In John 3:16 two verbs are used to describe what God did for our salvation. How do these verbs relate to each other? What do they reveal regarding the origin of our salvation?
The English verb to love, especially the casual way it is often used today, is totally inadequate to express the depth of solicitous interest expressed by the Greek verb agapao, to love. In the New Testament, this term and its related noun agape, love, reveal God’s deep and constant love toward His creatures, who are completely unworthy of this love. Love is the preeminent attribute of God’s character. He not only loves us, but He is love (1 John 4:8).
God’s love is not an impulse based on His feelings or preferences. His love is not selective, nor does it depend on what we do. God loves the world, that is, all human beings, including those who do not love Him.
True love is known by the actions it generates. Sometimes as human beings we may say we love someone, while our actions demonstrate the opposite (1 John 3:17-18). The same does not occur with God. His love is reflected in His actions. Out of love, He gave His only begotten Son for our salvation. In so doing, God gave us all He had, which is Himself.
Read Luke 18:9-14. What does this story teach us about what our attitude toward God and His grace should be?
We have probably read this parable so many times that we are not surprised by Jesus’ verdict: I tell you, this man [the tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the other (Luke 18:14, NKJV). However, those who heard Jesus when he pronounced the verdict must have been astonished. Wasn’t this an unjust outcome?
Yes, it was completely undeserved. That is the way salvation is. It is a gift from God. Gifts are not earned; they are simply accepted. We cannot buy salvation; we can only receive it. Although Jesus never used the term grace, He clearly taught that salvation is by grace, and grace is being given that you don’t deserve.
If God gave you what you deserved, what would it be, and why?