FFF 11:1 (Jan 1965)
The Bible In Miniature
“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” (John 3:16).
This text has been spoken of as the Bible in miniature, and this is quite appropriate, as almost every fundamental doctrine in the New Testament is compressed into this one verse. God who is the source of our salvation is at the beginning of the verse; Christ who has secured our salvation is in the very centre of it. Eternal Punishment from which Christ died to save us, and Eternal Life offered as a Gift to the believing sinner, are also prominent in the text.
There will be thousands of souls in Heaven through these life-giving words, and our prayers today is that as you read this message you will receive the gift of Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The writer will praise God for all Eternity for John 3:16. It was this verse displayed on a large billboard in the City of Toronto that forced him to consider where he would spend Eternity. In passing the text many times a day, the truth of the love of God to guilty sinners wrought conviction and repentance, and upon receiving Christ as his personal Saviour he had the assurance that he would never perish, and became the happy possessor of everlasting life.
This wonderful verse brings before us the love of God in its four dimensions.
Paul in speaking of this love in Ephesians 3:18, prays that the saints in Ephesus might be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and heighth; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. It is almost impossible to comprehend with our finite minds the measureless love of God, the magnitude of which is expressed in the simple lines:
“Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every blade of grass a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.”
The Breadth of God’s Love
The breadth of God’s love is manifest in the object to which it is extended “For God so loved the world.” How marvellous that God should love the world of sinners lost and ruined by the Fall! The world, whose mind is enmity against God, whose course is evil, whose sin is self-pleasing, whose heart is wicked, whose trend is sin-ward, whose god is the devil, is the world God loved. Had our text said that God loved the angels, or even if it said that God loved the world in its unfallen state we could understand it, but that God should love a world sunk in the darkness of sin, whose enmity culminated in the crucifixion of His blessed Son, is too vast to comprehend.
Friend, you are included in that world that has rebelled against high Heaven, and you deserve the wrath of God that its enmity merits. The wonder is that God yearns over you with love unspeakable. My text assures you that God loves the world and, as part of that world, you are an object of divine love. God loves you notwithstanding your sin and guilt, and He will save you today if you believe the love that God has toward you.
The Length of God’s Love
The length of God’s love is evident in the fact that He gave His only begotten Son to die the shameful death of Calvary for us. In John 15:13, we read, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” There you have the length to which human love will go. Many a mother has given her life for her children, and a father will often lay down his life for his son, but “God commendeth His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Who can sound the deeps of such a sentence as: “That He gave His only begotten Son.” It is all the more amazing that God should send His Son into the world, when we remember that He who knew the end from the beginning, knew that they would despise and reject the Lord Jesus, that they would pluck the hairs from His cheeks, and lay the scourge upon His back, and nail Him to a malefactor’s cross, and cry, “Away with Him, away with Him; we will not have this Man to reign over us.” The Lord Jesus by His agony in Gethsemane’s Garden, and the shame and suffering of Golgotha, when He died crushed beneath the load of the wrath and curse of God, fully expressed the love that is eternally in the Father’s heart to a lost world.
“Tis that ‘Man of Sorrows’ yonder,
Object of contempt beneath,
But in Heaven, the highest wonder,
Teaches fully by His death,
That God is love.
“Not for those who ever loved Him,
Did the Lord of Glory die;
Pity to the wretched moved Him:
Who that hears it will deny,
That God is love.”
How can you doubt the love of God that went the length of giving Heaven’s best for earth’s worst. The sacrifice of Christ on Calvary should forever assure your heart that God loves you. May the Spirit of God who loves to take of the things of Christ and reveal them to us enable you to say from your heart with deep thanksgiving:
“It was for me, yes all for me,
Oh love of God so great, so free;
Oh wondrous love; I’ll shout and sing;
He died for me, my Lord and King.”
The Depth of the Love of God
Is expressed in the words “should not perish.” God, in His mighty love, desires that sinners should be saved from the penalty of their sins. Who can understand that word “perish”? In it we hear the groans of the damned; we have the depths of misery, the despair of the lost, the outer darkness of the unsaved, the doom of the wicked. In the groans of the Saviour and in the tears that He shed, and the darkness experienced when He was forsaken by God, we see the depths to which He in His love for sinners was willing to go, that He might save them from the doom of hell.
“Deep were those sorrows, deeper still
The Love that brought Thee low,
That bade the streams of life from Thee
A lifeless victim flow.”
The Height of the Love of God
We have “Everlasting Life.” God in love will lift the sinner from the depths of sin and shame, from the state of death, and impart to the believing sinner divine life. This everlasting life that God offers to sinners occupies a prominent place in the Gospel of John. Our Blessed Lord says in John 6:47, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.” Again He says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death until life” (John 5:24).
To receive Christ means to possess Eternal Life, to be saved with an Eternal Salvation, liberated by Eternal Redemption, kept for an Eternal Inheritance, to be indwelt by the Eternal Spirit, and loved with an Eternal love. Notice how simply we obtain the blessing, “Whosoever” believeth in Him.
Gypsy Smith, the Evangelist, in his book tells of a time when he climbed a plum tree in a farmer’s yard and was helping himself to the plums. He looked down and saw the farmer standing at the foot of the tree. The farmer gave him a very pressing invitation to come down. Gypsy Smith answered, “I’m not in a hurry, Mister,” and prepared to sit in the fork of the tree until the farmer would leave. To his discomfort, the farmer said, “I’m not in a hurry, either, sonny,” and he sat down. Gypsy Smith saw that the farmer meant business, so he sheepishly backed down the tree. The farmer took him by the ear and led him over to another tree with a notice on it. He said to Gypsy Smith, “Can you read?” “No,” said Gypsy, “I never went to school.” The farmer said, “Listen and I’ll read it to you: ‘Whosoever is found trespassing will be prosecuted’.” Gypsy Smith said, “I never had any trouble from that day on believing that ‘whosoever’ meant me.”
When his mother read John 3:16 to him, “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,” he believed that whosoever included him,
Will you take your place among the “whosoevers” that believe in Jesus? God’s Word assures you, that you should not perish, but have everlasting life. If you despise and spurn the love of God, and continue in unbelief you will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord. We read in Romans chapter 16:26 of the Everlasting God, and this title given to God refers to His duration. The life which He gives to all who believe in Christ as Saviour is as everlasting as the God who gives it. The punishment meted out to the Christ rejector is everlasting. God in His love and mercy has provided a full and free salvation through the precious blood of Christ shed on Calvary. If you receive Christ as your Saviour today, you will possess Eternal Life now, and when by death your sojourn on earth is ended, you will enter into that life in all its fulness, in that Eternal Home where there shall be no more death.