October 9th 2016: Gaius Douglas

Our service was led by Gaius Douglas who preached on John 3:17, ‘For God did not send His Son into the world to, condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.’

So often we hear things which are disappointing and we get upset. None of us like to hear we’re wrong, we’ve failed or it’s our fault. We may have received a letter after an interview telling us we have been unsuccessful. Criticism is hard.

When we read this verse we see a different approach; we see a God who does something different. He is different. He doesn’t write us off. The best example in scripture of this is the Lord Jesus Christ saying, ‘Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil.’ (John 6:70). Judas Iscariot had an important position, he was treasurer. He even set out on one occasion to preach and to heal. Jesus never wrote off Judas Iscariot until the Passover. Yet still He knew Judas was a devil. All the way along the Lord showed His grace and mercy to Judas, even though He knew he was a devil. This shows that our God and Father will never write us off.

When we come to this verse it comes out of a conversation with Nicodemus, who wasn’t quite sure who Jesus was. Jesus’ wants to remind us that He is the Lord. Isaiah writes, ‘I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.’ (Isaiah 45:5).

He is the one who breathed the breath of life into man. We are sitting here today because He has given us the ability to sit here and listen. We can do what we do because of God, the Alpha and Omega.

God didn’t send His Son to condemn the world. In this life we see He came in the likeness of simple men, He came in the likeness of sinful flesh. Are we aware of the wonder of who God is? God made us. The God who came from heaven was like one of us, He went through the same problems we are going through. He bore our sins and sorrows, ‘He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.’’ (Isaiah 53:3-4).

He is hearing the comments others are saying, which we may not like. Jesus was despised and rejected by men, even His brothers and sisters didn’t believe Him. The people called Him a Nazarene because He lived in the poorest area. He was hated without cause. He knows what each of us is going through. We see an expression of great love and compassion. He came to us, bore our sin. We were headed for death, separation from God, yet Christ came to save us and take us out of our boxes, from our preconceived ideas, and be put in His box.

God has a path for each one of us to follow. People will despise us but God came for us. We need to trust in Him alone, to follow in His footsteps. Don’t worry about what others are saying about you. ‘The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’ (2 Peter 3:9).  He will never give up on us.

In John 8 we read of a lady caught in the act of adultery, brought to Jesus Christ by the scribes and Pharisees. She was condemned but the Lord said, ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.’ (John 8:7) We have to be careful what we are saying about others. How many stones have we been guilty of throwing? Matthew 7:1 reminds us, ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ We should judge ourselves before we judge others.

We are still in a time of grace and love but one day He will return and judge. He is the judge of all the earth. We are sinners saved by the grace of God. Jesus had every right to cast us out and destroy us but He has saved us. ‘Go, and sin no more.’  (John 8:11). He came to save that the world through Him might be saved. ‘The thief cometh not, but for to steal and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’ (John 10:10)

Jesus came to reach the unloved, He came to heal. Trust in Him alone. God hears every prayer. One day He will deliver us all into His glory, into His kingdom.

‘Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.’ (Psalm 25:4-5).

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