. The Father Heart of God (Part 1)





We just ended a series on the New Birth. I was praying much about the way forward. Let me explain what I am attempting to achieve at Logos at the moment. My purpose in preaching at the moment is to lay critical foundations, things that I believe are vitally important for our understanding of who we are, how we relate to God and how we relate to one another. For that reason we firstly looked at ‘Jesus the Master Builder’ and the kind of church He wants to build. We did 8 sermons on that. Then we dealt with a cancer in the church that I wanted to eradicate early on namely ‘who are you to judge?’ We did 8 sermons on that. Then we looked at ‘the Glory of the Logos’ as we sought to understand Christ and how He relates to the Father, creation, time and all the way to us. We did 9 sermons on that. Then we learnt some life lessons from ‘the life of John the Baptist’ and sought to understand why Christ would say that us who are in the Kingdom are greater than John who was regarded as the greatest man to ever be born of woman. We saw our privilege of being in the Kingdom and our privilege of announcing the coming King. We did 11 sermons on that. Then we spent four weeks looking at that critical topic “why do bad things happen to good people?” Then we spent 25 weeks looking at victorious Christian living through the cross in a series called ‘dying to live’ and how we are through the death of Christ victors over sin, Satan, the flesh, self, the world, the law and practical issues like racism. We had a glorious time in looking at our position in Christ and our privilege to rise up to that position. Our aim here at Logos is Christ likeness. We are not here to copy one another so that we can be a “lekker” (Afrikaans for ‘nice’) club of copy cats.  Then in December last year we tried to eradicate another cancer by spending four sermons looking at the wicked ‘sin of slander’. Then we spent 13 weeks this year looking at the theme “what’s love got to do with it?” from 1 Corinthians 13. Then lastly we looked at the topic of ‘The New Birth’ and that every man must be born from above. We saw that being religious, and being gifted and being a person of integrity and even having knowledge of Christ helps nothing unless we are born again. In between these 9 sermon series I preached another 37 sermons on different titles that are helpful for establishing Logos as a church for the future. All these sermons are available on our website.


Today we start a new series entitled “the Father heart of God.” Why do I want to focus on this? While it is a good follow up to the series on New Birth, there is something bigger than that. I am concerned that the church to a great extent has become a very harsh environment, and it creates the impression that God is like that. It has greatly become an environment where law trumps grace, where trumps life, where judgmentalism trumps relationships and where structure trumps worship. I believe that the reason why this happens is because we have a wrong view of God as our Father.


Paul expresses his desire that the Ephesian church will know the length and breadth and height and depth of God’s love and he wants them to know that they were damned and on their way to a lost eternity but that God who is rich in mercy because of His great love, loves them and saves them by grace through faith. Sadly, nowadays one then gets the feeling that this love of God was all before salvation and now that we are children of God suddenly God is different. Sometimes a person might think that we were better off when we were in the world, because then and then only God’s love was real to us. Now, that we are children of God, God no longer cares, and you dare not step out of line and you will see the wrong side of God. There is a dual argument here. There is a real issue in life that some people view God through the filter of their own earthly father, and if he is harsh, then God must be harsh, but that is not my problem. My problem is with believers who based on their own opinions have turned God into a monster father. Over the next many weeks I want to correct that. Firstly, we are going to unpack God our Father from John 3:16 and then we are going to look at the Father in the story of the prodigal son and how He as father relates to both the lost son and the son at home. So without further ado, let’s get to the text for today and the next few weeks.


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.”


In this part of the sermon which we will look at over a few weeks we come to what is without a shadow of doubt the most well-known verse of Scripture in the world. Even people who have very little knowledge of the Bible have been exposed to John 3:16. I guess besides Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer it is the most commercialised Bible verse. Just a simple search on the internet will allow you to buy almost anything with John 3:16 on. You can get T-Shirts, caps, ornaments, bumper-stickers, watches etc.


Sadly it is a verse that is also misquoted and is often used by people trying to draw attention to themselves and just how loveable they are that God would give His Son for them. How many of us have not heard the statement that if you were the only person in the world Jesus would have died for you, like you deserve His death. Sadly John 3:16 is so well known that it has actually lost its value and has been diminished to a verse that we teach our children in Sunday School. It becomes an issue of familiarity breeds contempt or at least insensitivity? We breeze past it and deal with it lightly because we think we know it so well.


Unfortunately John 3:16 has also become a theological battle ground verse for many. Some use it to defy the doctrine of predestination and election. They say that this verse proves that God loves everyone and now we have the choice of responding to that love or not. On the other end of the spectrum you have some who interpret John 3:16 in such a way that it denies God’s sovereign love for all humanity. According to them the world referred to in this text is the world of the elect only. I don’t think either view can be sustained. The fact that God loves the world of humanity is not a denial of predestination and election. You don’t build your whole doctrine on this verse alone. What I do know is that God’s love for the whole world and God’s love for His children differs, but this is not what is referred to in John 3:16. We will talk about that later.


Over the next few sermons I want us to hear our Father God on the issue of His love. I literally want us to hear it as if we are hearing it for the first time ever. As an end product I want to see us fall in love with the Father over and over again. It would have been nice to fill in the gaps where we ended with in our previous series. We looked at the issue of the New Birth and got to John 3:8. So we are actually skipping verses 9 – 15. I was tempted to fill in some gaps, but we do not have time for that. And without a detailed explanation I will simply confuse some.


Let me just say this. That if we looked at those verses we would have seen God’s plan from heaven, but today we actually get to God’s purpose from heaven. What is the purpose from heaven? That’s the proper context for hearing John 3:16. The purpose from heaven is a purpose of love, it is a purpose of introducing you and me to the Father heart of God. Jesus came to die because of a loving motive. Just like the snake on the pole in the dessert was a loving motive of God, so Jesus must be lifted up from the earth on the cross in order to save men, that’s why He came and that’s why He died. This all explains the Love of Abba Father. Romans 5:8 (ESV) 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God literally put His heart on display in the death of His Son. God the Father is on display as He demonstrates His love in the death of His Son. His glory is on display in His love. Why then has the church become such a harsh, uncaring environment, that some people would prefer to call themselves Christians but they want nothing to do with the church? Well, let’s look at John 3:16 from various angles and see how much we can learn.


Now how is the love of God which is a demonstration of the Father Heart of God, seen in the Son of God?


1. The love of God is seen in the divine gift.

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.”


Another way to translate this verse is to say: ‘God loved the world in this way…’ It is not so much about the extent of the love of God; it is about the wonder of the love of God. God loved the world in this way that He gave His only Son. The love of God is seen in the divine gift. Now, love can be measured by the value of what someone gives. But listen, sacrificial value always trumps monetary value. Unloving people are normally stingy people. When we say that God loved us ‘this way’ we see a God who loved us sacrificially. What somebody gives is a statement about their love. Are they willing to sacrifice for the object of their affection? Great love gives greatly, small love gives grudgingly.


The Bible lays great stress on this as it encourages us to know what we have been redeemed with. 1 Peter 1:18-19 (ESV) teaches; 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but (of greater value) with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” How were you saved Christian? You were not bought with money. You were bought with the precious blood of Jesus. No one has ever loved the way that God loved. No one has ever given the way that God gave. That is the Father Heart of God for you.


There are a few things we need to consider when thinking about this divine gift. We will look at one today, and the rest next week.


1.1 Why did God give?


For God so loved the world that He gave.’ God gave, because He loved the world. I want to ask you a question. What was there in this world, what was there in us that would cause God to love us so much? What would merit the love of God, deserve the love of God? There is nothing, is there? Now remember as already stated, the reference to ‘world’ here is not just the world of the elect. There is an expression of the love of God for all of humanity in the giving of His Son. That’s why the guilt of those who reject the Son of God is increased. Look at verse 19. John 3:19 (ESV) 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world (at large), and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil". Their guilt is increased because God has loved the world in such a way that He sent His light into the world but men loved darkness rather than light. They prefer their sin to God’s Son. It increases their guilt. There is nothing at all in this world that should cause God to love us. The verse we read a few moments ago is clear in this regard. Romans 5:8 (ESV) 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”


He wasn’t dying for good men. He was dying for sinners like me. And by the way, I am a sinner like an onion is an onion. Layer for layer, there is more onion, and layer for layer I am a sinner.

In fact He was not even dying for people who loved Him. We are all born into this world by nature in enmity with God, haters of God, by birth, so Christ died on a cross for people who would not have naturally loved Him. Wow, people, this is love. If left to ourselves we would have gone our entire lifetime not loving God. Christ died for men like that. This is underscored very clearly by Paul in Colossians 1:21-22 (ESV) 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” Look at Romans 8:7 (ESV) 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”


Do we understand what a hopeful truth that is? If Christ came to die for the righteous, how many of us in this room qualify? Even Paul regarded himself as the chief of sinners, and by the way, I am the chief of chiefs. Christ didn’t come to die for righteous men, did He? He came to die for sinners. You might ask. How do I know that Jesus died for me? Let me ask you a question. Do you know yourself to be a sinner? Do you know yourself to be lost? Do you know yourself to be deserving of the wrath of God? Do you not just know it intellectually, but do you sense it? Do you know that you need saving, do you know that you need forgiving, and do you long for that forgiveness and are you willing to look at the Son of God lifted up on the cross for that forgiveness and are you willing to trust in His shed blood for the forgiveness of all of your sins? Then I have good news for you. He died for you. He died for sinners.


If you think of yourself to be righteous, you have no need of Jesus anyway. But if you know yourself to need the Son of God, He died for people just like you. It should actually amaze us that God would love the world. And sadly we are so affected by sin that many yawn at the thought that Jesus would die for us. Others again say; why shouldn’t He, aren’t we such a lovable bunch? Didn’t we deserve this? It is not my fault that sin came into this world. It was Eve’s. If that’s how you think about it, you can immediately see the effect of sin on your mind. Because when you see things accurately, you will know that we did not deserve such a gift.


If God had given us all what we deserved we would all be in hell right now. We didn’t deserve it. What do we deserve? Remember what we have seen time and again in Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) 1 And you were dead (Dead) in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world (Deviant), following the prince of the power of the air (Demonized), the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (Disobedient)3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind (Deranged), and were by nature children of wrath (Damned), like the rest of mankind.” We are dead, deviant, demonized, disobedient, deranged and damned.


All of the above says that we do not deserve one ounce of love. How do you love a dead, deviant, demonized, disobedient, deranged and damned person? So on the surface our lives might look very different from each other’s, but what we have just seen is that we were all walking in the same direction, and that is against God. We walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince and the power of the air which is following the ways of Satan, and by nature, by birth we are children of wrath. What does ‘by nature’ mean? That’s what ‘we are’ and damnation is what we deserve.


Now when you look at these verses you need to ask, why then would God give His Son to the world? This is answered then for us in Paul’s John 3:16 in Ephesians 2:4-5 (ESV) “4 But God (the two most important words in the Bible), being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” Now remember that we saw previously that our punishment comes from God and in the same way our answer has to be found in God. The reason can never be found in us. It is not that we are worth something, that we are still valuable. There was nothing in us that would ever call for God to love us. God’s love for us is explained by God. He is a loving, gracious merciful Father, and that alone can ever explain why He would give His Son for us. The world is set in opposition to Him and hates Him, has no thought of Him or part of Him, but yet He loves the world.


Let me end by asking a question. If God the Father loved us so much while we were dead, deviant, demonized, disobedient, deranged and damned, why would He suddenly be such a harsh unloving Father now that we are children of God? No, my friend, He isn’t. We do not have time for it now, but Romans 8:38-39 tells you that nothing will separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Sadly because many of God’s children are unloving and judgmental we pretend our Father is like that. We will look at this in detail when we get to the story of the prodigal son. It was the brother at home who was harsh, not the Father. But, let’s not run ahead.


So for today we have looked at why God gave, but it is not only ‘why God gave’ that shows the ‘Father Heart of God’.  Next week we will look at ‘what God gave’, ‘how God gave’ and ‘when God gave’. And all of that will display the ‘Father Heart of God’.



Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: 24 August 2014