"For thus God loves the world, so that He gives His only- begotten Son, that everyone believing on Him should not be perishing, but may be having life-eonian."
Many are the times we hear quoted the above well known Scripture: -John 3:16. Often this verse is often used in the quest to evangelize, but I wonder how many using it can really understand with a heartfelt understanding the length and depth and breadth of affectionate love therein.
The word "love" is bandied about willy-nilly in our supposedly well informed society, but all too often it is used as a synonym for lust. In the world there is no desire to understand the divine meaning of the word "LOVE."
If we are to get a clear understanding of its meaning we should read Romans 5: 6-9. By paying close attention to the condition of the present decadent society, and contrasting it with God's righteousness, we begin to realize the super-abundance and power of God's love. The seventh verse of this fifth chapter of Romans reveals something that few ever consider, but let us do so in this manner, by asking the question: how many of us would be prepared to take the place of someone who was condemned to die for a terrible crime ? Yes, that's right, any man of us would find it difficult to die even for a good man, never mind one convicted of terrible crimes. Not so with Christ, He so willingly consented to die on our behalf and while we were yet sinners ! Now that is super-abundant love!
Can we begin to understand the great sacrifice that God made by sacrificing His only begotten Son. His great love for us caused Him to overlook our offences. We read in 2 Cor. 5:19 that God is "not reckoning men's offences against them," even though the stench of our sin must have reached up to high heaven.
Do we fully understand what Christ was willing to give up for us? Let us be informed, read 2 Cor.8:9 "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, being rich, because of you He became poor, that you, by His poverty, should be rich. The riches spoken of here are far beyond our human capability of understanding because they are none other than spiritual blessings being prepared for those who have accepted personal responsibility for the death of their Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. His love for us and His willingness to complete His Father's will becomes apparent (Phil. 2:5-8) "For let this disposition be in you, which is in Christ Jesus also, Who, being in the form of God, deems it not pillaging to be equal with God, nevertheless empties Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming to be in the likeness of humanity, and being found in fashion as a human, He humbles Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
We are reminded that all is of God, (2 Cor. 5:18), so let us consider what the love of God has achieved for us in Christ Jesus (Col. 1:18-20) Because of what God through Christ has done we now have peace with Him. In each of Paul's epistles we are greeted with "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Not only have we received peace, we now discover something more (Rom. 8:15-16), "For you did not get slavery's spirit to fear again, but you got the spirit of sonship, in which we are crying "Abba, Father !" The spirit itself is testifying together with our spirit that we are children of God." See Gal. 4:5-6, and Eph.1:5.
If we continue in Romans chapter five and verse eighteen we read "Consequently, then, as it was through one offence for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind, for life's justifying, 19, For even as, through the disobedence of the one man (Adam), the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One (Christ), the many shall be constituted just." Rom.5:1-2 "Being, then, justified by faith, we may be having peace toward God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have the access also, by faith, into this grace in which we stand, and we may be glorying in expectation of the glory of God."
What a wonderful revelation ! Because of God's love for us and the sacrifice He was willing to make, we now have peace with Him. We have been justified -that is to say, found not guilty, which allows for a peaceful relationship with the Father, and that incredible blessing of sonship. In addition to this, there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus ! (Rom. 8:1).
We also have a promise of our glorification too (Eph.2:4-6) "God, being rich in mercy, because of His vast love with which He loves us (we also being dead to the offences and the lusts) vivifies us together in Christ (in grace are you saved!) and rouses us together and seats us together among the celestials in Christ Jesus." God speaks as if it has taken place already.
Many are aware of the 'love chapter,' 1 Corinthians 13, and verses 4-7, but let us read verse 13, "Yet now are remaining faith, expectation, love -these three. Yet the greatest of these is love." Why is this? Well, the first two in this trinity will pass away. Faith is given as a free gift, expectation is looking towards the payment in full of God's promises. When these two are fulfilled, that which remains is "Love." Now isn't that interesting ? This is where it all started, "For thus God loves the world !" We are forced to draw the conclusion that "LOVE" is the greatest word in the whole universe, and God demonstrated its meaning the most effective way, by allowing His Son's blood to be shed for us all, so that He may become All in all " (1 Cor. 15:28).