“For God so loved the world, the He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
The original source from which man’s salvation springs. That sources is the love of God the Father. Our Lord says to Nicodemus, ‘God so loved the world, the He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’.
This wonderful verse has been justly called by Luther, ‘The Bible in miniature.’ No part of it, perhaps, is so deeply important as the first five words, ‘God so loved the world’. The love here spoken of is not that special love with which the Father regards His own elect, but that might pity and compassion with which He regards the whole race of mankind. Its object is not merely the little flock which He has given to Christ from all eternity, the ‘world’ of sinners, without any exception. There is a deep sense in which God loves that world. All whom He has created He regards with pity and compassion. Their sins he cannot love; but He loves their souls. ‘His tender mercies are over all His works’ (Psalm 145:9). Christ is God’s gracious gift to the whole world.
Let us take heed that our views of the love of God are sand well defined. The subject is one on which error abounds on either side. On the one hand we must beware of vague and exaggerated opinions. We must maintain firmly that God hates wickedness, and that the end of all who persist in wickedness will be destruction. It is not true that God’s love is ‘lower than hell’. It is not true that God so loved the world that all mankind will be finally saved., but thatHe so loved the world as to give His Son to be the Savior of all who believe. His love is offered to all men freely, fully, honestly and unreservedly, but it is only through the one channel of Christ’s redemption.
Bishop J.C. Ryle.