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THREE GREAT QUESTIONS ANSWERED FROM JOHN 3:16

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, February 28, 2010

“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” (John 3:16).


John 3:16 is undoubtedly the most well-known verse in the New Testament. The older I get the more convinced I am that the message of this verse is the most important topic in the Bible. I read of an old-time preacher of whom it was said, “Whatever his text, he never failed to set forth God as love, and Christ as the atonement for sin.” I hope that this can be said of me as well. My desire is to preach the good news that, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

There are many ways that we might look at that text this morning – but I think it will be helpful to let John 3:16 answer three questions: (1) Who is Christ? (2) Why did Christ die? (3) How can you be saved by Christ?

I. First, who is Christ?

There are many ideas about Christ. Some say He was a martyr. Others say He was a great prophet. Others say He was a misguided fanatic. But what does the Bible itself say about Christ? Our text calls Him the “only begotten Son” of God (John 3:16a). What does that mean? It means that Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity. He is God the Son. He is of the same essence as God the Father. He is begotten, but not created. Dr. Buswell says “monogenes” (begotten) means “the only one of his kind” (J. Oliver Buswell, Ph.D., A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, Zondervan, 1971, page 111).

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (I John 4:9).

George W. Zeller said,

We can conclude that the expression the Son of God indicates absolute deity for Jesus Christ. As the Son He has the same nature as the Father and is a separate person from the Father… Christ has always been the Son of God (George W. Zeller and Renald E. Showers, The Eternal Sonship of Christ, Loizeaux Brothers, 1993, p. 55).

The Nicene Creed of the early Christians gave this definition of Christ,

      I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible:
      And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made: Who, for us men and our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end… (cf. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, Harper, 1931, volume I, p. 29).

That is the correct view of Christ, which is proclaimed by the Bible.

Does that go over your head? Let me make it more simple. God exists in three Persons. Jesus Christ is the Second Person. He has been “the only begotten Son of God” for all eternity past. In the fullness of time

“God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4).

Christ existed as God the Son before He was “veiled in flesh” in the womb of Mary. Then He came forth, and was born in a human body. Jesus Christ is, and always has been, the “only begotten Son of God.”

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one”
       (I John 5:7).

It is extremely important for you to know who Christ is. Otherwise you can never understand what He did on the Cross. If He was only a man, then His death on the Cross has little meaning today. But, no! While He was a man, He was more than a man. He was the God-man. God in human flesh. “The only begotten Son of God” – the Second Person of the Trinity – God the Son. Spurgeon quoted from the Nicene Creed when he said,

      Jesus, the eternal Son of God, “very God of very God,” who had been hymned through eternal ages by joyous angels, who had been the favourite of his Father’s court, exalted high above principalities and powers, and every name that is named, he himself condescended to become a man; was born of the Virgin Mary; was cradled in a manger; lived a life of suffering, and at last died a death of agony (C. H. Spurgeon, “Justice Satisfied,” The New Park Street Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1975 reprint, volume V, page 243).

II. Second, why did Christ die?

There are many theories of why He died on the Cross. But our text sweeps them away. Stand and read the first half of it aloud again.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16).

You may be seated.

Focus on the words, “he gave his only begotten Son.” Matthew Henry tells us the meaning of “he gave his only begotten Son,”

…he gave him, that is, he gave him up to suffer and die for us, as the great propitiation or expiatory sacrifice…for so it was determined and designed by the Father, who gave him for this purpose… His enemies could not have taken him if his father had not given him (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson, 1996 reprint, volume 5, p. 716).

Do you think that Christ was crucified as a martyr? You are wrong! God “gave his only begotten Son”! The Roman soldiers drove nails through His hands and feet. Yes, but they were only instruments in the hands of God! The priests and Pharisees cried “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Yes, but they were only instruments in the hands of God!

“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23).

The Romans drove the nails through His hands and feet by God's pre-determined plan, “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” The Pharisees yelled, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” by the predetermined plan of God! Behind the Pharisees and the Roman soldiers stands Almighty God!

“It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10).

That's what the Bible means when it says, “he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). “It pleased the Lord to bruise him.” God Himself put Jesus on the Cross! That’s propitiation! That’s expiation! That’s what the Bible means when it says,

“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures”
       (I Corinthians 15:3).

Dr. A. W. Tozer said,

      He was beaten and scourged in public by the decree of the Romans…They whipped and punished Him in full view of the jeering public, and His bruised and bleeding and swollen person was the answer to the peace of the world… He was chastised for our peace; the blows fell on Him.
      Israel’s great burden and amazing blunder was her judgment that this wounded one on the hillside beyond Jerusalem was being punished for His own sins.
      The prophet foresaw this historic error in judgment… saying… “We thought that God was punishing Him for His own iniquity for we did not know that God was punishing Him for our transgressions and our iniquities” (A. W. Tozer, D.D., Who Put Jesus on the Cross? Christian Publications, 1975, pp. 12-13).

For more than a century, Bible-rejecting preachers, like Harry Emerson Fosdick, have called this “a slaughterhouse religion.” They have mocked and jeered and scoffed at the idea that God would send His Son to die as payment for our sins. One of them said, “Your God is my devil.” Without realizing it, he called the God of Scripture “the devil.” That's a fearful thing to say.

Listen to the words of Spurgeon,

“Horrible doctrine!” cried one the other day. Granted that it is horrible, may it not also be true? Many horrible things take place around us, and yet none of us deny the facts. You cannot exclude from your knowledge many things which are true, by merely crying, “Horrible!” It is not ours to judge of our Lord's teaching by our [emotions], we are to receive it by faith (C. H. Spurgeon, “Holding Fast the Faith,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1974, vol. 34, p. 77).

God sent Jesus to pay for our sins, not out of devilish glee, but simply because there was no other way for our sins to be propitiated, except through the death of His Son, nor cleansed, except through His Blood.

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:25).

With sorrow and pain in his heart, God the Father sent Jesus Christ to the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16).

III. Third, how can you be saved by Christ?

Christ died on the Cross to pay the full penalty for our sins – but how can you receive His salvation? The Catholics think that you receive it through the “sacraments.” The charismatics think that you receive it through experiences with the Holy Spirit. The decisionists think you receive it by saying a prayer or “coming forward.” Others think you receive it by believing the plan of salvation. Still others think you receive it by making Christ “Lord over every area of your life.” But what does the Bible say? What does the Bible tell you to do to receive salvation? Why, the answer is right there, in our text! Let us stand and read it out loud one last time.

“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” (John 3:16).

You may be seated.

“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish” (John 3:16). Salvation comes by believing in Jesus. Theologian A. A. Hodge said,

The specific faith which justifies is faith in or on (eis or epi) Christ Jesus. Acts 9:42; 16:31; Galatians 2:16. Its very essence, therefore, is trust upon him…We are said to be saved by faith in or upon Christ…And if the…doctrine of the literal substitution of Christ in the law-place of his people, and his vicarious suffering of their penalty in order to expiate them and propitiate God, is acknowledged, then…faith in Christ as the sole condition of salvation is very plain (A. A. Hodge, The Atonement, Footstool Publications, 1987 reprint, pp. 226, 229, 230).

If you see that Christ suffered on the Cross to pay the price for your sins, then there is nothing you must do except trust Him! Believe on Him! Believe in Him! Come to Him! They all mean the same thing!

I am coming, Lord, Coming now to Thee,
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood, That flowed on Calvary.
   (“I Am Coming, Lord” by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

Will you trust Jesus? Will you come to Him? Will you believe on Him?

“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” (John 3:16).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Acts 2:22-24.

Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“For God So Loved the World” (by Francis Townsend, 1938).


THE OUTLINE OF

THREE GREAT QUESTIONS ANSWERED FROM JOHN 3:16

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“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” (John 3:16).

(Acts 16:31)

I.   First, who is Christ? John 3:16a; I John 4:9; Galatians 4:4; I John 5:7.

II.  Second, why did Christ die? John 3:16b; Acts 2:23; Isaiah 53:10;
I Corinthians 15:3; Romans 3:25.

III. Third, how can you be saved by Christ? John 3:16c.