Faith at Newtown Blog

The Love of God

One of the most beloved verses of Scripture is John 3:16. 

“For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

An interesting detail is that this verse is part of an illeism. An illeism means to refer to oneself in the third person. In John 3:10-21 Jesus answers the questions of Nicodemus concerning eternal life. In these verses, such as in v.16, Jesus uses the pronouns “his” and “him” in reference to himself. Jesus, the Son of God, makes it clear that he is the one to believe in for eternal life. Verse 16 gives two reasons why this is true.

  1. God Put His Love on Display.

The first word of the verse is “for.” It links the previous thought to the new thought being shared. The previous truth is the description and story of Moses and the bronze serpent. The bronze serpent was lifted up and all who looked upon it were healed. Looking at the display of death on the pole was how someone was healed. (Numbers 21:5-9) The word “for” links the new thought for how we can have eternal life. Looking to the display of Jesus on the cross of death, he became our substitute as a sin sacrifice. Through this display is how one can obtain eternal life. It is by grace (our sacrificial substitute), and through faith (looking to Jesus), that one can have eternal life. Jesus was God’s display of perfect love for mankind. Jesus was lifted up, just like the serpent for healing; to heal us from our sin. God displayed his love for us by placing and lifting his son up on a cross of crucifixion. 

2. God Proved His Love by Demonstration.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son …” The word “so,” the third word in this verse can also be translated “in this way.” We can say that God loved the world in this way, that he gave us his Son. The fact of displaying his only Son on a cross of death, is the greatest demonstration of his love. No one can ever say that God is not loving! The greatest demonstration of God’s love is that his Son was lifted up to be crucified for our sin. Because of God’s love, Jesus opened up the way for us to receive the gift of eternal life. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Grace is receiving an undeserved gift. Jesus is the demonstration of God’s love and his gift for us. God, because he loves us, opened up the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. The end of this great verse states, “… that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

God’s love does not depend on your performance. God performed by the display, and by demonstration his love. We can never measure up to God. He is God, and we are incapable of attaining perfection. Yet, “for this purpose” God loved us “in this way.” He gave us his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the essence of love! When we had no other way out of our sin, God so loved the world. 

Our worth and value is not based upon what we do, but on the fact that God loved us in this way. We are loved by God. He displayed and demonstrated his love for us by giving us his sinless Son. 

A story is told of a little 5 year old girl who lived with her dad. She wanted to give her father a birthday present. She found a little jewelry box and bow and couldn’t wait to give her father the gift. The night of his birthday she presented it to him. He opened it, and there was nothing in it. Expecting to see something, he didn’t react well and hurt her feelings. After a while he went into her room and tried to explain what a gift is and what it means to give a gift. In tears she replied, “Daddy, I filled the box with hand-blown kisses for you.” Tears started to pour down his checks as he apologized to her. What appeared to be senseless, empty, and useless was the most precious gift he ever could have received from his little girl.

An event more than two-thousand years ago may seem senseless and useless, but it is the most precious and love filled gift anyone can ever receive! The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was for sin. A payment we cannot pay. But, the love of God was on display for all. 

Have you asked forgiveness of your sin and received this most precious gift? The gift of eternal life is God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Having just gone through the Easter season, was it a rote traditional occasion? If so, you can make this one who came to earth, your own personal Lord and Savior. He came, lived, died, and rose again for you!

5 Life Giving Principles from Eccl. 3

Preaching through the books of the Bible verse by verse causes one to stumble onto some very special concepts and words from God. A study in the Book of Ecclesiastes uncovered one of those special concepts. Chapter three is a fascinating chapter. There are five life-giving principles in the first 15 verses.

  1. Your Time on Earth Runs You — Through a Busy Schedule (vs.1-8) Peter Seeger and the Byrds had a hit song in 1959 titled, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” The song primarily came from the words in this Biblical text. The verses that speak to a time for every season are a cyclical, methodical way of living life. Life is busy and we plant, die, weep, heal, and go through the descriptive cycle that Solomon writes about life. Life is full of both good times and difficult events.
  2. Your Time on Earth Shapes You — During Events that are Good and Bad (vs.9-11a) All the events mentioned in the first 8 verses talk about the good times and hard times in life. The events of life, both sweet and sour, mold you into the person you are today. These verses list 14 opposites that shape our lives with both good and bad things. Life dishes out both positive and negative experiences. But verse 11 assurances us, “He has made everything beautiful in its time …” Life in whole is a beautiful thing. 
  3. Your Time on Earth Leaves You — With a Convincing Void That There is More (v.11b) Verse 11 is the heart of this passage. God’s Word states, “Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart.” It is vitally important that people learn that there is an eternity. We must be prepared to meet God. Every person has their thoughts about eternity and what happens after death. God makes it very clear in verse 11b that there is an eternity. The 50, 80, 90 years on earth cannot compare to forever. Therefore, it is of great importance that we prepare for what comes next. Jesus came to earth and gave us the answer. He said in John 14:3,6 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We must accept the free gift of God, his Son. Jesus paid for our sins on the cross of Calvary. And eternity with God is found in God’s greatest gift, his Son, Jesus Christ.
  4. Your Time on Earth Reveals to You — God Has the Plan, and He is in Control (vs.11c,14-15) The various cycles of life mentioned in the early verses of the chapter are reminders that we go through both good times and bad times here on earth. Verse 15 shares that God has ordained them, and they direct us to a trust. We must have a complete and deep trust in God as we go through our trials.
  5. Your Time on Earth Exhorts You — To Practice Three Foundational Principles (vs.12-13) God, through the pen of Solomon gives us three concluding principles:
    1. Be Joyful (v.12a) “I perceive there is nothing better for them than to be joyful”
    2. Be Moral (v.12b) “to do good as long as they live”
    3. Be Responsible (v.13) “Eat, drink, and take pleasure in your toil; This is God’s gift to man.”

If society today lived by these three God-given principles; harmony, love, and unity would preside over the world.

Solomon was king of Israel. When asked by the Lord what gift he would like, he chose wisdom. I define wisdom as “skillful living.” Solomon sought happiness and joy by trying everything that this world has to offer. Solomon also gained everything possible. He was the wealthiest man in the world. Yet, in this book the wise sage concludes that everything is empty. He also shares as pointed out previously, there is an eternity. Preparation for eternity must be a priority! When prepared for eternity, one can enjoy everything God has given us on this earth. But in contrast, when one seeks fulfillment from only the things this earth offers, they are left with a God-given void. That hole can only be filled with God through his Son, Jesus Christ. 

In conclusion we must understand that life is a gift. Every day is a God-wrapped present. He has given you days and years to enjoy and appreciate his creation. Both good and bad times will occur, but you can lean on him through the tough times. You must remember that the gaping hole in your life is about eternity. He desires for you to live with him. He gave his Son, Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6) Jesus died for your sin and short-comings. Receive him, God’s gift of eternal life.

Live with joy, and appreciate all that this world offers. Be moral. Do good. Take responsibility. The splendors of this earth cannot compare with eternity which God has prepared for those who love, obey, trust, and follow him.

Components of Christianity (1 John 2)

The Bible is God’s love letter to all believers.  It is filled, not only with instruction that provides us with all the help we need for today, but also with all the hope that we need for tomorrow.  In chapter 2 of First John,  the Apostle John instructs us on what a true believer is and what a true believer does.  

There are three components to being a true believer in Christ.  

First is a “Moral Component.”  (1 John 2:3-5)

The genuine and true believer, obeys God’s commandments. They avoid what God hates, and they validate their belief by obeying his command. God clearly states in v.4 that the one who professes Christ Jesus, keeps his commandments.

 

The second component of a true believer a “Social Component.” (1 John 2:6-11)

The disciple of Christ will love the brethren! We live in a world on intolerance. A follower of Jesus loves the family members.  each other, even when we are unlovable!  Whereas the world is constantly looking out for themselves, believers look out for each other. Love naturally flows out of us. Disciples of Christ love God and love others! 

 

The third component is an “Integrity Component.”  (1 John 2:15-17)

Walking in the light means genuine and legitimate.  If you love the things of the world, then God’s love cannot truly be in you. (1 John 2:15) 

 

Do you confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Your lifestyle will exemplify the walk of a genuine disciple of Christ.

Jesus Our Advocate 1 John 2:1-2

We all sin.  No-one is deserving of salvation or eternity in heaven. One sin makes us a sinner. God, because of his holiness, justice and righteousness, cannot allow sinfulness to enter heaven. Matthew 5:48 points to God’s standard for entrance. When the believer sins Satan accuses us before God. If he can’t keep us out of heaven, he is out to destroy or ruin us. But for believers, we have an advocate, a defense lawyer, ready to defend us against the accuser. Jesus is the propitiation for our sins. Scripture tells us that the penalty for sin is death, and that blood must be shed for the forgiveness of sins (Romans 6:23, Hebrews 9:22). Jesus paid this penalty with his own blood.

As snowfall covers the earth, hiding the dead leaves and broken branches beneath a pristine blanket of white, so too does the precious blood of Christ cover our sins. A sinner can be righteous through the blood of Jesus. A holy God can declare us right, through the shed blood of his Son. We have an advocate, who intercedes for our sin.

Are you “in Christ?” Do you have forgiveness of your sins?
What a great and loving God to send his Son!
What a great and loving Savior to willingly pay the penalty for our sin!
What a great salvation!
(Hebrews 2:3) “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? …”