Life Changing Love

Life Changing Love

Home Church Service 3/26/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

When our small group meets for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. These messages are designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points being discussed. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

                                                                                  John 3:16–21 (NASB95)

Many biblical scholars and commentators, believe that verse 16-21 of chapter three, are parenthetical comments added by John, the author of this gospel account. However, a close reading of the text makes it very clear that these are, indeed, the words of Jesus as He continues to talk with Nicodemus. This is a continuation of the conversation concerning the Son of Man and the eternal life He brings to those who put their trust in and believe in Him.

The statement “For God so loved the world,” changes everything Nicodemus has been taught as a Jew. Last week, we learned that Nicodemus and his contemporaries believed that ALL Jews would enter the kingdom of God through resurrection at the end of the world. Now he learns that this includes the whole world, and it was God’s plan form the beginning. The Son of God came because of God’s love for the whole world, this, indeed, is Life Changing Love.

God showed His love for the world by sending His only Son to save the world. Those who believe in the Son have eternal life; those who do not have already been judged. Life Changing Love separates those who practice truth and those who fears their deeds will be exposed.

This is how God showed us love, by sending Jesus Christ as the Light that brings Life Changing Love. Jesus calls us out of sin, lies, and deceptions, into His glorious Light that brings cleansing, truth, and honesty.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What is the importance of Life Changing Love?”

Life Changing Love shows the depth of care and concern God has for the world and those who bear His image.

1). Life Changing Love is important because it creates faith that believes and leads to eternal life.

This love requires faith in the One sent to bring eternal life to all who believe.

Two aspects of God’s love are in view here – the unfathomable depth of the love of God and the scope of the love of God. In His love, God went so far as to give up His most precious gift – His ONE and ONLY Son. If the depth of love is measured by the value of its gift, then God’s love could not have been greater, for His love gift is His most precious possession – His only, eternally beloved Son. God could not love more.

John’s readers would have been familiar with the idea or thought of God’s special love for Israel. The truth, however, is that God’s love is, and always has been, indiscriminate. God loves every man, woman, and child. What is truly amazing is the gracious embrace of God’s love, for the object of His love is the world. In John’s writings we find the world is fallen and has organized in rebellion against God. So, it is against the background of the wickedness of the world, that God’s love shines out in a most glorious way.

God’s love is not static or self-centered, it reaches out and draws others in. God’s actions defined the pattern of true love, the basis for all love relationships – when you love someone, you are willing to sacrifice dearly for that person. Sacrificial love expresses itself without assurance that the love will be returned in kind. Sacrificial love is also practical in seeking ways to meet the needs of those who are loved. In this case, God’s love was infinitely practical, for it set out to rescue those who had no hope of rescuing themselves.

Love is far more than just a mere emotion, far more than something we feel inside. Life Changing Love is a driving force, a dynamic that compels one to act. Love acts – it expresses itself! It does not sit still, doing nothing, it is not dormant, complacent or inactive. If love actually exists, it has to act and express itself, it has to do something good for those who are loved. Love is loving – that is, it is always demonstrating love to others. God’s love has acted, and continues to act, thus, revealing that God is love.

God has acted, and continues to act, in many different ways, towards all men, women, and children. But there is one act that stands far above all other acts – the giving of His only beloved Son. The NET translation of the Bible translates this verse like this, “For THIS is HOW God loved the world (emphasis mine.” That God loves the world is NOT in really in question. The question is HOW did God love the world and the answer is by giving His ONLY Son. God demonstrated His love in THE. MOST. PERFECT. WAY. POSSIBLE. He sacrificed His only Son. God is perfect so His love must be perfect, His sacrifice must be perfect. He must love to the utmost degree.

And that is exactly what God did – He loved to the ultimate degree and gave the ultimate act and expression of love, the sacrifice of His own Son’s life. There is, however, one small condition on this sacrifice. Yes, God gave the life of His Son for every man, woman, and child, but the only ones to receive the ultimate gift from this ultimate sacrifice, are those who believe in the Son who has been sacrificed. To believe is more than a mental or intellectual agreement that Jesus is God. It means putting your trust and confidence in Him, that He alone can save you. It is putting Christ in charge of your present plans and eternal destiny. Believing is both trusting His words as reliable and relying on Him for the power to change.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How has God expressed His love for you this past week?

How have you expressed (shown) love this past week?

What are of your life have you struggled with trusting Jesus this past week?

Life Changing Love shows the depth of care and concern God has for the world and those who bear His image.

2). Life Changing Love is important because it separates those who love light from those who love darkness.

Those who practice truth come to the light, while those who practice deception remain in darkness.

It must have been bad enough for Nicodemus to hear that God wanted to save the whole world, but now Jesus drops another bomb – judgment has already come! In the prologue to this gospel, John records that “the Light has come into the world.” We, of course, know this is Jesus. While Jesus has already said God sent His Son to save the world, not to judge it, there is one sense in which Jesus has come as Judge. This is part of the reason for the conversation with Nicodemus. From the Jewish perspective, Nicodemus is a well-respected teacher and leader, or shepherd. Jesus has come to judge the shepherds of Israel, who will begin to raise their voices and fists against the Lords Anointed One. We will examine this more deeply in chapter ten.

The full arrival of Light in the world would signal that God has now carried out His plan of salvation for His creation. “Light has come” means that, with the coming of Christ, we have an absolute source of truth; condemnation of sin; guidance for daily decisions; and illumination to learn about God more deeply. This means that everything is being revealed – EVERYTHING. GOOD. BAD. UGLY. It is all exposed by the Light that has come.

There is no more painful moment than when we confront our tendency to love darkness, to twist or withhold the truth. While the Son did not come to judge, in the light of His character, the sharp shadows of our sinfulness standout. Evil deeds are revealed by light. Those who want to do evil deeds must do it in the dark so they will not be caught in the act: those who commit these evil deeds – sins – are full of pride, they do not want to call what they do sin, let alone confess their sins, thus they become enslaved.

By contrast, those who practice truth come into the Light – they come to Christ. The contrast of those who come into the Light and live in the Light is clearly seen. The life of Christ is within them, and they are able to stand exposure to the bright light of Christ, for their deeds are honest, pure, and truthful. They know what is right and they do it. The Greek structure and wording here, indicates this is a continuous action – it speaks of practicing the truth, continually and habitually. Their changed lives prove that their faith is genuine.  

All people are under God’s judgment because of sin – specifically the sin of rejecting or not believing in God’s Son. The only way to avoid condemnation is to believe in God’s Son – to believe in Jesus. Jesus did not come to judge the world but to save the world. To be saved is to come into the Light – to believe in Jesus. Those who reject Jesus – who refuse to believe in Him and remain in darkness – are already condemned. God wants everyone to be saved, but they must come to faith in Jesus Christ. There are a multitude of reasons why a person rejects Jesus – ours is to plant the seed and live a life of truth, continually and habitually.

As a Christ follower, being in the Light is an ongoing process. We must continue to live a life of truth, continue confessing our sins, continue to search the Scriptures for God’s commands and promises, and we must continue to live in obedience. This includes those things in the Old Testament that today’s church claims are for Jews only. We must not forget that we have been grafted into Israel and we are now – spiritually – Jewish. We have somehow gotten away following the example of Jesus – except for a few “major points.”

We don’t murder; we don’t take the Lord’s name in vain; we promote marriage as one man and one woman; we don’t have illicit affairs and yet, the mainstream church continues to worship on Sunday, celebrate Good Friday, Easter and Christmas. Believers today pay no attention to the days that God has made holy, they ignore the dietary restriction and reduce the practices of the Old Testament as restricted to the Jews and Judaism, while holding up Christianity as a new religion started by Christ.

Our work is far from done – you might say it is only just beginning. Because God has called us into His Light, the spotlight is upon us, and the entire world will, one day, see the work that Christ is doing is each of us. Some will begin to take notice of the changes and begin to ask questions. Some will condemn you are being legalistic. Some will just ignore you. The point is this – we are all in the Light. Christ continues to expose and remove the worldliness that exists within us. Though it will be painful at times, the rewards far outweigh the light and momentary suffering we may face.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you practicing truth continually and habitually?

Is there an area of your life that you are keeping in darkness, away from the Light of conviction?

What has the Light of Christ exposed this week that has been an encouragement? A conviction?

Life Changing Love shows the depth of care and concern God has for the world and those who bear His image.

Everyone has a choice to make – to believe in Christ or to reject Christ. Each choice has a consequence. To believe is to have faith that leads to eternal life. To reject Jesus is to stand condemned and facing death – “to perish.” Those words add a sense of hopelessness to the fact of dying, for “to perish” is to come to a dead end. Escape from the tragic fate of “perishing” is to believe in God’s Son. In fact, this is the contrast, the exact opposite, for to believe is to have eternal life – life in the ageless age.

Some people may be repulsed by eternal life because their lives are miserable – they live in hunger, pain, poverty and disappointment. In fact, the bad news is so bad we could hardly stand to hear it. So, we try to protect ourselves from our fears by putting our faith in something we have or something we do: our good deeds; our skills; our intelligence; our money; our possessions. We see that perfection is so far out of reach, we settle for effort and end up one step ahead of despair. But eternal life is NOT an extension of this life, it is God’s life in Christ given as a guarantee they will live forever. It is a quality of life not just a quantity of years. In eternal life there is no death, no sickness, no enemy, no evil, and no sin.  

Only God can save us from the one thing we truly need to fear – eternal condemnation. God does not reveal everything about us that needs changing at once. As we move towards the Light, as our lives become filled with God’s presence, we become more aware of our sin, as well as the benefits God brings us. Like those in a dark room when the lights suddenly come on, we blink – hard – giving our eyes time to adjust and grow accustomed to seeing in the light. Once we are in the light, we must also guard against the temptation to squeeze our eyes shut tight when God is showing us something new. Still, the choice is up to each individual person.

Eternity awaits your decision.

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 3:29-36

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