Dr. Ed Young - The Amazing Love of God
In 1878 some archaeologists were digging around in the sands of Egypt, and they ran into an obelisk with hieroglyphics written on it, and they translated the hieroglyphics and they discovered a civilization, a culture, a nation, that heretofore nobody knew anything about. And so, as they did in those days, the British took this artifact from Egypt and transported it to London, they named it Cleopatra's Needle, and they erected it by the Thames River. At the same time, some Englishman said, you know, there may come a day when London will be flattened, the British Isles will no longer exists, and people may wonder what kind of life we had here.
So they put together a time vault, buried it under Cleopatra's Needle there by the Thames, and they put in it the London phone book, they put in it pieces of clothing, they put it in accounts of how they ran their government. And finally, they were thinking of all the stuff they could put in, they put some toys in it, they said you know, we need to pick out one religious verse and put it in this time vault so they'll know something about what we believed. Now, can you imagine a debate that followed? Which verse, which word, what religion? And they debated it for a long time until they finally decided on one verse. You could probably guess what it is. It's the only verse most of us can quote outside of "Jesus wept." John 3:16.
And John 3:16, ladies and gentlemen, is the pivotal verse in the Bible, the Old Testament, the New Testament comes together and in that brief, succinct verse, you have a magnificent summary of Christianity and what it means to be a Christian. The problem with it is that we all know it, the problem with it, we've become jaded in quoting it, and we've never, most of us, perhaps sat down and looked at that verse and say, "Lord, what are you saying to me? What are you saying to the world"? Every time you come to the word love, with few exceptions, the cross is not far away, as you read the Bible, look at it, in the New Testament, you see love, you see the cross, because there is no better demonstration of love than God dying for us, in Christ, on that cross.
And we see with John 3:16, there's a reference to, "If I be lifted up," one verse separates that, which John says you must be born again to have eternal life, and then he gives us John 3:16, let's look at it. For God so loved the world, God, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. All the names of God, Adonai, Elohim, all the names of God, all the attributes of God, God. So, by the way, the word so there is one of those pregnant words. You know what a pregnant word is? It's a word that has deep meaning that you might overlook, you find when you're reading the Scripture, you look for a little pregnant words that will grow and expand and they mean more than you think they mean, and that's that little word so. Houtos, it means God so lavishly, God lavishly loved the world, and God loved the world more than anybody has ever loved the world and more than we can understand how much he loves the world. God lavishly loves.
We say, "We love," it's the word agape, it's a Greek word means sacrificial love, but let's try to understand something of the extent of God's Love. Read the book of Hosea, great little book. God tells Hosea to go and marry Gomer, she's a beautiful gal, but he said Gomer is going to be unfaithful to you, she's going to commit adultery, and she's going to break your heart, but you go marry her anyway, and Hosea did. It was a study through Hosea's home life, his marriage, of how the Israelites had fallen away from being obedient to God though God had loved and blessed them phenomenally. And so it's a picture of the love of God. Gomer had an affair, Gomer left Hosea, moved in with one man, married him, another man, married him, another man, until finally, she was just living with a man of the streets who was just as immoral and decadent as she was, and this man the streets could not even support her in clothes and food.
So God says to Hosea you go and give support of food and clothes and money to this sorry bum that is now living with your wife, and don't let your wife know that you're the source of her basics that she needs to live. Isn't that something? And Hosea did that, Hosea did that, but finally, he threw Gomer away, and Gomer ends up on the slave block, and when they auctioned off slaves in Jerusalem in that day, they stripped them naked. You can imagine the disease, the dirt, how she looked, emaciated. She stood there being auctioned off, the auctioneer said, "What am I bid for this woman"? Somebody said, "Three shekels of gold". Is that all? "Oh, six shekels of gold," yes, yes. "Seven shekels of gold," I hear you over there. "Eight," "nine," until finally, Hosea, instructed by God to go and buy back his wife from the slave market, he says, "15 shekels of gold".
All the other bidders got quiet, but then someone, old good old boy there said, "15 shekels of gold and a bushel of barley," and Hosea said, "I bid 15 shekels of gold and a bushel and a half of barley," and the auctioneer said, "Sold". And so Hosea came up and covered his wife and took her out, and God instructed him to love her, to restore her, to honor her, and to bless her as his wife. Ladies and gentlemen, that's a little picture of how much God loves each and every one of us. God loves the world, did you get that? Did you know that God loved they Ayatollah Khamenei just as much as he loved Mother Teresa? Did you know that? God loved Billy Graham just as much as he loved Adolf Hitler, did you know that? God is no respecter of persons, he loves the person drugged out, living on the street as much as he loves a multizillionaire with 16 different houses and 200 airplanes. Understand that God loves the whole world with no partiality. God so loved the world.
Now, we got that much, staggering to some. What did he do? How do we know he loves the world this much? Because he gave his only begotten Son, and the word gave or give there is a different word. It's not like I give you a gift, here's your birthday, here's a tie. It's not like we give a gift, it's like in the Lord's prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread". That give there says we have to have bread in order to stay alive. That's the same word for give there. God gave, for God so loved the world he gave that which is an absolute necessity for us to live and that is his only begotten Son. Now, only begotten is sort of a King James type Biblical word. It means God gave that which is unique, that which is unlike any other gift.
You know what God gave us? Follow me, one third of the trinity, how about that? God the Father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit, he gave his son. Who is his Son? Not in a biological way. Jesus is God wrapped up in human flesh. God gave his unique, only begotten Son. Demonstrating his love, he gave that son, he offered that son, he allowed that son to enter into time and space and history. That's magnificent love, supernatural love. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son". And here's the one, "Whosoever". That's in the King James, whosoever. Modern translations say whoever, but I think they mess up. They leave off a little Greek word so, and the word so we read before, God so, remember it's lavish? But this word so means anytime, anywhere, anyplace, anytime, any situation, God is always the God of love.
You can't escape God's love, you can't earn God's love, but you can reject God's love. That's the free will that you and I have, freewill to choose. "He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever", anybody, anywhere, anytime, "believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life". You know how long everlasting life is? I can tell you. Maybe a few of us have seen the rock of Gibraltar. I've seen it, gigantic rock, man, people live there, it's something. As long as it would take pigeon to land on Gibraltar, and they got a lot of them there, by the way, and take his beak and begin to rub on that giant, giant rock, as long as it would take him to rub so long that that rock became just sand, how much time that would take one nanosecond would've gone by in eternity. That's how long eternity is, it's like forever.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only unique begotten Son that whosoever believes in him will not perish, but they'll live forever". Quite a verse. Now, that's John 3:16, but you know Jesus keeps on speaking in verse 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21, five more verses. You know what has happened to us? We stopped at John 3:16 and we said, "Boy, it is the Everest, it is the top," we've forgotten to look at those following five verses, and they are a part of one of the greatest chapters in the Bible, which is John chapter 3. And those five verses, you know what they do? They explain John 3:16. So we won't just go over the words, we'll know exactly what is being taught by the Son of God.
So let's look at those verses, they are very, very important, and we're gonna just take a look at four words, four key words you find in John 3:16. And the first word is world, it's mentioned twice in John 17, and then believe is mentioned three times in the next verse, and then from there to 21, it's talking about judgment, it's talking about perishing. Look what we learn from the word world, look at John 3:17, "For God did not send the son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through him". What does that say? It says that Jesus came to the world not to judge us, there will be a day for that in his second coming, but he came into the world not to judge us but that the world through him might be salvaged, restored for the purpose for which it was made. Each one of us, we're salvaged in this life, and we're saved in eternity. He came so that through him we might be okay, salvaged.
Now, have you heard somebody say, "How can a God of love send anybody to hell"? Let me remind you biblically, theologically, God never sends anybody to hell. He never does that. Jesus has died for all your trash and all of my trash so that if we choose to go to hell, God doesn't send us, we've got to go over the body that he has provided, he has died for us so we will never condemn ourselves to eternal separation from God. Isn't that beautiful? He came into the world to redeem, to save. We know there's creation, there's the fall, and there's redemption. He came in the redemption motif to salvage us now and to save us in eternity. So we looked at the word world that helps us understand the word world in John 3:16, and then we see the word believe, look at it.
John 3:18, "He that believes in him is not judged, he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten of the father". What is that about? It's about to believe. People are going believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. What does believe mean? Well, I'd have to know all the facts. A lot of us know the facts, is that enough? To believe, three times in one verse Jesus said believe, what in the world does believe mean? I believe, what do you believe? What does it mean to believe?
In the New Hebrides Islands way down in the South Pacific, a missionary went there by name of John Paton. Now, for 2,000 years, virtually no one visited the New Hebrides, and it was an isolated place in the world, but Paton went there as a missionary, and he was trying to introduce the natives to God and to Christ, which they knew nothing about. So he realized he'd have to have a bible and translate a bible and take their language and find the words and write a Bible so they'd have a written understanding of what it meant to be a son and a daughter of God.
So he listened to them as they would speak and he would pick up words from their language and he would realize that matches the word in the Bible, but he couldn't find a word for faith or word for believe. Now, if you're translating the Bible and you don't find a word for faith and believe, I don't know how you'll get along. So he kept listening and listening, couldn't find a word for believe. Finally, one day, he and another Indian man, they went out hunting, they went way up in the mountains, they shot a big deer, and he took that deer and they put it on a pole and they made their way laboriously, four or five hours down those mountain trails carrying that big deer.
And finally, they moved to the beach home where the missionary lived and they went there and they dropped the pole and the deer, and the native went over and just fell into a chair on the porch, and he said, "It is so good to be stretched out here and rest". It is so good to be stretched out here and rest. And the missionary, John Paton, says, "I've got my word". He said that in the language of New Hebrides, it is so good to be stretched out here and rest, he said that's my word for believe. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever stretches out on Jesus and rests shall be saved. It's to put our full trust in him, to believe his atoning death for us, to understand he's given to us the genius of life, it's a stretch-out fully on him.
That's to believe, that's to believe. Whoever believes in him. Oh, that's a big word. And then the last word, we have the last three verses here, is the word perish, or we'd say the word judgment. Look at it, verse 19, "This is the judgment that the light has come into the world". What is the light of the world? It's Jesus, Jesus came and he lighted up the world. "Has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil. So everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God".
What is that about? It says that Jesus came and gave light in the world, but the world enjoys darkness. What is darkness? The absence of light. "As long as Jesus was not in the world, the light in the world was dim, but Jesus came and gave light". And what happens when you put light down in a hole? Watch all the roaches run. Jesus is the light of the world. He came to cast out darkness individually in your life and in my life, and wherever we go and wherever he goes, he casts out darkness. Darkness is the absence of light, and God came and gave light. And therefore where light comes, he came not to judge or condemn, he came to turn on the lights. And he's bidding for every one of us. We're all on the auction block, have you noticed? And God in Jesus Christ is bidding for us. He says, "I bid my son, I put him there, I love him and he loves you". He's providing for your life to be alive and to be a light to the world.
Twas battered and scarred and the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin, but he held it up with a smile, "What am I bidding, good folk"? He cried, "Who will start the bidding for me? A dollar, only two? Who'll make it three? Oh, $3 once, $3 twice, going for only 3". But no, from the room far back, a gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow and tightened the strings on the old violin. He played a melody pure and sweet, as sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low, said, "Now, what am I bid for the old violin"? And he held it up with a bow, "A thousand dollars, $2,000? Who'll make it three? $3,000 once, $3,000 twice, going and gone," cried he. The people cheered, but some of them cried. We do not quite understand what changed its worth. Quick came the reply, "The touch of the master's hand". And many a man with life out of tune is battered and torn with sin is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd much like that old violin. A bowl of pottage, a glass of wine, a game, and he travels on, he's going once, he's going twice, he's almost gone, but the master comes and the foolish crowd can never quite understand the worth of a soul, and the change that's wrought by the touch of the master's hand.