The Greatest Story Ever Told
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 (NIV)
In one verse we have the greatest story ever told:
John highlights that God is the source of love: ‘For God…’ Love originates with God because God is love (1 John 4:8).
Then he outlines the intensity of that love: ‘…so loved…’ God doesn’t just love a little bit or for a limited time. He loves fervently and passionately at all times: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us…” (1 John 3:1)
John then shows the object of God’s love: ‘…the world…’ This is speaking of mankind. All are included in his love; no one is outside its perimeter. Even though he knows all there is to know about us everyone is loved and accepted by him. That’s why he doesn’t want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”(2 Peter 3:9)
John follows this with the demonstration of God’s love: ‘…that he gave…’ Love is never selfish but always giving and seeking the good of others. As James says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” (James 1:17) And the greatest gift is that “He…did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all…”(Romans 8:32)
Which leads to the cost of God’s love: ‘…his one and only Son…’ To pay the penalty our sins deserved, God allowed His only son to be crucified for us. ‘This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”(1 John 4:10)
John then shows the response we are to have to this great love: ‘…that whoever believes in him…’ Salvation has been obtained for each one, all we have to do is recognize and believe it trusting in our Saviour. “…this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ…” (1 John 3:23)
Having placed our trust in the Son of God, John shows the security of God’s love: ‘…shall not perish but have eternal life’. When we believe in Jesus Christ we have already passed from death to life (John 5:24). God in his love promises that we are now secure because he will keep us safe: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29) This life that has begun in Christ will stretch out into all eternity, and what a joyous time it will be: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”(Revelation 21:4)
This is the gospel message; no wonder it’s the greatest story ever told.
Father, thank you for including me in your love so that I can live with you forever. Help me never to take your love for granted but rather live a life of thankfulness for all you have done for me.
Study by Barry Robinson
About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder in and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Worldwide Church of God UK.
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