James Smith, 1861
"For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him!" John 3:17
How very few appear to have correct views of the nature and character of God. They judge of him by themselves — or by some of his creatures — and therefore conclude that he is weak and changeable, or harsh and severe. But he is neither. He hates nothing — but sin. He punishes nothing — but sin. He is just — and must hate what is unrighteous. He is holy — and must hate what is filthy and impure. But though he hates sin — he does not hate sinners; though he punishes sin — he takes no pleasure in punishing sinners. He can distinguish between the crime — and the criminal; and he has devised a way, in which he can punish the offence — and spare the offender.
He wishes to be known and looked upon as Love and as Loving. Not loving at the expense of justice — but loving in accordance with justice; so that while he loves and pardons sinners — he is nevertheless just, and deals justly with sin. To do this he sent his only begotten Son into the world, in order that by his living and obeying the precepts of the law for the sinner; and by dying, and paying the penalty of the law for the sinner — he might be saved with ease and honor. Hear the Savior's own wondrous words. "For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him!"
Here Is a Marvelous Event.It is the most marvelous event which ever occurred in our world! The world had apostatized from God. Every man had gone astray. God looked down from Heaven to see if there were any exceptions — if there were any who sincerely cared about God, or would seek after him. But when he had carefully examined the whole world, and had looked into every land, every house, and every heart, the report he gives is this, "They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no not one!"
God was getting no profit by them, for they neither loved him, obeyed him, or worshiped him; he might therefore justly have destroyed them all, and been no loser. In another portion of his word he says, "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one!"
What then will God do? If he really was what many think him to be — he would send his destroying angel, and miserably destroy them all. But no, he had a Son — but one Son, his only begotten, the object of his highest love, in whom was all his delight. That Son was his equal in nature, majesty, power, and glory; yet such was his love to man, that rather than destroy us — he would sacrifice him!
He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; we may therefore well conclude, that with him, he will freely give us all things. O what wondrous love! What amazing grace! God would give his Son, his only Son, the Son of his love — for those who would not give anything to him!
Look at this subject a little further. As bad as man was, and God knew the worst of him — yet knowing the worst of him, he had a purpose of mercy toward him in his heart, and that purpose was to provide a way of salvation for him, a way in which he may be saved with ease, certainty, and honor. His Son sympathized with him in this purpose, for his heart was full of pity and compassion for poor man. He was therefore willing to carry out his Father's purpose — cost him what it might! "And you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who though he was rich — yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich!"
As the Son fully sympathized with the Father's purpose, and heartily entered into his design, the Father sent him to be the Savior of the world. In order to which,
he was born of the virgin,
lived in poverty,
rendered obedience to the law,
suffered in the stead of sinners, and
then died the death of the cross for them.
In this way, he removed every impediment, procured every needed blessing, and opened the kingdom of Heaven to all believers. Observe then,
The Design of God in Sending His Son.Not to condemn the world, there was no need for that, for the world was condemned already! Nor was it in' God's heart to do that, for he has no pleasure in the death of a sinner, being slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He therefore sent his Son, that the world through him may be saved. That is, that sinners of all sorts, of all ages, of all countries, and of all times — may be saved. None are excepted or excluded but those who exclude themselves. The greatest sinners, the oldest sinners, the most hardened sinners, the most singular and heinous sinners — may be saved. Whoever will, may come to this fountain and receive salvation. Whoever will may come to this Savior and have life.
God's design was to save sinners, that is — to deliver them from guilt and condemnation, to rescue them from sin and Satan, to separate them from evil, and save them from the transgressor's doom. God's design was to raise them to enjoy his favor, bear the image of his Son, and inherit eternal glory. Sinners may now be saved by the merit of Jesus, and by faith in his dear name. All that is necessary in order to salvation — is to come to Jesus, trust in Jesus, and so put the matter into the hands of Jesus. Jesus has done all that is necessary to meet the claims of justice, answer the demands of the law, and entitle us to everlasting life. Thus whoever believes in Jesus has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but has passed from death unto life. Is not this love? Unparalleled love? Is not the love of God surpassing knowledge?
See then, the object of God in tending his Son into the world. It was to save sinners — all sinners who are willing to be saved by him. To save you if you are willing to be saved by Jesus. If you are not saved, it will not be because Jesus could not save you, or because there was not love enough in God's heart to save you — but because you would not come unto Jesus that you might have life.
See how God removes your objections. He does not say that he sent his Son to save a particular nation, or a peculiar class of people — but "that the world through him may be saved." You cannot exclude yourself from the term "World." You may not be of the Church — but you are of the world. Surely this extensive word is wide enough to include you. If therefore, Satan should suggest that Jesus did not come to save you; you may reply, "He came, that the world through him might be saved — and I am one of the world."
This general term is employed to show the vastness of God's love, to answer all the objections of every sinner, and to remove all our prejudices against any party, race, or nation.
See, from whence the salvation of sinners flows — from God's unmerited love! "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on him should not perish — but have everlasting life." In what way could God prove the greatness, or the freeness of his love — comparable to this. If he had created millions of worlds, and have given them for our salvation — it would have been as nothing, in comparison with his Son!
Mountains of silver, oceans of molten gold, or gems and jewels as numerous and ponderous as the Heavenly bodies — would have been nothing, and less than nothing — in comparison with his Son. Greater, love could not be — and yet less, would not have sufficed, for if God had withheld his Son, whatever else he may have given — our salvation would have been impossible.
See, the view we should take of Jesus, not a Judge — but a Savior. He said on one occasion, "I came not to judge the world — but to save the world." He will come again to judge the world in righteousness, when time shall be no longer — but now he is the Savior. He is the only, the all-sufficient, the ever-present, the ever-willing Savior; who never did refuse a coming sinner, however base his conduct may have been, or however numerous, or singular his crimes. He saves to the uttermost, and saves for evermore — all who come unto God by him.
See, how wrong it is to attempt to trace up our condemnation to God, or higher than ourselves. The blame of no man's damnation can be laid on God. If any sinner, who has the gospel, is not saved — the fault is exclusively and entirely his own. It would not have been right in God to force him, and he would not come to Christ without.
He was warned — but he turned a deaf ear to the warning.
He was threatened — but he disregarded the threatening.
He was invited — but he rejected the invitation.
Salvation was placed before him — and he was entreated to accept it — but he neglected the great salvation.
Salvation was presented and urged upon him — but he put it from him, and judged, or declared himself by his conduct, to be unworthy of everlasting life.
Salvation is of the Lord — damnation is of man.
Salvation is by grace — damnation is by sin.
Once more, sinner, let me place before you the Savior's own wondrous words, and may the Holy Spirit apply them with power to your soul. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish — but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He who believes on him is not condemned; but he who believes not, is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is tie condemnation; that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Good and gracious God, deeply inscribe these precious, these solemn words on every heart that reads them, that so we may flee from the wrath to come, and flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us in the gospel — Even Jesus!