To Show how much God loves us - "Sunnyhill" Herne Bay Evangelical Free Church

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To Show how much God loves us


To Show us How Much God Loves Us

Text:  Rom.5:8 "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

If you were to go to the Home Page of the church's website amongst all the interesting bits and pieces you would find there the verse from Rom.5:8. When I was setting up the website I wanted to include a Bible verse that would somehow encapsulate what we as a church consider to be absolutely essential. I wanted people to be able to identify quickly what the message is that we have to share – as a church we are defined by what we deem to be most important.

I chose Rom.5:8 because it focuses our attention:

  • It is about God – his love

  • It is about us – the sinful condition we are in

  • It is about Jesus – his death on our behalf

This is a wonderful verse drawing together the greatness of the Father's love and the death of his Son. And all this for totally undeserving people like us. It will be the subject of our meditation this evening as we consider one more reason why Jesus died. Jesus died to show us just how much God loves us and is gracious towards us.

The Love of God
In Christian circles we are used to thinking about the love of God. The OT has nearly 200 references to the "steadfast love" of the LORD and the term is a broad one meaning that he shows mercy and kindness, that he acts in kindly ways being merciful and showing pity. This truth is one that is rightly dear to the believer.

When we turn to the NT many truths are brought into sharper focus for us and the love of God is one of those.

Jesus told his disciples that they weren't to imagine that God was reluctant to be kind to them:

Jn.16:7 "The Father himself loves you" he told them.

This love was (and is) not to be ignored or taken for granted – it is a great love. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus and told the believers there that God had acted very generously in their favour because he loved them:

Eph.2:4 "God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,"

This love of God is great because it is a transforming love and a securing love.

The apostle John thought about God's love he was amazed by it and called upon others to contemplate the nature of his love:

1Jn.3:1 "See what kind of love the Father has given us…"

And John then went on to explain just what he had in mind – sinners had been transformed as a result of what God had done in his love and been brought into God's family!

Nor was this love of the temporary kind we so often find on earth that blows hot one minute and cold the next. God's love was and is a constant love that keeps the believer safe:

Rom.8:39 Nothing "will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Jesus too, of course, had earlier taught that when God loved his love was an active business; when he loved he gave:

Jn.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."

Indeed so much is love revealed to be an integral part of God's makeup that the NT doesn't hesitate to describe God in terms of love:

Paul called him "the God of love" in his second letter to the Corinthians (2Cor.13:11) and the apostle John in the chapter we read earlier twice declared that:

"God is love" 1Jn.4:8, 16.

The Death of Christ and the Love of God
How are we to understand the relationship that exists between Jesus' death on the Cross of Calvary and the love of God the Father?

Some people have a very distorted view indeed and think of the Father as being reluctantly obliged to be nice towards men and women. In their thinking Jesus somehow forced the Father's hand and made him what otherwise he did not want to do. Such a view focuses upon Jesus' love for us in being willing to die for us – and there is nothing wrong with this as far as it goes – but it does go wrong when it ignores the fact that the Father was actively involved in establishing the way of salvation so that he might demonstrate the love that he himself wanted to!

Jesus spoke not only about the Father's involvement but of his taking the initiative:

Jn.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."

At that time Jesus didn't spell out exactly what would be involved in that giving of the Son but did underline that this giving was an act of love.

What more can we say about this love? Why does Paul write about God's love as a great love? How are we to evaluate and appreciate this love of God?

Well there are two different though related things that will help us here:

  • the cost of the sacrifice that he was prepared to meet in saving us from the penalty of our sin

  • the extent of our unworthiness when he did save us

What was the Cost of the Sacrifice?

As the events of Jesus' life and ministry unfolded more and more it became clear what was meant when it was said that the Father gave the Son. His giving included giving the Son, his only beloved Son, up to death.

The apostle John put it like this:

1Jn.4:10 "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

The word propitiation refers to an atoning sacrifice by which wrath is appeased. Such a sacrifice, in the light of OT revelation, meant death for the victim. One paraphrase puts this verse as follows:

"This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God’s love for us. He sent his Son ·to die in our place to take away our sins [as the atoning sacrifice/propitiation for our sins;] (EXB)

The Message has:

"he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God." (MSG)

Our Father gave his only Son, his beloved Son and he gave him up to death. And the death involved was not some nice quiet calm death but the death of the bloody cruelty and excruciating pain of the cross.

The Son stooped low in coming to earth, he stooped lower becoming a man, a slave, but still he stooped lower, stooping to die and his death was the humiliating death on the cross. The Bible's verdict on a man who was hung on a tree to die was that he was under the very curse of God. Our Father gave his Son into just this sort of suffering so that his Son might secure salvation for the people the Father had given him:

Jn.6:35-40 "Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.""

So we have seen that, in his love, the Father gave his Son to die for us. The apostle Paul told us virtually the same thing though using different terms:

Rom.5:8 "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

The word Paul uses is not Son but Christ and this is a title that means "Anointed One" or "Messiah".

The term is one of great dignity and honour. The Messiah had been promised from the very outset and the Jews anticipated that he would come and set them free from the Romans giving them political peace and security. The Christ was to be the anointed King of Israel – indeed even more than that – he was to rule over the entire world and his kingdom would know no limit or end.

It was this highly exalted person that God the Father gave in his love for us.

It is an amazing thing that God should give one so exalted, so precious, so divine as the Christ, his own Son for us. And yet this is just what he chose to do. The status of this One that he gave in his love could not have been higher or more exalted – he was so far superior to all of the angels that they were told to worship him! And worship is to be ascribed to God alone!

To have sent such a highly exalted one and such an esteemed one at all speaks volumes about the love of God but to know that he sent this one in order to die is a monumental display of how much love he has for us!

What was the Extent of our Unworthiness?
But all has not yet been said. When we think about our world there are so many different problems that confront us and needs to be met, aren't there? We make a response by giving to charity – but we don't want our money to go to waste and we try to ensure that we give only to worthy causes. But which of us wants to invest in those who have shown themselves to be unworthy?

If we applied a similar logic to God we might not be surprised if we found that God was showing love, even great love, to honourable and worthy individuals. Many folk think that is exactly what he does do and as a result assume that the Christian message is all about self-help and self-improvement. If only we try harder and do our best (something that people conveniently assume they have done in their lives!) then God will show us love.

But when we turn to the pages of the Bible we find an altogether different message.

If God were to show his love only to worthy recipients then he would show his love to no-one at all on earth! And yet we are assured that he does in fact act in love to people on earth – so we are entitled to ask "How can this be?"

We do not have to look far before we find the answer.

The very first promise that God made concerning sending one into the world to rectify the problem the human race had gotten itself into appears when there were just two members of that race – Adam and Eve. The promise was made when Adam and Eve had lost their original innocence and rebelled against God – the promise was made to sinners who had just flagged up their utter unworthiness (Gen.3)!

When we turn to consider some of the verses which we have already cited earlier in this sermon we find exactly the same truth being made clear.

Jn.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."

We often read this as though it is talking about the breadth of God's love which is world-wide in its embrace. God's embrace is wide but that is not what Jn.3:16 is really emphasising. What it is emphasising is the depth of his reach! The term "the world" is used not to describe large numbers of men but rather man as man - the race that had rebelled and that deserved to die.

God's love is shown towards the undeserving.

The same thing is spelled out clearly in our text:

Rom.5:8 "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Jesus Christ did not die for good, upright people – there were not any like that for whom he could offer himself, and indeed if there were any perfect people around they would not have needed Jesus to die for them in any case! No, Jesus died when we were still completely and utterly undeserving of any good thing being done for us. And it was at just that moment that God showed his love for us in giving his precious treasure, his most precious pride and joy, the Lord Jesus Christ.

When we think about Jesus and the reasons why he died we must never forget that it was to show forth in the clearest way imaginable the greatness of the love of the Father. Let us not twist things and try to suggest that the fact God was willing to send his Son in his love is evidence of how highly he values us and how worthy he considers us to be of his love. The emphasis in the Bible is not there at all! The love of the Father in sending the Son to die for us when we were yet sinners demonstrates not our worth but the unsurpassed greatness of his love and we should both rejoice in it and praise him for it!

To God be the Glory.

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