God’s Love Lasts Forever

God’s Love Lasts Forever (Luke 23:43; Rev. 21:1-4)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, May 21, 2023

David Jeremiah shares:

For years I have been collecting the sayings that people put on their tombstones. Here is one that expresses what some people think about heaven:

Here lies a poor woman who always was tired,

For she lived in a place where help wasn’t hired.

Her last words on earth were, “Dear Friends, I am going

Where washing ain’t done, nor sweeping, nor sewing;

And everything there is exact to my wishes,

For where they don’t eat, there’s no washing of dishes.

Don’t weep for me now, don’t weep for me ever;

For I’m going to do nothing forever and ever.”22

It sounds a little more like a nursing home than the biblical conception of heaven. I suppose it’s natural for an overworked person to think of heaven as a place of rest. But it reveals another misconception about heaven. When we enter into heaven, we are not put on some kind of heavenly Social Security list. On the contrary, the Bible says a great deal about service in heaven—our tasks and responsibilities—particularly in Revelation.

As Canadian pastor Bruce Milne tells us, the book of Revelation speaks of heaven as a place where you will find “God’s throne, God’s river, God’s tree, God’s service, God’s face, God’s seal, God’s reign: such are the features of the life of the people of God in the coming Holy City… It is life totally centered on God. That is the deepest and most glorious prospect imaginable, for there is no reality comparable to the triune God, the ever-blessed Father.”13[1]

I preached on heaven in the winter, but I never preached on Rev. 21:1-4 in an expository way. That is what I will do today. I want to show you that God’s love lasts forever.

My theme today is:

God’s love lasts forever.

  1. God’s love lasts forever.
    1. We have covered many subjects of God’s love. Today, we talk about the eternal, the forever.
    2. Where is history going? That is an important worldview question.
    3. The Bible teaches that history is heading towards a time when God will make things right. We see that in the letter of Revelation.
    4. In the letter of Revelation we see God communicate to the Apostle John the things that are to come. There are differing views of the letter of Revelation so I am not going to get into them today. Regardless of one’s view most would agree that Revelation chapters 21-22 are describing the literal New Heaven and New Earth.
    5. Revelation chapters 1-3 include the introduction, and the letters to the 7 churches.
    6. Revelation chapters 4-22:5 are dealing with things to take place after this. These concern God pouring out His wrath on sin, destroying Babylon, the antichrist, and eventually satan.
    7. Eventually, in Revelation chapter 21:10 satan is thrown into the lake of fire. Then Revelation 22:14 death and hades (the abode of the dead) are thrown into hell as well.
    8. This brings us to Revelation chapter 21. Here we see the New Heaven and the New Earth and that God’s love lasts forever.
  2. The New Jerusalem.
    1. Revelation 21:1–4 (ESV) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
    2. Notice what John sees (verses 1-2).
    3. One source shares: This section provides information not revealed in the other visions of heaven. The eternal state is pictured as a physical place. It includes land, buildings, trees, and water. Believers will interact with one another and engage in meaningful service for God. This corrects some long-held misconceptions. Heaven is not a place of passive rest, or endless, blissful contemplation of God.[2]
    4. A holy city descending from heaven (verse 2).
    5. The “holy city” is the new Jerusalem.
    6. We will hear more about that in the rest of this chapter.
    7. It seems clear that these verses are summarizing what the rest of the next two chapter will talk about.
    8. This “holy city” is coming “down.”
    9. Literally down? It could be that John is again describing the indescribable.
    10. Notice the modifiers: the city is described as “holy” and that means “set apart” or sanctified. We will see how it is holy later.
    11. This city is coming from God.
    12. It is like it is coming from God’s realm. It is coming out of Heaven.
    13. This city is made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
    14. Later (in verse 9) we will see that she is called the bride.
    15. But this seems to mean that the city is all beautiful like we would expect a bride on her wedding day.
    16. Isa 52:1 calls Jerusalem the “holy” city.
    17. “Revelation as a whole may be characterized as A Tale of Two Cities, with the sub-title, The Harlot and the Bride.”724[3]
    18. Dr. Constable: There have been several explanations of the relationship of the New Jerusalem to the new earth. It may be that John saw as a city what he had formerly seen as a new heaven and earth. In other words, the New Jerusalem and the new heaven and earth may be two different figures for the eternal state. I favor this view. Thus the eternal dwelling place of believers will be a completely new creation by God that John saw in his visions first as a new world and then as a new city.
    19. Alternatively the New Jerusalem could be a satellite rotating around the new earth. Some hold that the New Jerusalem will be a satellite of the present earth during the Millennium, and when God creates the new earth it will descend out of heaven and be on the surface of the new earth.725 Some believe that the New Jerusalem will be within the new earth.726 The text does not say the New Jerusalem will come down to the new earth, only that John saw it coming down out of heaven from God (cf. v. 10).[4]
  3. What John hears (verses 3-8, but we will only focus on verses 3-4).
    1. The words of the angel (21:3–4).
    2. He says God himself will mingle among his people (21:3).
    3. Dr. Constable: Verse 3 describes the benefits of the New Jerusalem positively, and verse 4 does so negatively.[5]
    4. ESV Study Note: He will dwell with them. The greatest blessing of heaven will be unhindered fellowship with God himself. The goal of God’s covenant, “God with us” ( 7:14), foreshadowed in the OT tabernacle and temple, will be achieved. 
    5. John hears a “loud” voice, again, this is a modifier, and it is coming from the throne.
    6. The people are God’s people and God will be with them.
    7. These Old Testament passages also say that they will be His people: Lev 26:11f; Ezek 37:27
    8. He says God himself will minister to his people (21:4).
    9. God wipes tears away. ESV Study Note: By wiping away every tear and eliminating death, mourning, and pain ( 25:8; 65:19–20), God will reverse the curse that entered the world through human sin.
    10. No more death.
    11. No more mourning.
    12. No more crying.
    13. No more pain.
    14. The first order is over.
  4. Applications and review:
    1. God’s love lasts forever.
    2. We will be in the Holy City.
    3. We will be in the New Jerusalem on the New Earth.
    4. The sea was no more, this may just be symbolic of death and destruction and danger.
    5. We will dwell with God (Rev. 21:3). More importantly, God will dwell with us.
    6. We will have a real, physical relationship with almighty God.
    7. There will be no more sin in the way.
    8. We will be His people and He will be our God.
    9. There will be no more death (Rev. 21:4).
    10. We can rejoice that the pain and suffering of this world will be gone (Rev. 21:4).
    11. No more pain.
    12. No more sickness.
    13. No more Alzheimer’s.
    14. No more cancer.
    15. No more Multiple Sclerosis.
    16. No more disabilities.
    17. No more special needs.
    18. No more car accidents.
    19. No more falling.
    20. No more aging.
    21. No more anxiety.
    22. No more depression.
    23. No more worry: there will be nothing to worry about.
    24. Do we worry about our kids? No more, no need.
    25. Do we worry about our parents? No need.
    26. Do we worry about international relations? No need. Jesus will literally be on the throne.
    27. Do we worry about money? No more, no need.
    28. Do we worry about disasters? No more, no need.
    29. God’s love lasts forever. We will be with Him in a literal way.
    30. No more death, God’s love lasts forever.
    31. No more crying. God will wipe away our tears. Do you remember how nice to be a child and have a mom or dad embrace us and wipe away our tears, or maybe a husband or wife wipe away our tears. How much more powerful that God will wipe away our tears. But then it says, “no more tears, crying, or mourning” (Rev 21:4). Could it be that God will wipe them away and then they will be gone? Could it be that we will understand the sadness of this world? We will have a complete picture of the hardships we have faced.
    32. Part of the difficulties in the world is our picture is not developed. Our picture of suffering needs developed and then reframed. God will do that.
    33. God’s love lasts forever.
    34. We must live for eternity.
    35. Store up treasure in heaven:
    36. Proverbs 19:17 (ESV) 17Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
    37. Invest in the church.
    38. Make sure you are saved (2 Cor. 13:5).
    39. Repent of sin.
    40. Seek the Lord.
    41. Be encouraged: God’s love lasts forever.

C. S. Lewis: “Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.”3



22 Author unknown.

13 Bruce Milne, The Message of Heaven and Hell (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 327.

[1] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[2] The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 83407-83409). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

724 724. Beasley-Murray, p. 315.

[3] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Re 21:2.

725 725. Pentecost, Things to . . ., p. 580.

726 726. McGee, 5:1068–72, believed it will be within the transparent sphere of the new earth rather than on its surface.

[4] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Re 21:2.

[5] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Re 21:4.

3 C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: MacMillan, 1962), 147.

The Influence of a Mother’s Faith: Sarah bore a son through a barren womb and influenced a nation and all nations.

First let me wish every mother a happy Mother’s Day. We can never fully understand the impact of a mother. I read:

An article in Forbes asks, “Think you can put a price on motherhood?” A yearly survey by Salary.com called the annual Mom Salary Survey attempts to put a salary on the work of American mothers. First, they broke down motherly duties into the following ten categories: Day Care Center Teacher, CEO, Psychologist, Cook, Housekeeper, Laundry Machine Operator, Computer Operator, Facilities Manager, Janitor, and Van Driver. Then they studied how many hours moms work in those categories and what the family would have to pay for outsourcing that duty. According to the 2012 survey, they determined the following:

  • The average stay-at-home mom should make an annual salary of $112,962 (based on a 40-hour per week base pay plus 54.7 hours a week of overtime);
  • The average working mom should make an annual salary (just for her “mom” role) of $66,969 (based on 40-hours of mothering duties and 17.9 overtime hours per week).

The article concludes, “The breadth of Mom’s responsibilities is beyond what most workers could ever experience day-to-day. Imagine if you had to attract and retain a candidate to fill this role?”[1]

Of course, we really did not need an article to state that did we? We know that a mother’s work is never done. I remember thinking back to my mother and how she was always, always doing something. Then she also has such a caring heart. If I was sick or in need her heart would break for me. To this day, she calls up checking on the girls and she works at a childcare center. My grandmother stayed with us, and my mother was eager to care for her.

My dad was abused as a child. His brothers and sisters ran away from home. My dad moved out at sixteen years of age. Years later, my dad was thirty-nine and his mother moved in with us when she had a hip replacement. His father had died when my dad was about thirty-one. My grandmother recovered from the hip replacement but during that time we had grown close with her. So, she would stay with us often. One time, my parents were out for an evening and during that time my younger brother did something to which he needed punishment. My dad came home and found out and gave my younger brother a spanking. I looked out on the back porch and saw my grandmother with tears in her eyes. Amazing! Mothers, grandmothers they care. God has given them this love.

I want to talk about Sarah today. Sarah was Abraham’s wife and the mother of Ishmael and Isaac. But later she became the mother of nations. She became the mother of Christianity. Hebrews 11:10-12 tells us that because of her great faith she became the mother of nations. She is listed in the hall of faith.

My emphasis today is:

The influence of a mother’s faith: Sarah bore a son through a barren womb and influenced a nation and all nations.

The application is trusting God with our children. God has great faithfulness.

A mother’s love is amazing.

Have faith in God to watch over you and your children as Sarah did.

You never know what God will do through your children and grandchildren.

 Let’s read:

Hebrews 11:11–12 (ESV)

11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

Now, let’s read:

Genesis 18:9–15 (ESV)

They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.”

  1. We all must trust God with our children and grandchildren as Sarah did.
    1. You and I may read this, and it appears that Sarah did not trust God with her womb. Sarah had already been told that she will be a mother. In this passage there are two angels and God talking with Abraham. We find this out in verses 1-9. If you go back to Genesis 12, we read that Abraham was to be the father of nations. Sarah trusted God but did not know how this was to happen. It was in Genesis 17:17 that we find out this was to happen through her womb. Sarah, being 90 years old was to have a child.
    2. Reading this passage, we see that Sarah laughed. Abraham laughed as well in Genesis 17:17. They laughed in doubt. It was not doubt that they would be the parents of nations, it was doubt that the child would come through her.
    3. But we can look ahead and see that Sarah’s child was born in Genesis 21:2 and he was named Isaac which means “Laughter.”
    4. This was somewhere around 2000 B.C., then when Hebrews was penned some 2000 years later, Sarah is remembered for her faith.
    5. She trusted God.
    6. I do not want to talk about trusting God that you are going to have a child at 90 years old. If any of you are close to that age and God has revealed that to you, by all means, trust Him. I’ll pray for you.
    7. I imagine Sarah at 90 years old and Abraham at 100 years old chasing a toddler around. Then, Abraham would have been 116 years old teaching him to drive a camel so that he could get his temporary driving permit. Sarah would have been staying up late at the age of 106 years old while Isaac is out with friends. I wonder if he had a curfew.
    8. Of course, they say that your children grow up quick. I do see that happening. I heard of one mother who had 4 children. She was talking and said that people would say they grow up quick and she would think, “I smell like spit-up.” Then she said, “But when I saw my daughter walk out of her room at 17 years old with her keys…” She knew that to be true.
    9. I wonder if Sarah thought that way? He was 37 years old when she died. I wonder if she had days where she told him, “Just wait till your father gets home.” I heard of George H. W. Bush getting a phone call from Barbara when the kids were young. Barbara told him that one of the boys hit the baseball through a certain neighbor’s second story window. His reaction, “What a hit!” I wonder if Abraham had conversations like that from Sarah.
    10. Sarah had watched everyone else raise children and now it was her turn. The Bible says in verse 14: “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?”
    11. How are we doing with trusting the Lord? How are we doing with trusting the Lord with our children on a day-to-day bases. How about even after they are grown.
    12. I was 19 years old, and my parents were taking me to college. I was going some 8 hours away to Georgia. We were at a restaurant when my mother retreated to the restroom, I think to cry because for the first time she was dropping off her son hours away from home for a long time.
    13. I wonder if Sarah had moments like that. I wonder if she had moments in which she had to let go.
    14. You see, on a Mother’s Day I can talk about a mother’s love. I mention that with the example of my mother and grandmother. However, I think it is a mother’s love that compels them to care so well for their children.
    15. In that manner, we are best to remember that God’s faithfulness is unending, and we must trust Him, Who can do all things, with our children.
    16. Meagan and I tear up with the thought of walking our daughter down the aisle on a wedding day. But that is the common station in life which we will face.
    17. I honestly don’t know how parents deal with real struggles of sickness, hardship, and even the loss of a child. The only thing that I can say is Sarah had great faith and so must we for God has great faithfulness.
      1. Some Scripture:
      2. Psalm 89:1-2 (and the rest of the Psalm) are about God’s faithfulness.
  • Psalm 91:1-4 compares God’s faithfulness to an eagle sheltering us under His Wings.
  1. Psalm 100:5 is about God’s faithfulness.
  2. Psalm 108:4: God’s faithfulness reaches to the skies.
  3. Psalm 143:1: O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.
  • For those of you have been through those trials my prayers are with you and I know that I can be educated by you.
  • The other thought about trusting God’s faithfulness with our children is that we never know what God is going to do. We don’t know who our children will end up to be, do we? We can try to rear them and pray for them, and we must, but we do not know. But Sarah was told that she would be the mother of nations. We must trust God with our children’s future and our grandchildren’s future.
  1. How do we have faith? How do we trust God?
    1. Pray and talk to God.
    2. Go to the Bible and read the Scripture passages on faithfulness.
    3. Talk with a small group or prayer partner, or myself. Talk with a Christian counselor.
    4. Those of you that have been through tough circumstances with children, you can teach me, and I would love to hear your testimony.
    5. Those going through tough times, I would welcome to listen and pray with you.
    6. I can recommend some books.


A mother’s love is amazing.

Have faith in God to watch over you and your children as Sarah did.

You never know what God will do through your children and grandchildren.

I talked about my grandmother, my father’s mother, with tears in her eyes when my brother was punished. A few years later she went into the hospital. She had a quadruple heart bypass. They said the risk of a clot was high, especially early on. She made it through those days, but then they had to put in a pacemaker. Then, after about two weeks she was ready to come home. She was coming home to stay with us. It was a Friday night, and we were getting her room ready. We were setting up the hospital bed, etc. We were looking forward to grandma staying with us. Then, my parents received a call from the hospital, and they rushed to the hospital. My grandmother was walking with a nurse talking about how she was eager to see her cat again when she had a blood clot. It had been some two weeks, but it happened. The doctor’s worked on her for some time, but then she died.

The next day, my dad was driving me to work, and he said, “I don’t know if you noticed but my mother’s death has been hard on me.” He continued, “My dad beat me as a child, but over the last few years with my mother living with us I can tell that she regretted that.” This was the only time I saw my dad choke up with tears in his eyes. The only time. The influence of a mother.

In Genesis 23:1 we read that Sarah died at the age of 127 years. I would imagine that Isaac and Ishmael both wept at the death of Sarah.

However, because of Sarah we have Hebrews 11:12:

12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

She became the mother of nations. She had faith that God would fulfill the promise and He did. She had faith in God’s promise and became the mother of Christianity as Jesus came through her descendants.

 God created us to be with him (Genesis 1-2).

Our sin separated us from God (Genesis 3).

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4).

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again (Matthew – Luke).

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life (John – Jude).

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever (Revelation 22:5).


[1] Sources: Jenna Goudreau, “Why Stay-At-Home Moms Should Earn a $115,000 Salary,” Forbes (5-2-11); Salary.com, “Salary.com’s 12th Annual Mom Salary Survey,” (last accessed on April 24, 2013)

God’s Love Enables You to Stay in Your Relationship With Him (John 10:28; Romans 8:35-39)

God’s Love Enables You to Stay in Your Relationship With Him (John 10:28; Romans 8:35-39)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, May 7, 2023

David Jeremiah writes:

At every moment in all the history of our fallen race, people have faced threats from both the present and the future, on both a personal and a cosmic level. And each time Christians have asked, “Is God still with me through all this?”

If ever a young man had the right to ask this question, it would seem that George Matheson did. Born in nineteenth-century Scotland, George became a brilliant student in theology at the University of Glasgow, where he earned a graduate degree. While at school, he fell in love and was soon engaged to be married. Meanwhile, his eyesight began to fade rapidly. When he became totally blind at age twenty, his fiancée broke off the engagement, explaining that she was not cut out to be the wife of a blind man.

Matheson was devastated. The pain of her abandonment stayed with him in his blindness. He never married, yet he went on to become a highly successful pastor at a large church in Edinburgh where he preached to fifteen hundred members every Sunday.

Many men enduring such blows might have struck out at God, thinking He had abandoned him. Many would have thought: I’ve dedicated my life to You, God. Yet You allowed me to fall in love, and then You snatched away my fiancée and my eyesight. You must not really love me after all.

But Matheson knew better. Though his beloved fiancée had left him, he knew that God would not. Out of his pain emerged the classic hymn “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” His first verse is a ringing affirmation of the love of God, reaching across the chasm of his sadness:

O Love that will not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in Thee;

I give Thee back the life I owe,

That in Thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.

Though George Matheson was physically blind, his spiritual vision was 20/20. Those who trust in the ways and purposes of God will be strengthened in the present and prepared to face whatever the future holds. Suffering is inevitable; it comes to everyone. But only those who live in the certainty that God’s love will never let them go are able to accept with confidence and assurance both the troubles of the present and the troubles that may come tomorrow.[1]

We have been talking about God’s love for us.

My theme today is:

God’s Love Enables You to Stay in Your Relationship With Him (John 10:28; Romans 8:35-39)

  1. Who shall separate us from God’s love?
    1. Paul asks a question and then goes to great lengths to show that no one and nothing can separate us from God’s love.
    2. Paul asks a question with a negative answer.
    3. Before we read the verses let’s put this in context. Romans 8:35-39 is in the context of Romans and Romans is Paul’s great treatise on salvation. Romans is Paul making the case for salvation by faith alone in Christ alone. Paul went to great lengths to show that Jews and Greeks all need Jesus’ free offer of forgiveness.
    4. Some have called Romans 8 the most powerful chapter in the Bible. Romans 8 is sandwiched between Romans 7 showing that we cannot keep the law and then Romans 9 which is about God’s sovereign choice.
    5. Look with me at Romans 8:35 (ESV) 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
    6. About this passage David Jeremiah shares:
    7. It’s a bit like an old commercial for superglue in which a car was suspended in midair, held to the cable by nothing but a dab or two of that incredible adhesive. The test was intended to convince people that this glue would do any job needed. If it could hold that car, surely it would patch up your broken vase.
    8. Twice Paul emphatically asserts that nothing can separate us from the love of God found in Christ Jesus (vv. 35, 39). Surely few would disagree that this is the greatest message of the Bible—that nothing in the entire universe can stop God from loving us. It simply cannot and will not happen.
    9. Please notice that Paul doesn’t say we must hang on to God’s love; he says that God’s love hangs on to us. [2]
    10. Paul asks the question, who shall separate us and then lists several nouns to show that no, they cannot separate us.
    11. God holds us. God holds us close to Him. It is all His staying power on us.
    12. We will go through tribulation, but guess what? God is with us. It cannot separate us from Him.
    13. We will have distress, but it cannot separate us from Him. God is with us.
    14. We will face persecution (see 2 Tim. 3:12), but God is with us, and Jesus says we are blessed (Matthew 5:11-12).
    15. We will face famine, nakedness, and danger, but God is with us and that famine will not separate us from Him.
    16. You know the interesting thing? These verses say that these hardship will NOT separate us. If we know Jesus we will not leave Him, because He is holding us. That does not mean we will not question things, or ever have doubts, but no, we won’t leave Him.
    17. Romans 8:36 is a quote from Psalm 44:2 which Paul references to bring up hardship.
  2. We are hyper-conquerors.
    1. Look at Romans 8:37: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
    2. In all of what he wrote about in verse 35 we are more than conquerors.
    3. David Jeremiah shares: The Greek word for “conquer” is hypernikao, a compound word made up of hyper (“more, above, beyond”) and nikao (“to conquer or prevail”). The term is a unique one, occurring nowhere in the Bible but this particular verse. It has no single-word counterpart in English, so we must cobble together two or three words to get the sense of what it means. Scholars have tried such phrases as “overwhelmingly conquerors” and “beyond conquering,” but the favorite by far is “more than conquerors.” Many of our contemporary translations contain that familiar phrase.
    4. But let’s try another one: “hyper-conquerors.” It has a modern ring to it and suggests the idea of a new league of superheroes—“The Hyper-Conquerors”! I think I like it. Let’s try it out on what Paul is telling us:
    5. In the midst of all these things that try to bring us down (tribulation, distress, persecution, you name it), we are hyper-conquerors.
    6. When facing any problem that life can dish out—you are a hyper-conqueror.
    7. In struggling with that problem you’re worrying about this very day, which is ______________ (fill in the blank), you are a hyper-conqueror.[3]
    8. Jeremiah gives an example: How does this work in real life? Here’s a story that gives us the answer. During his reign of terror, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini turned his war machine on Ethiopia and expelled all the Christian missionaries there. Christians everywhere began praying immediately. The answer came in two waves: first, in the protection of the expelled missionaries; and second, in reopening the doors of Ethiopia to the Gospel after the military pride of Italy lay broken in the dust and Mussolini was executed by his own countrymen.
    9. But during the missionaries’ absence, the Word of God multiplied in Ethiopia, and the returning missionaries found a larger, stronger church than the one they left. One group, the United Presbyterian Mission, had only sixty believers when the missionaries were expelled. On their return, the sixty had grown to thirty churches with a membership of sixteen hundred! These believers were more than conquerors.8[4]
  • Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
    1. Look with me at Romans 8:38–39 (ESV)
    2. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    3. David Jeremiah shares: Paul gives us five pairs of contrasting forces that may challenge us. The big idea is that you can go from one end of any spectrum to the other—from life to death, from things present to things to come—without going beyond the scope of God’s love.
    4. Here Paul uses a rhetorical device known as a merism, which involves stating a pair of contrasting words to represent the full range of everything in between. We use a merism when we say, “He knows his subject from A to Z.” When the psalmist declares that God has removed our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12), he is using a merism to explain that God has removed our sins in totality.[5]
    5. Death nor life cannot separate us from God’s love.
    6. Death, then, is not a wall that separates us from God. Dr. James Montgomery Boice points out that it’s much the opposite. Far from tearing us away from God, death ushers us into the full glory of His presence. “The separator becomes the uniter.”4[6]
    7. Paul says, “angels nor rulers…” Why would he say angels? Most think he is referring to demons. Demons will not separate us from Christ’s love.
    8. Rulers will not separate us from Christ’s love.
    9. Sometimes, many times, Christians have felt the weight of oppressive rulers, but we are still held by God’s love.
    10. Things in the present, things in the future, they will not separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus.
    11. Powers, they won’t separate us from Christ.
    12. Romans 8:39 continues… Height nor depth… they won’t separate us from God’s love.
    13. Nothing, nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A fourth-century Archbishop of Constantinople was such an eloquent preacher that, after his death, the Greek word chrysostomos (“golden mouthed”) was added to his given name, John. History has since known him as John Chrysostom. He did not hesitate to point out abuses of power wherever he found them, and his outspoken oratory got him in trouble with both the church and the Roman Empire. On one such occasion, he was brought before the Roman emperor. Tradition tells us that the emperor fixed Chrysostom with a glare and said: “I will banish you if you do not give up your faith.”

“You can’t banish me,” Chrysostom replied, “for the whole world is my Father’s house.”

“But I will put you to death.”

“No, you can’t. My life is hid with Christ in God.”

“Then I will take away all your material possessions.”

“No, you can’t. My treasure is in heaven along with my heart.”

“But I can drive you away from man. You will have no friends left.”

“No, you can’t make me friendless. I have a Friend in heaven from whom you can’t separate me. I defy all your attempts to silence me. There is nothing you can do to hurt me.”5[7]


[1] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[2] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

7 William Hendricksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 301.

[3] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

8 Adapted from J.C. Macaulay, Expository Commentary on Acts (Chicago: Moody Press, 1978), 130-31.

[4] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[5] Ibid.

4 James Montgomery Boice, Romans, Vol. 2: The Reign of Grace (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), 1001.

[6] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

5 Paraphrased from R. Kent Hughes, Romans: Righteousness from Heaven (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1991), 171.

[7] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

God Lovingly Corrects Us (Hebrews 12:5-11)

God Lovingly Corrects You (Proverbs 3:12; 2 Corinthians 12:7; Hebrews 12:5-11)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, April 30, 2023

The train chugged its way through Indiana at twenty-four miles per hour. That doesn’t seem like a frightful speed. That is, until you take into account how long it takes to stop a 6,200-ton train… and what lay upon the tracks ahead.

“That’s a baby!” yelled Robert Mohr, the attentive conductor.

The engineer, Rodney Lindley, had thought it was a small dog, but the thatch of blonde hair and the colorful clothes made it all clear.

Emily Marshall, a child of nineteen months, was playing on the rails. She had strayed from safety as her mother picked flowers in the garden.

It was all chaos and shouting at the controls of the train. The engineer hit the brakes, but there was no way the train could stop short of disaster. Mohr, forty-nine and a Vietnam vet, had to think quickly.

He threw open the door, moved along a catwalk to the very front of the engine, and leaned precariously forward, steadying himself with one arm as Lindley continued to pull frantically at the brake. The train slowed to about ten miles per hour—still much too fast. Lindley said, “It felt like we were just eating up the rail, going faster and faster.”

As the great locomotive approached, Emily heard the noise and sensed danger. “She sat up and watched us for what seemed like an eternity,” said Lindley. Then she began to crawl off the rails, but not fast enough. Just as the train was about to go over her, Mohr, at the leading edge of the locomotive, stretched out one leg as far as he could and, like a field-goal kicker, booted the baby over the edge and down the soft embankment. Then he leaped down, picked up the crying child, and comforted her.

Emily came out of the near fatal experience with cuts on her head, a chipped tooth, and a swollen lip.1[1]

We know how deeply grateful the mother was—remorseful, too, I’m sure. But I wonder if that little child truly comprehended how blessed she was that a stranger with a big foot kicked her down a hill. She was trying to play, there was a lot of noise, and suddenly something jarred her and sent her tumbling like Jack and Jill. It hurt!

Perspective makes a difference. What seems hurtful from one vantage point can, when seen in full perspective, turn out to be an act of compassion. That’s how it is with discipline and correction. Sometimes we have to hurt a little now, so we won’t hurt a lot later. Some lessons come only through tears. We know this as parents; we also need to know it as children of God.

What brand of love would keep that conductor from rescuing a happily playing child on the grounds that a good boot is rude and painful? What brand of love would have kept your parents from scolding you for not doing your homework, since scolding would have put a damper on a pleasant dinner? As Lewis points out, the willingness to administer pain to prevent a greater harm is a mark of true love.[2]

We are talking about God’s love for us.

Today my theme is:

God Lovingly Corrects You

Please turn to Hebrews 12:5-11.

  1. The Lord disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:5-7).
    1. Let’s talk about the context of this passage.
    2. Hebrews is written to tell us who is to brew the coffee, he is, he-brews.
    3. No, seriously, Hebrews is a New Testament letter written to encourage Jewish believers to persevere in the faith.
    4. The writer is encouraging them to fix their eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).
    5. These Jewish people had become Christians and then faced suffering. Some were in prison.
    6. The audience’s social situation can be inferred from commands to “remember those who are in prison” and who are “mistreated” (13:3). Timothy himself had just been set free (13:23). Indeed, the author of Hebrews commended his audience for their former endurance of persecution, for their compassion on those in prison, and for having “joyfully accepted the plundering of your property” (10:32–34).[3]
    7. They are being exhorted to stay the course.
    8. That fits with these instructions.
    9. Look at Hebrews 12:5–7 (ESV)

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

     “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

nor be weary when reproved by him.

   For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

  1. This chapter begins exhorting them to fix their eyes on Jesus.
  2. The previous chapter is about those of faith in the Old Testament.
  3. Now, he quotes Proverbs 3:11-12 about God’s discipline. God is seen as speaking through the Proverb.
  4. What are we to think of the hardships we face in life?
  5. Why does God allow certain things? Why doesn’t He intervene?
  6. I think that is what the writer of Hebrews is addressing.
  7. The writer of Hebrews brings in this Old Testament passage.
  8. Sometimes discipline is punitive, other times it is training.
  9. Do not regard the discipline of the Lord lightly… TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.
  10. Don’t be weary when reproved by the Lord.
  11. The Lord lovingly disciplines us.
  12. Hebrews 12:6: The Lord disciplines those He loves. The Lord chastises every son who He receives.
  13. If the Lord loves us, we will be disciplined and chastised, but for a purpose.
  14. Verse 7 sounds strong. This whole section sounds strong. However, the preacher is comparing us with sons of God and that is a very good thing. God loves us enough to discipline us. God loves us enough to build us up.

  1. Those not disciplined are illegitimate children (Hebrews 12:8).
    1. Verse 8 is straightforward.
    2. Hebrews 12:8 (ESV) If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
    3. David Jeremiah shares: In New Testament times, there could be no more serious charge than to question one’s legitimacy. Imagine three boys playing in the courtyard of a wealthy man’s estate. They get into some kind of mischief, and their father comes out, his face beet-red, fire in his eyes, and he drags away two of his sons by the ear. The other boy, who is also his son by a female servant, stands and watches, totally ignored. He has misbehaved, too. He even lives on the same estate. But his father doesn’t care what he does because he doesn’t consider him a true son.
    4. How that would have stung! The rejected boy would have learned that a father’s indifference is far worse than the momentary pain of chastening.

  • Our earthly fathers discipline us (Hebrews 12:9-10)
    1. Hebrews 12:9–10 (ESV) Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
    2. This lesser-to-greater analogy from the readers’ own childhood training shows that it is appropriate for the heavenly Father to discipline, and it calls for a response of respect and submission; as a loving Father, the Lord always disciplines his children for their good.[4]

  1. The fruit of discipline (Hebrews 12:11).
    1. Hebrews 12:11 (ESV) 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
    2. It does not feel good when we are disciplined, but when we learn something there was a benefit.
    3. Or, what about the discipline of training.
    4. I am sure that learning piano takes discipline and is difficult, but later you have a benefit.
    5. I am told that when you are learning guitar your fingers hurt, but you have a benefit and bless others.
    6. David Jeremiah: We should cherish our chastening because it is God’s way of saying, “You belong to Me, and I love you.” His discipline may anger us at times, but it will protect us, teach us, and prepare us. This is why the early church theologian Jerome is reported to have said, “The greatest danger of all is when God is no longer angry with us.”[5]

  1. C.S. Lewis had a lot to say about the pain of discipline. He noted that some of us have a shallow view of God’s correcting love:

We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven… whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all.”… I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since its abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.

As Scripture points out… it is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes.2[6


1 “Kick Save: With Their Freight Train Hurtling Toward Certain Disaster, Two Brave Railroad Men Sweep a Toddler Off the Tracks,” People, June 1, 1998, accessed April 24, 2012, http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20125421,00.html.

[1] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2357.

[4] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2383.

[5] Ibid.

2 C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: Macmillan, 1973), 31–32, 40.

[6] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

God’s Love Seeks Us When We Are Lost (Luke 15:1-10)

God’s Love Seeks You When You Are Lost (Luke 15:1-10; Romans 5:8)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, April 23, 2023

Have you ever lost something? Maybe you have lost a piece of jewelry? Maybe, you have lost a piece of clothing. For me, every spring I take my winter clothes and put them in a laundry basket on the top shelf of my closet. Sure enough, every fall when I bring those winter clothes down, I feel like I am missing one of my favorite shirts. But what a joy it is to find that shirt. But you know what is better than that? It is great to find money when I never knew that it was missing. In years past there have been times that I put on a jacket at the end of the summer, and I put my hands in the pocket and find money! Have you ever lost a pet? Not by death by but by them running away.  I can think of 3 times when I was a kid that my pets ended up missing.  Allow me to share one of those times:

When I was in 6th grade my dad brought a blue tic beagle home from work. My brothers and I ran to the car and asked if we could keep him. We thought my dad found him on the road somewhere. Turns out, someone my dad worked with needed to get rid of him, so we took him.  We had a pet rabbit at the time. It is not a good idea to have a rabbit with a beagle! Anyways, this beagle, which we named Sam, had a way of getting out of the house. We would let him in the back yard, which was fenced in, and he would get out. I never saw how he got out, but he did. Eventually we started putting him on a cable. Then, he still found ways to run free by sneaking out the front door when people were coming in. My older brother and I would try to chase him down and sometimes we were successful.  Well, one cold Friday in February I got home from school and went looking for Sam. But Sam was nowhere to be found. My mom said that Sam got out that day. My brother and I looked everywhere but we couldn’t find Sam. That night I remember sitting in the living room watching the television. But every 5 minutes I walked to the door to see if Sam had come home.  We had another dog named Sandy. Sandy missed Sam too. We could tell because she would walk to the front door too. My mom would say, “You see Sam outside”? And the moment Sandy heard Sam’s name she would look up! But no matter how many times I went to the front door Sam was not there!

Maybe you have had similar experiences.

In the passage we are about to read Jesus talks about how when we are lost God seeks us out. When we are lost God seeks us.

God loves us when we are lost.

We have been talk about God’s love for us. Today my theme is:

God’s Love Seeks You When You Are Lost

  1. The context: Let’s look at the context of this passage.

Luke 15:1–2 (ESV)

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

  1. Notice in verse 1 that all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to Jesus. Yet, the Pharisees and the Scribes didn’t like this. They talked badly about Jesus for eating with them.
  2. The Pharisees and the scribes were the religious elite. They kept every bit of the law.
  3. The tax collectors were not liked by most Jews because they would take money from people and usually take more than they needed to.
  4. Sinners would refer to someone who didn’t keep the religious law as well as the Pharisees. The Pharisees didn’t only hold to Moses’ law but also traditions that were treated as Scripture. Sinners could also refer to Gentiles.
  5. The tax collectors and sinners were rejected by the religious elite but notice how they came to Jesus. Yet, the religious people rejected Jesus. The people who knew they were sinners went to Jesus but the people who were supposed to be the religious authority rejected Jesus.
  6. Jesus loves the outcast. Jesus loves everyone.

So, in verses 3-7 Jesus tells a parable. He tells them an allegorical story.

    1. Let’s read these verses.

Luke 15:3–7 (ESV)

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

  1. The parable is simple but there is still information that we can take from it and apply to us.
  2. Someone has 100 sheep and loses one. Now I know that you may be thinking, “big deal, he has 100 sheep, he still has 99 other sheep left.” But to shepherds it was a big deal This was their income. One scholar said,

The shepherd was responsible for each sheep; if one was missing, the shepherd had to pay for it unless he could prove that it was killed by a predator (see Gen. 31:38–39; Ex. 22:10–13; Amos 3:12). This explains why he would leave the flock with the other shepherds, go and search for the missing animal, and then rejoice when he found it. Not to find the lost sheep meant money out of his own pocket, plus the disgrace of being known as a careless shepherd.”

  1. So, the man in the parable goes to look for the one sheep. He leaves the 99 in the wilderness.
  2. Then he finds his other sheep and he rejoices. He rejoices so much that he calls his friends and tells them about it.
  3. Have you ever had this situation? Have you lost something, and then when you found it you were so excited that you had to tell someone?
  4. The idea is this individual is excited to find that one sheep.
  5. Jesus brings the parable together, “In the same way, there will be rejoicing in Heaven over a lost person, a sinner, who repents. Notice the sarcasm? Jesus says more rejoicing over one sinner who repents than 99 righteous persons who don’t need to repent. I think that is sarcasm. The Pharisees didn’t think they needed to repent.
  6. When we are lost, God’s love seeks us out.
  • The next parable is about a woman who has lost one silver coin out of 10. Let’s read the next 3 verses.

Luke 15:8–10 (ESV)

The Parable of the Lost Coin

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

  1. This silver coin is probably equal to a day’s wages. But more than that, it is possible that Jesus is referring to a coin that was part of her dowry. The dowry was the only portion of money that a bride was able to keep even if the marriage ended. Another possibility is that Jewish women would wear a head band of ten silver coins as a symbol that they are married. It would be a disaster for one to be missing.
  2. The Jewish houses were often dark and there would be cracks in the stone floor where the coin could be.
  3. So, this coin is important to her. She lights a lamp and sweeps hoping to find it. When she does, she, also, calls her friends to rejoice.
  4. Now Jesus says that there is rejoicing by the Angels of God over one sinner who repents.
  5. Now, God is not the only one rejoicing but also angels. God’s created beings
  1. Some more applications:
    1. God searches for the lost.
    2. God seeks us out.
    3. We were all lost at one time and some of us may still be lost.
    4. Remember the story of Adam and Eve?
    5. Remember how they hid after they sinned? Yet, God searched for them. God cares about the lost. God seeks out the lost.
    6. There is another parable in Luke 15:11-32 and it is about the lost son, it is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We won’t talk about that parable today except to see these are 3 back-to-back parables that Jesus tells to show that His love seeks us when we are lost.

Well, remember my dog Sam that was lost? Sam did come home eventually. But he didn’t come home on his own. Somehow, we found out that someone had taken him in. We picked him up and brought him home. We were so excited that Sam was safe and at home. But you know, during that whole time we weren’t rejoicing that our other dog, Sandy, was at home. Of course, we cared about her. But we knew that she was home and safe. We didn’t know where Sam was.

In these two parables Jesus is saying that God cares about every lost person. Even though He has so many righteous people, He still cares about the lost. More than that, He seeks out the lost. He initiates the salvation of the lost. God looks for us. God looked for us. And there is a celebration in Heaven when the lost are found.

But there is a problem. I think too often Christians do not look for the lost. Too often Christians do not celebrate when a lost person comes to church.

Dr. Kalas was the president of Asbury Theological Seminary. He told a story of a Sunday school teacher that he had when he was a kid. This was back in the 1930’s. Dr. Kalas said that sometimes the Sunday school teacher would get off topic and share a story. One day he shared the story of how he came to know Christ. The Sunday school teacher said that he was a drunk [Dr. Kalas said that is what they called it back then]. This man was a drunk and he was going to throw himself in the river. But there was a church service going on. So, he ended up at church. That night, when he was going to commit suicide, he ended up giving his life to Christ. He was lost but he was found by God. He was going to literally kill himself but instead he died to the world and became alive “in Christ” for the first time. Instead of dying he was alive. Then, years later he taught Sunday school to a student who would someday become a pastor and Seminary professor and president.

God’s love seeks us when we are lost.


God’s Extravagant Love, Sending Jesus to Die For You (John 3:16)

God’s Extravagant Love, Sending Jesus to Die For You (John 3:16)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, April 16, 2023

David Jeremiah shares:

Many years ago, in the little English village of Brackenthwaite, there lived a quiet and lonely man named William Dixon. His wife had died years before, and later he had lost his only son. Dixon often could be seen sitting by his window, watching the world go by and smiling at the happy families on the streets.

One day he looked out and saw a neighbor’s home on fire. Other neighbors were already gathering, scrambling for water and shouting for help. Dixon ran out and joined them just as an elderly woman was pulled from the flames.

“Who else is inside?” someone shouted above the commotion.

“My little grandson!” she gasped through smoke-filled lungs. “Upstairs—trapped!”

The people groaned, knowing the stairway was impassable. But William Dixon hurried to the front of the house and found an iron drainage pipe running up the wall. Taking hold of it, he pulled himself upward to the window and found the terrified boy. He scooped up the child and scrambled back to the ground.

A few days later, the grandmother succumbed to her injuries, leaving the little boy an orphan with no home, no guardian. The village held a hearing to determine his fate.

When the meeting was called to order, two volunteers came forward. One good citizen answered the standard questions, giving every assurance that he would provide a good home. The second volunteer was William Dixon, the rescuer. He said few words, but his hands spoke for him. They were bandaged. The hot iron pipe he’d been forced to climb had burned them severely.

When it came to a vote, the man with the scarred hands went home with the orphan, a father once more. His love, everyone agreed, was written on his hands.1

The love of our Lord was also written on His hands—the two hands stretched out and nailed to the cross, where they flowed with the blood that indelibly wrote His love for us for all eternity.[1]

We have been talking about God’s love.

Today, my theme is: God’s Extravagant Love, Sending Jesus to Die For You (John 3:16)

John 3:16–18 (ESV)

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

  1. Background to John 3:16
    1. David Jeremiah shares: You might think that since the message of John 3:16 is for the entire world, it would have been delivered to a large assembly, maybe in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or in some of His discourses in the temple. Instead, it was spoken privately to a single person.4 Nicodemus was a leading member of the ruling Jewish council, the Sanhedrin. Jesus had aroused the anger and opposition of these Jewish leaders because of His claims to be the Son of God and what they saw as His disregard for some of their laws.
    2. But Nicodemus was not so sure. He had seen the miracles of Jesus, and he could not write Him off as easily as his peers. We must remember that Nicodemus, like all Jews, saw himself as one of God’s chosen people in a highly exclusive sense. They belonged to God by virtue of their birth into His favored race. Their coming Messiah would destroy all Gentiles—especially the hated Romans who occupied Israel. Could Jesus be the man? Nicodemus wanted to find out.[2]
    3. The rest of this sermon I have broken down based on an acrostic that spells “Gospel” and we see this in John 3:16.
  2. God…
    1. This is about God.
    2. God loved the world.
    3. To most cultures in the past they did not think of a loving God.
    4. They were always trying to appease the gods. This is about God.
    5. Salvation always begins with God.
    6. God is holy and our sins are treason against God almighty (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
    7. But God loves.
    8. We have been talking about God’s great love.
    9. One Bible scholar points out: The Greek construction puts some emphasis on the actuality of the gift: it is not ‘God loved enough to give,’ but ‘God loved so that he gave.
    10. The same scholar continues The construction of the Greek sentence stresses the intensity of God’s love. He gave His best, His unique and loved Son. The Jews believed that God loved the children of Israel, but John affirmed that God loved all people regardless of race.[3]
    11. God loved and he loved everyone.
    12. No one is left out.
    13. God so loved the world, it is the Greek word: kósmos which means the inhabitants of the earth.
    14. God so loved the world that He gave. How are we with giving? Are we giving people? I like how Swindoll pointed out that we are never more like God than when we give.
  • Only
    1. God gave his only “begotten” Son, or His “one and only Son” or His “unique” Son. Several years ago, I started researching the Greek of this passage. I was required to study Greek in seminary but I am not that good with it so I contacted two Greek scholars to look into that specific word. The Jehovah’s Witness like the word “Begotten” best because it literally means that Jesus was born. It literally means, “only born.”
    2. But Jesus was never born we know that. One Greek scholar, Dr. Long from Asbury Theological Seminary believes “unique” is the best translation of the adjective. The Greek adjective from which we get “begotten” is monogenḗs and literally means “one and only” or “only born.” This is a case where tracing a words derivation is not helpful because as I stated Jesus was never born. This adjective was also applied to Isaac that Isaac was the only monogenḗs of Abraham. Of course, Isaac was born and Abraham did have another son. Yet, Isaac was the child of promise.
    3. So, as we consider which term is best to translate the Greek remember that the Greek adjective monogenḗs literally does mean only born.
    4. However, also remember we do not form Theology based on one verse. We form Theology, in this case, Christology, based on the whole Bible. Look at John 1:1-14 and we see that Jesus was not born.
    5. God so loved the world that He gave His only “begotten” (sticking with the NASB) Son…The rest of the passage picks up the purpose: that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
    6. Salvation is opened to all people but only through Jesus. Look at John 3:18.
  • Son
    1. John 3:18 says: He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    2. We have to believe in Jesus.
    3. Salvation is opened to anyone through Jesus.
    4. Salvation is exclusive in that it is through Jesus, BUT Christianity is inclusive. Christianity is opened to anyone.
    5. Everyone is eligible for the free gift of salvation in Jesus.
    6. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting God the Father.
    7. Let’s look at John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
    8. We see this idea all throughout the New Testament, actually all throughout the Bible. We need a way to take care of our sins and it is only through Jesus.
  • Perish
    1. David Jeremiah shares: I remember reading of the apocryphal engraving for Les Moore of Tombstone, Arizona (an appropriate place to have an epitaph, I would think). Apparently his departure was not overly mourned, for his epitaph reads,
    2. Here Lies Les Moore
    3. No Les, No More
    4. The humor rings true, but the theology falls flat. Somewhere, more or less, Les Moore abides.[5]
    5. We will perish without Jesus to take away our sins.
    6. We could not pay for our own sins because we have sinned.
    7. Jesus knew no sin and became sin for us.
    8. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)
    9. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • Everlasting
  • Life
    1. We have life now and for eternity if we receive Jesus.
    2. John 10:10 (ESV)
    3. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
    4. Will we believe? J. C. Ryle puts it succinctly: “Salvation… does not turn on the point, ‘Did Christ die for me?’ but on the point, ‘do I believe on Christ?’ ”10[6]

The great playwright Arthur Miller was married to Marilyn Monroe during the 1950s. In his autobiography, he describes the misery of watching the troubled actress descend into the lowest regions of depression and despair. It seemed there was no way he or anyone else could make her happy. He knew that her very life was on the line—that this could go only so far before she succumbed to her various demons—loneliness, paranoia, addiction to barbiturates.

One evening there was yet another visit from the doctor, who talked Marilyn into taking a sedative that put her to sleep. Miller was pensive as he stood and watched his wife. “I found myself straining to imagine miracles,” he writes. “What if she were to wake and I were able to say, ‘God loves you, darling,’ and she were able to believe it! How I wished I still had my religion and she hers.13[7]

In 1912 the Titanic, the largest, most luxurious, and most advanced ship of its time, sank on its maiden voyage, taking the lives of 1,514 passengers. Though the disaster occurred one hundred years ago, several movies, documentaries, and books have kept the horror of that night alive in our minds. We’ve all heard of passengers such as “the unsinkable” Molly Brown and the entrepreneur John Jacob Astor IV. But one of the most astounding stories from the Titanic has received little press.

It’s the story of Pastor John Harper, a widower who was traveling with his six-year-old daughter at the invitation of the great Moody Church in Chicago. Not only was he to preach there, he intended to accept the church’s offer to become their next pastor. His hopes were high, and it seemed he had a brilliant future ahead.

After the ship hit the iceberg and it became apparent that it would sink, Harper got his daughter safely aboard a lifeboat. It’s likely he could have joined her, being her only parent, but he chose to stay aboard the sinking ship because he knew that with this disaster, God had given him an urgent mission.

Harper immediately began to go from one person to another, telling them about Christ’s love and urging them to accept Him. He shouted for Christians to let the unsaved fill the lifeboats so they would live to come to belief. When one angry man rejected the message, Harper removed his own life vest and gave it to him, saying, “You need this more than I do.”

Harper was still actively pressing his urgent evangelism when the ship tipped upward, wrenched in half, and slipped beneath the frigid North Sea. Even then Harper did not stop. Seeing the many passengers struggling in the water with little chance of rescue, he swam to as many as he could, urging them to accept God’s loving offer until hypothermia finally overcame him.

Four years later, at a Titanic survivors meeting in Ontario, one survivor told the story of his own encounter with John Harper. He was clinging to a piece of flotsam when Harper swam to him and urged him to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The man rejected the offer and Harper swam away. But soon Harper came around again, and this time, knowing death to be only minutes away, the man gave his life to Christ. Moments afterward, he watched the near-freezing water finally take Harper’s life just as a returning lifeboat approached to rescue him. At the conclusion of his story, he said simply, “I am the last convert of John Harper.”

The Titanic left England with three classes of passengers aboard. But when accounting for their fate, the White Star Line set up a board listing only two classes: KNOWN TO BE SAVED and KNOWN TO BE LOST. These categories provided a fitting analogy for what John Harper already knew. There are only two classes of people in this world: those who have chosen to accept Christ and will spend eternity with God in heaven, and those who have not chosen Him and will not.14

Which class are you in?[8]


Luke 9:23

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)


1 Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, 1996).

[1] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

4 Scholars debate whether John 3:16–21 is a direct quote from Jesus or a reflection from the pen of John, summarizing Jesus’ words. In either case, it is clear that the teaching came from the lips of Jesus.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 3:16–18.

8 James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 287.

[4] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[5] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

10 Ryle, Gospel of John, 160.

[6] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

13 Arthur Miller, Timebends (New York: Penguin, 1987), 482.

[7] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

14 Adapted from Douglas W. Mize, “As Titanic Sank, He Pleaded, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus!’ ” Baptist Press, April 13, 2012, accessed April 25, 2012, http://www.bpnews.net/printerfriendly.asp?ID=37601.

[8] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

Christ Arose, Now What (John 20:1-10; Acts 1:8)?

Jesus rose again.

The resurrection changed the disciples and Jesus changes us.

Tim Keller shares:

Confucius, Muhammad, Buddha, Moses, founders of major religions, they all died in old age, in comfort and blessedness, triumphant over their opponents. Of all the founders of major religions, Jesus alone died alone, young, stripped naked, stared at, mocked, while he died by inches in agony, crying out to God who had forsaken him.

Here’s the question. Who, seeing that or even who hearing that story, would say, “That’s the message for me. That’s the spiritual leader I want. That’s the person in whose footsteps I want to walk”? Who in the world would say that? And yet here’s the empirical point. It’s a simple historical fact that the suffering and death of Jesus Christ transformed lives at a depth and on a scale that it completely changed the ancient world.

Why did that happen? Why would you see someone end like that and say, “What a great spiritual leader! There’s the message for me”? Why would anybody do that?[1]

My theme today is:

Jesus Lives and Sent us the Holy Spirit to change the world.

  1. Let’s walk through John 20:1-10.
    1. John 20:1: Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
    2. Jesus has been crucified, the disciples are in mourning. But they do not realize that Jesus cannot be kept down.
    3. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb to see Jesus.
    4. She was the first to the tomb and she sees the stone rolled away.
    5. John 20:2: So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
    6. Mary did the logical thing, she goes to Peter and John. This is likely John, usually when we read, “The disciple whom Jesus loved” we believe it is John. She runs to Peter and John. She was in a hurry.
    7. Do you think Peter and John would have believed her? I would hope so, but Jesus casts 7 demons out of her in Luke 8:2. She could easily say, “I saw the tomb empty and they may say, “You saw something…” “Come on Mary…”
    8. John 20:3-4: So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
    9. Peter and John run to the tomb, but John ran faster.

John 20:5–10 (ESV)

And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

  1. They get to the tomb and see the tomb empty.
  2. John saw and believed.
  3. Verse 9: They had not understood the Scriptures that He must rise from the dead.
  4. Now, what?
    1. Jesus rose from the dead and lives forever interceding for us.
    2. What happened to the disciples after this?
    3. Jesus stayed with them for 40 days and then 50 days after the crucifixion we have the Holy Spirit come upon the church.
    4. Acts is written by Luke to follow up his Gospel account. In the first few verses Luke mentions who he is writing to and for what purpose he is writing.
    5. Luke writes about how Jesus had given commands through the Holy Spirit.
    6. Luke writes about how they were to stay in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples that John baptized with water, but they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
    7. The disciples are confused and ask if Jesus is going to restore the Kingdom.
    8. This is interesting. After three years of traveling with Him, they still did not understand. They were still expecting that Jesus would overthrow Rome and start a physical, literal Kingdom.
    9. So, in verse 7 Jesus tells them that they are not to know the times or the seasons.
    10. Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
    11. You will be my witnesses… Jesus says that we will be His witnesses.
    12. The power that we have allows us, or compels us, or enables us, to be Christ’s witnesses.
    13. So, the power of the Holy Spirit is so that we can be a witness.
    14. In the very next chapter of Acts, in chapter 2, the Holy Spirit comes upon them and around 5000 people are saved. After that Peter and John are arrested for preaching the gospel. They are beaten and then released. Would you know that Peter and John said that they must preach the Gospel?
    15. Do you know that the term translated “witness” later became the same word used for “martyr”?
    16. The whole book of Acts is about the spread of the Gospel, even when it costs them their life. The whole New Testament is about the spread of the Gospel.
    17. This passage says that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them. Awesome! Praise God! But that is not the end of the passage. They will receive power so that they can be witnesses.
  • Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the earth. . .
    1. This is an outline for the rest of the book of Acts.
    2. The Gospel started in Jerusalem and spread to Judea, and then Samaria and all the way to Rome. We are most accountable to spread the Gospel locally.
    3. Now what? Jesus rose from the tomb, the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles and they tell about Jesus.
    4. We must tell about Jesus as well.

So, the disciples were changed by Jesus.

The disciples learned the same thing we learn– Our Savior Lives

  1. What is the significance of the resurrection? As I make each of these statements I would like you to respond with Our Savior Lives!
  2. We can have a relationship with Jesus because He lives. If He was not resurrected we would not have a relationship with Him. Our Savior Lives!
  3. Christ is our Savior who cannot die again. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again (Romans 6:9).[2] Our Savior Lives!
  4. Because of the resurrection we have new birth: According to his great mercy, [God the Father] has caused us to be born again to a living hopethrough the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).[3] Our Savior Lives!
  5. We have forgiveness of sins because of the resurrection. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).[4] Our Savior Lives!
  6. Because Jesus is raised we have no condemnation. Who is to condemn?Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (Romans 8:34).[5] Our Savior Lives!
  7. Because of the resurrection we have the Lord’s personal fellowship and protection.[6] “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Our Savior Lives!
  8. Because of the resurrection of Jesus we know that we will also be raised from the dead: [We know] that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesusand bring us with you into his presence. (2 Corinthians 4:14; also Romans 6:4; 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:20)[7] Our Savior Lives!
  9. If Jesus was not resurrected there would never be a Christianity. Our Savior Lives!
  10. The Romans would have shown the grave and it would be over. Our Savior Lives!
  11. Jesus’ resurrection shows the grave could not contain Him. Our Savior Lives!
  12. Jesus’ resurrection shows that He is the victor. Our Savior Lives!
  13. Jesus’ resurrection shows again, the miracles are true. Jesus has the power and authority over all nature. It’s not hard to figure out: He can break out because he wasn’t forced in. He letshimself be harassed and black-balled and scorned and shoved around and killed.[8] Our Savior Lives!
  14. No one can keep him down because no one ever knocked him down. He lay down when he was ready.[9] Our Savior Lives!
  15. And all God’s people responded with Amen—AMEN!


[1] Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).

[2] http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/can-t-keep-jesus-down

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.

[6] ibid.

[7] ibid.

[8] ibid.

[9] ibid.

Jesus Entered Jerusalem to Take Care of our Sin, to break down the Wall Between Us and Him

When I was a child, I remember seeing children get dropped off at preschool and I saw the children cry the first time they were dropped off. I thought, “I will never do that.” Then I remember being dropped off my first day of preschool and crying reaching for my mother. I remember many times growing up and dealing with rough separation from my parents. I did not cry like a preschooler anymore, I covered it up, but it was rough. I had never been away from home but a couple weeks and then my parents drop me off at college eight hours away from home. That was rough.

In 2012, we dropped Mercedes off at the childcare center at the church I served as pastor, and of course, she cried and hung on. We had trouble leaving. Well, Mercedes eventually got used to it.

Then, in 2014 Mercedes and Abigail were infected with an ecoli type of bacteria. It was so bad that the CDC talked to us and quarantined them. Mercedes, who had adjusted to the childcare center quite well by then, had trouble readjusting. She was off close to a month and sick. She was weak. On a Friday, I was scheduled to help drive our school age students to a field trip. We thought we would have Mercedes spend the morning at the Childcare Center as she was better. We dropped her off and it was not easy. Later, that morning I came to pick up the school age students for their field trip. As I pulled in the parking lot Mercedes was in the playground and saw me. She ran to the fence and in a tear jerking two year old way she said, Daddy, I can’t get to you this thing is in the way. I cannot hug you, this fence is in the way.” The teachers then told me that she had been crying a lot and not acting herself. But we left her at the church the rest of the morning. However, it was difficult for me. I called Meagan and said, “You may wish to pick her up early.” I was sad for her. “Daddy, I can’t get to you the fence is in the way.”

That was our problem. Our sin was in the way. Just like the fence was in the way between Mercedes and I, our sin is in the way between us and God.

God took care of that.

Mark 11:1–10 (ESV)

1Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples

2and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it.

3If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’ ”

4And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it.

5And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?”

6And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go.

7And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it.

8And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.

9And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

10Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem, but why? He entered to die. He would be crucified the following Friday.

Why? He did this for our sin. He entered Jerusalem and the people honored Him as King and then He would die for our sins the coming Friday. But He did not remain dead. He rose again. Do you know Him?

  • God created us to be with him (Genesis 1-2).
  • Our sins separated us from God (Genesis 3).
  • Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4).
  • Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again (Matthew – Luke).
  • Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life (John – Jude).
  • Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever (Revelation 22:5).

Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him. 


God’s Faithful Love

God’s Faithful Love (Ps 33, especially verses 5, 18, 22)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, March 26, 2023

Think with me about faithful love:

Chris Spielman was one of the NFL’s better linebackers. He had starred at Ohio State in a career that put him in the College Football Hall of Fame. After going professional, he played on four Pro Bowl teams. Then, in 1998, at the top of his form, he sat out a year. The NFL and his fans were moved to the back burner because his wife was fighting breast cancer.

Stefanie Spielman and her doctors fought the cancer aggressively. When chemotherapy made her hair fall out, her husband shaved his own head as a gesture of solidarity. All that year he ran the household, took care of their children, and supported his wife. He returned to football in the 1999 season, only to retire before the season actually began. His heart was at home.

Stefanie battled her disease for more than a decade before passing away in 2009. After she died, Chris said, “She was my only girlfriend.”

That is a public example of faithful love. Though I think we could find many examples in this congregation of faithful love.

We are in a sermon series titled, God Loves You. Today, I want to talk about how God’s love is faithful love.

My theme today is: God’s love is faithful, God’s love endures, God’s love is unfailing.

I want to focus on Psalm 33 verses 5, 18, and 22. However, first let’s read Psalm 33:1-3 and put the Psalm in context.

Sing praises to the Lord (Psalm 33:1-3)

The Steadfast Love of the Lord

33 Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!

Praise befits the upright.

   Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;

make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!

   Sing to him a new song;

play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

  1. Context: Psalm 33 is in the first book of Psalms.
    1. The Psalms are pointing to Jesus, this one is pointing to Jesus as the Psalmist writes about God’s loyal love in verses 5, 18, and 22.
    2. This Psalm seems to connect with Psalm 32 as a hymn of praise to the God Who made all things.
  2. God’s Word is upright and the earth is full of His steadfast love.

Psalm 33:4–5 (ESV)

4For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.

5He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

  1. Verse 4: “for” means explanation.
  2. This is explaining why we sing praises to the Lord.
  3. All His work is done in faithfulness.
  4. What work is this referring to? Maybe this is referring to a military victory.
  5. Though it says “all” His work…
  6. Could it be creation?
  7. Constable: Two character qualities of God that the writer stressed, in this second section of the psalm, are that Yahweh is dependable and righteous. We can rely on everything that He says and does, and He does what is right in faithfulness (Heb. hesed) for His people.

“What a pity it is that this earth, which is so full of God’s goodness, should be so empty of his praises, and that of the multitudes that live upon his bounty there are so few that live to his glory!”519[2]

  1. Verse 5: He loves righteousness.
  2. Think about that. The Lord likes righteousness and justice.
  3. That is powerful.
  4. God is just.
  5. Righteousness and justice are similar terms. To be righteous means that He loves things that are just.
  6. Loving righteousness and justice means doing acts of righteousness and justice (99:4; Jr 9:24). They are not just abstract attributes but they involve actions, whether directed toward God or his people.[3]
  7. What if God did not love righteousness and justice?
  8. How do we know right from wrong? We know things are wrong because God is good and He created us with that understanding.
  9. The earth is “full” of the steadfast love of the Lord.
  10. This idea of the steadfast love of the Lord is a major term in Scripture. This means His “loyal” love.
  11. God’s love is loyal.
  12. God’s love is steadfast, faithful, enduring over all the earth. How is this so?
    1. All of us, let’s take a breath. That breath is from the Lord. Every breath is from the Lord.
    2. Now imagine, it is 70 degrees, or 72 if you prefer, you walk outside and it is sunny. You do not have much to do and there is a comfortable chair right outside in the sun. You sit and enjoy the sunshine. As you enjoy the sunshine, you do not know it, but your body is getting vitamin D from the sun. Additionally, your emotions are getting charged from the sun. That is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  • Now, imagine the sound of a gentle rain, is that peaceful? That is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  1. Imagine, the beauty of the snow, that is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  2. Imagine the beauty of the ocean, that is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  3. Imagine fire. Sitting by a fire, enjoying the warmth of a fire. Enjoying the twinkling of a candle. Enjoying the smell of a fall bonfire. That is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  • Imagine a walk in the woods, you see the beautiful flowers. You see some wild flowers as you enter and exit the woods. You smell them. You see deer on the path. You see the sun rays coming through the woods. You sit on a bench and rest a while. That is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  • Imagine the moon at night, that is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  1. Imagine the stars, that is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  2. Think about all the natural processes keeping earth safe. They are all the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  3. J.D. Greear shares: Scientists say that life on earth depends on multiple factors that are so precise that if they were off by even a hair, life could not exist. They call it the Goldilocks principle: things are “just right” for human life. 
  • The makeup of the atmosphere is very exact, yet it’s the difference between life and deathIf some of those levels were even slightly off—for example, if the level of oxygen dropped by 6%we would all suffocate; if it rose by 4%, our planet would erupt into a giant fireball. And we’d all die.
  • Or, if the CO2 were just a little higher or a just  little bit lower(say, 0.01%), then the earth would either become an oven or have no atmosphere at all. And we’d all die.
  • Or this: Thewater molecule is the only molecule whose solid form (ice) is less dense than its liquid form. Which means that when it freezes it floats. If ice did not float, it would sink to the bottom and the whole ocean would eventually freeze from the bottom up and… we would all die.
  1. Or the distance of the earth from the sun: If we were 2% closer to the sun, the planet would be too hot for water to exist. And we’d all die
  • And then there’s tilt of the earth, which is set at an ideal 23.5 degrees, which we’ve learned is perfect for temperatures and tides and such. You’ve probably never thought about it, but if it was was not tilted, temperatures would be extremeand we’d all die. At least the humans. 
  • One more for fun: We’ve learned that if Jupiter wasn’t the size and in the orbit it is, astronomers predict that there would be 10,000x the number of asteroid strikes right here on earth, and we’d probably all die. 
  • Jupiter is like the Luke Maye of planets,setting picks on asteroids so the earth can get open for the 3-pointer of life. Without it, our planet would be pummeled with asteroids and life could never exist.
  • One scientist said; The greatest miracle of all time without any close second, is the existence of life on our planet![4]
  1. That is the steadfast love of the Lord over the whole earth.
  • Now, let’s all take a breath. That breath is the steadfast love of the Lord.
  • We see how this works in the next few verses.
  1. Verse 6: The Lord created everything by His word, by His breath. The description is consistent with Gen 1:16, which indicates that God spoke the heavenly luminaries into existence.[6]
  2. The Lord of creation is the God of revelation. This is distinctive from other ancient world religions that had myths of creation involving a “creative word” but did not tie that act to any subsequent history. In the biblical text, the God of history who interacts with his people is the same God who spoke the world into existence. This brings together the general revelation of creation and the special revelation that God gave to his people.[7]
  • God sees all (Psalm 33:18-19).

Psalm 33:18-19 (ESV)

18   Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,

on those who hope in his steadfast love,

19   that he may deliver their soul from death

and keep them alive in famine.

  1. We must hope in His steadfast love. This means His loyal love.
  2. Do we hope in His steadfast love?
  3. He alone can deliver us.

Therefore, we hope in God (Psalm 33:22).

Psalm 33:22 (ESV)

22   Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,

even as we hope in you.

  1. Let… this seems to be a request.
  2. This is a request of the Lord.
  3. The Psalmist is asking that the Lord’s steadfast, enduring, faithful, love be upon them. This is a request as they hope in Him.
  4. Do we hope in Him?
  5. Do we ask for His steadfast, enduring love?
  6. Steadfast love is loyal love.


Time and again, the Bible shows us examples of God’s loyal love for those who have been disloyal to Him:

  • God did not stop loving Adam and Eve, even after they had violated His one restriction in the Garden of Eden. He punished them, but He never quit loving them.
  • God did not stop loving Noah, even though he dishonored the grace God had shown in saving his family from the Flood by lying naked in a drunken stupor before his sons.
  • God did not stop loving Abraham, even though he sought relief from famine in Egypt instead of trusting God to provide for him. Even though he tried to fulfill God’s promise of a son through his own ingenuity. Even though, on two separate occasions, he lied about the identity of his wife.
  • God did not stop loving Moses, even though he committed murder and later violated God’s command by losing his temper and striking the rock of provision. God punished Moses by denying him entrance to the Promised Land. Later, He showed his love and mercy by allowing Moses to stand with Elijah in the presence of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
  • God did not stop loving David, even though David committed adultery with Bathsheba, had her husband murdered, and later conducted an unauthorized, pride-motivated census of Israel. David suffered greatly for his sins, but when he cried out in sincere repentance, God forgave him and restored him to fellowship.
  • God did not stop loving Jonah, even though he refused to take God’s saving message to Nineveh. After his experience in the belly of the great fish, we read that the “word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time” (Jonah 3:1). God gave Jonah another chance to obey, and Jonah went on to preside over one of the greatest revivals in history.
  • God did not stop loving Peter, even though he denied Jesus three times. The Lord restored Peter to fellowship by matching his threefold denial with a threefold recommissioning (John 21:15–17).[9]

God’s love is faithful!


[1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ps 33:1.

519 Henry, p. 609.

[2] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ps 33:4.

[3] Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 845.

[4] https://jdgreear.com/podcasts/how-do-we-know-theres-a-god/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-do-we-know-theres-a-god

[5] Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 845.

[6] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ps 33:6.

  1. verse

[7] Kevin R. Warstler, “Psalms,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 845.

519 Henry, p. 609.

[8] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ps 33:4.

[9] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

God Loves You In The Ten Commandments (Ex. 20)

God’s Love in the Ten Commandments (Ex 20; Deut 33:2-3)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, March 19, 2023

I have keys up here, why?

Why do I need keys?

Do you all lock your doors? Why?

The Ten Commandments have been important to us for most of human history.

Author and pastor John Killinger explains God’s purpose in giving the Ten Commandments with a wonderful illustration from literature:

In her novel about Maine, The Country of the Pointed Firs, Sara Orne Jewett describes the ascent of a woman writer on the pathway leading to the home of a retired sea captain named Elijah Tilley. On the way, the woman notices a number of wooden stakes randomly scattered about the property, with no discernible order. Each is painted white and trimmed in yellow, like the captain’s house.

Curious, she asks Captain Tilley what they mean. When he first plowed the ground, he says, his plow snagged on many large rocks just beneath the surface. So he set out stakes where the rocks lay in order to avoid them in the future.

In a sense, this is what God has done with the Ten Commandments. He has said, “These are the trouble spots in life. Avoid these, and you won’t snag your plow.”19[1]

Let’s read:

Matthew 22:36–40 (ESV)

36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

37And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

38This is the great and first commandment.

39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

40On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Now, let’s read:

Exodus 20:3–17 (ESV)

3“You shall have no other gods before me.

4“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,

6but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

8“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,

10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.

11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

13“You shall not murder.

14“You shall not commit adultery.

15“You shall not steal.

16“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

My theme today is: God Showed His Love for Us in Giving Us the Ten Commandments

  1. These are NOT just rules:
    1. David Jeremiah writes: My wife, Donna, and I began our ministry together in a Baptist church in New Jersey. We had just come from four years of seminary training in Dallas, and we were both avid Dallas Cowboy football fans. To our dismay, when we arrived at our first assignment, we were told that watching TV on Sunday was forbidden, and reading the Sunday newspaper was frowned upon. I am not sure I should be confessing this, but I remember closing the blinds of our apartment so that no one would see us watching the Cowboys.
    2. A bit legalistic? Perhaps, but you should have known the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They actually crunched the numbers of legalism, and came up with 1,521 things you couldn’t do on the Sabbath day. That sounds like the title of a book no one would want to read.
    3. Among the 1,521: no rescuing of drowning people; no wearing of false teeth (reinserting them, should they slip, would be work); no looking in the mirror (plucking a white hair, also work). If your friend grew ill, you could do certain things to forestall the illness, but actually trying to cure him—too much like work. At the beginning of a famous revolt, many Jews stood and let themselves be killed rather than risking work by defending themselves (1 Maccabees 2:29–38).
    4. Men made a bureaucratic nightmare out of Sabbath-keeping, but it wasn’t what God wanted.[2]
    5. These commandments are about God’s love.
  2. The First four commandments relate to our relationship with God.
    1. In the passage we just read we see a person come to Jesus and ask what the greatest of the commandments is.
    2. The first commandment is like the hub of a wheel from which all the others are spokes. This isn’t simply another commandment—it’s the one that brings all of them together.[3]
    3. This person was a lawyer and seems to be testing him.
    4. That is when Jesus gives the answer.
    5. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
    6. That sentence spoken by our Lord sums up the first four commandments:

(1) “Do not worship any other gods besides me” (Ex. 20:3).

(2) “Do not make idols of any kind” (Ex. 20:4).

(3) “Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God” (Ex. 20:7).

(4) “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Ex. 20:8).[4]

  1. We love the Lord our God, so we do not have any other gods. Now, that is a sermon on itself which we will save for another day.
  2. If we love the Lord God we are not going to set up idols. That is another sermon we will save for another day.
  3. We love God so we are not going to misuse His name. That is another sermon for another day; however, I will say that misusing the Lord’s name happens way more than we realize. We actually do not even know how to properly say the Lord’s name in Hebrew because the Hebrew people thought of His name as so sacred, they would not say it out loud.
  4. The fourth commandment is regarding the Sabbath Day. This is referenced in the New Testament but never as a commandment as such. It still fits in relation to God because we see at the end of creation the Lord rested. We are called to cease activity.
  5. The story goes that when Africa was first being explored, native guides were taking their visitors through the region. After six days of pushing through the jungle, the natives refused to walk. They explained, “We need a day to let our souls catch up with our bodies.”12[5]
  • The last six commandments relate to our relationship with others.
    1. This is summed up in Jesus’ words: And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
    2. Jesus Himself said that all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.
    3. Jesus is saying that the Old Testament law and all of the prophetic writings fall under the commandments to Love God and to Love people.

(5) “Honor your father and mother” (Ex. 20:12).

This “family rule” is well illustrated in the story “The Old Man and His Grandson,” from the collection Household Tales by the Grimm brothers:

There was once a very old man, whose eyes had become dim, his ears dull of hearing, his knees trembled, and when he sat at the table he could hardly hold the spoon, and spit the broth upon the table-cloth or let it run out of his mouth. His son and his son’s wife were disgusted at this, so the old grandfather at last had to sit in the corner behind the stove, and they gave him his food in an earthenware bowl, and not even enough of it. And he used to look towards the table with his eyes full of tears. Once, too, his trembling hands could not hold the bowl, and it fell to the ground and broke. The young wife scolded him, but he said nothing and only sighed. Then they bought him a wooden bowl for a few half-pence, out of which he had to eat.

They were once sitting thus when the little grandson of four years old began to gather together some bits of wood upon the ground. “What are you doing there?” asked the father. “I am making a little trough,” answered the child, “for father and mother to eat out of when I am big.”

The man and his wife looked at each other for a while, and presently began to cry. Then they took the old grandfather to the table, and henceforth always let him eat with them, and likewise said nothing if he did spill a little of anything.13[6]

(6) “Do not murder” (Ex. 20:13).

(7) “Do not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14).

David Jeremiah shares:

Recreational, impulsive sex is considered the norm in our troubled culture. Defending the seventh commandment against the modern world singles one out as a pious puritan stuck in a lost century. However, when we strip sexuality of the restraints God gave it, we create chaos that tears at the very fabric of society. And we place an obstacle that blocks the fellowship God wants to have with us.

God gives us this commandment from love. He is saying, “My child, sexuality is My gift to you. I want you to know that when it’s rightly used, it can bring you joy and intimacy with the spouse I give you, and it can create a legacy of children to replenish the earth.[7]

(8) “Do not steal” (Ex. 20:15).

I recently read a story about a Soviet factory worker who attempted to steal items from his workplace. Every day he filled a wheelbarrow with cylinders, iron ore, and tools—and every day as he left, he got caught and the stuff was taken away from him.

Finally he was fired, and on his last day the commissar waited for him to come out with the contraband. When he arrived at the door the commissar pulled back the cover from the wheelbarrow, and there was the usual stuff. He confiscated everything and said to the thief, “You are a fool! We caught you every single day. You got away with nothing!”

“Sir, Mr. Commissar,” he answered, “you are the fool. I have been stealing wheelbarrows.”[8]

(9) “Do not testify falsely” (Ex. 20:16).

(10) “Do not covet” (Ex. 20:17).[9]

David Jeremiah shares:

Just as the fifth commandment is transitional between love of God and love of others, this tenth commandment is transitional between outer and inner obedience—in essence, between Moses and Jesus. For the other commandments in this group have been about behavior, while this commandment is about the heart. We’ve already seen how Jesus made this connection in the Sermon on the Mount. God looks inside us, so that even if we don’t steal, we can displease Him by our own displeasure with what He has given us.[10]  

God showed His love for us in the ten commandments.

Mystery writer Dorothy Sayers was a follower of Christ. She observed that there are two kinds of laws: the law of the stop sign and the law of the fire.

The law of the stop sign is upheld by the community and enforced with fines. The fine can be increased if too many people continue not to stop. The stop sign could also be taken down. It’s simply up to the city council. You might run that stop sign with no worries, as long as no one is watching.

The law of the fire is a different matter. It says, “Touch me and you’ll be burned.” All the city councils, all the state legislatures and national congresses and the United Nations itself could respond to the dangers of fire by gathering to pass a new law that fire will no longer burn. Every person in the world could vote on this law.

And the first man or woman to put a hand in the fire afterward will still get burned.

God’s moral laws are like the law of fire. It doesn’t matter whether you voted for it or not. It doesn’t matter who’s watching. You won’t break God’s laws; you’ll break yourself upon them. Nor is the penalty negotiable, because it’s bound up in the law itself.18[11]

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

19 John Killinger, To My People with Love (United Kingdom: Abingdon, 1998), 13–14.

[1] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[2] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[3] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[4] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ex 20:1–8.

12 Leslie B. Flynn, Come Alive with Illustrations (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), 193–94.

[5] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

13 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales (Digireads.com, 2009), 185.

[6] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Ex 20:8–17.

[10] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).

18 Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker (San Francisco: Harper & Rowe, 1941), 4.

[11] David Jeremiah, God Loves You: He Always Has–He Always Will (New York City, NY: FaithWords, 2012).