The Berean Expositor
Volume 32 - Page 125 of 246
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at work in passing over the sins that are past? Can we read that faith is counted for
righteousness and forget that love found the way? While we know that love is the source
of all these things, yet for all that, in the foundation epistle of Romans we find not one
reference to the love of God until we read chapter 5: 5. Then, of a truth, the love of God
breaks through all constraint and is "shed abroad", but it was held back until it could be
written, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord
Jesus Christ".
The love of God is a limitless ocean, yet there is but one entrance to it, the offering of
Christ. The very Gospel that addresses "the world", nevertheless contains the closest
restriction in this respect, that "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me". In an earlier
dispensation we read that God "loved the people" (Deut. 33: 3), meaning Israel
(Deut. 7: 7, 8); later, of the Church we read that nothing can separate the believer from
the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. But here, in John 3: 16, for the first
time we read that God loved the world.
The intimate association of the love of God with the sacrifice of His Son is implied in
the word "so" of John 3: 16, and receives substantiation from other Scriptures. In the
first Epistle of John we read:
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us" (3: 16).
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only
begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (4: 9).
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be
the propitiation for our sins" (4: 10).
Notice the two words "perceive" and "manifest" in these references. In John 3: 16
we are not dealing with God's timeless love, a term we use for lack of a better, but with
the manifestation of that love which took place in time. This love is associated with one
historic event, the coming into the world of Him Who was the only begotten Son of God,
the Word made flesh. This event is not "timeless" but historic, for it took place when
"the fullness of time" was come (Gal. 4: 4). The fact that we date all our documents
from that period is an admission that the time element enters into the things of God. For
this reason we emphatically refuse the translation that has been offered that "God "loves"
the world, and "gives" His Only begotten Son. For the English reader it is not possible to
read that God "gives" His Son, without dulling the edge of truth. It is the insistent
testimony of Scripture that Christ was given "once", that He was "once" offered, and
there is no more offering for sin; He dies no more. Therefore to circulate a translation of
John 3: 16 which states that God "loves" and "gives" is misleading and dangerous, and
unwittingly gives substance to a vague idea of the doctrine of second chances and kindred
In itself God's love may be timeless, but its manifestation was once and at a particular
juncture. To this, and to this only, John 3: 16 refers.