God So Loved

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

John 3:16-17 | February 4 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
February 4
God So Loved | John 3:16-17
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Our heavenly Father, we come to you now knowing, singing, believing, confessing, that You are great. We come to you knowing that You are for us, not against us. If You did not spare your own Son but freely gave Him up for us all, how will You not also with Him graciously give us all things? How great thou art. And so we pray now for the grace to hear Your Word, to receive Your Word, to believe Your Word. We ask all of this in the name of Christ, the Word made flesh. And all God’s people said, amen. You may be seated.

You’ve probably never heard of Rollen Stewart, but you’ve likely seen his handiwork. Rollen Stewart was born in Spokane, Washington in 1945. His life has been equal parts sad, tragic, and remarkable. His parents were alcoholics. His father passed away when Rollen was only 10. His mother died in a fire when he was in his 20’s. His sister was strangled to death by her boyfriend. Stewart is currently serving three life sentences in prison, the result of an 8-hour standoff he had with a SWAT unit outside of a hotel near the Los Angeles International Airport in which he was barricaded in his room with a revolver and some stink bombs, some of which he was throwing at the LAPD.

Stewart first came to notoriety in the late 1970’s as Rainbow Man. He was the guy who seemed to show up at every major sporting event and he was wearing a giant, bright rainbow wig. He became a sort of crowd mascot. After the Super Bowl he attended in 1979, he went back to his hotel room and he turned on a television program called “Today in Bible Prophecy,” and he became convinced that he should use his newfound fame for the cause of the Gospel. And so Rainbow Man began wearing t-shirts that said “Jesus Saves,” and he began making homemade signs that he would put up at sporting events, that didn’t say a sentence, just a word and some numbers, John 3:16. And so during the 1980’s Stewart traveled 60,000 miles a year. He lived out of his car. He used up whatever inheritance money he had, and he was a full-time spectator. He showed up at the Kentucky Derby, at the Olympics, somehow he got into the Royal Wedding. [laughter] He spent his inheritance buying tickets. Sometimes church groups, knowing that he would have a John 3:16 sign, would buy him tickets. Other times scalpers outside of the venue would say “You’re the John 3:16 guy,” and they would give him a ticket. Sometimes even media personnel would set aside a ticket for him, so he could get in.

Sadly, in the 1990’s, Rollen Stewart grew increasingly erratic, and by his own admission unstable, believing that the end of the world was near, and he had this apocalyptic message to give everyone, which was why he had barricaded himself with a revolver and several bombs in a hotel and he faced off with the LAPD for eight hours. And he is now serving a life sentence in prison and he has repeatedly been denied parole and seems to be quite mentally unstable. In a somewhat recent interview with him, one of the last things he said was “I actually despise sports.” He had gone all those years to hold up a “John 3:16” sign.

Whatever we make of his mental state, and I told you the story is sad and tragic and remarkable, there is no question that his example lives on, whether it’s with the eye strips Tim Tebow wore that said John 3:16, or if you’ve ever been out west and you have an In and Out Burger, they put the verse John 3:16 on the bottom of their cups. Or did you know Forever 21 puts the verse on their shopping bags? And still today during many field goal attempts you will see somewhere just off to the side behind the netting, someone holding up a homemade sign that says simply “John 3:16.”

John 3:16 is likely the most famous Bible verse in the world. Year after year, it the most searched for verse on the internet. It has become the one verse that every Christian knows and even most non-Christians have heard of. And this morning we come to in our study of John’s Gospel.

You know, some passages are hard to preach from because they’re so obscure or they take a lot of explaining. You know, something there in the bowels of Ezekiel. And then are other passages that are different because they are so familiar, they seem so common, and we think that we already know exactly what they have to say. This is one of those passages.

John 3:16. I’m going to read verses 16 and 17. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son,” or as you may have learned it, earlier version, He gave His only begotten Son, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”

These are undoubtedly some of the most famous words in the history of the world, and as famous words they are familiar to most of us. Perhaps, too familiar. When you come to a passage like John 3:16, some people may think “oh, yes, I have known this since I was a child.” And other people think “oh, yes, I have known this since I was a child. John 3:16.” It’s easy to tune out when we come to familiar passages.

I want to point out to you this morning two surprising words. Two surprising words. Maybe even when you grasp them, we will think they are shocking words here in John 3:16, if we really understand what they mean and what they are meant to convey.

Listen again as I read John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only
Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Did you pick up the words? They both start with “W,” “world” and “whoever.” Surprising words, shocking words. And I wonder if you have moved from one category to the next.

Look at the first word, “world.” It’s a Greek word, “cosmos.” What’s shocking is that God loved the world. Now you need to know that the world can mean a number of different things in the New Testament, and in John’s Gospel in particular, when we hear “world,” it’s not so much a referent to the universe, but rather to the created order, especially men and women in rebellion against God, the creator. The world reports the way things are in rebellion against God.

So we talk about the world and we think about “this is my Father’s world.” Well, that’s one sense of using the word. The rocks and the hills and the trees and He made it all and He’s the creator. But this is the world in opposition to God, fallen humanity.

If you have your Bible, look at John 1, verse 10. “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him.” God made this through Christ and the world didn’t know Him.

Turn over to chapter 7, verse 7: Jesus says “the world cannot hate you but it hates me because I testify about it, that its works are evil.” So the world does what is evil and the world hates Christ.

Go over to chapter 14, verse 17: Jesus says to his disciples “even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him, you know Him for He dwells with you and will be in you.” So the spirit of truth, the world does not see Him, does not know Him, does not receive Him.

And then go to the end of the chapter, verse 30: “I will no longer talk much with you for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on Me.” So there is a ruler of this world. So the world is a place that hates God, does what is evil, has the devil for its ruler.

Go over to the next chapter, 15, verse 18: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”

And then one chapter over, chapter 16, verse 19: “Jesus knew that they wanted to ask Him, so He said to them, is this what you are asking yourselves what I meant by saying a little while and you will not see Me, and again a little while and you will see Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.”

So do you get a sense for the world? The world, in the Gospels, and in particular in John, refers not so much to the world in its bigness as it does to the world in its badness. The world is that place. Did you hear what Jesus said? It’s the place that hates the disciples, the place that hated Christ, that does evil, that cannot see the spirit, does not receive the spirit. It is that realm of fallen humanity who is in implacable opposition to their Maker. That’s the world. And God loved the world.

Think about it. The world hated Christ. That, that’s what the Bible says. You may say well, I don’t let my kids use that word, hate. Okay, that’s good, they shouldn’t say they hate their brother and sister. You may say well, I don’t really like this idea, that’s so negative. This is so negative. You’re telling us that the world hates God. What are you, some fire and brimstone preacher? Well, just trying to be a biblical preacher, because that’s what it says. The world, Jesus says, if it hates you, just know it hated Me first.

What’s your response when someone hates you, despises you, puts you down? I had somebody ask me recently, they said Kevin, I see that there’s a couple of people who are saying some really nasty things about you online, because of something you’ve said or written or whatever, you know, do you follow these people on Twitter? Are you seeing what they? They say, what do you think about this? What do you do when people say all sorts of mean things?

Now, I had a number of thoughts go through my head. I thought, well, I don’t pay any attention to them. I thought, I don’t care what they think. I thought, why can’t they find something better to do? Um, I thought, I hope that they get what’s coming to them. I had a lot of thoughts go through my head [laughter], I’ll tell you, I did not have as one of the first thoughts “I love them.” Wish I did; I didn’t.

The world may think that it’s merely indifferent to Christ. The world may even think that it positively is for Christ. But what is it to really hate? When you hate, you know, if you ever said that when you were a kid and you just blurt it out to your mom or dad, or to your brother or sister, “I hate you,” such a horrible thing to say. What do you mean when you say? What you mean is “you’re in my space, you’re always around me, you’re telling me what to do, I wish you would go away, I wish you would disappear, I wish you would be out of my life. I hate you.”

The world hates God. Now this is not to say that you may not have very nice neighbors. It’s not to say that if you’re here and you’re not a Christian that you might not be a very pleasant person to be around. You might be more pleasant than some of the Christians we know. But it still is the case that if you are lost in sin, you hate God. You say “I don’t feel any, I don’t have that.” Well, do you want God in your life? Do you want God telling you what to do? Do you want Christ and His Word commanding you, how you ought to live? No. So though we may be, you know, mature enough and socialized enough not to just raise our fists and say “I hate you” to God, that is how we stand in relationship to Christ. “I don’t want You in my life, I don’t need You in my life, I wish You weren’t in my life. If You want to be in someone else’s life, that’s fine, but I don’t need You. I don’t want to hear from You. I hate You.” The world hated Christ. Christ made the world, all things were made through Him. He came into the world, and the world said “we don’t want You.”

You know how you feel as a parent, and you’re a sinful parent, I’m a sinful parent, but you know how you feel when you do all sorts of things for your kids? You know, and you gave him great a birthday present and threw a birthday party. You went out and you got the thing that he just, and by the end of the day, “aww, I didn’t get it,” and he’s just complaining about all the things that he didn’t get? And you want to say sit down, you’re about to get a dad lecture. You want to know how much this cost me? You want to know, you want to know how many? And then if you get a mom lecture, that’s “you want to know how many hours I pushed? You want to know how hard? You were a big child when you came out. [laughter] You want to? Yeah, it hurts.” You just want the child to know, do you understand what I’ve done for you? Do you understand everything I’ve given you? And all you can say is “well, I wanted an iPad.” I’ll give you an iPad.

And that’s as sinful parents. This is the God of the universe. How can you not help but think of the prodigal son. “Hey, dad, thanks, wish you were dead. I’ll take my inheritance now. Ready to split. Ready to go. Ready to go squander it, live my life, do what I want to do. Ready to have some fun. I’m young, come on, ready to party. I don’t need you anymore.” That the father would, when he was still a long ways off, he would run to him. That’s love.

It’s hard for us to really, to love people, that don’t seem very lovely. To love people that don’t love us. Some of you can’t even imagine doing something that would be helpful to Duke or North Carolina if you’re on the whatever flip-flop, or pick your, and some of you are saying “that’s right, I wouldn’t do anything to either of those schools.” Or you wouldn’t think about ever wanting to do something that would be nice to someone who votes different than you do.

Jesus said look, if you love people who are like you, you love people who are just the same as you, they just look like you, come from where you come from, and vote as you vote and cheer for the teams you cheer for and do all of the things that you do, what is that? Everybody can do that? Can you love the people that aren’t like you? Can you love the people that hurt you? Can you love the people that stand for things that you don’t stand for and do some things they shouldn’t do? What about that? Well, that’s a lot harder.

The world hated Christ. The world stood in opposition to God. And it says “for God so loved the world.” We can understand “for God so loved His children,” “God so loved His wayward children.” We love our children, we love them even when they do dumb stuff. But it says He loved the world. And if that weren’t enough, that God loved the world, it’s even more shocking how God loved the world. “For God so loved the world that He gave.” See, love is not just a reservoir of warm fuzzies in God, it’s not just a pity, or a sigh, or a big hug, love means concrete action. So this doesn’t say God is love, that’s a biblical verse, we believe that, but it puts flesh, literal flesh on the love of God. God so loved the world that He gave. It would have been nice to say God loved the world and God’s up in heaven, He’s just saying I love you so much, I’m just, I’m up here and you’re down there, and I feel bad for you, and I have compassion on you, and… But it wasn’t just a feeling. He loved so much that He gave. And what a gift. He gave His Son. There is no better gift.

It’s not like the gifts that some of us give. You’re really excited because you kind of like it. You know, when we opened Christmas presents growing up, and then there was usually my mom and dad, they would each other one thing, and my mom was always a bit more intuitive, sort of tracking, sort of listening to what my dad was saying throughout the year, and get him just the, you know, really sweet flashlight that he was looking for, or some little tech gizmo, or something, he’d say “oh, how did you know?” She’d say “well, ’cause I’m listening and I love you.” And my dad got my mom one year, see, we had a pool and we had a solar cover over it, and he was always saying it was such a pain to kind of pull that thing off, if we only could have a nice reel, wouldn’t mom love a solar cover reel? [laughter] He was always getting some really good stuff like that. [laughter] I’m just thinking of you, I know how hard, but now you can just crank it when you get that thing off. [laughter] So dads don’t think as well as the moms do.

So God isn’t just giving a gift, here you go. He’s giving what is best, precious, costly.

There was some point, I don’t even remember what it was, maybe it was seeing my mom doing the bills and balancing the checkbook, there was some point late in high school or early in college, when it, it dawned on me that I was a very expensive part of the family. It just dawned on me, you’re paying for college and all the things that… And it’s a realization that kids, you’ll have at some point, your parents are praying you have it very soon, but you just realize, wow, this stuff wasn’t for free. This took a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice and a lot of balancing and checking and does this work and does that? And from that time, it always gave me so much more of a sense of appreciation for what my mom and dad had done to give us things that I just thought, you know, just kind of come as our birthright as Americans. You realize that it cost something.

God gave the costliest gift… His Son. His only begotten Son. You remember we talked about that last year, the Greek word monogenes, only begotten, His only proper offspring, the only begotten One. That is, by this act of eternal generation, whereby the divine essence communicated from the Father to the Son, not created but eternally begotten, that whole thing. The eternally begotten One, His Son.

And of course you can’t help but think of Abraham. Genesis 22, when God says, foreshadowing what God would later do, He says to Abraham, “Abraham, take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” And surely God, being eternal, being all wise, understood that as He was asking Abraham to do this, God together with the Son had already purposed to do the very same thing, to give His Son, His only Son, the One whom He loved. But of course, for God’s Son there would be no ram in the thicket at the 11th hour to say “Isaac, my son, you are saved.” But God’s Son would be put to death.

Love is measured by the greatness of the gift, and by the cost to the giver. You remember what we saw in the verses preceding this? John 3:14-15, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. The law came through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. There’s a contrast. What did Moses give? Well, Moses gave salvation to the people by lifting up a bronze serpent in the wilderness. That was a gift. But it’s no gift compared to what God the Father gave. This is not only a greater gift, it is the greatest gift God could give. God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, His only begotten Son, the One whom He loved.

And look at verse 17: It said “God sent His Son.” “Sent” is the word “apesteilen,” to send, from which we get our word “apostles,” the “sent out ones.” And this word “apesteilen” which means to send, is just the same word in English that connects then to the Latin word for mission, “meterere,” to send out. Sometimes people say “well, the word mission is never actually in the Bible,” and that’s true if you’re looking in your English Bible, but the word that has the same English definition is found in this Greek word “apesteilen.” Misison comes from a Latin word, but this is a Greek word. It means to be sent out, that’s what mission is, to send out. The mission in the Bible, the mission that forms the basis of all the mission that we do, is this mission of the Father sending the Son.

So what is the greatest missionary enterprise in the history of the world? It is that. Who was greatest missionary sent out? It was Christ, sent from His heavenly Father, sent into the world. This is the mission that precedes all other mission, is the sending of the Son by the Father. And what did the Father send the Son into the world to accomplish? Well, He sent His Son into the world to save sinners by the means of His Son’s life, death, and resurrection. So therefore what is our mission as the Church? It is to save sinners by means of bearing witness to the Son’s life, death, and resurrection. Now we are not the ones who must die and be raised again, we are not Christs, but we bear witness to Christ, and so our mission is intimately connected to this mission of the Father sending the Son.

And do you notice what it says in verse 17? He did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.

Now there’s plenty of times in the Bible that speak of Christ judging. He will come back to judge the living and the dead. So you say, well, what do you mean He didn’t send His Son in to judge the world or condemn the world. John says several times that Christ will act as a judge. But that’s not the purpose for which He was sent. In other words, the Father did not say the world is completely out of hand, I’m sending my Son to go take care of them. What He did is He said the world is completely out of hand, I am sending My Son to save them.

Now many would reject Him, many still do reject Him. And for them, they will find Christ not to be a savior, but to be a judge. But that is not the purpose for which He was sent into the world. Just like when you see shadows at noontime, you don’t blame the sun. Well, this lousy sun, making all these shadows. Well, no, that’s not the fault of the sun. You wouldn’t have light, you wouldn’t have warmth, without the sun. It’s that there’s a tree there and it casts a shadow. And so God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world, but to save the world.

I don’t know how many times I’ve ready John 3:16 and 17, thousands and thousands of times, and yet it hit me again, reading verse 17, He sent His Son into the world not to condemn it. If you were watching this unfold like a movie, we would be so excited. We would be ready, ready to say “oh, ho ho ho, man, the world is gonna get it. This is gonna be good. We’ve see them, they’ve been mocking, they’ve been spitting, here it comes.” Don’t you love that kind of moment in movies? “Man, all those guys are beating up Daniel-san, but Mr. Miyagi’s coming. Ho-hoooo. [laughter] Man, and he’s gonna wax on, wax off, [laughter], and they’re through.”

But did you watch a little more, you intense movie, several years ago, “Captain Phillips”? It’s about the Somali pirates. True story. It’s really intense. And you know they’re getting to the end and the Tom Hanks character is in this little rescue boat off of the big cargo tanker, or whatever they’re called, and he’s there, and you know, now the Navy’s got a hold of it, and you just, I mean, you just feel like “the SEALs are here.” SEAL team 6 is here and they’re just floating on this little orange lifeboat and they got, you know, the United States military there and all their ships and they’ve got all the sharp-shooters from how many miles away can just take these guys out, and you’re like “yes, here comes the Navy, here come the Marines, here come the SEALs.” And you start singing “I’m proud to be…” and you know, you’re just, wow, look, here they come. That’s what we’d think if this was a movie. Watch out, He’s sending His Son. Father’s got a right to be angry. Watch out.

And then we read verse 17: He did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world. He didn’t send His Son into the world with a gun, and a rocket launcher, and ninja powers, and a light saber, ready to just kick tail. He sent His Son into the world, the world that hated God, and yet He loved that world, and He sent them His Son. And after they had rejected all the prophets before Him, He sent His Son and they mistreated Him even worse.

Do you see how the whole plan of redemption is rooted in love? Love first of all among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in this covenant of redemption, this eternal plan purposed among the persons of the Trinity, the Father and the Son, to give to the Son a people and the Son agreeing to be the sent One from the Father to save sinful humanity. So the whole plan of redemption is rooted in love, the love among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the love of God for the world.

Did you know this is the only place where God the Father is said to love the world? The origination of divine deliverance is found in God’s love, not in your loveliness, or mine. It’s amazing how people get this so twisted. You don’t hear Good Friday sermons about you were this diamond in the rough, or how much you were, or how God saw such potential in you. No, the origination of this plan was not that God looked down and said “there’s some lovely people, that one, that one, not her, him yeah, that family, they’ll make it okay, they’ll make some good decisions, them, them, them, I like them, I like what they’re wearing, nice house, good.”

It originated in God. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The cross, therefore, did not make the Father say “okay, okay, Son, you twisted my arm, I’ll cut them some slack. You’ve proved a point.” Some of us very crassly think of the Trinity that way. God did not send the Son to make God the Father more loving. He sent the Son because He already loved. And this is love, not that we first loved God, but that He loved us first, and sent His Son to be the propitiation, that is, the turning away the wrath of God’s sacrifice for our sins, for God so loved the world.

And here’s the second word, more quickly. It’s that other “H” [sic] word, He sent His Son, gave His Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. There is no passage in the Jewish literature of the time in which God is described as loving the world. Yes, there’s lots that talk about God loving His people, God loving the nation of Israel, God loving the Jewish people, but this was a new idea. Remember, when Jesus comes to Nicodemus and He says that you must be born again by water and spirit or you cannot enter the kingdom of God, surely Nicodemus is hearing kingdom of God in nationalistic language, he’s saying that’s right, the kingdom, the kingdom that the Messiah is going to set up and He’s going to get the Romans off our back and we’re going to be kings again and we’re going to rule, we’re going to have power, and He’s going to reign, and I’m going to be a part of this earthly kingdom, me and my fellow Israelites.

That’s not what Jesus meant. So much of the Jewish literature of the time focused on the vindication of Israel, the destruction of the Gentile enemies, and here John’s Gospel records “whoever,” that is everyone without distinction, without exception, everyone who puts their trust in the Son can and will be saved. That’s a surprising word. Just as surprising as God loving the world. No God loves the Israelites so that when His people repent, they will be saved. We all get that. God loves people, His people. No, He loved the world.

So just to put it in our context, we’d be used to God saying “for God so loved the Church, God so loved, you know sometimes church people sin, and so He, you know, anyone in the Church who wants to come, they can be saved.” Too small a thing for God.

God so loved the world. Not the way the world understands love as just sort of unconditional affirmation, go do whatever you want to do. None of us love our kids like that. Kids want to take a bath with toasters, hey, whatever, I love you. No, you don’t do that. Play in the middle of road? We understand that’s not love. That’s not what it means, He loved the world that He just said whatever you want to do, world. No, He loved the world so much that He gave so that whoever. Is that a sweet word to you? Whoever?

We live in an age of identity politics. People do it on the right and left. You have to secure your base, you’ve got to mobilize your tribe, you’ve got to play off grievances one group off of another group, and we’re not like… We’re not used to a word like “whoever.”

The Bible doesn’t say that God sent His Son, gave His Son, so that white people could come to Him, or so that minorities could come to Him, or that men could, or women could, or so that Americans could come to Him, or that He sent His Son and gave His Son so that middle class people could come to Him, or so that the poor could come. Or that people who already have their lives cleaned up could some to him. Or people who listen to our music or the people who share our hobbies or the people who’ve been to church their whole lives. Or that He sent His Son for the hip people, the people who know how to eat the right foods and listen to the right bands and stream the right TV shows. It doesn’t say that He sent His Son to come for the smart people, the beautiful people, the conservative people, the progressive people. It says “whoever.” So that could be you. It can be anyone. Whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Now notice, it doesn’t say everyone will have eternal life. It doesn’t say only special someones will have eternal life. It says whoever. That means it’s not everyone, but it’s not just a, you know, special tribe somewhere. It’s whoever. Whoever will be in this category of those who believe in Him. Who believe in the Son.

Is that you? Are you a part of the whoever? Have you ever said to God, I mean really said it, meant it, felt it, God, I am a part of the world, the world is in me, I’m this world that left to myself would reject You, would hate You. I do things every day I don’t want to do, and things I don’t want to do, I do. I’m a sinner. And Your Son is the Christ. And I am who He says I am and He is who He says He is and I need forgiveness. I need grace. I need a savior.

So here’s what I want to leave you with. If you’re watching the Super Bowl tonight, after the evening service [laughter], it starts at 6:40. What, you miss the first commercials? It’ll all be online afterward. If you’re watching the Super Bowl and at some point you see a sign, John 3:16, here’s two things I want you to do if you see that. First, pray for someone. Pray for someone, maybe you do it out loud, but probably just in your head, right there, pray for someone you know in your life that doesn’t yet know that that’s true. Maybe they know it, but they don’t yet know it’s true for them. So stop, think, pray, a mom, a dad, a husband, a wife, a kid, a friend, a coworker, someone you just met at Starbucks, and you pray that for them, oh Lord, would they know John 3:16 and believe it.

And then the second thing. Think to yourself, just for a moment, have I moved from one “W” to the next, from the “world” to the “whoever”? We’re born in sin, in the world. We don’t have to work at that. We are the world. World is in us. Have I moved, really moved, from the world to the whoever?

And maybe, maybe, I don’t know, most sermons don’t stick with us, but maybe for some time, when you see the John 3:16 held up somewhere, you’ll think of those two things: Who can I pray for, and if you think to yourself then I am in the whoever, you’ll give thanks to God, that He rescued you from the world and gave you the gift of faith to put you in the category of the whoever.

And if you think about that right now and you’re not sure where you are, talk to someone afterwards. Talk to one of these, you know, intimidating looking guys who are going to come up in suits in just a minute and pass out all the stuff, they’re really nice. Talk to someone next to you. There’s nothing more important in all of your life than that you move from the world to the whoever. Whoever. And it is an invitation for whoever! Whether you feel like I am here at Christ Covenant and I just feel like I fit right in or you are here and you think I don’t know, I don’t if it’s me, I don’t know if I fit in, it’s so big, it’s nice, I don’t know. You don’t really know who I am. You don’t know what I’m like. You don’t know where I’m from. That’s right, I don’t, but God does.

And He gives you this invitation to move from the world to the whoever. If you would believe, if you would repent, if you would say even in a moment of weakness, I believe, help my unbelief. I don’t want to perish. I want eternal life.

Let’s pray. Our gracious heavenly Father, may this old, old story never grow tired. May we never grow tired of it. That you, God, have loved the world, people like us, and that anyone of us, any of us no matter what we look like, what we’ve done, where we’ve come from, any of us, if we believe in the Son, can have eternal life, that You forgive us, and You say come, eat, drink, live with Me, life unending. What good news. Help us to share it, help us to love it, help us to savor it, help us to live it. We pray in Christ’s name, amen.1