What Is Love?   Leave a comment

Modern society will tell you that God is love and then go on to define love in very specific ways that justify their own deeds. What did Jesus, Who is God in the flesh to walk on earth among humans, have to say about love?

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

This is perhaps the most recognizable Bible verse in the world. There are two things modern man gets wrong about this verse. One — they really hate that God sacrificed His child for our salvation. They are actually angry with God for this. What they fail to understand is that Jesus is God. I don’t fully understand how it works, but Jesus made it clear that He and the Father are one in the same. God sent Himself to earth to die for our sins, so that we might be reconciled to Him. Why was that necessary? Maybe so the sinless spirit God could understand why human beings are so weak against sin. Or maybe to show us that frail humanity can stand against sin for 30-odd years and die a horrible death and still not sin. Or, maybe just to show us that He loves as THAT MUCH that’s He’s willing to endure anything so that those of us who believe in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.

Because I am not a Bible translator, I’m providing the notes on this verse from the NET Bible.

Although this word is often translated “only begotten,” such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12, 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clement 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant. 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham’s only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means “one-of-a-kind” and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God (τέκνα θεοῦ, tekna qeou), Jesus is God’s Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18).

The other thing they get wrong is not to read the rest of what Jesus said. This was a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. It wasn’t a string of unrelated verses.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. John 3:17

During His earthly mission, it wasn’t Jesus’ job to condemn those who sin in the world. His job was to offer salvation through belief in Him e the world. If He’d stopped there, modern man wouldn’t have much to worry about, but Jesus had more to say on the subject.

The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. John 3:18

We really like the warm fuzzies of 3:16-17, but we really don’t like this verse because it creates choices. It demands choices. Believers in Jesus Christ as Savior are not condemned. Yay! That’s great! But what of the nonbelievers? I can almost hear Nicodemus asking that question. Jesus explained that their lack of belief condemns them. Jesus doesn’t need to do any condemning because they have made their choice to not believe in the name of Jesus

Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but as God, He will judge the world and this will be his criteria.

Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God. John 3:19-21 

At a prior point in John’s gospel, Jesus is identified as the light. Apparently Nicodemus knew this. The Light has come into the world, but instead of embracing the Light, people preferred darkness because their deeds were evil.

So what does that mean … their deeds were evil? Those who come to the Light (Jesus) are not afraid to be associated with Him because it is plain their deeds have been done in the light. This is evident because they are not ashamed of their deeds.

Again, the margin notes from the NET Bible are helpful.

sn John 3:16-21 provides an introduction to the (so-called) “realized” eschatology of the Fourth Gospel: Judgment has come; eternal life may be possessed now, in the present life, as well as in the future. The terminology “realized eschatology” was originally coined by E. Haenchen and used by J. Jeremias in discussion with C. H. Dodd, but is now characteristically used to describe Dodd’s own formulation. See L. Goppelt, Theology of the New Testament, 1:54, note 10, and R. E. Brown (John [AB], 1:cxvii-cxviii) for further discussion. Especially important to note is the element of choice portrayed in John’s Gospel. If there is a twofold reaction to Jesus in John’s Gospel, it should be emphasized that that reaction is very much dependent on a person’s choice, a choice that is influenced by his way of life, whether his deeds are wicked or are done in God (John 3:20-21). For John there is virtually no trace of determinism at the surface. Only when one looks beneath the surface does one find statements like “no one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

Love it that Jesus was God Who took on human form to live among us and to die for our sins so that those of us who choose to believe will not be judged, but will be saved from eternal condemnation. We can choose to reject Him, but if we prefer the darkness rather than the light, there are consequences.

Posted September 4, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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