Discourses on John 3:1-21


John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
We live in the midst of wonders. Everything which our eyes can view in earth or sea or sky – from the grass in the field to the glorious sun in the firmament – proclaim to an attentive observer a wonder-working God. Wonderful like is the conduct of the divine providence, in supporting, directing, controlling and overruling the various innumerable concerns of mankind. But there is a wonder beyond all that appears in the visible creation or in common providence – to this my text at present directs our meditations – the wonderful Love of God – God so loved so beyond expression, so beyond description, that he gave his Son... etc. May this amazing instance of the love of God, be so impressed upon our hearts by his Holy Spirit, as to enkindle in us a flame of love to him who has thus loved us.
Three particulars the words offer, to help our enquiries and apprehensions concerning this love:
1.      the object – the world
2.      the design – eternal life
3.      the means – gave his Son
1. The object
The object of this love was the world – that is mankind – not the Jews only (as they proudly conceited themselves to be the only people of God) but the Gentiles also – not every individual, but some of all nations, people and languages. Now this greatly commends the love of God, that he should place it upon those who were unlovely and unloving. What was there in the world to engage his love? 1 John 4:10. [1] When the Lord looked down upon the world to see if any had understanding to seek after God – the result you may find [in] Psalm 14:3 [2] – all gone aside, become filthy, none that doeth good, no not one. The Apostle quoting this passage heightens the description from other scriptures: Romans 3:10– 18. [3] The Lord saw them children of wrath, transgressors from the womb, enemies and rebels.
He saw that those who should by his grace partake of this love would deal very treacherously. Yet he so loved them that –
2. The design
He designed from before all the worlds to save them from wrath and to raise them to glory
  2.1 That they should not perish, as they justly deserved. By the destruction of sinners, he might have glorified his justice, truth, holiness and power – thus he will be glorified in those who slight his love, and why not in all. Love was the preventing cause. Those who shall be saved are no better in themselves than those who perish.
  2.2 That they should have eternal life. It would have been undeserved mercy to have saved them from punishment – had he done no more – but to take them for his own – his children, his portion – to become a covenant God to them – to provide them a heaven, an everlasting happiness in his presence. This was love indeed. But
3. The means
What heightens the consideration of this love beyond all that our hearts can fully conceive is – the means by which it [was] wrought God so loved – that he gave his Son – his only begotten Son. Consider:
  3.1 Could man's deliverance have been affected like the creation by a word of power – this would have been marvellous grace to such a world. But this would not do. 'Twas great to speak the world from naught, but greater to redeem. The Law must be fulfilled, justice satisfied and a ransom found or else no salvation.
  3.2 If we had been told that the sufferings and obedience of an angel were necessary, we could hardly have dared to hope that God would give one of those glorious creatures for the sake of sinners. But what is an angel or thousands of angels to the Son of his love?
  3.3 If Jesus must come in person, though he had been to save the world, in the same manner as he shall come to judge it, in pomp and majesty, in his own and in his Father's glory, this would still have been great condescension and grace. But the Saviour of sinners must suffer many things, must weep and groan and bleed and die and behold what manner of love! God so loved the world that he gave his only Son – delivered him up to the temptation and assaults of Satan, the malice of wicked men, and the righteous demands of his holy, injured Law, that we might not perish – but have eternal life.
Now are there any hearts so hard, so much like stones, so much like tigers, as to pay no regard to this love? It has been found that sinners who have stood it out against the terrors and judgments of God denounced in his word, have been captivated and melted down by love. Are there any here, that have added sin to sin, through despair of mercy, thinking all hope was past – O say not so, see how God has loved the world – there is indeed, there is forgiveness with him. Nothing can ruin you but impenitence and unbelief. See the promise is Whoever – even those [who] are perishing, shall not perish if they believe but be plucked by a mighty hand as brands out of the burning.
But if you will not hear – you must perish indeed. Suppose the king should undesired tender a free pardon to a malefactor, a murderer – if the wretch should despise the pardon, tear it and trample upon it, and do despight[malice] to the messenger for bringing it. Would not he deserve to perish? Sinner this is your case. You are a malefactor, a murderer – you have crucified the Son of God. The Lord in the Gospel proclaims a free pardon, to all who believe in his Son, and will you despite[treat with contempt] the gospel and Spirit of grace and make your own damnation sure, by refusing to hear his voice? O Lord God prevent it, and rend the heavens and come down, touch the stony heart, that it may stand out no longer.
You that feel the weight of sin – see what encouragement: take the Apostle's argument Romans 5:10. [4]
Believers: let this subject, engage you to trust the Lord with soul and body. What can you fear after such an earnest of his love? Romans 8:32. [5] He that has given his Son, will he withhold any needful good? Will he that has bought you so dearly, suffer any to pluck you out of his hand?
And will you not love again? Let us chide our cold and unfeeling hearts, and pray for a coal of fire from the heavenly altar to send us home in a flame of love to him who has thus loved us.

Series No. 19

[1] 1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
[2] Psalm 14:3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
[3] Romans 3:10-18 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one… There is no fear of God before their eyes.
[4] Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
[5] Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Cowper & Newton Museum, 714(2) No. 4

Marylynn Rouse, 28/10/2020