“God so loved the world.” So says the text, but can we still believe it?
The Discoveries of Science
There are those who find God’s love for the world incompatible with scientific discovery. They say it is impossible to believe John 3:16 in view of the seeming insignificance of our world. In a former day, when this little planet on which we live was thought to be the biggest thing that God had made and the center of the universe, it was easier to believe the message, “God so loved the world.” But the discoveries of our astronomers have shaken up men’s ideas a good deal during the last few generations. Far from this earth being the center of the universe, it is now seen to be an almost infinitesimal speck amid a bewilderingly exhaustless profusion of suns and systems and galaxies.
What a single leaf is to the mighty forests of the Amazon, what a single blade of grass is to the American prairies and the Russian steppes, what a single drop of dew is to a thousand Pacifics, such is the big, little orb on which we live!
The Theological Question
In view of this, can it be said that God even notices this world, let alone values it so preeminently as to make it the object of the supreme expression of His love? Indeed, we can say that “God so loved the world” with even more fullness of meaning and glory. There is no such thing as “big” or “little” with a God who is infinite. God does not love this world for its physical size but for its moral value. All that the new scientific discoveries are really doing is giving us a bigger and more glorious picture of God, and a more profound conception of the wonder of that divine love which expressed itself through the historical facts on which Christianity is built.
The Vital Fact
The vital fact to grasp is this—God does not love this world for its physical size, but for its moral value. After all, what is a star compared with a soul? Well did the Lord Jesus know the value of one immortal human soul when He asked, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). What does the biggest star mean to an omnipotent God when compared with a soul made in the very image of God Himself—a soul with the capacity for God, for holiness and fellowship and worship and service and love—and with equally real capabilities of sin and shame and agony of suffering?
Our ignorance about many things does not in the slightest degree affect those solid historical facts upon which Christianity is built. It is a fact that God is and that He has revealed Himself in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a solid, glorious fact of history that Jesus came, that He lived, taught, wrought, suffered, died, rose, and ascended to the Father again. Yes, He rose and He lives today—the ever-living, ever-loving, everlasting Saviour of all who receive Him.
The dear old text still shines with the unquenched and unquenchable light of eternal truth—“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
—Condensed from For God So Loved, copyright © 1995 by J. Sidlow Baxter.