Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons by Year 2020 Sermons . The love of God

. The love of God



John 3:16 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.



How do you understand the love of God? The love of God is the motive that stands behind and explains the death of the Son of God. But how do you understand something that is so infinite and immeasurable? Well, the answer is obviously that you do not ever fully understand it, but God is pleased to give to His people an increasing understanding of His love. In fact the apostle Paul prayed for this on behalf of the church in Ephesus in Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

What is he praying for there? He is praying that they will have a growing measure of understanding of the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Now, when we were saved God gave us an understanding of His love. 1 John 4:16 (ESV) 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

So how do we begin to grow in our understanding of the love of God?  One way is that you look at the divine gift which was our first point for our devotions as part of this series. I cannot recap in detail. But a quick summary is necessary.


We talked about ‘why God gave’, and we saw that the reason can only be explained by God. He gave His Son to the world of humanity although there was nothing in us that would warrant God giving His Son for us. The explanation for God loving any of us is God because He is loving, gracious and merciful. That is the only explanation.  We talked about ‘what God gave’. He gave His only one and unique Son. He gave His other self as Charles Spurgeon put it. God gave God when He gave His Son. That speaks of the love of God in salvation. Then we considered ‘how God gave’ His Son. He gave Him in a way that He would have to suffer. He would suffer humiliation from His birth all the way to the cross which speaks of the love of God in salvation. Then we saw ‘when God gave’ His Son. Remember that it is Jesus standing in front of Nicodemus saying that God gave His only Son which is clearly in the past tense. We talked about how God gave in a sense His Son before time, and then He gave His Son in time, and even now through the preaching of the gospel He offers His Son to sinners.


All of this speaks of the love of God. This is one way you grow in your understanding of the love of God.  But in John 3:16 we see a second way in which the love of God is put on display.


The Love of God is not only seen in the divine gift, but also in the divine method of saving men.

2. The love of God is seen in the divine method.


How did God design to save sinners? When you look at the way in which God planned to save us it speaks of His love. His motive was not only love but His motive was salvation. John 3:17 (ESV) 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

The motive for Christ coming into the world is not condemnation, but salvation. Jesus already made that plain in the looking back to the serpent. Look again at John 3:14-15 (ESV) where we see exactly why Christ had to die. John 3:14-15 (ESV) 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” Then verse 16 basically says the same thing: That whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

The question now is this: How does God save sinners by the giving of His Son and how does it speak to us of the love of God?


Let me first state it negatively, and then I will state it positively. Negatively we can say it like this.


2.1 God’s plan was not a plan for law keepers.


God did not give His Son to present to us a plan of salvation that required law keeping. God did not say; ‘Here is what I’ll do. I will send my Son into the world to be an example for sinners. I have given my law, but it is obvious that they do not understand it or understand how to keep it. So, I will send my Son simply to be an example for them. He will live out the law perfectly in spirit and in letter and then I will give them salvation if they will duplicate His example.’ Do you realise if that had been God’s plan, we would have all perished? It would also not have served as an answer for sin already committed would it?


Even if we were capable of keeping the law and we are not, that would not have atoned for the sins already committed in Adam, nor would it have atoned for the sins we have committed by our own choice. There would have been no answer for us if Jesus was just an example. Not only that. It would have left us still committing sins and would not atone for such sins. If God said to us today; ‘listen this is what I’ll do. I’ll wipe the slate clean; I’ll forgive all your sins past if you will now walk in my law, and sin no more, and I will give you eternal life.’  If that is the condition for eternal life, we still all perish, because we all commit sins, do we not?


It is precisely because we are law breakers that the Son of God was given to the world. God knew we could not save ourselves by the keeping of the law. You and I needed to become convinced about that. If you think that I am arguing outside of Scripture. Let us hear what Paul has to say about this. Romans 8:1-4 (ESV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. (You see, the law could not save us, but is it because there is something defective in the law? Paul gives us the answer. Now we all know that the law of the Lord is perfect, so what is the problem? It is weakened by the flesh) (So, how did God solve the problem of our inability to keep the law?)  By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

So, His plan is not a plan for law keepers, because our ability to keep the law is destroyed by our sinful nature.


2.2 It is not a plan for self-changers.


God didn’t say, ‘here’s what I’ll do. I will send my Son into the world to help people really get in touch with themselves. My Son will show them what it really means to be human, what it is to really love, what it is to really forgive, what it is to really seek peace, and then they can learn from Him, they can follow His lead by simply asking ‘what would Jesus do’ and then do that, and by that, they can change their lives forever and they can make themselves into the kind of people who are worthy of heaven.’  There is a view that holds that we do not only become Christ-like but we can become Christs.


If that had been the divine plan, we can all perish for the same reasons we saw under the law-keeping style Christianity. It would not have answered for all our sins, but not only that. It would have required from us what we are not capable of. Do you realise that sinners are not capable of changing themselves? They can reform to a certain extent. They can clean the outside of the cup. The Pharisees did that well, or didn’t they? The problem is that we were all born into this world full of dead men’s bones. We were born dead in our trespasses and sins, blinded, bound by sin. We were not born with a free will; we were born with a will in bondage to sin.


We are incapable of setting ourselves free. Go and tell a lost man to just set himself free and simply to live like Jesus did and He will be saved. Do you realise that you are asking from that man to do what He cannot do? If you study the book of Romans, he is a slave to sin. So, if God’s plan were simply to give His Son to show us how to live, we will all still perish, because it does not answer for our past sins and we cannot change ourselves.


Have you ever tried to tell somebody to change the colour of their skin? Or you desire an elephant with spots like a leopard, so you simply show him a leopard skin and tell him to change accordingly. He cannot do that can he? There is a verse in the Bible like that. Jeremiah 13:23 (ESV) 23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.” According to God, a lost man is as capable of living like Christ as a leopard is capable of changing His spots.

Now, does salvation change a man? Yes, but it is not explained by the man. It is explained by God. Ezekiel 36:26-27 (ESV) 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and (I will) cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (ESV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (This is exactly what is spoken of in Ezekiel 36, but how does this happen?) 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;”

Even then we must remember that God never changes a man whom He does not forgive at the same time. There is no sanctification without justification and there is no justification where there is no reconciliation. God justifies sinner by faith in His Son, reconciles the sinner to Himself clothes them in the righteousness of His Son, so that they have a right standing with God for ever, and then at the same time God also enjoins them to His Son by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and changes them in their inner man and gives them a new nature, a new life and then only is there this progressive change that takes place and one day God will complete the work He started which is called glorification when He presents us to Himself faultless without spot or blemish in His presence in glory.


We did not do that. God does all of that. So, the plan is not for law keepers and the plan is not for self-changers. So how can we state it positively?


2.3 It is a plan for believers.


The plan of God that saves sinners in John 3 is a plan for believers. John 3:16 (ESV) 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever (keeps the law, or changes themselves, or turns over  a new leaf, and doubles their will power to do good and to live right, NO!)  believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

This is a plan for believers. What must I do to be saved? You must believe. If all that is left for me to do is to believe God’s promise then that means God has already done all the work that necessary for me to be saved, and He has. He did not just do some of it, He did all of it. What work did Jesus have to do to save us?

First, He had to live for us. There was obedience required for us to be saved. Jesus Christ was born under the law, and He fulfilled the law of God. He lived without sin and He was qualified as a man to die in the place of sinful man.


Secondly, He had to die for us. He was not just dying as some moral example. He was not just dying to tug at our heart strings. He died as a sin offering, a sin sacrifice. He died literally taking the place of all those whom He would save, and He took their punishment upon Himself in all its fullness.

Thirdly, He was raised for us. The Bible tells us that His resurrection was our justification. If Christ was not raised from the dead then we are still in our sins, but He was raised for us. He lives. Because He lives, all those who trust in Him are saved for ever and ever. That is the work He had to do. He had to live for us, die for us and be raised for us. Now think with me about it this morning. Is that not love? I am the violator of God’s law, not Christ. God is the one who has been offended. I am under God’s just sentence and there is not one thing I could ever do to deliver myself, so God took it upon Himself in the person of His Son, all the work necessary in order to deliver me, the offender. Is that not love?


Now immediately we are faced with a question. What does it really mean to believe in Him? We have already determined that it is not a plan for law keepers or self-changers, but it is a plan for believers. But what does it really mean to believe in Him? We know that there are many people who profess faith in Christ who are still lost. We are told this very clearly in Matthew 7, aren’t we? Matthew 7:22-23 (ESV) 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

They profess to know Him, but He says that He never knew them.


Has there ever been one soul who truly trusted in Christ who has been lost? No! Has there ever been any who profess to know Christ who will lost? Yes, many. So, this becomes a major critical issue for us this morning. I would hate to know that there are any here this morning that will stand before God and He says, ‘I never knew you’.


So, the question is what does true saving faith look like?


2.3.1 We agree with God’s plan.


This may sound rather obvious, but it is not. There are many people who have a faith in Jesus and a belief in Jesus, but they are not clear on God’s plan and when presented with the plan of salvation, do not really agree with it. They don’t mind Jesus the moral example, they don’t mind Jesus the person who helps us realise the best that is in us, but they don’t talk about it, they don’t think about it, and they don’t hold onto the fact that Jesus was a sin offering. He died as a substitute for sinners.


So, to really believe means that I have embraced the plan of God for saving sinners. Can you join me and say, I believe that He gave His life as a substitutionary sacrifice for sinners? I believe that His death is sufficient to pay for all the sins of all those who believe. I believe that God raised Him from the dead. I believe that God now keeps His promise and saves all those who come to His Son in faith. Do you believe that with me this morning? Do you believe that? If you do not really believe that then you have never really believed in Christ.


So, to trust in Jesus in a saving way means that I have believed in God’s plan and I agree with God’s plan. It means something else.


2.3.2 I believe it is God’s plan for me.


If you hold these truths at a distance away from yourself, you will not be saved. You can walk out of church every Sunday and say, ‘good sermon, cannot argue against it, I have to agree, I believe it is all truth’. You need more than that. You need to say this is the answer for me. ‘God so loved me, that He gave His only son, so that if I believe in Him, I will not perish but have everlasting life.’


To have saving faith requires this morning that I say, I am a sinner deserving of the wrath of God, I need a saviour, Jesus was given to save sinners of which I am one. I believe that I will be saved if I look to the Son of God in faith. That is saving faith. It is not just God’s plan for sinners, but it is God’s plan for sinners like me. Remember the story of the Pharisee and the Publican. Remember how the Pharisee thanks God that he is not like all other men and he lists all his own righteousness, all of his goodness and all of the things he had done and he thanked God that he was not like the tax collector. But the publican, unwilling even to look up to heaven, beat his breast and asked God to be merciful to a sinner like him.


This is what it means to have faith. It does not just mean that we believe that this is God’s plan, but that this is God’s plan for me. But it means more than that too, doesn’t it?


2.3.3 You need to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour.


I believe right now I am talking to someone who would acknowledge God’s plan for salvation, and who believes that it is the only way you will ever be saved, but you still have not trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. So, to be saved means that I do not just believe this stuff intellectually and propositionally, but I believe it personally. The previous two statements I made can end up as mere head knowledge and as somebody once said. The distance between heaven and hell is 13 inches. It is the distance between the heart and the mind.


It means that I trust in Christ from my heart. The question is. Have I given my life to the Son of God? Have I declared in my heart and with my mouth to be His follower? Have I said, I believe in the Son of God and I love the Son of God, He died for me, He was raised for me, and I have trusted in Him and I will follow Him? Can you acknowledge that? Have I trusted my entire hope for forgiveness, all my hope for a right standing with God, all my hope for a future in heaven, have I put it all on Jesus?


Do you realise that to come to Christ means to come to Him empty handed? Whatever you held on to in the past, whatever you trusted on before to get into heaven you must let go of it. Have you trusted in your good works, trying to be a good person, trying to live a good life? You must be thoroughly convinced that it will not save. You must let it go.  Maybe you have trusted in your past religious experience, or the fact that your parents are Christians, and that you were raised in Sunday School or you were confirmed at a particular age or even got married before a pulpit. If that is what you put your trust in. You must let go of it.


To be saved by Christ you must let go of anything else you have ever trusted in and just trust in Him.  Is His life enough to make you right with God, is His death enough to forgive all your sins, and is His resurrection enough to keep you by His own power until the final day? Do you trust your salvation into the Son of God?


So, we have seen the love of God in His divine gift and we have seen it in His divine method.  We have acknowledged that it is not a plan for law keepers; or self-changers, but it is a plan for believers.


But there is something else we see in the text here



Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church:- 04 October 2020