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God’s Valentine - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
September 4, 2022 6:00 am

God’s Valentine - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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September 4, 2022 6:00 am

Today we take a look at the Bible's most famous verse and probe its depth while preparing to take the Lord's Supper together. Though most everyone knows this verse, John 3:16 is much more than just a slogan; it is a summary statement of God's love through Jesus Christ. This single verse of scripture gives us the salient truths of God's plan of salvation in abridged form. Let's consider God's great plan for us as we unpack it phrase by phrase.

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No subject has had more songs written about it than love. Love songs.

Why is that? It's simply because all of us, we all crave love. We want love more than we want anything else and we would do almost anything to get it. Can you cure loneliness? Can you cure deep down, black, bottom of the well, no hope, end of the world, what's the use, loneliness? Poor lonely Charlie Brown, who never has the courage to go up and talk to that little red-haired girl. I'm sure a lot of us have felt lonely at times, but today in Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, Skip Heitzig reveals there is indeed a cure for loneliness.

We'll find out what that is here in just a moment. But first, just a reminder that you'll find plenty of other teachings from Skip when you visit our website at connectwithskip.com. Today we're in John chapter 3, so turn there in your Bibles and let's join Skip Heitzig as he begins by giving some background on the year's most romantic holiday. I wonder how many of you realize that Valentine's Day has Christian roots, that it was actually named after a martyr, one of two martyrs in the early church who would not abandon their love for Jesus Christ. It's either named after Valentine of Rome, Valentinus Romanus, who was martyred on February the 14th, this day, in the year 269 A.D., or another one by the same name, Valentine, who was the Bishop of Torney, who was martyred by the Emperor Aurelian.

We don't know exactly which one, but it goes that far back. But over time, the secular culture has reformed this day to make it a celebration of purely romantic love. Included on the day has been the adding of Cupids.

That comes from Rome. Cupid is the son of Venus, the mother or the goddess of love. The idea of a red rose, since the rose was the favorite flower of Venus, the goddess of love, roses are given. But the original concept comes from the love of God, or more directly, the love of people for their loving God. Now, there was a group of professionals who decided to ask kids, ages four to eight, what the definition of love is. What does love mean? And as you can guess, there were some pretty cute answers, and even a couple of profound ones. One child said, when a girl puts on perfume, and a boy puts on shaving cologne, and they go out and smell each other, that's love.

You can picture that. Love is when you kiss all the time, said another. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. Mommy and Daddy are like that, and they look gross when they kiss. Another one writes, love is when you tell a guy that you like his shirt, and then he wears it every day. Talk about smelling each other. Love is what's on Valentine's Day cards. It's the stuff we'd like to say, but no one would be caught dead saying it. Here's the best. When my grandma got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore, so my grandpa does it for her, even when his hands got arthritis too. Yeah, that's love, she writes, and that's right.

That is right. No subject has been so universally treated as the subject of love. No subject has had more songs written about it than love. Love songs.

Why is that? It's simply because all of us, we all crave love. We want love more than we want anything else, and we would do almost anything to get it. Today, I want to talk to you about the highest expression of love found in the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3, 16. This verse has been called the Bible in a nutshell. Martin Luther called it the Bible in miniature, noting that all of the great central doctrines of Christian truth are embodied in this single verse.

I'm calling it God's Valentine because it just happens that it's Valentine's Day. The verse, John 3, 16, is the most famous verse in all of the world. Everybody knows it.

One of the reasons, it has become popularized over time. The Gideon's Foundation, that wonderful group that puts Bibles in hotel rooms across the world, has John 3, 16 translated in 27 different languages at the front of each of their Bibles. If you go to the burger chain in and out burger, next time look in the inside rim at the bottom of all of the paper cups, and you'll see it written John 3, 16. The clothing manufacturer Forever 21 at the bottom of all of their bags, John 3, 16. But a lot of us will remember that there was one person that made the verse extremely famous back in the 70s and 80s. His name is Roland Stewart, also known as the Rainbow Man. He was the guy that showed up in all of those sporting events wearing the rainbow colored wig and holding up the sign, John 3, 16, and always positioned himself so that the cameras would pick it up.

Remember that guy? He had the places wired. At the NFL, he was always positioned in the audience between the goal posts. So when the pigskin was flying over and the camera panned and up and up and down and down, they'd nail John 3, 16 in their lens. At all the baseball games, he made it behind home plate for the same reason. The camera is always there and people would see John 3, 16. At one of the Masters tournaments one year, he held John 3, 16 just over the right shoulder of Jack Nicholas as he was teeing off. Everybody saw it.

A lot of people were also teed off because of it. This verse tells us about God's plan of saving people. Let's read it together and then we'll just consider it unpacking it phrase by phrase. 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. Notice the first two words tells us the origin of this plan. For God. Notice the verse does not begin, for man was so looking for a way to improve himself that God sent his son. It didn't start with us and God didn't leave it up to us. He took the initiative. 1 John 4, 19, one of the other famous verses, he loved us or we love him because he first loved us.

Ours is a response to him taking the initiative. Go all the way back to the garden in your mind when Adam blew it. What do we find Adam doing as soon as he sins?

He runs, he hides. God comes into the garden and says, Adam, where are you? Not because God didn't know where he was but to accentuate for Adam the fact that he was lost and running the other direction. God was the one searching for Adam.

Naka Muggeridge used to refer to God as the hound of heaven, that's where the term originated. There's no other hope unless God searches for us. Every now and then somebody will say, well I'm still searching for God. News flash, he's not lost.

He's been looking for you for a long time. Isaiah put it this way, all we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone his own way. And then Paul in the New Testament puts it this way, for we are dead in trespasses and sins. Last time I checked, dead people don't improve their own condition.

Dead people don't buy self-help books on how to be less dead as the days go on. If you're dead you're helpless and it requires the origin of the plan, not starting with the dead person but somebody on the outside and that's God, for God. The next two words, look at those, this shows us the motivation of the plan, for God so loved. Please again notice it does not say for God was so angry at this world that he sent his son down here to punch everybody out. Some people have that picture of God in their minds, for God so loved the world.

Why? Because love is the essence of his nature. John in another book puts it this way, God is love. It's the very essence of who he is.

It is so simple to say that and yet it is so hard to grasp that. Some of you have sung all of your lives in church songs about the love of God and here you are sitting today as adults still doubting it, that God loves you. Dwight Lyman Moody, the preacher from Chicago, you've heard of D.L.

Moody? He was so intrigued with this concept that he embarked on a study by going through his concordance and looking up every reference in the Bible on the love of God. And when he was all done he simply said, there is no truth in the whole Bible that ought to affect us as the love of God.

It affected the author of this book, John. John wrote in 1 John chapter 3, behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God. Maybe a better way to put that is, what kind of love is this that God would do that? And here's the reason that God's love is so hard to grasp. It's pretty simple actually. Here's why it's so hard.

Because it's so different from what we do as humans. Human love is object oriented. That is, a human being sees an object and says, I like that object. It's beautiful. It's attractive.

Or a person, she's or he's attractive to me. That's how it all begins. It's object oriented. God's love is wholly different than that. God's love is subject oriented. God's love is based on his character, his nature. He is love.

So it's indiscriminate. What it means is, God doesn't love you because you earned his love or because you deserve his love. God just loves you cause. Cause God is love.

And thus it's a stable, consistent kind of love. And God doesn't have favorites. He doesn't love Billy Graham more than he loves you. Billy Graham starts praying and you're praying, God doesn't say, shh, Billy's praying, hold on, this is. Billy Graham.

No favorites. There was a woman talking to a psychiatrist. And as they were talking to the psychiatrist, thought he'd spring a question on her. She said, so which of your kids, she had three children, which of them do you love most? And she answered predictably, I don't love anyone most.

I love them all the same. Well, he pressed her a little bit on that. He said, ma'am, it's psychologically impossible to regard three human beings as completely equal. Then she started crying. She said, you're right. When this one is sick, I love him the most. When she's in pain, I love her the most. When that one's in trouble, I love that one the most.

But besides those exceptions, I love them all the same. God has the ability by his very nature to love us all the same. Speaking of that, notice the next two words as we unpack it. Here's the destination of the plan, the world. For God so loved the world. Are you part of the world? If you wonder, try this. If something comes out, you're part of the world.

If you breathe, you're part of this world. Now here's love at its widest. It's not that God loves one group. God so loved the Americans. God so loved people in the western world. God so loved the middle class. Or as some would like to say, God only loved the elect. It doesn't say that. And that drives some people nuts that it doesn't say that.

And I love it when it drives them nuts. God so loved the world. Who were these words spoken to originally? Nicodemus. Nicodemus was one of those Jewish elders who believed God loved the Jews, the good Jewish sons and daughters of Abraham. They were the elect. They were the special chosen ones. Jesus blew that out of the water saying, for God so loved the world.

And later he will tell his disciples, go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Not just to the western culture, to everyone. And it's a simple reason for that. We all have a disease. We in the world, everyone in the world, every person who has been born in the world has a disease that has a single universal cure.

Like heart disease. If a person has heart disease who's an American, it's the same cure for an American as an Argentinian, as an African, as an Australian. It's universal. It'll work anywhere.

Doesn't matter the culture, the language, the soil. If a person has lung disease, same cure as universal. If a person has Parkinson's disease, same thing. We are all S-I-N positive. Every human being, every person a part of this world is infected with a disease and there is a single universal cure. And that is blood. The blood of God's flawless, perfect Son. Now I wonder what we would think if the verse read something like this.

For God so loved all of the good people of the world that He gave His Son. Most of us would say, okay, I can hang with that. I can actually, I understand that a whole lot better. But if it did say that, we would all immediately be eliminated, wouldn't we? Because we're not always on our best behavior. Some days we're good, some days we're not so much.

And so it's going to be very unstable. Or if God said, well, you know, I love you today, you not so much because I know what you've been thinking this week. So here we have this broad brushed statement for God really loved the world. It's the widest possible embrace. His love isn't precarious.

His love is not moody. It is not selective. It includes everyone. But do you know that some people don't experience it? Do you know that some Christian people don't experience it? You can press a Christian and they'll say, oh, yeah, God loves me. But to be around them, you'd never know it.

You'd never know that they really believe it. It's sort of like the sun. The sun is shining, but you could walk outside with an umbrella over your head and you wouldn't enjoy the warmth. It's still shining.

It's just not affecting you. Notice the next little phrase in our verse. Here's the demonstration of his plan that he gave his only begotten son.

God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. He gave his son. Imagine that, moms. Imagine that, fathers.

He gave his son. You know, sometimes I think that I love people. I'm pretty good at it. Sometimes I think I love them pretty deeply until I think of this. Then I think differently. I wouldn't give my son for any of those people.

And neither would you. God gave his son for everyone. Gave his son for everyone. Why did he give his son?

He gave his son because love to be loved can't be passive. It has to be active. You can't just get by going, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you. You've got to do something with that. You've got to demonstrate it somehow. And marriages will deteriorate right at this juncture. Here is where the chasm is. They stop giving. They stop giving time. They stop giving energy. They stop giving care. And it disintegrates into a formal, legal cohabitation. Domestic partnership.

Not what it used to be. God so loved that he gave his son. Active love. And when God gave, God gave his best. It says in Greek, monogane, only begotten, or the unique, one of a kind, son of God was given. He gave the very best. I read an article some years back of an astronaut. Last week I talked about a cosmonaut. Now I'm telling you about an astronaut. This astronaut was an American who was one of the first ones that walked on the moon. And so the magazine interviewed him and said, okay, when you were walking on the moon and you were looking back at the earth, what thoughts went through your mind? The astronaut said, well, it's crazy. But when I was on the lunar surface and I'm looking at the earth and there's my spacecraft, the thought that kept coming to my mind is that my spacecraft was built by the lowest bidder.

That would be a bit unsettling, wouldn't it? Traveled all of that distance in something that went out to the lowest bidder. Well, when God needed to fix the world, he didn't give it out to the lowest bidder. He paid the highest possible price.

He gave his one and only unique son. And here's the invitation, the next two words, that whoever. Whoever. Who is salvation offered to?

Whoever. It sounds like God isn't too picky. To the Samaritan woman, Jesus will say, whoever drinks of the water that I give will never thirst.

Revelation 21, same thought. The spirit and the bride say, come. Let him who hears say, come. Whoever is thirsty, let him come. And whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. Who can get into heaven? Whoever. Who can live forever?

Whoever. And here we are on earth and on earth, we have exclusive places that not everybody can get into. You have to be a member. You have to have credentials. You'll be stopped by the guards.

You have to own property in the club. You have to make so much money or whatever. Think of it.

It's harder to get into a Christian university than it is into heaven. You know, the answer to our loneliness and the answer to our desire for love is discovered when we recognize that God gave us His Son on our behalf. It was the greatest Valentine ever shared and yet one that so many miss out on. If you've discovered the great gift of love from God, make sure you share it with as many people as you can. That's all the time we have for today. But before we go, let's find out more about this month's Connect with Skip resource offer. The United States fought the devastating civil war to overcome a deeply dividing issue. As followers of Jesus and people who represent His love, we can help one another deal with this topic today.

Here's Skip Heitzig and Tony Clark. Speak to white evangelical pastors about how in churches we can create spaces for black and brown voices to be heard in a loving atmosphere, in a concerned atmosphere. This is the church's finest moment because racism is a sin.

It's a sin in the heart. So now it's our job to begin to guide them and to have a biblical mindset and also having sympathy and empathy for those who are trying to live out this Christianity and their skin may be a little bit darker than yours. Cultivate the empathy that comes from gaining a biblical perspective on racism. Get your copy of this conversation between pastors Skip and Tony when you give $20 or more today. We'll also send you Pastor Skip's booklet, The Church and Racism. Call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer. And for a copy of today's teaching, just stop by our website, connectwithskip.com.

You can pick up a copy there for just $4 plus shipping or ask for one when you call us at 1-800-922-1888. We'll continue to examine the wonderful gift of God's Valentine next time, so I hope you'll be able to join us right here in Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast your burdens on His word. Make a connection, a connection, a connection. Connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-02 11:46:46 / 2023-03-02 11:55:14 / 8

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