Behold The Love Of God

John 3:13-17


16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


What a beautiful verse, no wonder this has been called the most beloved verse in scripture.


There are many subjects worthy of our attention this morning,  but this one is the heart of the message, extolling the Father’s great love, in the giving of His dear Son, the death,  the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the very  heart of the Gospel.


Of course we recognize without the resurrection the cross would have no validity. As Paul said in  1Cor 15:17

If Christ be not risen, then our faith is vain and worthless, and we are still in our sins”.   And so it was that glorious 1st day of the week, Jesus  broke the bars of death,  and announced to the world that he  was the Son of God, and that ratified that “Old  Rugged Cross”, giving it all the power and significant that it has for us today!


We hear so much bad news today.  The crime in our streets, our nation is at war against terrorism, the oil spill now consuming much of the news. I want you to know there's good news this morning! And that‘s what John chapter 3 verse 16 is all about.


As you look at this verse, you recognize that it has in it all the ingredients of salvation.  It has been called The golden text of the Bible,  Martin Luther called it  "The Little Bible", because said he it had all the essential features of God's response to man, and man's response to grace, that is necessary for salvation, here and in  the world to come......  "The Little Bible"


Turning to our text John 3:16  it is stated  "For God" This phrase addresses the source of every blessing –  in James 1:17 we are told “Every good and perfect gift cometh down from above is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning”.    It smacks something of Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God."  Genesis 1:1 speaks of “creation”,    but in John 3:16 we are beginning to see  "re-creation" . God is the platform, the Ground, the First cause  of our salvation. 


Notice again "For God So Loved "    Here we see the love of God attested. 1st John 4:8 asserts that “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love”.   We can see God’s love manifested on every hand. It is manifested in Creation,  In the giving of His word. In the establishment of the Church, and in so many ways. But the supreme and superlative manifestation of God's love is His gift of the "only begotten Son" 

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”  1 John 4:9


1 John 3:1 exhorts us to “Behold the  love  of the Father”,   consider God’s great love, admire it and reciprocate it.  The Son was given to take away sins, to break the barrier that separates God and man. “Behold the love of the Father”.


A most magnificence passage of scripture is  Romans 5:6-8, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. “


A parent can ask their child, ?How much do you love me?" and the child will respond by flinging his arms around the parent and by placing a kiss on the cheek. When mankind considers God’s love it point us to Calvary.. God commends His love through the cross. The word “commend”  means to stand with, to lay beside.  God lays His love beside the cross of His Dear Son, this commends His love.


It was the middle 17th Century during the days of Oliver Cromwell that a soldier had deserted his battle post and  was sentenced to die. The man's fiancée pled for the staying of the execution, but to no avail Cromwell stated that when twilight was sounded that evening by the ringing of the bell, the prisoner would be executed.  The young woman then went outside the city and sought to persuade the old village sexton not to ring the bell. Because he was deaf, she could hardly get her message across. She finally succeeded in doing so only to have him respond that the bell had always sounded at twilight and this day will be no different. The story reveals that she climbed upon into the belfry and wrapped  her hands  and arms around the ball of the bell. When the sexton pulled the cord below, the bell was muffled no sound. With the execution waiting to take place but the bell not ringing, Cromwell sent to ascertain the trouble with the bell. When the woman was brought into his presence with her hands mangled and bleeding, he said to her,  "Take this worthless wretch. He's yours, Your love has redeemed him."


And that is what happened at Calvary, we were condemned to die, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. “ Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.   (2 Cor  9:15)…To have given one of His many angels would have been extremely great,  to have given one of many sons would have been greater,  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  1 John 4:9


Continuing in John 3:16  "For God So Loved" here we see the “Measurements Of Divine Love”. The adverb "So" suggests the degree, the limits or the measurements of Divine love.  "For God So Loved"   We are not told how much. It is to be conceived by viewing the Cross   and admired.  In Ephesians 3:17-19 we read

17that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fullness of God.”


The BREADTH of God's love can be seen in that it reaches to men of every race and culture. Note: Hebrews 2:9

 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man”. 

The LENGTH of God's love can be seen in that it transcends from age to age.  It is from everlasting to everlasting.. A meaningful passage regarding our LORD is found in John 13:1 —  which states Jesus loved His disciples unto the end.

The DEPTH of God's love can be seen in that it reaches down…..  to men of all nations, down to us here in Georgia,  to folks in Tennessee,  those in China and all of history.. It reaches the most depressed, the most guilt-ridden to all lost  in the slime pits of sin to save them…   In 1st Timothy 1:15 Paul declares himself chief of sinners.

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”


The HEIGHT of God's love can be seen in the wonderful height it exalts mankind.  Notice Ephesians 2:4-6

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened  us  together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:


And again in Revelation 1:5-6

“….Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen”.


I like the poem extolling the love of God, attributed to a prisoner just before he was executed.—       

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made;

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry,

Nor could a scroll contain the whole

Though stretched from sky to sky


But next notice the Objects of God love  "for God so loved the "WORLD"   First let me say that the word  world” seems so generic….  Let us write our names here. God love me and you, "for God so loved the "WORLD"   How different is Divine love and human love, human love is inclined toward those who love us. We say, "Wait let me see if you are worthy of my love" But God's love is more marvelous when we observe the state man was in, when God loved the world. 


You know, love is wonderful when it is deserved, and given.  It is more excellent when it is given and completely undeserved. There are many reasons why we should love God…… However when God loved the world,  there was nothing to attract, and deserving of His love.    Notice  how inspiration describes man   Titus 3:3-7   NKJV

“3For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another…….  4But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,” 


I visited a man a number of years ago who had obeyed the gospel late in life.  And after living a reckless and diabolical life, and he was struggling  with the idea that God could love him enough to forgive him.   You see he had this fear. He  had heard too many sermons on the Wrath of God  Heb 10:31 its a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a  living God.” He said, I just have a hard time thinking that God will forgive me. 


 Weeks later,  I visited with him again and his Bible was opened, and even high-lighted in   Psalms 103:8-17  Hear these marvelous passages

8The Lord is merciful and gracious,          Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.  9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10He has not dealt with us according to our sins,  Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  13As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. 14For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. 15As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. 17But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children,


Isn’t that beautiful?  God is Love, He is slow to anger¾   He’s ready to pardon¾ He’s filled with loving kindness,  toward each of us; He remembers that we are frail that our frames are of  dust …Thank God He’s created me, He knows how I function….. he knows my inadequacies, He knows my weaknesses…..  and yet…. He Loves me and that’s the message of John 3:16 this morning. We read in 1 John 4:8  where it declares that   God Is Love.” and we sing the song  “God Is Love’, 

This love is being extolled John 3:16. He  said   "Ron Cope  I want you to know that my Father loves  you and gave His Son to die in your place."


 But John 3:16 declares the impartiality of God's love as well. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.


Our beloved text declares God's unwillingness that any should be lost.   Peter states God's unwillingness in the words of 2 Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.   Our Lord Himself, is pictured in the gospels with outstretched arms pleading —  Matt.11:28-30  Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


The disciples were to go into all the world and invite all men. Matthew 28:18-20— “God is no respecter of persons”. —

    Acts 10:35   The last words we read in the Bible are these:  And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely”. Rev 22:17




Next the CONDITIONS on which the blessings of God's love are enjoyed.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.   Contextually  we see that the belief that brings a blessing is an obedient faith. Notice the verses on either side of John 3:16.  Jesus begins by talking about the new birth John 3:1-13.  The in verses 14-15 we read: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.


The account to which this passage has reference to is located in Numbers 21:7-9.  The Israelites had to believe and look upon the fiery serpent before they were healed and lived. Theirs  was an obedient response to faith.   Likewise he says; "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." It is not enough to merely believe but rather we must trust and obey.  Matthew 7:21-23  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them,  I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.


Finally the blessings of God's love are seen in the expression "SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE."


The blessings seen in the statement “SHOULD NOT PERISH  Embraced in this statement is all that is involved in being lost,   Hell is a place of eternal torment, (Luke 16;19-31).  a place of eternal punishment,  (Matt 25;46)  a place of tribulation  and anguish, (2 Thess. 1:7-10) a place where there is no rest, (Rev. 14:10-11)…   Hell  is depicted as a place where memory lives Lu16:19-31,  A place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  A place of outer darkness., where the worm dieth not..


 But notice the last phrase of —“BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE   Here is the hope that God's love gives to us……  We read of a wonderful promise John 14;1-3

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”


And finally 1 John 3:1-3

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure


If we can be of further help to you in your resolve to serve and obey your God, contact: us

Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ


phone:  (678)617-9658