How God is Saving the World

by

From the Series: This Is the Way

Following Jesus means following the Way of Jesus, and the Way of Jesus is the way of love, and this is GOOD NEWS for the whole world.

But we’ve often presented a gospel to the rest of the world that isn’t good news at all.

  • We’ve presented a God of anger instead of a God who is love.
  • We’ve focused on whom to exclude rather than how we can include everyone.
  • We’ve presented a “gospel at gunpoint” (Karl Barth’s terminology) based in fear.
  • We’ve spoken condemnation rather than acceptance, affirmation, and love.

Jesus gave us the best news ever to spread…

John 3:14-21 NRSV

[14] And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, [15] that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. [16] “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

[17] “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [18] Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. [19] And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.

[20] For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. [21] But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

There are three pieces of history that give this passage context.

  1. Jerusalem had been destroyed in 70 a.d. John wrote his gospel after 90 a.d. and looked back at a time when those who believed Jesus fled the city and found “life” and refuge in the city of Peleg. Those who didn’t believe Jesus’ message perished.
  2. John illustrates Jesus’ work by pointing to the time (Numbers 21) when the Israelites rebelled against God and suffered the consequence of being bitten by snakes. God saved them by having Moses lift up a bronze serpent on a pole.
  3. Jesus has just concluded a conversation with Nicodemus about the difference between an earthly perspective and a heavenly Kingdom perspective on life. Jesus said we must be “born from above” to truly understand.

The BAD NEWS is that we live in a world lost to sin, and sin leads to death and condemnation.

And we keep trying to fix the problem we created on our own. It never works. We need God to intervene.

The GOOD NEWS is that God’s love moved him to act to save the world through the redemptive work of Christ.

1. God loves the whole world.

Any theology that presents a God who does not love everyone and is somehow glorified by sending billions of people to burn in a fiery hell forever is not thoroughly Christian or biblical theology. God is love, and God loves everyone.

2. God sent his Son to save the world.

The world as it is is sick and sinful and doomed. If God doesn’t intervene in human history, nothing lies before us but death and destruction. We’ve proven that over and over.

God isn’t saving us from God.

God is saving us from sin, death, and condemnation.

God acted to save us by giving his only begotten Son to the world. This is not merely a reference to the cross. This is in reference to the full story of Jesus – his incarnation, his ministry, his death on the cross, his resurrection, and his ascension to the Father to be enthroned as King.

And in saving the world, he is also healing the world, just as the serpent lifted up on a pole was a source of healing for the people from the poison of their own sinful decisions.

3. God is generous with the gift of eternal life.

God’s purpose is to save and redeem ALL that is lost and ALL that is broken..

Later in John… John 12:46-47 NRSV

I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

In John’s letters… 1 John 2:1-2 NRSV

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

In Paul’s writings… Philippians 2:9-11 NRSV

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

In Peter’s writings… 2 Peter 3:9 NRSV

The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

The writer of Hebrews… Hebrews 2:9 NRSV

but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

4. God will give light and love to any who will receive it.

Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, gives light to all who enter this world.

You and I are still free to choose how we respond to the light. We can hide in our shame, or come out and experience the kingdom.

In other words…

Redemption…

Healing…

Security…

Is ALL for the ASKING for ANYONE who will receive it by believing in Jesus!

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