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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Jesus Loves You

Skip Heitzig - Jesus Loves You

Skip Heitzig - Jesus Loves You
Skip Heitzig - Jesus Loves You
TOPICS: Easter, Resurrection

You know there's some things in life that to us seem obvious, but they're not obvious to everyone else. I heard about the Federal Aviation Administration years ago building a special device, a special gun that shot chickens out of it. And they did this to test the windshields on the various aircraft that would be flying. And so these chickens were shot out at the velocity of a flying aircraft of around five to six hundred miles an hour. They wanted to test the windshields. Well, it seems that the British heard about this device and they decided they would love to try it on their high-speed train windshields. So they borrowed the gun and they shot it out. And it shattered the windshield, and broke the engineer's chair, and embedded itself in the back of the cabin.

And so the Brits sent the results and the specifications to the American group, the Federal Aviation Administration, and asking them for a response and advice. The Americans looked it over and sent a one-sentence reply back to the British: "Thaw out the chicken." That seems pretty obvious, doesn't it, to some people? You know, Easter is like that chicken. What seems obvious to some people is oblivious to other people. What makes people get up early in the morning and fill a stadium like this? Jesus Christ, the resurrection. It's so obvious. What makes people celebrate Easter the way they do? "Why," they say, "is it this one day of the year that you make such a big deal out of this belief of the resurrection?"

And here's the answer: If Jesus Christ really rose from that tomb, it means we don't have a dead religion, we have a living hope. We've done a series in the last several weeks and months as a part of our fellowship. And we are so grateful to be joined with so many believers and different fellowships around this city and this state today. And, by the way, there are people watching all over the world right now live, and so we're glad to be joining in with them. We did this series called Jesus Loves People, and we noted that Jesus loves prostitutes, Jesus loves murderers, he loves atheists, he loves agnostics, he loves broken people, Jesus loves traitors. And today we want to say Jesus loves you. He loves you personally. Jesus loves you.

Now, to some people that's just obvious, but to other people we need to thaw out the chicken a little bit. So, you can turn in your Bibles, but you really don't have to, because you know the verse that I am going to speak on. It is the most famous verse in all of the Bible. It shows up at every national football league game and baseball game and golf tournament. It's the most famous verse in all of the Bible, translated more than any other verse in all of the Bible. It has been called the Bible in a nutshell. In the front of every single Gideon Bible this verse is translated into twenty-seven different translations. This verse is placed on In-N-Out Burger cups at the bottom. This verse is placed on shopping bags in the clothing line Forever 21. You know the verse, its John 3:16. You know it by heart.

"For God so loved the world", can you say it with me, "that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life." What a beautiful truth, is it not? We want to take this obvious truth and we want to thaw it out a little bit. We want to thaw that chicken out. Now, before we break this little text apart, I want to ask you a question: If you were to describe Easter, not using any words, but you were to describe Easter with a punctuation mark, I wonder which one you would choose? Some of you might have to choose a comma, because to you Easter, well, you think about it, you pause, and then you move on to something else. For others of you, Easter is a period, a big bold period. There's really no hope.

You're not really expecting or waiting anything else to happen. It's just an empty ritual and that's it, it's over. But others of you would need to choose a question mark. That's what Easter is to you. It's a big question. It's sort of mystifying to you. You'd love to be sure about it. You can see that other people are sure about it, but you're not so sure. It's a question mark. But for some of you, and I can see there's a lot of you that would fall into this last category, for you Easter is an exclamation point. You are sure that Jesus Christ is alive and he lives in you and you are different because of it. You know and you believe that God loved the world and that God loves you.

So we look at this verse. And as we look at this one single verse, the most famous verse in all of the Bible, we discover God's plan, his plan for people summed up in one tiny little verse. This is God's plan to rescue you and to give you hope and life. And, first of all, we discover the origin of this plan. It says, "For God so loved the world." It all begins with God. It doesn't say, "For man was looking for a way to improve himself, so he came up with this idea of religion." No. The Bible always tells us that we didn't discover God, he didn't leave that up to us to find or discover him, God revealed himself to people. It says in the Bible in First John, chapter 4, "We love him because he first loved us." It's not like you were out noticing God; God noticed you. You might say God noticed you from across the room first.

And it was always his plan to come and rescue you. The Bible tells us in the very beginning after Adam sinned that he was hiding from God, and God who called out and said, "Adam, where are you?" That's the picture, man is hiding and God is the one who is searching. A theologian years ago Malcolm Muggeridge called the Holy Spirit the "Hound of heaven." I've always like that description. He's the "Hound of Heaven." He's the one who was looking for you. Sometimes I hear people say, and I know you've heard it said, "Well, I'm searching for God. I'm on a quest. I'm on a search. I want to find God." News flash, God isn't lost, you are. He's the one looking for you. The Bible says, "All of us like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned, every one of us, to our own way."

And then the Bible says that we are "dead in our trespasses and our sins." And we "walked according to the course of this world... But God, who is rich in mercy... he has made us alive." You see, last time I checked, dead people can't help themselves. Dead people can't improve their own condition. We were dead in trespasses, dead in sins, but it's God who began this plan. So, the origin: "For God." The second thing this verse tells us is the motivation of God: "For God so loved the world." I just want that to sink into your hearts today. "For God so loved the world." He so loved you. I doesn't say, "For God was so angry at the world that he sent his Son to come down here and punch people out and carry placards of hate that God hates this group and God hates that group." It says, "God so loved the world."

That's his motivation and that is the essence of the nature of God. The Bible says in First John, "God is love." Now, that's not all God is, God is also just. He will judge sin in the end. But part of the very essence of God is that God is love. So easy to say; it is so difficult for many of us to believe. Think of it, we have sung of the love of God all of our lives, some of us. And then we become adults and we wonder if it's really true. "Does he really love me?" A great theologian years ago was visiting Princeton University and students gathered around him and they asked him, "Of all of the things that have gone through your mind, what is the most profound truth you have ever thought of?" And this great theologian pondered it for a while, and finally he spoke in a soft voice these words: "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

This great theologian of all the great things that have ever coursed through his brain cells, he said the greatest tell the truth is that "Jesus loves me." Now the gospel that we are referring to, John 3:16, was written by? Very good. John. Wow, we didn't have to thaw out that chicken? That's obvious. John wrote it and later on John is amazed at this thought of the love of God. He said, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us," as if to say, "What kind of foreign love is this that God would love us?" Now, here is why God's love is so different from our love: God's love and our love are on two different levels. You see, human love is object oriented, object oriented. It is based on the worth of the object.

I look at an object and I say, "Ooh, I like that object. I like the color. I like the size. I like the shape. That object pleases me or that person pleases me." It's based on what I see that I like. But God's love is not object oriented; it is subject oriented. It is based on God himself. It is not based upon what he sees in the worth of someone or something else. It's completely based on his own personal character. Why does God love you? Well, there's not a reason in you that he loves you, there's a reason in him that he loves you, because that is who he is. That is his nature. "God so loved the world." By the way, you need to know this: almost every time the love of God is mentioned in the New Testament, it is almost always in reference to the cross of Jesus Christ.

Because the love of God was fully demonstrated for you and I when he let Jesus come down here and die on a cross. Paul said, "God demonstrated his love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." So, God's plan: "For God," that's the origin; "so loved," that's the motivation. Here's the destination: "God so loved the world," the world. This is love at its widest embrace. "God so loved the world." Now, you're part of the world. If you're not sure about that, put your hand in front of your mouth and go haaaa. If air comes out, you're alive; you're part of the world that God loves. God loves you. It doesn't say, "For God so loved the Americans," or "God so loved white, middle-class people," or "God so loved the Republicans," or, I don't know if that was a Republican or Democrat that said that.

And I don't care. Nor does it say, "For God so loved the elect that he gave his only begotten Son." "God so loved the world." Now, when he spoke these words, Jesus was having a conversation with a man by the name of Nicodemus. They were having a very intense spiritual conversation at night. And Nicodemus was a Jewish leader who believed that God loved good Jewish people, and that was about it. And here Jesus said, "For God so loved the world." Easter will always be a comma to you, it will always be a period to you, or a question mark to you, unless you see that it includes you. It includes you. That's why Jesus said to his disciples, go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. You see, the treatment for a disease works no matter where you give that treatment.

If a person has a pulmonary disorder or heart disease, you can give medicine to that person if he lives in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia or the United States of America. It works universally. And so does God's cure for man's sin. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." Now what if the Bible said, "For God so loved only good people"? Well, if it said that, I think we would all kind of understand it and go, "Okay." But then we would feel really bad because so often we're not all that good, so often our behavior is so lacking, and we will never have any security or any rest that God loves us because "Today I haven't been so good. He might have loved me yesterday, but not so much today."

Or what if God's love was so much like ours: "Well, uh, I like you today, but I don't really love you." "I love you tomorrow, but, um, I'm having a bad halo day, I'm not really sure if I love anyone right now." God's love is never moody. God's love is always consistent. It is never selective and it always includes everyone. But, listen, though God loves you, and you can't change that, you can change your experience of that. You see, it's sort of like the sun. Some of you are joying the sun right now. Almost all of you, except right the first few rows here. You know, you can't stop the sun from shining, but you can stop the sun from shining on you. You can decide to walk in the shade or you can put up an umbrella so that you don't experience the full power and beauty of the rays of the sun, and so it is with God's love.

You can get under the umbrella of sin or doubt or selfishness, and though God is loving you, you are not experiencing God's love for you. The next thing we see in this little obvious truth is the demonstration of God's plan: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." Now, think for a moment of this thing of giving. Real love can never be passive; it always has to be active. One thing that I've noticed about healthy married couples is they keep giving to each other: time, energy, tender words, little gifts that are tokens of their love for each other. And those gifts are simply saying, "You still matter to me." But often a marriage will deteriorate when the couple stops giving to one another. "For God so loved that he gave." His love was active; it was not passive.

And it's not gave something, God gave Someone. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." God gave the very best. I was reading an article about an astronaut that walked on the moon. And somebody in interviewing him said, "When you were on the moon, and you were looking down at the earth, or up at earth, back at the earth, what were you thinking about?" And he said, "Well, it's really weird, but I couldn't get this one thought out of my mind, that I had come to the moon on a spacecraft that had been built by the lowest bidder for a government contract, and all of a sudden I got frightened." "The lowest bidder for a government contract." When God wanted to fix the world, he didn't go to the lowest bidder, he paid the highest price.

He sent his only begotten Son. I know, you're going, "'Only begotten'? I've heard that all my life. What is that all about, 'only begotten Son'?" Here's another translation: "his one and only," or "his most unique Son," or "one who has no equal." Jesus Christ was the only unique Son of God in that Jesus Christ was God in human flesh. Consequently, when God the Father gave Jesus Christ, he gave himself. And there's no greater gift you can give someone than to give yourself. A counselor was speaking to a married couple whose marriage had deteriorated. They sat in the office, they were both angry and bitter, and words were exchanged that were not healthy words. And, finally, in an exasperated tone the husband said across the room to his wife, "I've given you everything!

"I've give you a new home. I bought you a new car. I've given you jewelry." And she paused and she said, "You're right. You gave me everything but you. You didn't give me everything; you didn't give me you. You gave me things." God gave himself. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." So, the origin: "For God"; the motivation, "so loved"; the destination, "the world"; the demonstration, "that he gave his only begotten Son." And now the invitation, it says, "that whosoever believes in him." Who is salvation offered to? "whoever," "whosoever." You know, God isn't picky. God isn't picky, look, he picked me. I still am amazed at that. God will take whoever. To the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus said, "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst."

In Revelation 21 the invitation is "Whoever is thirsty, let him come. Whoever wishes, let him drink freely of the water of life." You know, there are some places you can't go because they're exclusive. They keep you out. You have to be a member. You have to pay an exorbitant amount of money. I saw one place online, I forget where it's at, but to become a member in this exclusive country club you have to first pay $300,000 just to get in and then another, like, $150,000 a year to stay a member of this exclusive club. You have to make a certain income. You have to have certain investment property. Other clubs you have to have a certain kind of degree of entrepreneurship or intellect. You know it's easier to get into heaven than it is to a country club.

By the way, it's easier to get into heaven than it is to Christian universities as well. All you have to do is believe, believe in your heart. The invitation is, "Whoever," whoever will say yes, whoever will say, "This is for me," whoever will say, "I asked Jesus to be my Savior," "whosoever." But as I mentioned, there is now a qualification. The invitation is to "whoever," but there's a qualification: "Whoever believes in him." Now just think about this for a moment: you need to believe in Jesus Christ. He loves you, he demonstrated his love for you, but you must believe in him. God never says, "If you want to come to me, you must first clean up your life and prove yourself worthy." You couldn't do that if you tried.

And that's why it's called the gospel, which means good news, because that is not the requirement. There is, however, one requirement: you have to believe. Now I know some of you are here today and you go, "Well, I've always believed. I've gone to church my whole life. I've always believed in God. I believe that God exists." Well, that's wonderful, but don't pat yourself on the back just yet, because James in the Bible says, "Well, you do well. But even the devil believes in God... and trembles." You see, when you say you believe in God, I hope you say you believe in God the way the Bible describes belief. It means to rely on him, to trust completely in him, to place all of your weight on him. You see, its one thing to acknowledge the greatness of a parachute; it's quite another thing to jump out of the airplane.

It's one thing to say, "You know, I love the ocean"; it's another thing to put scuba gear on and get into it. So, you might say, "Oh, I believe in God." Do you believe enough, do you trust enough that you are putting all of your eternal weight on what he did for you, you've given your life to him? There's an old saying, I know you've heard it: "Put your money where your mouth is." Right? "Put your money where your mouth is." If you really say you believe, let's see it in your life. When my son was smaller, I used to pick him up in the air and twirl him around. Sadly, it was just a month ago... no, I'm just kidding. When he was quite small, I would throw him up in the air, and I remember people looking at me, people in the church, even my family, and go, "Oh, don't throw him up so..."

My mom used to say, "Don't do that!" Because he's like twelve, thirteen feet up in the air, and then I'd catch him. Once I dropped him... no, I'm just kidding. I'd catch him and my mom would say, "Stop doing that." And I'd say, "Look at his face. He's not saying, 'Stop it.' He's saying, 'Do it again! Keep it up!' Now why do you think he is smiling and you are not?" And I said, "its simple, Mom, he trusts me, you do not." He had complete trust that I could throw him up and that I'd catch him, and I'd do it again and again. And there was a complete abandonment. That's the idea of believing in Jesus Christ. Let me close with that last part of the verse.

We've looked at the origin, "For God"; the motivation, "so loved"; the destination, "the world"; the demonstration, "that he gave his only begotten Son"; the invitation, "that whoever"; the qualification, "believes in him." And let me close with this, the ramification. Here's the result: "that he should not perish but have everlasting life." Everlasting life! Everlasting life! Folks, this is why Easter is so important, and this is why the resurrection is celebrated the way it is, because it gives us hope that we can live forever, everlasting life. You say, "What do you mean it gives us hope that we can live forever? I don't quite get it. Why does it give us that hope?" Well, it's pretty simple, because if the guy who said "I am the resurrection and the life" dies, then you go, "So what?"

But if the guy who said, "I am the resurrection and the life," dies and comes back to life, that's a game changer. That changes everything. He said he could do it and he did it. A few years ago there was a movie out with Jack Nicholson called The Bucket List. And Jack Nicholson plays a character who's a wealthy, older man who's coping with his own death, his own impending death and the death of a friend. And he says in the movie, "We all want to go on forever, don't we? We fear the unknown. Everybody goes to that wall, yet nobody knows what's on the other side. That's why we fear death." I'm here to tell you, you do not have to fear death. You do not have to fear death. Jesus went to that wall, and he came back from that wall alive promising you and I everlasting life.

Jesus perished, so that you and I would not have to perish. He died, so that we wouldn't have to die. "Whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life." But there's a flip side to that. There's a flip side. You see, if believing keeps you from perishing, then not believing will mean that you will perish forever. That's the flip side of it. There was a guy, he was having a conversation with a friend. The guy was an unbeliever; his friend was a Christian. And the guy said, "I'm not sure that I can pay the price to become a Christian." And his friend said, "Fair enough. But have you ever considered what it will cost you not to become one?" That's the flip side. If you trust in the God who loves you, you will never perish.

If you believe that your sins were paid for on the cross, and you trust him and you give him your life, you will never perish. You will go to heaven. But if you don't trust in him, if you don't lean on him, if you don't rely on him, if to you it's just a comma or a period or a question mark, but it's not real and personal, the Bible speaks about an everlasting perishing. Unbelief will destroy the best of us, believing will save the worst of us, and all of us, all of us can know the same hope of the risen Savior. Jesus loves you, and you, and you over there with the funny hat. He loves all of us. He loves the crazy preacher with the bow tie. He loves you and he wants to spend forever with you. But he'll never force himself on you. He will offer a gift.

And today I'm going to give you an opportunity to receive that gift and open that gift. And I want you to think, before we pray, ask yourself: Are you sure, are you absolutely certain that if you were to die today or this week, are you sure that you would be before God in heaven forever? And if you're thinking, "Well, I'm pretty sure. I think so. I hope so," that's not the right answer, because it indicates that you are trusting yourself, your goodness, your religion, your disposition, your intellect. No, no, no. You have to be able to say, "I know so, not because of me, because of what Jesus did for me on that cross." Unbelief will destroy the best of us, believing will save the worst of us, and all of us, all of us can find that life.

Father, we close this service and we consider who we are before you. You're the Maker, you're the Creator, you're the sustainer of all that we see around us. This beautiful day came from you. This sunshine that we feel on our face, this is part of the common grace that all humans enjoy. And this creation, Lord, is much more beautiful to us for those of us would know the Creator. More than anything else, though we have physical life right now, we have heard of the promise of everlasting life for whoever believes in him. And I pray that in this great stadium filled with people who believe in you, there are some who don't. It's not real to them. It's a religion to them. It's a ritual to them. It's a duty to attend a service like this, but there's no real life change dynamic that has happened yet. I pray you would change that. For those, Father, who have wandered away from you, bring them home. For those, Lord, who are living with a question mark or a comma or a period, change that and give them an exclamation point as they believe in the One that you have given, in Jesus' name, amen.

As we close this service, I am going to give you an opportunity now to commit your life to Christ. To me this is the most important part of this whole event. This is what we've been praying for all year. This is what we have been waiting to see. And I'm going to ask you not the get up and leave, but to watch and pray. And if you don't know Jesus, to actually get up and come. I'm going to ask you if you don't know Christ, if you don't know that you're going to heaven, but you want to be sure, I'm going to ask you to get up out of your seat and come down the aisle, and find the nearest steps, and just stand right over here on the field where I'm going to pray with you to receive Christ. The counselors are going to come and show you how to do it. You get up and you come.

If you're in the top rows, if you're on the side, you get up and you come. We're going to wait for you. You be sure that your name is written in God's Book of Life. You may have grown up in a religion your whole life. You may have grown up going to church. Maybe you've wandered away from him and you need to walk back to him. You get up and you come. People are doing that all over this stadium. We're going to give you that opportunity to stand with them. Just stand right up here. I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ. One of these days, one of these days your life is going to be over. You're here on this earth for a reason. Ever stop to ask yourself, "Why am I here? What is the meaning and the purpose of my life?"

Maybe you've always had that question. You can have it answered today, because today you can make a choice. Today you have the power to choose. One day your life will be over, and that power will be gone from you. But God loves you enough to make the choice yours. He would love you going to heaven, but he will never force you to be where you don't want to be. If you don't want to be in heaven forever with him, you don't have to be, but he wants you to be. And he made every provision for you to be. For God so loved you that he gave his only begotten Son for you, that if you believe in him, you will not perish, you will have everlasting life. It's a gift. It's a gift. It's a free gift. You can never earn it, you don't have enough to pay for it, but he'll give it to you for free.

Don't be just a watcher. Some of you have come to services like this. You've come to church for a long time. You've watched other people make commitments. Today is your day. God has your number. He wants you in his number. You come. People are coming from around this stadium. We're going to give you that opportunity. We'll wait for you. I love it, a dad with his two little kids. You're making the right choice, sir. Best way to raise them. Anyone else? Anyone else? You come. Don't let this opportunity slip by, you come. Whoever will, let him come and drink of the waters of life freely. They'll let you through. They'll let you through. That's right. That's right. These people are getting through right here. Let's let them through. God bless you. Awesome. Now, you're getting the idea, this service is about you. God loves you. Awesome. Anyone else? Quickly, come. Come join us.

Best day of your life right now, right here, at least on this earth. Good move. Wise choice. You still may have questions, but this question will be answered; the eternal life question will be answered today. Let's give everybody a hand who's made this choice so far. Some very young, some not so young, all of you are beautiful. The Lord loves each and every one of you. And God has a plan for you, and you're stepping into that today. I am going to lead those of you who have come, I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ. I'm going to say this prayer out loud and I'm going to ask you to say it out loud after me. Okay? This is you giving your life to Jesus Christ. So I'm going to pray, and you pray after me. Let's pray together, say:

Lord, I give you my life. Say that. I know that I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus. I believe he died on the cross, and I believe that he rose from the grave, and I believe he did it for me. I turn from my sin; I turn to Jesus as my Savior. Help me to live for him as my Lord, in Jesus' name, amen.

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