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 3:16)
God’s Grace, Love, And Wrath
One of the most familiar Biblical passages is found in the gospel of John when Jesus is talking with Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and recognized the Lord as being a man sent from God. The Lord begins to open up the eyes of Nicodemus to the character of those who would be saved. Jesus describes that a man could not see the kingdom of God without the new birth. Nicodemus did not understand the spiritual implications of this birth and the Lord explains the nature of the new birth was by the spirit and the water. Using the story of Moses when the Hebrews rebelled against God fiery serpents were sent among the people, Jesus explained the Son of Man would be lifted up to save all men. Salvation came when Moses made the bronze serpent and those bitten looked upon the image and Christ would be raised up for all men to come to Him for salvation. Whoever believes in Jesus would not perish but have eternal life. The mercy of God is found in the willingness of the Father to save the world. There was nothing redeeming in humanity that deserved the grace of God. The world was a dark and corrupt place rebellious against the Lord God and deserved to face His wrath. God so loved the world that He was willing to give His Son to save men. Grace is the unmerited favor of the Father to bestow His love upon all men. One of the most important lessons for a man to learn is how the grace of God and His grace alone offer him a way of hope and salvation. Without that grace, there would be no sacrifice. Jesus would not have come to earth and suffered as He did without the eternal grace of God. The statement that God so loved the world is beyond the heart of man to understand because it is measured by the eternal grace of God. It is a gift of God. Salvation began in the mind of God not man. His grace ordained the plan of redemption to bring humanity back to the garden of paradise where God and man can live together. Jesus told Nicodemus the grace of God is where the salvation of man resides.
The love of God moves beyond His grace when God gave His only begotten Son. Love was not defined by a thought of grace but the action of love in giving Christ as the lamb of sacrifice to save all men from their sins. Grace alone could not save man. Love had to act on the grace of God. This action came in the form of Christ, who was God and was with God, who became flesh and dwelt among men. Through the sacrifice of the only begotten Son of God, men can find redemption from sin and look to an eternal reward in the presence of God. The love of God was demonstrated in the life and death of Jesus. Like the grace of God, men did not deserve the love of God. But God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him would have everlasting life. There was no greater way for God to demonstrate His infinite love for the creation than the gift of His Son. As a lamb led to the slaughter, Jesus willingly took on the sins of all men. His blood stained the sacrifice as an eternal gift of God’s grace. Love was not in word alone but in the evidence of the act of the dying Son of God. The grace of God and the love of God gave the only begotten Son of God as the single sacrifice for the sins of all men. There is no greater grace or demonstration of love than Jesus Christ. Everlasting life is found in those who obey the will of the Lord and embrace the grace and love of God.
John 3:16 teaches the grace of God and expresses the love of God as eternal tones of mercy. However, another message is found in this wonderful text that is often overlooked and ignored. God’s grace is central to John 3:16 as well as the love of God. Many fail to recognize the other part of Jesus’ admonition to Nicodemus. The Lord used Moses as an example of how the Son of Man would be lifted up that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. He reaffirms this again in verse 16 when He says that whoever believes in Him should not perish. The grace of God and the love of God are always explained in the context of the wrath of God. Jesus says those who do not believe will perish implying there is a severe penalty to deny the grace and love of God. Salvation is never by grace alone nor is salvation by love alone. Jesus told Nicodemus that unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. There is a need to obey the will of the Lord. To accept the idea that God is love and that is all that is required of man denies the teaching of John 3. Obedience comes when a man is born of the water and the Spirit which the apostle Paul would later explain as baptism. This is an act of obedience through the grace of God given by His love to redeem all men through the blood of His only begotten Son. If a man refuses to obey the will of the Lord he will perish. The wrath of God will come upon all those who refuse to follow the commands of His grace and love. Grace is found in John 3:16 and love is found in John 3:16 but the wrath of God is found in John 3:16 also. The grace of God is immeasurable and His love without end. Jesus taught there is a judgment of His Father’s wrath and that not all men will be saved. In the sermon on the mountain, the Lord declared that most men would perish and few find eternal life. He reaffirms this with Nicodemus that God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Grace. Love. Wrath.