Great Themes Of The Bible

by Harold Hancock


Scripture: Jn 3:16 Oct 1, 2023

This sermon outlines 8 themes from John 3:16 - God's love and gift of His Son so that whoever believes can have eternal life and escape perishing in hell - and encouraged the listeners to not neglect this great salvation offered through Christ, but rather to repent and be baptized so they can be ready to meet the Lord.


Good evening. If you have your Bibles, you might want to turn to the book of John in the third chapter in verse 16. Sounds familiar.

We appreciate the presence of each of you, as has been said, and if you're visiting, we again want to make you know that we appreciate your presence. The things that we do, we do in hopes of pleasing God, and if we do anything that you question or want to talk to us about, then we stand ready to do that. I had a preacher friend that used to tell me that his sermons were always originally original and good, and that he would say the only problem is that that's original is not good and that that's good is not original.

I want you to know that I don't claim any originality for The lesson outline this evening, or the main point in it. Recently when I was studying John, I came across a piece in Truth Commentary on John by Daniel King. And this is what it said. It said, The greatest person, God. The greatest motive, love. The greatest degree, soul.

The greatest gift, his son, the greatest invitation, whosoever, the greatest reception, believeth. The greatest deliverance should not perish. The greatest promise have everlasting life. And I saw that, I thought, well, that is interesting. And I think we'll just talk about that or give you my thoughts on those various points.

And so we're just going to go down the line and talk about these things. And I'll give you some of my thoughts on these points as we go. I know there's eight of them, and we'll be brief about it, so we won't keep you too long, I don't think. Let's begin by noticing, he says, the greatest person is God. Of course, in John 3, 16, he starts by saying, God shall love the world.

But he says, this is the greatest person. Let me, if I might, just share with you a passage that speaks of the greatness of God. Turn back in your Old Testament to the book of Deuteronomy,

and look at chapter 30. 2, Deuteronomy chapter 32,

and we'll start reading in verse 1. It says, Give ear, O heaven, and I will speak, and hear o'er the words of my mouth. Let my teachings drop as rain, my speech distill as dew, as tender dew. As rain drops from the tender herbs, as showers from the grass. For I proclaim the name of the Lord, ascribe greatness to our God.

He is the rock, His work is perfect. For all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice. Righteous and upright is He. He is great. He's great because He is almighty. You remember in the book of, Genesis in the 17th chapter, that one of the things that God told Abraham, he says, anything too hard for me?

And he was addressed as the Almighty God. And we see this might when we think about the creation and how that he created things just by speaking. He created everything. Without him there wouldn't be anything made that is made. And yet, He didn't have all the raw materials that we have around, He would just speak them into existence, showing us the greatness of His power.

I mentioned the passage several weeks ago when we were talking about Jesus is God, or the Word is God, and the power of that Word. But turn over, if you would, to the book of Jeremiah, the 32nd chapter, and look at verse 18 as we talk about power of God. He says, You show loving kindness to thousands and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosoms of their children after them, the great, the mighty God, whose name is Lord of hosts.

Notice that he calls him the mighty God. But why does he call him the mighty God? Well, look back up the verse 17. Ah, Lord God, behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arms. There is nothing too hard for you. He is almighty. He's the mighty God. And one of the things he shows us his might by is by creation.

And he can drive for reaches the conclusion from that. There is nothing really too hard for him. Not only is He almighty, but He is all, or He is eternal. Uh, there is never a time that He did not exist, and there'll never be a time that He will not exist. He is eternal. He's just always been. And all of that helps tell us that He is, indeed, the greatest of all persons.

He's somebody that you want as a friend. Not somebody that you want as an enemy. The second thing you remember is that God so loved the world, and so the writer tells us that the greatest motive, that that's love. I think we, we understand the greatness of love. Look over, if you would, to the book of 1 Corinthians, and he's talking about in our life, even, but you see the greatness of it.

Chapter 13, in verse 1, Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, And become a sounding brass or a clinging symbol. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains but have not love, I am nothing though.

I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and I give my body to be burned but have not loved it profits me nothing. Just think of this. This is somebody saying I could have all kinds of knowledge. I can know the answer to every question. I could have all kind of power and say mountain be moved and that mountain be moved.

I can make great contributions to people. And he would say, yet, if I don't have love, then I'm a nothing or I'm a nobody. That kind of shows you how great love is. And then you turn to the end of the chapter. And the writer tells us now about it, faith, hope, and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.

And so it's no wonder that the writer would tell us that maybe the greatest motive is love. We're told that God is love in the scriptures. The text in John 3, 16 tells us who it is God loves, and for God so loved the world. And when he says that, he's not talking about the... The globe. He's talking about people that live on the world.

And he's saying God loves us. He loves the people. That's his motive for the things he does. He loves us. And particularly what he's talking about in John 3, 16, the motive that's behind it is his love for us. There are more than one different word, or more than one word, that is used to Uh, describe love or call love, call things love.

We have agape that most of us are familiar with in the Greek. We have phileo, and they differ somewhat. Agape is just a more general word, phileo kind of narrows it down, and it's talking about brotherly love. And the one that's talked about here is agape, and I think, in my way of thinking, that even though they're different in some ways, one of them is aimed at Brother or sister and others is just in general.

I think always the characteristics are going to be there, whatever love it is. And the basic characteristic of love is that love God is active goodwill that exceeds the good of other people. And in John 3, 16, you hear that God is love or God loves us. And so what is God doing? John 3, 16, he's giving his son so that we can be saved or so that we won't have to perish.

And so he has our interest at heart and in mind. If he

loves us though, some people will ask, well, why doesn't he just save everybody? And I think I would answer that by saying, have you ever seen a parent that just, you know, love the kids, and yet despite that parent's love, that child doesn't turn out like they want him to, and he's not what he should be as a, as a person?

And that's the way it is with God. He, he wants us to do good. He's rooting for us to do good. He'll do everything he can in his power or within reason to make things good for us, but at the same time, we have to realize there's more. Then just a matter of love involved that there are other characteristics and qualities that need to be considered.

For instance, Jesus or God is righteous and God likes justice and is justice. And God can't have fellowship with that that is evil. You get a glance of this in first John, the first chapter when. The writer tells us that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. And we say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

God simply cannot have fellowship with evil. And so He, even if He loves us, He'll try and get us to forsake our evilness. But even if He, if we don't love Him, He, or if we don't do what He says, He still can't just take us in and have fellowship with us. That would violate his nature and his being. And so we see that love is a great motivator, and that God has this love for us.

But you notice also, he says, the greatest degree is soul. I've said before, and we've talked about this before, when you read John 3. 16, The focus really, or the point of the verse is, and the power of the verse is that word soul. That God so loved the world, He loved the world so much, is the idea, that this is what He did.

And what He did was He gave His Son in hopes of Keeping us from, uh, perishing, and in hopes of saving us, and giving us life. But, that word, soul, is there telling us how great that is. We, um, talked some this morning about the sacrifice of Jesus. And I, I suggested to you, you think about that. What, what could God do?

And sacrifice greater than that. I mentioned this morning the story of the hen and the pig. They make a meal, but the hen said, Well, you furnish the ham and I'll furnish the egg. And the pig thought for a moment, he said, That sounds like a sacrifice for me, a contribution for you. Well, just about anything God did, other than what He did do, of giving His Son, it'd be just simply like a contribution.

It wouldn't be a sacrifice. If He just gave Him something, He could speak that into existence again. But this was eternal. This was something that, that He couldn't just get rid of without any sorrow, or just bring it back without some effort. He couldn't do that. Jesus is eternal. And so when you think about it, this is the greatest sacrifice that he can make.

And so he's saying he so loved the world, he so did, he made this enormous sacrifice for us. Look over, if you would, to the book of Romans in the fifth chapter for a moment.

A passage about love and about our being saved. Uh, but I want to look at a little different idea of it. In Romans, the 5th chapter, in verse 6, the writer says, For when we were still without strength in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.

But God demonstrated His love toward us. And that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. This is how much love he had for us. He didn't say, well, you come and be good. And if you can measure up to where I want you to, then I'll send my son and, and he can get rid of your sins for you. He said, I will send him in hopes that you will desire to become good and that you will become good.

And that's what he did. His love was so great that even before we had changed, he was willing to give Jesus as a sacrifice in hopes that we would change. And that one day we would be saved. Look at the book of 2 Peter in the 3rd chapter and verse 10. Excuse me, verse 9. Peter says, The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering to us, would not willing that any should perish.

But that all should come to repentance. The reason that the world stands today and continues to stand is that God wants to give us an opportunity to be saved. He loves us so much that he wants us to have every opportunity we can to escape the, the perdition and enjoy salvation. Every person is important to God.

Think about the book of Luke in the 15th chapter and in the first of it when Jesus is saying that if a man has a hundred sheep and ninety nine of them is in the fold and one of them is lost, he will leave the ninety nine and go seek the one that is lost. Have you ever thought about what that means to you?

It means that God so loves you. That he's not satisfied with just the 99. He would leave those, and he would go and search for you. I think, if my thinking's correct, that Christ would have died had I been the only sinner. Because God would have wanted me to be saved, and he would have given Christ life again, even for me.

He would leave the 99 for the one that is in danger. You can think about, um, how that in Luke 11, that prodigal son goes off. But God doesn't just give him up. He so loved him, or so loves us, as in the parable. That when he comes back, he's ready to take him, he says. And so he is the loving father that he so loves that if we will ever listen to him and hear the, the, the call he's willing to take us, that's how much he loves us, he so loves us that much.

Think about people like David of old and how we look at some of the things he did and we wonder how. And yet when he repented of them, God was there for him. Or the Apostle Paul, who, uh, spent time persecuting Christians, but then turned from that, and God received him. And all of this is to say, so great is the love of Christ, or of God, that He will so love us, that He would do anything He can to save us, even give His Son's life, and that He would do anything to save us, and if we'll just turn to Him, He'll receive us.

He so loves us.

The greatest gift, His Son. This is the, the object of that soul love. He so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son. We mentioned this morning, I don't think we spent a lot of time in it, but look at John the first chapter in verse 18. I'm not even sure we've, we've touched on this point. May have been one of the ones that got cold, kind of.

Um, but in chapter 1 and verse 18, he says, No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, and he says, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. That part about in the bosom of his father, that's again a passage that's trying to show us how much God cares for Jesus Christ and his son.

And the picture is one that he loves him so much. And yet the passage in John 3, 16 says he so loved us that he was willing to give Jesus so that we would not perish. Look at another passage in, this time, the book of Romans in the 8th chapter.

And look in particular at verse 32, if you would. Romans 8, verse 32. And there Paul tells us, he says, He who did not spare his own son, but delivered him up for us,

Now, what I want you to do is to realize he says in that passage, God gave Jesus for us. And that's what John 3, 16 says. God so loved us that he gave Jesus for us. Romans 8 is telling us, in essence, that there is nothing more than that that he could do. That he gave Jesus. And he says, if he did that, don't you know he'd do anything else that he could for you.

That's the in

orth of the love that is God, that's as far as he can get, is loving Christ that much and that he's willing to give Christ for us. And so if there's anything else he said, surely he'd be willing to do that in. In that way,

giving his son was the most precious gift. If we could mention a moment ago, And he loves us to that point that he gave his son. And that wasn't a thing that was pleasant for Jesus. We remember his prayer that, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. And I don't think it was pleasant for God to watch.

I don't think that God turned His back on him like some think that He does or some suggest that He did for a short period of time. I think He was always with him. But I think it was hard for God to watch, so to speak, to know that his son was suffering, and that his son dreaded those things, but both of them were willing to do that in order to save us.

And so the greatest gift he could possibly give would be his son. And we ought to remember what Romans is saying, that if He did that, what won't He do for us? If there's something that's good for us, then He'll do it for us. It's the greatest gift that is His Son. The fifth thing, He says, the greatest invitation whosoever.

It's great, because that means anyone.

It means that whether Jew or Gentile, anybody can have it, have the gift that he's talking about. In fact, you remember in Romans 1, I'm not ashamed of the gospel. It's the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believeth. To the Jew first and then also to the Gentile. For therein is revealed the righteousness of God by faith unto faith.

It doesn't matter whether one is Jew or Gentile. There was a time that Jew was his favorite on earth or blessed on earth. But he had this plan. He was bringing the Gentiles in also. And now when he comes to this part about you can escape the perdition if you want to, he says it doesn't make any difference whether you're Jew or Gentile.

You can have this salvation. It's to whosoever would. And I want to suggest to you too that And it's open to all kinds of sinners. Look over if you would to the book of 1 Corinthians in the 6th chapter for a moment

and read with me starting in verse 9. Paul writes to these Christians, he says, Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor solomonites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

You can't be that and be a part of the kingdom of heaven. But he says, And such were some of you, but you were washed, but you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God. And so, he's looking at some people that are, what we would think, bad as far as sin concerns, as sin goes, the law of it is bad.

The kind that we would frown on some of it and he says you can't be a part of the kingdom and do that But then he says but there are some of you that were and now you're washed I mean, they've been baptized for the remission of the sins. They're sanctified or set apart. They're justified free from their sins And that just shows us that, that whosoever will come, Jesus will receive them.

They just have to have the right heart and the right motive for coming, and they can receive it. It's for whosoever will. The greatest invitation. Can't get any more than whosoever wants to can come and have it, if they would come. And then he talks about the greatest reception, believeth. Uh, this is not just...

You don't have to just, not saying, you just say, well, I believe and that's it. And I think we can show that. Go over to the book of James in the second chapter, if you would, for a moment,

and look down to chapter two and verse 19. And James tells us, you believe that there's one God, you do well, even the demons believe and tremble. My question is. The devil, or the demons, believe in Trimble, are they going to be saved as they are? The answer is certainly not. But he, he wants us to know that we still have to have faith, but that faith has to be more than that.

In fact, as you go on down a little bit, he says, But do you want to know, foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith with, uh, was working together with his works, and by works, faith was made perfect?

And that's the thing, he's not trying to say we're, whosoever believeth is saved, and all you gotta do is just say, well, yeah, I have faith. You're going to have to show your faith, and you can't show your faith, James says, without words. That's how we show it. And you look at the, the examples we have, and we see people that, that have faith, and they were obedient.

And that's the kind of faith that saves us, an obedient faith. And that doesn't mean we earn our salvation, we've talked before. You look at Ephesians 2 and verse 8, or by grace you're saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, but what kind of faith is that? Is that just, uh, somebody saying that? No.

And that doesn't mean you've earned your salvation if you have to do something. I'll remind you of Galatians 3rd chapter, and I think about verse 10, he talks about that the only way you can be saved without grace is if you did everything perfect. Your faith would not be counted your righteousness. You would be righteous because you did everything.

This is saying we have faith, that faith will be counted as righteous for us according to Romans. But at the same time, we've got to be doing things to show that faith and to have the salvation that we, we want. Look over if you would for a second to the book of Acts in the 16th chapter. And drop down to about verse 30, you remember Paul and Barnabas were in prison and there's the earthquake and the jail doors were open and the jailor thinking that they would left, uh, drew a sword, was ready to kill himself when Paul says, put up your sword, we're all here.

So in verse 30 says, and he brought them out and says, sirs, what must I do to be saved? I want you to notice he's asking, what must I do to be saved? And then Paul says, So they said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household. That's not the end of the story. He goes on to say, and just remember, at this time, he's not even heard, as far as we know.

He's learned from what they said, he's going to have to believe in Jesus. But he doesn't, as far as we know, know who Jesus is even. And so you go on, it says, So they said, Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your house. Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in the household.

My point I want you to see is, they could not, he could not just believe at that point. Without hearing, that faith comes by hearing, hearing by the Word of God. They had to take him and teach him. And what happens is, and they took him the same night of the hour and washed his stripes, and immediately he and all his family were baptized.

And then it says, now when they had brought him into the house, Set food for him, he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his house. When did it say he believed? After he showed his faith by being baptized into Jesus Christ, according to what they told him. And that's what he's talking about. He, whosoever believeth, can be saved.

And then, he points out the greatest deliverance, that we should not perish, he says.

Again, when you look at... John 3, 16. He's trying to say, God so loved the world that he gave us only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have an everlasting life. And so he wants us to have that life, and the opposite of that is to perish. We escape, what he's talking about, escaping the great deliverance, escaping this perishing.

We escape by the grace and mercy of God, and because of this, our deliverance from, uh, the horrors of this place called hell. That's how we are delivered and what he means by delivered. It is our escape by grace from our sins that condemn us to hell, and it's escaping this place of hell. Romans 6, 23 would tell us that, uh, the wages of sin is death, and the free gift of God is eternal life.

If you sin, you die. You should be subject to this death that he's talking about. This, this second death. The spiritual death. And the fact is that all of us have sinned. In Romans 3 and verse 23. We've all sinned and come short of the glory of God. And so if we just stop right there, then all of us are really condemned and just So why aren't we there?

Why do we not have to look toward that with fear? Well, it's because of the grace and mercy of God and that he has given Jesus so that he can pay the price and free us from our sins and give us forgiveness. And then because of our forgiveness, We are not subject to this place called hell. This has got to be the worst place of all.

When you read about it, it's mentioned in Matthew five and verse 29 and 30, that you'd be better off to. to go into that place or, or to escape that place if you had to poke out your eye, that you'd be better not to go to that place and cut off an arm than to go there fully, uh, with all the arms and legs and so forth.

That's how bad this place is. And then you, you look further and you find that it's called in some of the parables, a furnace of fire, trying to, to make us realize that this is not a place we want to be. And then you look in Revelations and it's called a lake of fire. that burns with fire and brimstone, and then there's described as a place where there's weeping and gnashing of teeth, suggesting it's, it's not a pleasant place at all.

And then you add to that that it's forever, that if you happen to go to this place, and it won't be just happenstance, you'll have spurned invitations and, and refused it in order to get there. But if you go to this place, It's not just something that you can say, well, I'll, I'll bear up a day or so. And then, then it'll be over.

It's going to go night and day forever and ever, and ever, and ever, and ever. And as far as you can think, it's going to be tormented then and deliverance is getting rid of the sins. And getting, uh, spared from going to this place that he's talking about. This place called Hell. And so it's the greatest deliverance.

If you were subject to this sentence of going to Hell, and you are freed from that, and delivered from that, then I think you can see, certainly, that's the greatest deliverance there could be. And then he points out it's the promise of eternal life, greatest promise. What can be greater than the promise of eternal life?

That's more than just mere existing forever. Those people in hell will exist forever, but you don't call that life. In fact, if you look at John 8 or John 5 and verse 28, he talks about the hour will come and they that were in the grave will hear his voice and come forth. They'd have done good unto life, and they that have done evil unto damnation.

They're both going to exist. But those that are righteous, he says, you have life. He calls that life. But the other, the, the perishing that we talked about, he says, you have damnation, condemnation. That's not a quality of life. And so this idea of everlasting life, it's not only Uh, quantity. It's also quality that he's talking about.

In fact, listen to the book of Revelation in the 21st chapter and verse 4. And God shall wipe away every tear from the eyes. There shall be no more death, no sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. And so that's the place that he's talking about. That's what we get into if we, uh, remember and, and accept the invitation from John 3, that God wants to spare us from this place called hell and give us this place called heaven.

Turn over, if you would, one last passage. Look over, if you would, to the book of Hebrews in the third chapter for a moment.

Look at Hebrews 3 and, and let's just start in verse 1,

excuse me, chapter 2 in verse 1. He says, Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things that we have heard, lest we drift away. Or if the word spoken through the angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard him talking about the apostles?

This is a great salvation, he says. And we can have it. And he says, how are we going to escape if we neglect this? How are we going to escape if we don't think seriously enough about it? Or if we don't uh, implement the things that Jesus says in order to be saved. We have great themes in the Bible that tell us how and what to do so that we can enjoy heaven and miss hell.

But how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? If you're here this evening and you've been neglecting the great salvation, hope you'll come this evening and repent of your sins, and ask God to forgive you. If you need to, be baptized in Christ, but make sure that you're ready to meet the Lord, as together we stand and sing.