What if Jonathan Edwards was a seeker-sensitive pastor? His famous sermon might have sounded something like this…
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. [John 3:16]
In this verse is threatened the love of God on everybody. We are all God’s visible people, living under grace. The expression I have chosen for my text, God so loved, seems to imply the following things:
1. God loves you.
2. God loves you.
3. God loves you.
4. God loves you.
Let it be dually noted that this passage is very, very beautiful, and sounds so very nice, so much so that we can forgo all the passages that come after it, and simply focus on this one verse, nay, those two words “God loved” and harp on it until the rotting horse is itself beaten into the ground. As far as I’m concerned, you can throw out the whole Bible.
There is no want in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment – that’s just a horrible thought that offends anyone. He not only wants to bring people up to heaven, but he can easily do it. Sometimes an old man finds it hard to go up the stairs. It is not so with God. There is no stairs or escalator too difficult for the power of God to get us up. God’s enemies quickly become his friends, and they become together in union. His love is like cool rain on a hot day, and we are like little stuffed animals which he desires to cast onto his bed so he can cuddle up with them later.
Everyone deserves to go to heaven. Divine justice? That won’t get in the way. That just means God makes things better. Justice, in fact, calls aloud for the infinite reward of everyone on earth. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom: “What a lovely tree! I’m gonna hug it!” The sword of divine justice is nothing but another name for the mercy of God, and really deserves to be called the flower of divine justice.
There is plenty of security for people on earth, and no harm will come to you. Though man is on the brink of eternity, that means nothing to God, and unconverted men can easily be converted in life or death. In fact, unconverted men walk over the pit of hell as if it were an iron door, covered in grass and beautiful flowers. There is no danger of falling. God has so many different unsearchable ways of getting everyone to heaven, and there is nothing to appear that God had need to send anyone to hell.
The love of God is like great loving waters of loving love, and they increase more and more, rise higher and higher, so rapid and mighty its course. Love, love, exciting and new. You’d feel God’s great love now, only he’s decided to hold it back by his mere pleasure. If God withdrew his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and all that love would come pouring out. His love is ten times greater than that of your boyfriend or greatest honey. It is just love. Lovey love love.
The bow of God’s love, like the bow of cupid, is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and love bends the arrow at your heart, and fires away with a little heart-shaped arrowhead. You might be worried about judgment, but it’s OK. You’ve probably reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God…and that’s perfectly fine. That’s good enough. Peace and safety, now you see that this is what is promised to you: peace and safety. As present as the thin air which you breathe.
The God that holds you close to his bosom, much as one holds a fluffy teddy bear, or some cute puppy dog or adorable cat, loves you, and is dreadfully in love with you. His love towards you burns like a steaming hot tub of warm water. He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be thrown up to heaven, in fact you are ten times more righteous in his eyes than you may believe. You don’t have to worry about offending him, in fact it is only by his desire that you aren’t in his bosom already. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not been taken into his arms since you arose in the morning, but that God’s been busy lately. Yeah, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment get into a warm cozy hug.
O poor, sad person! Consider how mean it is to be mean to others! Being mean is like a furnace of wrath and a bottomless pit! Be a nice person, and in that way you’ll be mediator and be able to save yourself with no help from anyone at all. Everything you do, everything you have done, and everything that you can do will induce God to spare you, though he’s probably spared you already.
Therefore, let every one who has a vague concept of God now embrace the love which God has. The love of God is no doubt hanging over everyone in this congregation, if not the whole wide world. Let every one fly out like a hummingbird to get their honey.