John 3:16, may be the greatest verse ever. And it may be my favorite to preach on because:
- Almost everyone in America has heard of it, but few have thought deeply about it, which makes it easy to bring new information to the table.
- It boils the Gospel down to 28 words.
And this idea of the “greatness” of this verse is not original with me. I think there have been 6,894,342 messages preached on “the greatest verse,” but who’s counting? (a smiley emoji with a halo would be good right here)
Here it is in case you don’t know it: “For God loved the world so much that He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)
Here are the five things you gotta know:
1. The Greatest Being …For God…
There’s no being greater than God. He created…everything!
All of science believes to some extent the opening section of the Bible…In the beginning was nothing, then bang…something.
Christianity: In the beginning there was an ultimate being. Which created everything.
Atheism: In the beginning there was nothing. Which exploded.
Now who believes in fairy tales, myths, unicorns and all other such silliness? Nothing exploded. Sheesh.
The Greatest Being, God…wielded…
2. The Greatest Power …(He) loved…
If you say “of course He loves us!” that just shows you’ve grown up in a Christian culture. For most of history and even now in most of the world, the common belief is NOT that God is love.
The Greek and Roman gods were not gods that loved mankind. Loved self, loved war, but not known for loving humans.
There are over 33 MILLION Hindu deities. Not one is described in terms of loving or grace filled like the Christian God.
What about Allah? It is true that one of his 99 names in the Quran is “el-Waddud” – the loving. But it’s a very qualified love. He doesn’t love the sinner, the unjust, and he definitely does NOT love the non-Muslim.
In contrast, the God of the Bible – loves the sinner. Read Romans 5:8.
And it is the Great Power of God’s love, through Christ, to:
make the dead alive,
make the lost found,
make the sick healed,
make the sinner holy,
make the filthy pure,
make the guilty innocent,
give the captive liberty,
make the drunk sober,
make the blind see.
The power of God’s love is great indeed.
The Greatest Being, God, exhibited the Greatest Power, Love…
3. To the Greatest Degree …the World so much…
“Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight – Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
God loves the Baptists – but also Methodists. He loves the Presbyterians. And the Lutherans. And the Catholics.
God loves the fundamentalists – but also the liberals. And the socialists and the communists.
God loves preachers! He REALLY LOVES THE PREACHERS. But before I get cocky about that, He also loves the murderers, gamblers, heroin users, prostitutes and the addicts and on and on and on.
God loves ALL – ALL colors, ALL individuals, ALL social groups. All.
God so loved…the world.
The Greatest Being, God, exhibited the Greatest Power, Love, to the Greatest Degree, the world by giving…
4. The Greatest Gift …that He gave His only Son..
Jesus proved once and for all that He loves you, when He lived out John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
That’s what Jesus did for you and me.
Because here’s the deal – you and I are sinners. We’ve broken God’s laws. Shall not lie. Done that. Shall not murder – Jesus said if you hate you’ve broken that one. Oops, done that.
The Bible says because of our sin, we deserve punishment.
You get that. If someone brutally murders your parents or children, you want justice. A judge that would let the murderer go free would be a crooked judge. And God is NOT a crooked judge. He is a good judge. He will punish all murderers, all rapists. But He won’t stop there. He’ll also punish all liars, thieves, even the haters. He is just…and so has to punish all evil.
But wait! Remember – God LOVES sinners and wants to SAVE them and (here comes the crazy part) have them in His family (who wants that??). So what did He do? He gave the Greatest Gift – His Son, Jesus. Who willingly took the penalty for my sin and yours.
Why would He do that? To deliver on:
5. The Greatest Promise
… that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
The Greatest Being, God
the greatest power – so loved
to the greatest degree – the world
that He gave the greatest gift – His Son
with the greatest promise you can ever get on this earth –
That whoever believes – puts their faith in, puts their trust in, whoever believes in Christ, won’t perish – but will have eternal life – life with their Heavenly Father forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever.
And that…is the Greatest News…of all.
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