Richard Whitaker- Discipleship and Connections Pastor LHBC

John 3:16-21
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (ESV) John 3:16-21

Do you have the knowledge of being loved by God for who you are?  Or, does your measure of God’s love for you rise and fall based on your own moral performance, approval of others, vocational achievement, or something else? Jesus came so that you can know what God’s love is like.  

Jesus says that God is filled with love all for people.  This love is both general and specific. God loves all of humanity at once and he loves you as an individual person, right now, at this very moment.  He created you, knows you by name, and is aware of every detail of your life, even down to the very number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:29-31). God finds you worth all of his love just as you are.  

But, a person may say, ‘You don’t know the things I’ve done.  I have degraded myself and wasted so much of my life. I am unworthy of God’s love.  All of my dignity is gone because I’ve done wicked things, hated what is good, and led others to do the same.’  Friend, remember, though you may have done undignified things, your true dignity does not come from yourself. You are dignified because you bear the image of God – your Creator. 

So precious is your life to God that He is not willing for any of your sin to separate you from Him forever.  Yes, God loves you and me even though we are marked with Adam’s stain of sin. God is aware of every sin and still loves you – dearly and urgently.  You cannot out-sin God’s personal love for you. Do you find this kind of love hard to imagine? How do we know for sure that God loves us in this way?  We know by what He did to show His love. 

Jesus says that God showed his love by giving “his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (v.16) Jesus’ coming down to earth was not meant to heap condemnation, only to save you and me.  Belief in Jesus is our release from condemnation and brings freedom from the chains of sin.  

Believing is more than acknowledging Jesus exists.  Believing, as Jesus speaks in this passage, means coming to the light, “so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out by God.”  In other words, salvation comes to the person who believes in Jesus alone as their personal Savior to the extent that they begin to obediently follow Jesus.  Jesus would not have understood a person to be saved who did not live differently, obediently.

This saved person will evidence salvation in a life that leaves the old ways of darkness and is now clearly, though not perfectly, patterned after Jesus.  There is no salvation in Jesus without following Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that doing good works can save us. Only that a saved person will naturally produce spiritual fruit that confirms an inner transformation brought about by the Holy Spirit.

In other words, we are saved from sin and we are saved for something.  As God sent his only Son to save humanity, Jesus sends us to our neighbors, coworkers, and friends.  Giving up our lives to love them shows Jesus that we love him more than ourselves. Our actions to love all people in very tangible ways shows Jesus that we are grateful for his sacrificial rescue.  We know God loves us because he gave his only Son. People will know we love them when we share our only life with them.  

For those wanting to be born again:  Jesus, I am guilty before you because of my personal sin.  I confess my sins to you and repent of a lifestyle of sin that rejects you as Lord.  Thank you for loving me just as I am. Jesus, I am trusting you to save me and free me from the bondage of sin through your death and resurrection on my behalf.  Spirit of God, breathe new life into me and lead me forward in full obedience to the way of Jesus. I surrender my life to you Jesus. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus name, Amen.

For those already born again:  Lord Jesus, thank you for breathing new life into me and making a way for me to live for you now and through all of eternity.  Help me to remember that the gospel of Jesus not only had the power to save me, but has the power to make me into the image of Christ each day.  Forgive me when I trust in myself. Help me to remember that when I am weak, you are strong as I grow as an ambassador for your kingdom. In Jesus name, Amen.

Proverbs 28:1
The wicked flee when trouble pursues, but the righteous are as bold as lions.