Thursday, August 11, 2011
The first memory verse most of us learned when we became Christians was John 3:16—“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but should have everlasting life.”
But what does it all mean? What does it mean that God loved the world? What does it mean that he gave his only Son? What does it mean that if we believe in him we shall not perish? What does it mean that if we believe in him we will have everlasting, or eternal life?
There is another question I would like to answer in the process of answering the other questions, it is—Could God have secured our salvation in some other way? In other words, did God have to kill his own son to save us from death? Couldn’t God have just said something like, you’re free and we’re all friends again?
We need to know that everything God does is motivated by love. John said, “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). This means that whatever God does and for whatever reasons, everything he does is an act of love. But love does not just sit there contemplating the empty cosmos, basking in what might be. Love creates, it gives to the beloved. If it is not a giving, changing, active, and living entity, it is not love. Love changes things. Love is efficacious. Because God is love, he can do nothing that is not loving. And this includes our salvation. Paul said, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). And again, “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Eph 2:4-5). His love is determinative. It has an end, a goal. God’s love is the cause and source of our salvation.
In fact, God’s love for his creation demanded that he save us, love required God to act on our behalf, love necessitated saving mankind. God was constrained by who he is, to save us from our terrible plight.
What this means, practically, is that God loves you. He knows all about you and your weaknesses. He knows all about your strengths, he knows every thought, every intention of your heart. He knows the words you are about to say. He knows what you will be doing later tonight. He even knows what you will be doing tomorrow. He knows about your skin problems, he knows about your emotional hang ups, he knows how many hairs there are on your head. And he knows it all because he cares for you. He loves you.