Pastors have to field many questions, some are very off the wall, but most people have similar types of questions. We all want to know “why” at times (for which there is not always a clear answer), we all what assurance as well, but recently I heard a question answered that really got under my skin (this is not an easy thing to do).
Someone asked the question “can I tell my child that God loves them?”
This is a quite honest and heartfelt question, and one that I think is easy enough to answer, but I was shocked and astounded when the reply was “well, yes and no…”
The “hang-up” for the one answering the question is because he holds to a theological construct whereby Jesus only loves and cares for the church and has left the rest of the world out in the cold. This is false and a direct contradiction to the New Testament.
My answer to that question is “absolutely, we know that God loves everyone, not only that, Jesus died for the whole world!”
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 one of the best and least known verses on earth. It’s best in that most people, even those who are not Believers, can quote it or have heard it before – even if only in an endzone. It is one of the worst known in that, though the words are recognizable, what it means might not be understood.
Briefly, this verse is giving a description of how God loved the world. For most of us, love is primarily a feeling, but true love goes beyond warm-fuzzy to action. Clint Black was right, love is “something that you do.” And so this is how God loved the world, he gave up his one and only son so that if you believe, you can have life without end.
There is so much in this verse, it should be the best known verse in the world.
But I want to focus on the extent of God’s love. He loved “the world.” It says that he loved THE world, not a world, but the article “the” (ὁ) is included. And the word here is κόσμος simply meaning the whole world. It’s not the inhabited world, the known world, the Roman Empire, or the land of Israel, it’s “the world.” God loves the world, the whole world. Anyone who would say that there is anyone in the world that God does not love is contradicting the most widely known verse in the entire New Testament… this is sad.
A second verse that I’d like to look at to “seal the deal” in terms of God’s love for the world is from the Apostle John.
He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
This is talking about Jesus and how he died for the world. That word “propitiation” is not a very common word in todays vocabulary, but it was known to the Jewish world in the first century.
Basically, this means that Jesus was the sin sacrifice. He died on behalf of the world. This verse is significant because of its degree of specificity. Not only does it say that Jesus died for the world (again ὁ κόσμος), but John goes beyond this to make clear that Jesus didn’t just die for “us” but he died for the “whole (ὅλος) world.”
Even without the modifiers, “world” here means the world. John shows that it’s not only a select group, but the world, not only some in the world but the “whole world” for whom Jesus died.
Jesus’ death was a gift to the world, he died for the whole world, every person in it, as an expression of God’s love to everyone.
YES, not only can you, but you should tell every child and everyone else that God loves them and he loved us so much that he sent his son to die for all of us!
See, having a relationship with God is a free gift, it’s not earned or deserved. Each one of us are sinful and that separates us from God – but it doesn’t cause him to love us any less. God loves YOU! He is merciful and doesn’t want to simply punish you, however, God is also justice so he must have a payment of the penalty for sin.
…the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Because we sin, we have earned death, but God gave us the gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of his son Jesus. Jesus came to pay the penalty for your sin and purchase your place in heaven. It’s by faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation that we receive this gift.
All you have to do is change your mind/attitude about God with relation to your life that results in a total turnaround of your life (this is called “repent”), admit that you can’t save yourself, believe that Jesus died for you to pay the penalty for sin, and as best as you know how, commit the rest of your life to God through Jesus. Make him your boss (your Lord) and follow him.
Anyone can do this because Jesus died, not only for us, but for the whole world.