BELIEVE – Chapter 7 - Humanity

 

Confession Of Faith:

 I believe all people are loved by God and need Jesus Christ as their Savior.

 Key Verse:

 John 3:16 (ESV) 16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 This is a favorite scripture of a lot of people. All you have to do is watch a sports game on TV and see someone holding the sign that says John 3:16.

So far…

·       We’ve asked, Who is the one true God? 

·       Does he care about me? He is personal?

·       How do I come into a relationship with this God?  Salvation.

·       How do I know his will for my life?  God’s Word.

·       What is my identity in Christ?  Who am I? Identity Crisis.

·       How will God accomplish his plan?  That’s the church. 

 

And now we’re asking the next key question, How does God see people?  This is a  r-a-d-i-c-a-l thing for the church to consider here, right? 

 

How does God actually see people?  What if we as the church, as individual followers of Christ, could see people the way God sees people? 

 

If you can get this today – you will have a greater understanding of God’s plan more mankind than ever before.

 

One of the reasons we don’t have the virtue of gentleness with people is because we don’t see them and treat them the way God sees and treats them. 

 

This is a huge lesson today that teaches us to love people the way God loves them – even that ornery neighbor that lives next door to you.

 

THINK ABOUT THIS:

 

·       It is estimated that the world population reached one billion for the first time in 1804.

·       It was another 123 years before it reached two billion in 1927, but it took only 33 years to reach three billion in 1960.

·       Thereafter, the global population reached four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, six billion in 1999 and, according to the United States Census Bureau, seven billion in March 2012.[

·       The United Nations, however, estimated that the world population reached seven billion in October 2011.

·      According to current projections, the global population will reach eight billion by 2030, and will likely reach around nine billion by 2050. 

 

Humanity.  The word doesn’t sort of give it justice.  Humanity?  It’s the right word to use, but some people might dismiss this one as an unimportant chapter. 

 

In this chapter we are asking how does God see people, and, what would happen in this church if we actually saw people the way God sees them

 

And, so, the key idea is I believe God loves all people

 

What’s not stated is, therefore, we do too.  And, the second one is, and they need Jesus Christ as their savior

 

1 John 5:1 (ESV) 1  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

 

He is available to them and they need him. I need to see people the way God sees them…

 

They might be:

 

·       Outcast

·       Uneducated

·       Stinky

·       Fat

·       Ugly

·       Poor

·       Wealthy

·       Ornery, etc.

 

 

 

No matter who they are – God invites you to see them as He sees them – loved.

 

God loved them so much that He sent His ONLY SON TO DIE FOR THEM/ US. He wants to have a relationship with them.

 

If you have this view of humanity – it will drive the spiritual practice of sharing our faith with others.

God created everything, but the pinnacle of creation was the creation of human beings – beings made in the image of God. 

 

Genesis 1:26 (ESV) 26  Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

 

Humanity is special and the Bible is the record of the love story between the Creator and the created, between God and humans. 

 

From the very beginning of time to the modern-day church, God has LOVED and PURSUED his people.

 

Jeremiah 31:3 (ESV) 3  the LORD appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

 

If you want to know about the love of God – Look at Jesus!

 

John 14:9 (ESV) 9  Jesus said to him… Whoever has seen me has seen the Father…

 

If you want to explain who God is, and what He is like, and what He is doing, all you have to do is look at Jesus, because in Him you have a picture of God.

 

When you have seen Jesus, you have indeed seen the Father.

 

John 3:16 (ESV) 16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

There is one word that describes this – GRACE.

 

Philip Yancey tells the story of a British conference on comparative religions. Experts from around the world debated what belief was unique to the Christian faith. They talked about beliefs like incarnation and resurrection. More than one religion had accounts of both.

 

In walked C.S. Lewis (theologian/ philosopher/ author/ poet, etc) who asked what all the discussion was about. He was told that they were discussing Christianity’s “unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, ‘Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.’”

 

God, through His love brought GRACE to the world.

 

That grace came through “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” “Redemption” means “liberation procured by the payment of a ransom.”

 

Guess who was holding us ransom? Our enemy Satan. But God paid that price through Jesus’ blood on the cross.  He paid it for ALL humanity.

 

Paul describes that act as the “propitiation.” That’s a word we seldom use. It refers to a “sacrifice that put an end to something.”

 

Jesus’ blood, on the cross, is the sacrifice that put an end to the hold Satan has over us because of our sin. This is ours as a free gift of grace. This is the gift God gave all of humanity.

 

We need only receive it by faith. Where Adam did not trust God we do.

 

This love and grace is available to the whole mass of humanity today.

 

John 3:16 (ESV) 16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

1 John 4:8 (ESV) 8  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

 

God’s love changes the story of humanity. His love changes humanity beginning with you. 

His love teaches you to see yourself as God sees you.

 

Your past sins are just that. Past. No longer present. Ended. You now see yourself by new labels like “forgiven” and “graced.”

 

God does not see the marks of your past. He has washed you white as snow. See yourself in the same way. See yourself as God sees you.

 

Then his love teaches you to see others as God sees them. He loves them.

 

He loves the bartender as much as he does the barista. He loves the Middle Eastern person as much as he does the Mid-Western person. He loves the prostitute as much as he does the preacher. He loves “the world,” so if that person that cut you off in traffic is a part of the world—and they are—he loves them.

 

And we should too. Remember, we have “all sinned.” The only difference between you and them may be that you have received grace. It might be good to recall how that happened.

 

Romans 10:14-15 (ESV) 14  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

 

Romans 10:17 (ESV) 17  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

 

Somehow you heard about Christ. It may have been through a preacher or a teacher. Maybe it was a parent or grandparent. A friend cared enough to share their story and how it intersected his story.

 

However it was you heard it, the message probably came through a person.  Most people make it to Christ through a friend or relative.

 

There may be someone right now in your web of relationships that needs to know that Jesus wants to be a part of their story. He wants to take the story of humanity that began with Adam. They know that one. They know they have missed the mark in their marriage or at work or in life.

 

What they need to know is that Jesus has changed all that. And you may be just the one to tell them. Who knows? They might just be a saint if . . . if you do.

 

In John 3:16 (ESV) Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 

It is only one sentence. And that sentence contains only twenty-four words. Yet that one sentence is packed with so much truth that we literally will not have time to fully unpack its contents this morning. But I will try. 

From this one verse we can find at least seven truths (probably more) about the love of God.  (Steven Dow – Sermon Central)

 

Let’s look at them now.

 

1. The Love Of God Is UNCONDITIONAL

 

John 3:16 (ESV) 16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

The Greek word for world (kosmos) is defined as “the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ.”

 

This is the world that God loved.

 

It doesn’t say that God loved all the good guys. Or that God loved all the Jews. Or that God love all the saints. It says, “For God so loved the world.”

God’s love clearly isn’t based on our spiritual condition or our moral predisposition. It isn’t based on our behavior or our attitude toward him.

 

Rather, we see here that God’s love for mankind is universal and unconditional. He loves everyone. And this is one of the things that sets Him apart from every other god held up by every other world religion.

2. The Love Of God Is SACRIFICIAL

John 3:16 (ESV) 16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

According to a footnote in the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible an alternate translation of the first part of John 3:16 is as follows: “For this is how God loved the world…”

 

How did God love us? He loved us by giving, by serving, by sacrificing.

 

It is here that we learn something important about the nature of true love. Some people think they love others because of what those people do for them or how them make them feel.

 

But God shows us that true love has nothing to do with what you can do for me, but everything to do with what I can do for you.

God loves us sacrificially.

3. The Love Of God Is VALUABLE

John 3:16 (ESV) 16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.


Here we see the value of the Father’s love for us. Not only was he will to give, but we see here that he was willing to give the only one he had.

 

When you give to someone out of your abundance that is one thing, but when you give out of your poverty that is quite another.

 

If you had several vehicles it might be seen as a noble thing if you were to give one of them to a family who had none.

 

But if you were to give them the only vehicle you had that would be seen as something more than noble – something above and beyond the call of duty – it would been seen as real sacrifice. 

How many times have you heard or even said yourself: “I can’t give you that because it’s the only one I’ve got.”

 

We’ve probably all said that. But we learn here that God didn’t have a back up. God didn’t have a spare. But he loved us so much that he was willing to give us the only one he had. “

 

The power and passion of God’s love comes across, not through a supposed special meaning of the Greek word involved, but through the length to which God was willing to go for the sake of the world.” To give his “one and only” (NIV).

4. God’s Love Is PERSONABLE

John 3:16 (ESV) 16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.


God’s love is not merely some abstract concept. It isn’t just a philosophy or a theological construct.

 

God’s love was made manifest in this world through the person of Jesus Christ the only Son of the Father. Jesus Christ came into this world to reveal to us the love of God in human form. 

A child was once trying to quote from John 3:16 in the King James Version, which says, “his only begotten Son.” But the child misquoted it and said, “his only forgotten Son.”

 

It was one of those slips of the tongue that carried more truth than we would care to admit. For by most people in the world today Jesus Christ is truly forgotten.

 

His life is forgotten. His love is forgotten. His sacrifice is forgotten. It is our job as Christians – as God’s ambassadors – to help them remember.

Joe was a drunk, miraculously converted in a street outreach mission. Before his conversion he’d gained a reputation as a derelict and dirty wino for whom there was no hope. But following his conversion to Christ, everything changed. Joe became the most caring person at the mission. He spent his days there, doing whatever needed to be done. 

There was never anything he was asked to do that he considered beneath him. Whether it was cleaning up vomit left by some sick alcoholic, or scrubbing toilets after men had left them filthy, Joe did it all with a heart of gratitude. He could be counted on to feed any man who wandered in off the streets, undress and tuck him into bed, when he was too out-of-it to take care of himself.

One evening, after the mission director delivered his evangelistic message to the usual crowd of sullen men with drooped heads, one of them looked up, came down to the altar and kneeled to pray, crying out for God to help him change. The repentant drunk kept shouting, “Oh God, make me like Joe! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe!” The director leaned over and said, “Son, wouldn’t it be better if you prayed ‘make me like Jesus?”

After thinking about it for a few moments, the man looked up with an inquisitive expression and asked, “Is He like Joe?”


What a great story and what a powerful way to live. Are you living your life in such a way that you are reminding people of the only ‘forgotten’ Son of God? 

God’s love is personable on the one hand because it was made manifest through a person – Jesus Christ – but also because it is bestowed on a person – you.

Max Lucado writes:

There are many reasons God saves you: to bring glory to himself, to appease his justice, to demonstrate his sovereignty. But one of the sweetest reasons God saved you is because he is fond of you. He likes having you around. He thinks you are the best thing to come down the pike in quite a while… If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart. And the Christmas gift he sent you in Bethlehem? Face it, friend. He’s crazy about you!

5. God’s Love Is ACCESSIBLE

John 3:16 (ESV) 16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.


The really good news about God’s love is that it is not limited to a select few.

 

It is not available only to those who were born with right color of skin or on the correct continent. Nor is it difficult to obtain.

 

It is not reserved for only the intellectual elite or the power brokers or financial wizards. No, the love of God is accessible to “whoever believes in” Jesus – the only Son of God. 

James Van Tholen in his book “Where All Hope Lies” gets at the accessibility of God’s love when he writes:

From the human perspective, when you compare [God] to the other gods of the other religions in the world, you have to say our God is really sort of odd. He uses the most common of people, people that aren’t any different from any of us here; he comes in the most common of ways, when by his Spirit an anonymous young woman is found to be with child. And the strangest thing is that he comes at all … he’s not the Above-Us-God, too holy to come down. This God’s love is so immense that he wants to come down. And he has proven his love by the fact that he did come down and touch our ground.

God has come down to our level. Not in the sense that he has lessened his holiness or lowered his standards. But only in the sense that he has made his love accessible to the average, ordinary person like me and like you.

 

He is not a distant God who loves us only from some mystical, far away place that is completely removed from us. Rather he has entered into our world and he longs to enter into our lives. 

6. God’s Love Is NONJUDGMENTAL

John 3:16 (ESV) 16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.


God’s goal in sending his Son from heaven to earth was not condemn you are to show you how bad you are, how unworthy you are or how hopeless you are.

 

God’s only desire in sending his Son was show you his love and draw you into a love relationship with himself.

 

Jesus didn’t come into the world in order to rebuke you. He came to rescue you. He didn’t come to criticize you. He came to cleanse you. He didn’t come to punish you. He came to pardon you. He didn’t come to destroy you. He came to deliver you.

However this does not mean that God is not a God of judgment. For there is a huge difference between recognizing right and wrong and being judgmental.

 

There is a difference between judging the unrepentant sinner and being judgmental.

 

Being judgmental means that one has a critical spirit that only looks for the bad in people and then is quick to condemn them when it is found. God on the other hand will judge us for our sins and even sentence us to hell, but only as a last resort – only over his Son’s dead body – only if we refuse to accept his offer of forgiveness.

 

 Another way of looking at it is that it isn’t so much that God sends us to hell as that we choose hell over heaven – we choose Satan over God – we choose sin over righteousness. 

7. God’s Love Is BENEFICIAL

John 3:16 (ESV) 16  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.


More than fifty years ago, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a young sociology professor assigned his class the project of interviewing 200 city youth residing in downtown slums.

 

He asked them to predict their future. Students predicted that ninety percent would serve time in prison. Twenty-five years later the same professor asked a class to track down the original boys and discover what had happened. One hundred eighty were located and only four had ever been in jail. Why were predictions so far off? 

Looking for common factors, over 100 of the boys mentioned the strong influence of a teacher they all had in common. They then located the teacher, a seventy-year-old Sheila O’Rourke, in a Memphis nursing home. Puzzled by the interest in her, she could only exclaim, “All I ever did was love each of them.” 

That is the power of love. If that is the result of being loved with an imperfect, human love what must be the results of being loved by a perfect, divine love?

 

As a result of this teacher’s love each of these boys had a life. But as a result of God’s love each of us can have an eternal life.

CONCLUSION:

Years ago a young man who had quarreled with his father left home. He continued to keep in touch with his mother, and wanted very badly to come home for Christmas, but he was afraid his father would not allow him.

 

His mother wrote to him and urged him to come home, but he did not feel he could until he knew his father had forgiven him.

 

Finally, there was no time for any more letters. His mother wrote and said she would talk with the father, and if he had forgiven him, she would tie a white cloth on the tree which grew right alongside the railroad tracks near their home, which he could see before the train reached the station. If there were no white cloth, it would be better if he went on.

So the young man started home. As the train drew near his home he was so nervous he said to his friend who was traveling with him, “I can’t bear to look. Sit in my place and look out the window. I’ll tell you what the tree looks like and you tell me whether there is a white cloth on it or not.”

 

So his friend changed places with him and looked out the window. After a bit the friend said, “Oh yes, I see the tree.” The son asked, “Is there a white cloth tied to it?” For a moment the friend did not say anything. Then he turned, and in a very gentle voice said, “There is a white cloth tied to every limb of that tree!”

In some sense, Jesus Christ is the white cloth our heavenly Father tied to the tree – to the cross of Calvary – signaling that it was safe for us to come home to his love.