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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Afternoon, February 27, 2016

Our sister Rose Chenault-Quinn (October 5, 1918 – February 13, 2016) went to be with Jesus several days ago. She was a member of our church for over twenty years. She was with us every Sunday until her final illness a few weeks ago. We are here this afternoon to remember her. It is therefore appropriate for me to speak on one of her favorite verses, which is John 3:16. It is on page 1117 of the Scofield Study Bible. Please stand as I read this text of Scripture.

“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. 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 afternoon – 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 we 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? John 3:16 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 (325 A.D.) 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. (cf. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, Harper, 1931, volume I, p. 29).

That gives the correct view of Christ, which is proclaimed in 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. But 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.”

It is extremely important for us to know who Christ is. Otherwise we can never understand what He did on the Cross. If He was only a man, then His death on the Cross has no real 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” – God the Son. The great Baptist preacher 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. Listen to the first half of it again.

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

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 [God] 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, vol. 5, p. 716).

Some people think that Christ was crucified as a martyr. They 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” (Acts 2:23).

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

“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! It was not the Jewish people or the Roman guards – it was God who put Jesus on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sin. That’s what the Bible means when it says,

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

For more than a century, Bible-rejecting preachers, like Harry Emerson Fosdick, have called this “a slaughterhouse religion.” Liberal Protestants like Fosdick 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.

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 our transgressions. Our text says,

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

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

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

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

The specific faith which justifies is faith in or on (eis or epi) Christ Jesus...Its very essence, therefore, is trust upon him…We are saved by faith in or upon Christ… faith in Christ [is] the sole condition of salvation (A. A. Hodge, The Atonement, Footstool Publications, 1987 reprint, pp. 226, 229, 230).

When we believe that Christ suffered on the Cross to pay the price for our sins, then there is nothing we must do except trust Him! Believe on Him! Believe in Him! Come to Him! They all mean the same thing! An old hymn says,

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).

Trust Jesus. Come to Him. Believe on Him. That’s what Rose did – and He saved her – for all time and all eternity. I know. I was sitting beside Rose when she came to Jesus by faith.

“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).

Our beloved sister Rose went to be with Jesus on Saturday, February 13, 2016. She is with the Saviour in paradise this afternoon. Now go on, Rose, and enjoy Him forever! Amen.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (by Joseph M. Scriven, 1819-1886).



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).

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

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 we be saved by Christ? John 3:16c.