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Upcoming Events
DEC

11

TUE
Men's Bible Study
8:00 AM
Every Tuesday at the downtown McDonalds, 8:00 a.m.
DEC

12

WED
Midweek Activities
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Preschool, Children, The Mission (Youth Worship) and Adult Bible Study, Weekly Worker's and Officers Meeting
DEC

16

SUN
Mission Ardmore
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Outreach to Newcomers to Ardmore
DEC

18

TUE
Men's Bible Study
8:00 AM
Every Tuesday at the downtown McDonalds, 8:00 a.m.
Bible Search
The Four "D's" of the Gospel
The Design: Love
John 3:16
 
Perhaps the most recognizable verse of Scripture in the New Testament is John 3:16:  "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."
 
These words of Jesus speak of four great realities in life. Each begins with “D” to help us remember.
 
First, there is a danger that we all face and that danger is perishing under the wrath of God because of our sin.  Verse 36 provides more detail
 
John 3:36
 
The wrath of God is another way of describing what it means to perish.  And as we saw last week, it is an extremely important concept to understand in that being under the wrath of God means being in a place of fiery torment, separated from anything good and holy with no hope of escape.
 
But fortunately, God has a plan to rescue from this danger.  The design of God to rescue us from this danger, motivated by His love for those that are perishing, is to send His Son to lay down his life and take away the sin of the world. 
 
Now the duty of man in response to that love is to believe on the Son of God.
 
And the destiny promised to all who believe is eternal life.
 
There you have it, what we are calling "The Four D's of the Gospel":  the danger, the design, the duty and the destiny.
 
So last week we talked about the danger of perishing under the wrath of God. This week we ponder the design of God to rescue us from perishing: the design of the love of God to rescue us from the wrath of God.
 
One of the steps in coming to embrace something as true is taking it seriously.  You may not believe, for instance, that drinking poison is serious.  But before you swig down an arsenic cocktail, you better seriously examine the subject because to do otherwise is deadly.
 
When it comes to the wrath of God, as well as the love of God, both deserve a serious, focused consideration.  So what I want to do this morning,  under this heading of God’s design of love, simply direct the focus of your mind to these things, asking God to confirm the reality of what you hear. 
 
If you have never been saved, I am asking God to give you spiritual taste buds to perceive and apprehend the truth of these things.
 
We’ll focus on four great truths regarding God's love.
 
First, notice how John 3:16 begins.  "For God. . ."
 
Let's begin there with a foundational thought and that is, 
1. There Is a God
 
Don't dismiss that as too simplistic.  Remember, in this text, Jesus is having a conversation with a man named Nicodemus who came one night asking about to have a right relationship with God.
 
And Jesus begins with this fundamental truth about the existence of God.  Jesus is teaching Nicodemus, and by way of Scripture, teaching us that there is a God. God exists. Jesus is absolutely saturated with his consciousness of God. Everything he says relates to God. Everything he does relates to God. He is a God-entranced human being.
 
There are many reasons, good reasons, by the way, for believing in God. But one of the best is that right here in the most well-known verses in the Bible, Jesus taught us that God exists and that he is the central reality in a life.
 
So if someone asks you why you believe in God, you can say, “I believe in God because Jesus believed in God, and all that I know of Jesus makes me trust him more than I trust any philosopher or any scientist or any theologian or any friend or any other source of information I have ever known or read about.”
 
Then you can ask them, “By the way, do you know anyone more trustworthy or better qualified to teach us about the existence of God than Jesus?”
 
We begin with God. And as I said earlier, don’t rush past this to get to the important stuff.  This is not to be taken lightly. 
Pause in your life, and say to yourself, "There is God. The world began with God. The world depends on God. I am a person with a conscience and a sense of justice and the capacity to contemplate spiritual things, and speak in sentences, and to love — all because I am created in the image of God. He was there first. And he made me like himself and for himself — that he might be known through me (Isaiah 43:7). The meaning of my life is knowing and showing God.
 
By the way, it would serve us well to make that statement not just as a beginning point of salvation, but for every experience in our life.  When the bottom falls out of your world, you need to stop and take some time to remind yourself there is a God. 
 
When sickness attacks and the prognosis is not good, you need to take a deep breath and say to yourself, "There is a God and He's in charge". 
 
When death comes knocking and takes away those we love, we can remind ourselves there is a God and He is on the throne.
 
Always being there.  There is a God.
 
Second thought:
 
2. This God Has a Son
 
What does the verse say?  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. . . .”
 
 
 
Again we are so familiar with the words that we blow right by the impact of that statement.  This is a stunning reality. Jesus is teaching us that God has one only begotten Son.
 
Now that is a startling thing to discover.  God has a Son named Jesus and Jesus is the one and only begotten Son of God.  It is an amazing and wonderful and mind-boggling truth, and absolutely critical if we will be saved from perishing.
 
Why does Jesus identify Himself as "the only begotten Son"?  He does it to distinguish Himself from every others kind of son.
 
After all, God has sons who are made His children by being born again.  He has sons who are adopted. The angels are called “sons of God” in the book of Job, and we Christians are called “sons of God” by Paul in Romans 8. 
 
But angels are “sons of God” by virtue of being directly created by God and Christians are “sons of God” by virtue of being born again and adopted into his family through the work of Christ of the cross. 
 
But Jesus is the “one and only begotten Son” and He didn't become that by creation or by adoption, but by begetting. And begetting is simply a human analogy for what is beyond our comprehension. But it carries a crucial truth. 
 
C.S. Lewis said: “Rabbits beget rabbits; horses beget horses; humans beget humans, not statues or portraits; and God begets God — not humans and not angels.”
 
Now let me just talk above your hear for a moment, and don't get uptight about that because I'm talking over my head also.  But follow along and stand amazed in the presence of God:
 
God’s only begotten Son is God. And there never was a time when God had not begotten his Son because the begetting of the Son is equally eternal with the existence of the God the Father. The fact that God exists as God the Son as a perfect, personal image and representation and equal of God the Father so that they exist as two persons with one divine essence is simply what it means to be God.
 
This is the way God has existed from all eternity, without beginning. This is the point of
 
John 1:1,
 
and notice,
 
verse 14
 
In other words, the Word, Jesus, is the only begotten Son, and co-eternal with the Father. There is God. And God has a one and only begotten Son.
 
Here's the third thought:
 
3. God Loves
 
That's what the verse says.  “For God so loved. . . .”
 
Jesus teaches us that the God who exists loves. He is a loving God.  Let that sink in. He loves. And of all the things you might say about God, be sure to say this. He loves.
The same guy that recorded this conversation of Jesus in John 3:16 also wrote in 1 John 4:8, “God is love.”
 
God loves. And notice, Jesus tells us more specifically what he means by love in John 3:16.
 
“For God so loved. . . .”
 
The “so” here doesn’t mean an amount of love but rather a way of loving. He doesn’t mean: God loved so much, but God loved this way. “God so loved”.  Here's how God demonstrated His love. 
 
So how did He do it? What is the way God loved? He loved in such a way “that he gave his only begotten Son.”
 
And we know that this giving is talking about His death and crucifixion.  He gave Him so He could be rejected and abused.  After all, “He came to his own and his own received him not” (John 1:11). Instead they killed him.
 
But that was the design of the plan.  In fact, Jesus said at the end of His life on earth, "I have accomplished the work You gave Me to do." So when the Father gave his only begotten Son, he gave him to die.
 
That’s the kind of love the Father has. It is a giving love. It gives His most precious treasure — his Son. That means it was a very costly love, a very powerful love, a very rugged, painful love, a very personal love.
 
 “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son. . . .”
 
There we find the fourth thought I want to focus on.   God gave this costly love to an undeserving world of sinners.
 
“For God so loved the world. . . .”
 
4. God Loves the World
 
There are two word pictures employed in this verse that illustrate the love of God.  One of those is the infinite value of what He gave.  God gave His only begotten Son. 
 
But that value of the gift is amplified and magnified by the sinfulness and rebelliousness of those for whom He was given.
 
That's what motivated Paul to write what he did in
 
Romans 5:7-8
 
I want to point out to you what Jesus said just before He spoke John 3:16.  In verse 14, Jesus compares his own coming with the what happened in the day of Moses when the people rebelled against God and said they were sick of manna.
 
Maybe you remember the story.  It's recorded in Numbers 21.  God sends Moses to lead His people out of Egyptian captivity.  They make it out and wind up wandering around in the wilderness.  So they will have something to eat, God sends them a provision called manna. 
 
But before long, they grow tired of manna and begin to complain about it.  They're griping about Moses and they're griping about God and they're griping about being hungry and tired and thirsty, and they said, "We are especially tired of this worthless bread God's giving us. 
 
So God got His belly full of their griping and sent a plague of poisonous serpents all through the camp, people dying everywhere.  Fiery serpents, they are called.  And people are dropping like flies! 
 
And it didn't take too long for their attitude to change about the bread! They realize they have sinned against God and they ask Moses to pray and see if God will take away the snakes. 
 
The prayer of Moses is recorded in
 
Numbers 21:8
 
And that's what Jesus is talking about here in John 3:16.  Now follow the illustration.  In Moses' day, God’s design of love to rescue the rebellious people from perishing was to lift up a serpent on a pole so that all the people had to do was look at it in faith and be saved.
 
Then Jesus says in
 
John 3:14–15
 
So when John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that he gave,” it means He gave His one and only begotten Son to a world of rebels who are snake bit and perishing, and Jesus is the only hope they have.  But the good news is God loved this world.
Isn't that simple?  There is a God.  He has a Son.
He loves. And he loves the world.
 
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes. . . .”
 
The good news is that whoever believes does not perish.  And you need to know, "whoever" includes you!  God saw to it that His only begotten Son was lifted up before a world of perishing sinners, all sinners, all kinds of sinners, all degrees of sinners, in the same way the serpent was lifted up on the pole.  And He did it because He loves the world.
 
You may say, “But I have carried the poison of the serpent of sin in my life for a long, long time.” Yes, God knows that. He is God. He knows everything about you. In fact, you are in worse shape in His eyes than you are in your own. But that didn’t stop him.
 
In fact, it is precisely why He designed the plan.  He understands we are unworthy.  But it is our  unworthiness that makes the love of God give His Son as the only adequate sacrifice.
 
Listen:  it's time to stop looking at yourself, and instead, look to the Son and to the love of God and to the promise that whoever believes will never perish but have eternal life.  Look to the cross and be saved.
 
When Charles Spurgeon, the great London preacher from the last century, was sixteen years old and unconverted, during a snow storm one night, he happened into a small Methodist Chapel. 
 
From his own autobiography comes this testimony:
 
"I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now, had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Church.
 
In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved....
 
The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now it is well that preachers be instructed, but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was—"LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH" (Isa. 45:22)
 
He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimmer of hope for me in that text.
 
The preacher began thus: "This is a very simple text indeed. It says ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pain. It aint liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look.
 
"But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!" he said in broad Essex, "many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some say look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ "
 
Then the good man followed up his text in this way: "Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me, I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sitting at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!"
 
When he had . . . . managed to spin out about ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger.
 
Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, "Young man, you look very miserable." Well, I did, but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, "And you will always be miserable—miserable in life and miserable in death—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved." Then lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, "Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but look and live!"
 
I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said—I did not take much notice of it—I was so possessed with that one thought . . . . I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, "Look!" what a charming word it seemed to me. Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away.
 
There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, "Trust Christ, and you shall be saved." Yet it was, no doubt, all wisely ordered, and now I can say—
 
"E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die. . ."
 
That happy day when I found the Saviour, and learned to cling to His dear feet, was a day never to be forgotten by me . . . . I listened to the Word of God and that precious text led me to the cross of Christ. I can testify that the joy of that day was utterly indescribable. I could have leaped, I could have danced; there was no expression, however fanatical, which would have been out of keeping with the joy of that hour. Many days of Christian experience have passed since then, but there has never been one which has had the full exhilaration, the sparkling delight which that first day had.
 
 
I thought I could have sprung from the seat in which I sat, and have called out with the wildest of those Methodist brethren . . . "I am forgiven! I am forgiven! A monument of grace! A sinner saved by blood!"
 
My spirit saw its chains broken to pieces, I felt that I was an emancipated soul, an heir of heaven, a forgiven one, accepted in Jesus Christ, plucked out of the miry clay and out of the horrible pit, with my feet set upon a rock and my goings established . . . .
 
Between half-past ten o’clock, when I entered that chapel, and half-past twelve o’clock, when I was back again at home, what a change had taken place in me! Simply by looking to Jesus I had been delivered from despair, and I was brought into such a joyous state of mind that, when they saw me at home, they said to me, "Something wonderful has happened to you," and I was eager to tell them all about it. Oh! there was joy in the household that day, when all heard that the eldest son had found the Saviour and knew himself to be forgiven.
 
I say the same to you this morning. Look to Jesus. Believe on Jesus. And you will not perish.
 
Let's pray.
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