John 3:16 is the ‘little’ Gospel. It tells us how God loves the world. It is all wrapped in this: He gave His unique, one and only Son for the sins of all. (John 3:10-17)

Speaker(s): Pastor Kim Shibley
Sermon # 11335
7:30 PM on 9/20/2017



P. Shibley

Jn 3:11-17, Jn 3:16 is the most famous verse in the Bible. We sing it, kids recite it, and I made this (a sign of Jn 3:16). You look at the end zone on the Super Bowl and Jn 3:16 goes up. It’s in other sporting events. Tim Teboe had that game against Pittsburgh and 104 million people looked up Jn 3:16 on the internet. It’s been called the little Bible or Gospel. It summaries all God did for us. You could save the world with just Jn 3:16. Every heart wants to hear that God loves them. Every heart. Unbelievers would probably still say God loves them. Non-church goers are ready to agree God loves them. Sometimes committed followers of Christ have a hard time with God loves me. Maybe because of our heightened sense of God’s holiness. We fall into the trap of not believing in the love that saved us.

When we read Jn 3:16, we know it’s a fact that God loves us. Verses speaks of other things as well, the manner by which God loves us. You can’t know God loves you unless you know how he loves you. It says God loves. This goes against many things.

A lot of times we think God is angry at us. For sure God has wrath. We misinterpret God’s wrath because of our humanness. We misinterpret it because we base it on who we are rather than his holiness. God is the way he is, love. Some see him as a party pooper, a tyrant, an autocrat, an angry parent, uninterested. I don’t know if it’s true about deists but they have the idea God set everything in motion and let it go. People see him as temperamental. He changes his mind. He does one thing one day and a different thing the next day. He favors a group or is only for a select few. This is how the Jews felt…

If we feel God loves a select few, we try to earn God’s love. It leads to legalism. When we have a legalistic view of God, it’s not good. It results in: 1) Legalism creates disillusionment. We can’t live up to God. We can’t be good enough. It’s sad of people. They have a hard time seeing how they could ever be accepted by God. It produces depression and produces people who don’t want to know God. They feel they can’t be accepted by God because they know themselves. Are realists. Then 2) Legalism produces pride. There are people who feel they can do it. If they dress properly, learn to speak properly, they themselves are the chosen ones. Even if not perfect, at least they are better than you! Relative righteousness. Another type of legalism, being better than others. That makes me feel good about myself. Those are the things legalism produces.

Jn 3:16 goes against all these explanations.

1 Jn 4:8, 16. God is love. By nature and character God personified love. When we say “God” we are saying love. God is love. Mercy is God’s forgiving love. Ever heard that? Grace is God’s undeserved love. Peace is God’s comforting love…Death, burial and resurrection is God’s proven love. Heaven is God’s rewarding love and eternity is God’s unending love.

For sure God loved Nicodemus. God’s love is not exclusive. His love extends to the four corners of the earth. The only boundary God’s love has is the boundary of the human heart. It’s impossible for God by himself to overcome. He draws us to believe and in Jn 3:16 he loves the whole world. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.

Rom 5:7, you think of all kinds of good people that you could have died for. Who would you die for? Would you say it’s better for that person to live than me? Maybe we would die for our wives or kids. This is how God shows his love.

Rom 5: 8. It is a big world but God loves it. It’s a bad world but God loves it. Think of North Korea in the news with missiles, rocket man. Iran in the news. The Bible teaches us not to love the world itself. We love the world but we don’t love the world.

1 Jn 2:15, that’s speaking of the negative influences of the world.

And evangelist in the 1800’s said it’s not the water outside the boat that sinks the boat but the water in the boat. It’s not the Christian in the world but the world in the Christian that causes problems.

We are not worried about the world in that sense. We think of God’s love in personal terms. If I knew everything about everybody, or you knew everything about me, that might be a problem. If we had K of certain things about certain people, we would look at people differently. If you came to the Shibley family unannounced, you might not look the same way. Yet God knows everything about us and he still loves us. His love doesn’t change toward us even though ours changes toward him. We doubt his love but he never doubts his love for us.

God doesn’t love us because we are valuable; we are valuable because God loves us (Luther).

His holiness is perfect and we are not. He is good and we are not. He loves us. He so loved the world. The word “so” is HOUTOS, “in this fashion.” Or this is the way or how God loves us. Not that God loves us so much. God loves us so much, but that’s not what it’s saying. It’s saying God loved us like this; this is how God loved us. This is how God loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. We begin to see the love of God and J.C. as a gift. God communicated with us as a gift. This is how he communicated his love toward us. He gave his only begotten Son.

Ever open a Christmas present and it had the price tag on it? How many wrapped a birthday present and left the tag on it on purpose?! $100 even though you got it half off….at the end you paid $1.97 and left the tag on it to impress the person! Maybe you bought it at a yard sale or re-gifted a gift back to someone who gave you the gift. That’s not cool!

God left the price tag on the gift. For God loved the world in this way that he gave his only begotten Son. While we were yet sinners, he died for us. It was a unique gift. Greek is MONOGENES. He gave us the unique gift of his Son. The entire world could be considered God’s children in a general sense. Christians are God’s children in a specific sense but Jesus is the unique Son of God.

Col 2:9, in him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. That is unique. This is the gift God gave us. There is nobody like Jesus. The word became flesh and dwelt among us. He is the unique gift of God. God loved the world in this way that he gave his only begotten Son. It’s awesome.

1 Jn 4:9. This is how he did it. This is the price tag on the gift. He sent Jesus. There is nobody like Jesus. Nobody born like him, nobody lived like him, and nobody rose again like Jesus. Nobody is coming again like Jesus. Only gift he could give us he gave, Jesus, his one and only Son. He had glory before the world began but came down from glory. He created the angels but became a little lower than the angels.

2 Cor 9:15, Jesus is an indescribable gift. He is our gift. Our Savior.

The context of Jn 3:14-15 comes from Nu 21 where the children of Israel murmured against Moses. God wasn’t going to have any more of it apparently. God got angry and sent poison serpents to bite those complaining against Moses. Could you pray to God for us, Moses? Take a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. Whoever looks at it won’t die. If they don’t, they will die. This is what happened. Jesus says this so Nicodemus can understand it that the Son of Man would need to be lifted up to draw all men unto him.

HUPER, Jn 6:51. Means in place of. Jesus is saying I give my life in place of yours. I go on the Cross in place of you. The substitutionary atonement. These are the things about God that are so amazing. It’s an amazing gift, unique gift, his only Son. Three things we can say about God: He is holy, set apart. No one like him. He is perfect. We can say he is just. What does that mean? All the basis of his judgment is based on his character and it’s perfect. His righteous standard is his own character. Finally, God is love. That holy God who is also just is also love because he is love. He took the punishment and he paid the price. This is freedom for us. This is the communication of God. He speaks to us through the gift of his Son. Now this love is part of us. Our job is not to judge the world. There is no reason to judge the world, the world is judged already. Our job is to love the world and love one another as Christ loved us. We began to have eternal life the moment we looked to the serpent on the pole or in our case to Christ on the Cross. It’s easy for some. We look and see him plain and believe. We look up and believe and receive this gift of eternal life.

If you look in Nu 21 and you talk to people today and explain everything and yet they won’t believe. They say, they are essential saying I would rather die than look up at that Cross. I would rather die than receive the love of God. Eternal life is awesome when we believe we have it. We experience the strength of it, how it changes us in a walk towards perfection where God begins to change us. Eternal life on earth is getting us ready for eternal life in heaven. When this love transforms us, this manner of love, this way God lives us, we don’t know what God can do with this love. What can God do with us?

Acts 17:6, problem in Thessalonica, the Jews couldn’t stand Paul. They dragged Jason to the court. When this love comes inside of us, when we are able to experience it and understand what it is and realize it changed us, we turn the world upside down. There is so much potential…beyond potential. We don’t know what God can do in the life of a person who understands and appropriates the love of Christ in their life. When we see what people have done. Think of D.L. Moody who was a shoe salesman and over 1 million received Christ and came to the Lord and were discipled. That was before TV, radio and internet. If he could do that then, what could we do now? You say the world is saturated with podcasts and church on TV, etc. That doesn’t matter. Does that mean everyone is believing? If it did we wouldn’t see all the destruction and problems in D.C. or anywhere else, the protests, the wars around the world. People might speak of the love of God and they don’t know how they are loved by God. That is the message of the Gospel. Not just God loves you but how. God loves you in this way he gave his only begotten Son. While you were yet a sinner, he died for you. He knows every deep thought of your mind, every temptation and betrayal but still loves you. We are all jerks but God loves us anyway. That’s the Gospel. He knows everything but loves us. Not just that God loves you but God loves you like this. He gave you a gift with a price tag on it and the price was the death of his Son. I think we blow by this sometimes. We take for granted he loves us. It’s a great meditation. What would happen if I really believe this every day in my life? How can it change my relationships? How can it change how I view people in my family, coworkers, politics, etc.? Does my hatred transcend the love of God or does the love of God transcend my hatred? If the love of God doesn’t transcend my hatred, I have not understood the price God paid for that love. If my hatred is greater than my Christian faith, my Christian faith has not understood how God loves me. My Christian faith is still living in a relative righteousness, living in a legalism that says I’m better than them. I’m not better than them. I’m probably worse.

This love didn’t count my sins against me or make me change. The love of God said you are valuable because I love you.



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