God’s Love: The Biblical Presentation
The modern message of the
gospel is "God loves you and has a wonderful plan
for your life." However, our idea of "wonderful"
and the world’s may be a little different. Take
a sinner through the pages of the Book of Acts and show
him the terrifying scene of boulders breaking the bones
of Stephen. Then smile and whisper, "Wonderful..."
Listen together to the sound of a cat-o’-nine-tails
as it rips the flesh off the back of the apostle Paul.
Follow together the word "suffering" through
the Epistles, and see if you can get the world to whisper,
After such a ride down Honesty
Road, they may think the pleasures of sin are a little
more attractive than the call to "suffer affliction
with the people of God." John MacArthur said, "We
need to adjust our presentation of the gospel. We cannot
dismiss the fact that God hates sin and punishes sinners
with eternal torment. How can we begin a gospel presentation
by telling people on their way to hell that God has
a wonderful plan for their lives?"
Who in the world is going
to listen if we are so blatantly honest about the Christian
life? Perhaps not as many as are attracted by the talk
of a wonderful plan. However, the answer to our dilemma
is to make the issue one of righteousness, rather than
happiness. This is what Jesus did. He used the Ten Commandments
to show sinners the righteous standard of God (Luke
10:25,26; 18:18– 0). Once the world sees the perfect
standard by which they will be judged, they will begin
to fear God, and through the fear of the Lord, men depart
from sin (Proverbs 16:6). They will begin to hunger
and thirst after the righteousness that is in Jesus
If you study the New Testament
you will see that God’s love is almost always
given in direct correlation to the cross: herein is
love, for God so loved, God commended His love, etc.
(See John 3:16; Romans 5:5,6,8; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians
2:4,5; 5:2,25; 1 John 3:16; 4:10; and Revelation 1:5,
among others.) The cross is the focal point of God’s
love for the world. How can we point to the cross without
making reference to sin? How can we refer to sin without
the Law (Romans 7:7)?
The biblical way to express
God’s love to a sinner is to show him how great
his sin is (using the Law—see Romans 7:13; Galatians
3:24), and then give him the incredible grace of God
in Christ. This was the key to reaching so many on the
Day of Pentecost. They were "devout" Jews
who knew the Law and its holy demands, and therefore
readily accepted the mercy of God in Christ to escape
its fearful wrath. When you use the Law to show the
world their true state, get ready for sinners to thank
you. For the first time in their lives, they will see
the Christian message as an expression of love and concern
for their eternal welfare, rather than of merely proselytizing
for a better lifestyle while on this earth.