "When I put my trust in Christ, he gives me the gift of eternal life". And how many of ya know God's not the kind of God who comes and takes His gift back? God is a God who always keeps his promise and when he gives you the gift of eternal life. Listen to this again. "And I give unto them and they shall never perish". The exclusion of God's love can never perish if you have accepted God's Love.
And finally, and the best part is saved till last. Number seven, the perfect number, God's love is eternal. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life". Some of you know that I have amused myself in my adult life by collecting things that people write on their tombstones. I know that's sick, but I do it anyway. And one of my favorites is written on a tombstone in of all places, Tombstone, Arizona. It's an epitaph for a man whose name was Les Moore. I don't think his friends really were mourning his death because this is how the epitaph reads, "Here lies Les Moore, no Les, no more".
And I gotta tell ya, that might be true for Les Moore, but it's not true for those who know Jesus Christ. When we die, we will be more alive than we have ever been. John 3:16 says when we believe, we have eternal life as our present possession. Eternal life begins now. John 3:16 begins with a God who has no beginning and it ends with a life has no ending. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes shall not perish but have everlasting life". In his autobiography, author Arthur Miller tells of his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. During the filming of "The Misfits," Miller watched Marilyn descend into the depths of depression and despair. He was fearing for her life as he watched their growing estrangement, her paranoia, and her continued dependence on barbiturates.
One evening after a doctor had been persuaded to give Marilyn Monroe yet another shot, and she was sleeping, according to Miller in his book, "Timebends," Marilyn was lying in bed under the influence of the last shot she had been given. And Miller said, "I found myself straining to imagine miracles. What if she were to wake and I were able to say to her, 'Marilyn, God loves you, darling,' and she were able to believe it"? And then he said this, "How I wished I still had my religion and she had horse". What a telling moment in the life of a famous person. This is the message of this series of messages, God loves you. He always has and he always will.
What we do with that love is all important. God does not force it on us. In fact, I don't know that you can force love on someone but I want to tell you what the Bible tells us today as clearly as I can, whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you've done, whatever your background, whatever situation you're in with authority on the basis of the Word of God, I am telling you today, God loves you. He always has loved you. He always will love you. What you do with that love is up to you. And when you receive his love by receiving his Son Jesus Christ, you become a possessor of eternal life and your name is put on the list, "Known to be saved, known to be saved".