Text: John 3:16
Introduction. A few years before his death, the great Swiss theologian, Dr. Karl Barth, addressed students at the University of Chicago. Afterwards, he was asked to name the greatest thought that had ever passed through his mind. The aging professor paused for a long time in serious thought. Then he lifted his head and said with great simplicity:
For the Bible tells me so.
He was right, for there is nothing in the universe greater than the love of God, and there is no way to tell it better than it was told in John 3:16. If something were to happen to every one of the books of the Old Testament and to every one of the books in the New Testament but one, and then if something were to happen to every chapter in that book but one, and to every verse in that chapter but one verse and that one remaining verse was John 3:16, there would still be enough for us to know that we need to know about God. John 3:16 says it all, but as wonderful as it is I find that it is not easy to use it as a sermon text. The problem is that when you read it you have said it all. But today, I want to try to preach from this marvelous text and ask you to think with me about some of the characteristics of God’s love.
1. In the first place, God’s love is limitless in its scope. Our love is a very limited love. We love but a few people and we do not love them all the same. But God loves every person on the face of the earth who ever lived or ever will live; and, He loves each one with all of His love. Our love tends to be reciprocal, we love those who love us back. But God’s love reaches even those who have no love for Him. No matter what you have done or how greatly you may have sinned, there is one who loves you with an everlasting undying love. And that one is God. God loves you not because of what you are, but in spite of what you are. Even greater, He loves you for what you may become when you respond to His love. God has a plan for your life, but one which can be realized and achieved only as you place yourself in His hands.
2. Secondly, God’s love is unmerited and unsolicited. It is unmerited because we do not deserve it. Ephesians 2:8-10. Titus 3:5. It is unsolicited because even though we need it so much, we do not seek it. One of the most beautiful stories in the Bible is the story of Hosea and Gomer. Hosea came home one day to find his three little children all alone there and he asked, “Where is your mother?” They answered, “She went off with another man today and said she won’t be back.” The years rolled by as Hosea searched for his wife. Then one day he found her. This woman who had plummed the depths of sin and shame was being sold as a slave on the slave block. Hosea paid the price for her and took her back to his home to be the mother of his children. God’s love is like that. It is a seeking, searching love. God knows all about us and He loves us anyway.
3. Thirdly, God’s love is a giving love. For some reason, it was necessary that God give his Son to suffer and die if you and I were to live eternally. God loved His Son with all the love that a father can have for his son but His love didn’t stop there. His great heart of love went out to a lost and dying world and God gave that Son He so infinitely loved, that Son who from all eternity had been the object of His delight, to die on the Cross for you and me. God gave all He had when He gave His Son for “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself” (II Corinthians 5:19). The proof of love is giving. You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving. Here is a man who says that he loves his family but he spends his money on liquor and gambling and neglects the needs of his family. But God’s love is not like that. God’s love is costly in its manifestation.
4. Finally, God’s love is a saving love. The story of Adam is the story of every man. When he sinned, we lost something. We lost the approval of God. We lost the fellowship of God. We lost the life of God. But we did not lose the love of God. God loves us anyway and He wants us to have these things that we lost when we sinned. God’s love is constant. It never gives up on us. It will never let us go. God loves man to the very brink of hell. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentence” (II Peter 3:9). We may never love God but He will never stop loving us. The Bible is the story of God’s redeeming love. It is God’s desire that you be saved, that you have everlasting life. And this life that God wills for you is not just a quantity of life, it is a quality of life. But this quality of life is conditioned upon your individual faith. For you to have this life calls for your personal faith in Christ as your Savior.
Conclusion. God’s love is unparalleled and incomprehensible. It is so majestic, so marvelous, so limitless, I scarce can take it in. When I think of Jesus dying for me, it stirs my soul and touches my heart. What is your response to the love of God? You may deny it, refuse it, trample it under your feet, neglect it, or you may accept it. To accept God’s love is to accept the Lord Jesus as your own personal Savior and follow Him as Lord and Master.
God loves the world.
God loves enough to give.
God loves enough to give his Son.
If we believe, we will have life.
Come, let us believe and receive.
A minister who had recently lost his wife took his seven-year-old daughter with him to Europe. They were crossing the ocean on a ship, and one of the passengers learned that he was a minister. The captain came to him and asked if he would conduct the Sunday services. “I do not know what denomination you are,” the captain said, “but I wish you would speak on the love of God.”
This was a difficult topic for the minister, who was still deep in grief over the loss of his wife. But because he had survived this test of faith, he was able to stand before the people and talk about the immeasurable love of Christ.
After lunch he and his daughter were standing on deck, leaning on the railing. The little girl said, “Daddy, you said that God loves us. How much does he love us?”
“More than anybody,” said the father.
“Daddy, does God love us as much as Mommy loved us?”
The father answered yes, then looked out over the ocean. He said, “Look. Look in that direction. God’s love extends farther than that.” Pointing in the opposite direction over endless miles of ocean, he said, “Look the other way. God’s love is greater than that.” Pointing at the sky he said, “God’s love is taller than that,” and down at the ocean, “God’s love is deeper than that.” Biting her lip to hold back the tears, the little girl said, “Daddy, isn’t it wonderful that we are standing out her in the middle of it?”