Does God Love Sinners?
by James Smith, 1860
Can this be a question, with the Bible in our hands? Has he not said so? "God so loved the world." Is not the world peopled with sinners? Are not sinners in the world? Is it not added, "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world — but that the world through him might be saved." Sin would condemn the world — but Jesus came that it might be saved. Had God intended condemnation, he would have sent his Son as a Judge — then we might have doubted his love; but as he sent his Son as a Savior, what could be a clearer proof of his love. That Son who came to express the love of God. He came on purpose to save sinners — calls the weary to him, to enjoy rest. He invites the thirsty to come, and drink. He promises that no one shall be refused or cast out; and only complains of those, who would not come unto him that they might have life. The Spirit he sent from heaven, cries to sinners, "Come!" The Bible, which is influenced by his love cries "Come!" Everyone who hears the gospel is commanded to cry to others, "Come!" And in so many words we read, "Whoever will, let him take of the water of life freely!"
All man's needs as a sinner, are represented by thirst; for this thirst — a river of clear, living water is provided; to this river — all are invited, and each one is directed to invite all around, and whoever will, is warranted to come and take of this water of life freely! How could God express the fullness and freeness of his love more clearly, or more strikingly than thus?
Does God Love Sinners? See what he has done, and how low he has stooped to win our confidence and gain our love!
Go to Bethlehem, there an infant born of a virgin, laid in a manger, and surrounded by poverty and privation, may be seen! That infant is the Son of God — it is God, who has taken our nature in its lowliest form, in order to express his love to us, and by taking our place, serving in our stead, and dying as our Substitute, honorably save us. Was this love?
Go to Gethsemane, see the Man of sorrows, wrestling with God, fainting under the load of sin and suffering, and sweating great drops of blood. He is drinking our cup. He is enduring our desert. He is suffering in our stead. This sufferer is none other than the only begotten of the Father! He is there bearing our griefs, and carrying our sorrows, and for us he is stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. This was by the Father's arrangement, this was to set forth and make known God's desire to save. Was this love?
Follow the Sufferer from the garden to the Golgotha's cross. See him mocked, insulted, spit upon, smitten on the mouth, scourged, treated with the utmost contempt — and then delivered into the hands of barbaric, cruel, heathen soldiers, to be put to the most painful, shameful, and degrading death! "He is led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent — so he opens not his mouth." Silently, meekly, and patiently — he bears all for sinners, for the very men who did it. Was this love?
He bears the cross to which he was to be nailed, until he faints beneath its weight, and then another bears it for him. He is stripped naked and exposed to the gaze of the rough rabble, his feet and hands are nailed to the tree, and now hungry and thirsty, weary and exhausted, crowned with thorns, and torn with agony, his body bathed with blood, and his bones dislocated — he hangs between earth and heaven! He is reproached and bitterly taunted, he is forsaken by his Father, assaulted by the hosts of hell, tortured by the instruments of death, and deserted by his friends. No soothing sympathizing voice whispers sweet words in his ear, no divine agent pours consolation into his heart. He appears as abandoned of God, insulted by man, and tormented by devils! All this was endured, according to previous arrangement with his Father, in order that sinners may consistently be saved. Was this love?
He dies! Not from exhaustion. Not from necessity of nature. But from a broken heart! He endures concentrated suffering. He bore the cross. He paid the full penalty of sin. He removed every impediment out of the way of the salvation of any sinner; and every sinner, who would hear of his death, and be willing to be saved by him. Having suffered all, endured all, and fulfilled all that was written of him — he surrendered his spirit into the hands of his Father, and his heart burst! He died! He died unto sin. He died for sin. He died for sinners. He died for sinners, in accordance with the commandment he had received from his Father. Was this love?
He was taken down from the cross — a bloody, mutilated corpse. He was buried. In the grave, his body was watched as a felon. But he arose, being delivered for our offences, he was raised again for our justification. He showed himself alive, by many infallible proofs. He remained on earth forty days, manifesting the strongest and most tender love to his disciples, and then ascended to heaven, to send them another Comforter, to intercede on their behalf, and to remain at his Father's right hand as the Advocate of sinners who put their cause into his hand. All this was the result of his covenant engagements with his Father. Was this love?
Does God Love Sinners? If he does not, then whom does he love? He has given no such proof of his love to angels, or any other creatures he has made. How could he express his love in plainer terms, in more simple words, or in more indefinite expressions? And why is this, but to meet the objections of unbelief, to undermine the suspicions of our hearts, and to crush and destroy at once all our doubts and fears.
Jesus said, "The Father himself loves you." John says, "Herein is love, not that we loved God — but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins." Again, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." Paul says, "It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief!" And if he came to save the chief sinner, the captain and leader of the gang — surely none of the less guilty can have reason to doubt. Peter says, "Christ has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." Thus in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word is established, especially this word, God Loves Sinners! For all Christ did, all Christ said, and all Christ suffered — was by the will of the Father, to manifest the love of the Father, and that, as a proof of his love, "whoever believes on him might have everlasting life."
Reader, Do you believe this? Do you believe that everlasting life is brought near unto you, placed before you, and is secured to you, if you trust in Jesus? Only confide in his word, trust in his finished work, and depend on his veracity — and everlasting life is yours. Not only so — but present peace, a fullness of joy, and holiness of heart, are yours.
God wishes to have your confidence, therefore he has spoken so plainly, promised so freely, and pledged himself so solemnly, even by an oath. He wishes to have your confidence, that he may have your love, for he prizes the love of poor sinners above all things on earth. Confide in him, and believe his word — and you will love him. He wishes to have your love, that he may have your obedience; for while he cannot prize the service of the slave, he values the obedience, though imperfect, that flows from a loving heart. No truth is more clear, more powerfully proved, or more strikingly illustrated than this, that God loves sinners; and if sinners — why not you?