Pastor Nelson Bonilla: 3-10-24  “God Loves This World”

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Scriptures: Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14-21; Ephesians 2:1-10

          The verses from the gospel according to John that we read today contain the most known and read verse of the whole New Testament, John 3:16. It has been said of this verse that it is the “gospel in a nutshell” because it is considered a summary of some of the most central doctrines of Christianity. John 3:16 is to the New Testament what psalm 23 is to the Old Testament. These two parts of the bible are without any doubt the most mentioned in the history of Christianity. What do these two passages have to be so attractive to people and so significant to our faith? Well, they both portrayed a God who cares, a God who walks step by step by our side, a God who knows our needs and is always available when we cry out for help. In a few words John 3:16 that we read this morning and psalm 23, are full of hope. And hope is an essential ingredient in our life.

            In John 3:16, God is portrayed as a giving God: God who gives love, God who gives his only son. And we are the recipient of his love. Love that includes salvation, and eternal life. John 3:16 is a reminder that God did not take human form to condemn this world, but to save it. We are so familiar with John 3:16, that we do not realize that in Jesus’ time this verse changed all the traditional interpretation about God in both cultures, Greek-Roman and Jew. And that made it powerful then and now.

The idea of God in human form was not new in Jesus’ times, in Roman and Greek mythology gods used to come down from Olympus in human form. However, there is a big difference, they came down to take advantage of men and women. All we have to do is read about Zeus, the head god of the Olympus, he used to take all kinds of forms including animals just to seduce women and men. The message of a God taking human form as an expression of His love and care for the world; God taking human form to save humanity, was new for them and it changed their perspective and understanding of God.

 Jews on the other hand had forgotten about God’s mercy and grace, they worshiped a God who demanded. Demanded sacrifices and demanded the fulfillment of His law. They could not understand the concept of salvation by grace. As worshipers they both, Greeks and Jews knew, they could never satisfy God’s demands. Therefore, when they heard Jesus, teaching, and preaching, about God loving the world and sending His only beloved son not to condemn, or take advantage the world, but to save it; to die for them – or as Paul said it- to die for those who were “dead in transgressions.” When they heard this message, light shone upon them. The burden of the law was removed from their shoulders and the wage of sin was changed by the gift of eternal life.

For today’s church, this verse must be a reminder that Jesus came from heaven to preach the good news and to show us how to live according to that good news; he gave us the Gospel to preach it but also to live it. The gospel Jesus has entrusted us must be the measure of all our acting. If God so loved the world… So, I must do it too. Through the gospel, we know that Jesus loves us and gave himself for us; now that we know that we must love others, as God loves us. Now that we have been saved by His love and mercy, we must be instruments of salvation, vessels of God’s love and mercy, ambassadors from heaven. As ambassadors, we represent Jesus. Therefore, our mission is to lead others to Jesus. Our main duty as Jesus’ ambassadors is to remind others that God loves the world in such a way, that sent His only son to die for us.

Our mission is no to point someone else’s mistakes or wrongdoing; we are here to show them a better way, God’s love. Why? Because that it is exactly what God did with us when He sent His only beloved Son. When He who is rich in mercybecause of his great love for us, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved.” Paul says in Ephesians 2:4-5. God in Jesus not just ignored our transgressions, he forgave all our transgressions.

John 3:16 also remind us of one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, salvation comes through the faith in Jesus; faith in Jesus who was crucified, who died, so, we can live.

Acts 16:31, reminds us of a promise, “Believe in the LORD Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household.” This is important because nowadays there are a lot of ways of salvation being preached outside; there are a lot of “gods” calling us sons and daughters, asking us to worship them. There are a lot of so called “fathers” claiming their fatherhood on us.  However, there is only one who died for us, there is only one who loves us and accepts us the way we are; there is only one who has promised to come back for us. He is Jesus, The Christ. He is our Savior and our Lord, the only one worthy of praise, the only one who deserves our faithfulness and our lives.

     Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” When Jesus went to heaven, he passed on His gospel to us, is our turn now to preach it and live it; Jesus taught with his example. Let us make Jesus’ life and His gospel our way of life.

John 3:16 sisters and brothers has in it a great truth we must always remember, the gospel of Jesus is not a private matter; it does not belong to the church only; it belongs to the whole world, let bring it back to who belong to, the whole world. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”         

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