Monthly Archives: September 2013

For God so Loved the World

John 3:16
New King James Version (NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 13:16 has become the verse that summarizes the Gospel. It has become so prevalent that even non-Christians can quote the verse or at least the reference. God’s love for the world has become the dominate theme of all of Christianity.
Somehow we have come to picture it this way. God was lonely and wanted companionship. He saw mankind and fell in love with us. His deep love for us became a driving obsession. He would give anything to have relationship with us. He ended up sacrificing His own Son so that He could redeem mankind for Himself.

This story is a kind of romance. You know how the romance goes. The guy sees this beautiful, smart, funny, talented, friendly, sexy girl with a charming personality and he is irresistibly drawn to her. He does everything he can to win her over. She is resistant at first but he continues to pursue her and eventually she falls in love with him.
That sounds great but it has absolutely no relationship to the love story between God and man. In the earthly romance the guy sees a girl of great value. She brings all kinds of great things into the relationship. She is a prize. His value increases by being in relationship with her. None of these things are true between God and man. There is nothing beautiful or desirable about mankind. God has no need for man. A relationship with man does not improve God’s status. Man brings nothing of value to the relationship. And man is an enemy of God.

Romans 5:7-8
New King James Version (NKJV)
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Somehow we have turned around the story to give us value. We don’t have any value in any way; not to ourselves and definitely not to God. The story is not about us. The story is only about God. God’s love for us has nothing to do with us; it only has to do with God. The character of God is LOVE. Everything in the story originates with God and His love. None of it has to do with us. God does not love us because we have value. We have value because God loves us and only because God loves us. Apart from God’s love we have no value.

Value is an attributed commodity. A dollar has no value in itself it only has value because someone values it. The same is true of gold or any other item. In a market economy the person making the purchase determines what he is willing to pay. Supply and demand says that the more he has available to pay the higher the price (the greater the value). God has infinite riches. And He paid the highest price possible for us. Again I have to remind you that He did not pay a high price for us because we are valuable. We are valuable because He paid a high price for us.

There is one more sense in which our value is tied to God. In our world items acquire value based on who owns them. If you have ever watched the Antiques Road Show then you know how it works. A person brings out an item. Let’s say it in an old Kentucky rifle. The expert looks it over and says it is a really nice specimen about 175 years old. He asks what the owner knows about it. The owner says that it came from Texas and that it was handed down through the family. The story is that his great great grandfather got it when he was fighting with Santa Anna during the Mexican American War. Then the expert begins to talk about the rifle. Yes it is an authentic Kentucky rifle made between 1828 and 1832. There were a lot of these rifles made and quite a few survived. They are popular collector’s items and normally one like this would go for about two to three thousand dollars. The owner of the gun is very pleased. But the expert interrupts him and goes on about the gun. “This gun has some very special features that add to its value. Did you notice the initials here on the stock, C.H.C.? They are the initials of Christopher Huston Carson a famous frontiersmen and army scout during the mid-1800s. He is known by his nickname Kit Carson. That alone would make this a very valuable gun, but it gets even better. See these other initials under Kit Carson’s, D.C.? Do you know whose initials that is? It is Davey Crockett. This gun was given to Davey Crockett by Kit Carson on June 12th, 1835. We know the date because Davey Crockett recorder it in his personal diary. Davey Crockett died a year later fighting against the forces of Santa Anna at the Alamo in Texas. This gun was owned by two of the most famous characters of the old west and it is tied to a huge historic event. That brings the value way up. If we can verify the authenticity of this gun I would place its value at a minimum of $120,000, but I suspect it would sell for much more.”

This story is fiction, but the concept is not. The value of an item goes way up based on the fame and importance of the owner. It doesn’t matter how insignificant the item; if it was owned by someone famous it becomes valuable. The same is true of us. Our significance doesn’t come from us; it comes from the fact that God owns us. He has bought us and He interacts with us every day.

If we are valuable because we belong to God and have a relationship with Him then the opposite is also true. Even though God paid the price for all of mankind, for many people the transaction was never completed. God never took possession of them. They never entered into relationship with Him. These people remain in their former state; totally without value. They are good for nothing, because the only way they have value is in relationship with God. What do we do with things that have no value? We throw them away. We put them on the trash heap. One of the common terms used in scripture that is translated hell is “gehenna”. The word means the garbage heap, the place outside of the city where the trash is dumped and burnt.

There is one more thing that needs to be discussed about us and God’s love. There is a popular teaching circulating among Churches that says, ‘We need to learn to love ourselves before we can accept love from others, including God’. This teaching comes from psychology. It has come from studies of children that have experienced abuse. They have never experienced love and they have ended up with paralyzing low self-esteem. There is a direct correlation between low self-esteem and low performance in school and all other areas of life. The treatment has been an attempt to increase their self-esteem by teaching them to love themselves. The basic concept is correct but as it often does it has become distorted. The focus has been on creating a self-love; a false sense of value apart from God. Even in the Church people have been taught that they must love themselves before they can accept God’s love. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our sense of value comes from being loved by someone of value. The love of God is the key to creating any type of self-esteem. Any other attempt to find value apart from God is self-deception, it is an outright lie.
God is the source of our love.

1 John 4:19
New King James Version (NKJV)
19 We love Him because He first loved us.

1 John 4:10
New King James Version (NKJV)
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

“For God so loved the world” is a miraculous statement about the character of God. One phrase in scripture states that “God is love”. That is, love is so central to His character that the word, love, could be used to describe God. God is so loving that He even loves us; even when we were still sinners, even when we were enemies of God.
It is that love that gives us the ability to love Him back. God is the source of love. It is the fact that an infinite, all powerful, God loves us is what gives us value.
He does not love us because we have value; rather we have value because He loves us. We love because He loved us. It is our relationship with God that allows us to be a channel for His love (1 John 4:7-21).