1160 West Georgia Street Vancouver, BC, V6E 3H7
The Selfless Love of God
Love! In English there is only one word for love. It’s a word we use a lot to express how we feel about food, fashion, friends and family. Love is something we want – and desire to experience. But the type of love we read about in John’s Gospel is different, in fact it’s divine. In the original language of the New Testament, the Greek used multiple words for love. In John 3:16, the author uses the word agape, which speaks of God’s selfless, undeserved and unconditional love towards a broken and fallen world. God loves a world that does not and cannot love Him back in return, unless He makes the move to change our hard hearts and renews a right spirit within us (John 3:19; 5:42; 8:42; Ez. 11:19).
LOVE THAT CROSSES BORDERS
God so loved the world that He did not give up on humanity after their fall and rebellion in the Garden of Eden, but promised Adam and Eve a descendant (or seed) who would one day crush the head of the serpent through self-sacrificing attack (Gen. 3:15). God so loved the world that He sent His prophets and angels to reveal His ways and His love for Israel as the chosen people. The promise of the coming King would be fulfilled through this small nation, but the blessing would not just be for the Jews, but for all nations (Gen. 22:18). The Jews were very familiar with the fact that God loved the children of Israel, but they learned through Christ and His radical message that God’s love was limitless and crossed ethnic boundaries.
God so loved the world that, “when the set time had fully come, [He] sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship” (Gal. 4:4-5). We need to note that God’s love is to be admired, but not only because He loves so many people from every nation, but because He loves a broken and bad world full of evil and darkness. Actually, the Apostle John Himself points out elsewhere that Chrisitans should not love the world or anything in it (1 John 2:15-17). However, as D.A. Carson explains: “there is no contradiction between this prohibition and the fact that God does love it. Christians are not to love the world with the selfish love of participation; God loves the world with the self-less, costly love of redemption” (Carson, 205).
OUR ONLY HOPE
I thank God for reaching me in my darkness and rebellion, and for opening my eyes so that I could see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. God truly is light and love (1 John 4:7-8). We are chosen from the world and the gospel comes to us apart from our merit and it saves us (Romans 1:16). Before and after God gives the gift of his Son to the world, he maintains the same stance toward the world. He pronounced condemnation upon the world, but still loves the world and makes a way of escape for all who choose to believe in the Son (John 3:18-19). Jesus is the only hope for a lost world and, “this dual stance of God is a commonplace of biblical theology” (Carson, 205). The Bible says “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), but it is also true that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). God is perfectly just and loving. He is full of grace and truth.
Christians are not born as children of God, but they receive the right to become children of God by receiving and believing in Jesus’ name (John 1:12). Jesus became one of us, fully man and fully God. He kept the law of God perfectly and there was no flaw found in Him. He then died a perfect death as the sinless Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He was buried and was raised from the dead on the third day according to Scriptures, conquering sin and death (1 Cor. 15:4). Whoever believes will experience a new birth – a spiritual birth that rescues us from the kingdom of darkness and brings us into the Kingdom of His beloved Son (Col.1:13). Jesus’ mission for coming into the world was not to condemn the world, but to save it (John 3:17). But we still need to choose. There are only two options for the world: eternal life through repentance and belief in the Son of God or disbelieving and perishing under God’s judgment.
My prayer for you reading this blog is that you would believe in the name of God’s one and only Son and receive eternal life. Receiving the selfless love of God through Christ is the most satisfying experience you will ever have. Nothing compares to the love that God pours into the hearts of His children through His Holy Spirit.