The Good Son

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

If you are a sports fan and attend sporting events or watch them on the media, then no doubt you have seen fans waving a sign with the verse John 3:16 on it. I have no opinion to express on the practice, but, it does put the cause of Jesus Christ on the minds of those who know the verse. I will also say that this verse is probably the most known verse in the Bible. I will go further to say that if anyone who has written the Scripture on their heart, this one is in the canon. Because of this verses familiarity it may often be taken for granted. Personally I think that this verse defines the mission of Jesus Christ and the purpose of the Gospel message. It is for me one of the most profound verses in the Bible, as all Scripture is profound. As “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

“For God so loved the world.” Who or what is God. Moses describes God with the word usage of Supreme Deity in Genesis 1:1. Also in that verse we learn that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) God is the Supreme Deity with the all-powerful force that created all that there is. (John 1:3) We learn God’s name in Exodus 3:14 which is Yahweh translated “I Am.” This denotes that He is an eternal being, He is not ever was, or going to be, but throughout all eternity He is. This also means that He is ever-present. He was before the beginning and He will be everlasting through all eternity which has no end. Even through there is opposition to God He has no opposite as we read, “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me.” (Isaiah 46:9) There is left and right, up and down, forward and backward, Righteous and evil, but there is only one God and there is no opposite to God as there is nothing that can oppose Him.

To gain an understanding of God we must examine His Attributes. By nature God is a Spirit, He is intangible and cannot be grasped by the five senses. We have been created in His image and therefore have a conscious and are capable of reasoning. Therefore, if we are to know God we must relate to Him spiritually. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) God is a triune God who exist in three persons but yet they are one God. There is God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:16-17) God is unchangeable, (Malachi 3:6) as God is truth (John 18:37) and truth is as it is and cannot change. God knows everything as He is before the beginning and at every point throughout eternity. (Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:28), and God is all-powerful and has all-authority over His creation. The Lord God has all power and authority. (Revelation 19:6)

God reveals His characteristics through the Scripture. God is just (Acts 17:31), loving (Ephesians 2:4-5), truthful (John 14:6), and holy. (1 John 1:5) God shows compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3), mercy (Romans 9:15), and grace. (Romans 5:17) God judges sin (Psalm 5:5) but also offers forgiveness. (Psalm 130:4)

Seeing the attributes of God helps us to better understand Him but we not only understand by His Word but also by His works. By looking at God’s works in the past, present and future we can gain a deeper understanding of who God is. God is the creator of the heaven and the earth, (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 42:5) and it is He who sustains His creation. (Colossians 1:17) God’s creation was created for a purpose and He is executing His eternal plan. (Ephesians 1:11) God’s plan is the redemption of man for the purpose of a restored relationship with Him and to save man from the penalty of sin which is death. (Galatians 3:13-14) God searches for those who seek Him (Psalm 53:2 and draws them to His Son Jesus Christ. (John 6:44) God is a heavenly Father who disciplines His children (Hebrews 12:6) and He will judge mankind according to their deeds of the flesh. (Revelation 20:11-15)

“World is the term used in Scripture in three different senses. In its first sense it means the universe of created things. In the beginning God created the world and all that therein. (Genesis 1:1) Its more usual meaning as it is found so frequently on the lips of Christ and the writers of the Epistles, it is those evil forces which are opposed to God and goodness. Jesus says, “I have chosen you out of the world.” (John 15:19) John says, “Little children love not the world.” (1 John 2:15) The love of that world is deadly to faith and holiness. Its third sense is that which is employed here. It is the world of man that God loves. It is the world of men without distinction or exception.” (Dr. Robert W Kirkpatrick)

God loves the whole of mankind with His Divine love, agape love, and His love towards man is unconditional. As we are all sinners, (Romans 323) we are all unrighteous, yet God still loves us. The love of God is so complete that His grace is sufficient to meet all our need of forgiveness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) No man can out sin the grace of God. This verse does not say for God so loved the righteous, or so loved the Jew, but said the all-inclusive word “the world.” This world is not limited to the Augustinian or Calvinistic interpretations. The world is not just the world of the elect as this is not what the verse says. “For God so loved the world.” It is the world in which John spoke of. “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” The world that Paul spoke of in his letter to Timothy. “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4) As John Calvin himself wrote, “Christ brought life, because the heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish.”

“He gave His only begotten Son.” In the Old Testament time I sometimes feel that they never left the physical realm and ventured into the spiritual realm. I know that is not a completely true statement but it is how I feel about it sometimes. When I look at the Pharisees of Jesus’ day I see the elite class of Jews who were more concerned about physical appearances and ritualistic worship. As if God’s law was obtainable they added more of their own laws to it. I also see this trait in some Churches today. Certainly Pharisees of then and Christians of today involve themselves in the task of judgment, which we are not supposed to do. Who are we to judge anyone but ourselves? “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” (Matthew 7:1) They view the world as they were, the chosen people of God. But there were non-Jewish people who came into their faith belief system of worshipping the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God promised that all nations would be blessed through the seed of Abraham and yet the Jews did not see that as an all-inclusive statement. (Psalm 72:17) The Old Testament Scriptures spoke of the coming Messiah and the Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for Him. God loved the Jew because of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the first born of His people. All the heavens and the earth are God’s creation and man is the crown of His creation. For God so loved the world that “He gave His only begotten Son.” The world is the object of God’s love that He would give His only begotten son. He gave, or delivered up His Son that he might be lifted up on the cross of humiliation and shame to die for the sins of the world.(John 1:29) God’s love for the world, you and me, is so great that He did not hold back His only begotten son. We see the example in Abraham who did not hold back his only son Isaac form God. God had commanded him to sacrifice his son and Abraham in His faithfulness to God’s Word obeyed. Just before Abraham slew his son God provided the sacrificial lamb to be sacrificed. Just as God provided the sacrificial Lamb to be sacrificed for our sin, the sin of the world. “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

“That whoever believes in Him shall not perish.” To those who are aware of the darkness of their soul, to the desperate need to resolve the sin in their life, to drive away the dark cloud of despair from their conscious, this passage of the verse is Light breaking through the darkness and hopelessness of the heart. The sinful condition of man’s soul has been the concern of God ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden. The purpose of God’s plan has been the restoration of man unto Himself. The love of God can break through the hardened scales of man’s heart. (1 Corinthians 13:8) The mercy of God is deeper and overflows the walls of man’s sin. It is the hope found through Jesus our Savior that lifts men out of this world into the greater glory of the heavenly home. It is man’s belief in Him that is the balance of man’s sin and the righteousness of Jesus Christ by His lifting up upon the cross as the brass serpent in the older days of the Old Testament. (Numbers 21:7) That man shall not perish and escape the ruinous corruption of this world and free himself form the natural desire of it and the destiny of destruction that the world leads to. The curse from the fall in the Garden continues to spread into the hearts of men but it can be arrested, men can find salvation from the wrath of God, and none need to be excluded. God’s free gift of salvation is available for all who will accept it. Just believe, trust and obey Jesus for He is “the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

“But have eternal life.” For many the thought of eternal life is a never-ending existence that we all have righteous and unrighteous alike. “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7) God formed man and breathed into him an eternal spirit. The question for man is where he is spending his eternity after leaving this world. The world offers us many choices but there are only two choices in the realm to come beyond this world. Let us remember that the purpose of God is to restore man to fellowship with Him. The problem is that God cannot be in the presence of sin. “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor.” (Habakkuk 1:13) Therefore, God sent His Son to pay our sin debt by the sacrifice of His life blood. Jesus lived a sinless life in obedience to the will of the Father and therefore is the only righteous man to live on this earth. He is the Lamb of God the perfect sacrifice for our sin. We think of never ending life but what we should think is where we will spend that never ending life? Jesus in the Gospel of John gives us the desired place that we should desire to spend eternity. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) The Lord is now preparing a place for us in heaven and it is beyond our imagination. (John 14:2) We cannot even fully think of the magnificence we will experience there in our heavenly home. “But just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) The choice of our destiny is in the choice of our acceptance or rejection of God’s Son Jesus Christ.

Let us stretch our imaginations for just a moment. Let us say that I am a sheep herder and it was a rather large flock. Because of the successfulness of my enterprise in the sheep business I had acquired great affluence. One day I brought before the community my son and introduced him to them. I and my son stood before the people and I said, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased. When I was building my sheep pins he was faithful to build them perfectly the way that I wanted them. With all the sheep in my sheep folds that were in his care he has not lost even one to the wolves. He has kept them secure, provided for, and at the end of the day has brought each sheep home safe and whole. I stand here before you now and introduce you to my son. My son whom I love more than anything in this world”

Suppose the people rejected everything I said and also rejected my son. Do you think they who rejected my son would find favor with me his father? What if then I went on to tell them more of what my son has done. “I sent my son out into the world to find the lost sheep and save them that was lost. As he went about, healing them and rescued them from death. But they like you rejected him, they mocked him, beat him and whipped him tearing the flesh off his back. Then they put a crown of thorns upon his head and strapped him to a cross. He had to carry the cross up and hill and there they nailed him to the cross where after hours of torturing pain he died.” Do you think that I would seek revenge upon those people who had treated my “Good Son” so unjustly? No, even though I loved my son more than the world I told those people that I loved them and would forgive them of all their injustices if they would call upon my son’s name and accept my forgiveness.

Do you see the point? How can any not accept the love of God? What would any not accept His forgiveness? How can they not have faith in the one who died so that they might have life? Why would they not want to live in a place of perfect unconditional love? Again, the question is, do we accept Him, or do we reject Him?

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, June 19, 2014

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