God's Sovereign Love

L.R. Shelton, Sr.


I want to bring you a series of Bible studies on one of the strangest and most misunderstood texts, I believe, of the entire Bible. You will find it in John 3:16,


This is one of the greatest texts of the entire Bible, and yet one of the most misunderstood texts, as well as one of the most misemphasized texts. The average individual’s mind runs in a certain groove when he reads it or quotes it, and therefore he emphasizes the text incorrectly and destroys its great meaning.

It has been so used by the average Arminian, or freewiller, to try to oppose and combat God’s sovereign, elective grace until the deep meaning of the text has literally been destroyed and in thousands of instances the minds of people have been prejudiced against it. So today IN THE AVERAGE RELIGIOUS CIRCLE THIS GREAT, GRACIOUS, MAGNIFICENT TEXT HAS LITERALLY BEEN BURIED UNDER THE RUBBISH OF FALSE DOCTRINE. I am challenging every radio listener to hear me as by the grace of God we place it in its proper setting among the gems of Scripture where it sparkles with the diamonds of grace, with the gold of deity, with the silver of redemption in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This text naturally falls into four great divisions:

    1. GOD’S SOVEREIGN LOVE – “for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”
    2. THE BONDAGE OF THE SINNER’SWILL – “whosoever believeth in him (Christ).”
    3. THE LOST SINNER – “should not perish.”
    4. ETERNAL LIFE – “but have everlasting life.”

Our subject today is, “GOD’S SOVEREIGN LOVE.” John 3:16 sets forth Christ as the Gift of God, which is the manifestation of His great love. It says, “God so loved... that he gave.” So the first clause tells us WHAT moved God to give His only begotten Son, and that was HIS GREAT SOVEREIGN LOVE. Then we see the second clause tells us FOR WHOM God gave His Son, and that is for “WHOSOEVER” (or a better translation, everyone) “THAT BELIEVETH.” Then we see as we look more closely at the text that the last clause tells us WHY God gave His Son — that is, the purpose for which He gave His Son — THAT EVERYONE THAT BELIEVETH SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.” Let’s keep these great truths in mind as we move along with our subject today, “The Sovereign Love of God,” and also the great fact — WHOM God loves.

The Word of God sets forth the nature of God that God is love (I John 4:8),

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for GOD IS LOVE.”

It doesn’t say, “God loves, “ but, “God is love. He is love itself. All through the Scriptures we find set forth God’s love which is not merely one of His attributes, but His very nature. Listen to Jer. 31:3,

“Yea, I have loved thee with an EVERLASTING LOVE: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Hos. 14:4 says, “I will love them freely, “ which means God finds nothing in the sinner to attract His love. He loves them without a cause, because God is love. Then John 11:3, speaking of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, says, “Lord, behold, HE WHOM THOU LOVEST is sick.” We see here the great loving heart of the Lord for His people.

Further, we find this love expressed in John 15:13,

“GREATER LOVE hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Then Christ went on to say in the next verse, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” Here Christ speaks of His love for His friends, who are HIS PEOPLE. Then Rom.5:8 says,

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Here again we see God’s love manifested toward His children through Christ Jesus our Lord. Also we find in II Cor.5:14 that it is the love of Christ shed abroad in our hearts (Rom .5:5) that constraineth us. We are led captive by His love. Then speaking of God’s relationship to His people II Cor. 13:11 says,

“And the God of love and peace shall be with you.”

These Scriptures definitely emphasize GOD’S LOVE FOR HIS PEOPLE. This truth is also brought out in Eph.3:19,

“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.”

Let’s turn to Rom. 5:5, and we find HOW GOD LOVES US,

“Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.”

In Gal.5:22 we find that the love of God is a gift of the Holy Spirit to the born again believer. This great truth is set forth also in Rev.1:5 in these words,

“Unto him that loved (loveth) us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”

This shows that God has always loved His people and will continue to love His people.

You will notice, my friend, that all these Scriptures I have quoted have to do with God loving HIS PEOPLE. There is a popular belief abroad in the land today, and that is, THAT GOD LOVES EVERYBODY. There is no such doctrine taught in God’s Word. This teaching is so popular among all classes that it ought to arouse the suspicion of everyone who loves the eternal truth of God’s Word. This doctrine that God loves everybody is a modern belief. You will not find such a doctrine taught in God’s Word or among the old church fathers, the Reformers, or the Puritans.

Many will modify the above statement by saying that God loves the sinner but hates his sins. This states nothing at all, because the sinner is sin himself. The above false statement is born in the heart and mind of an individual that knows nothing of the total depravity of the human heart. Everyone quoting the above statement will call your attention to Rom.5:8, which reads thus,

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

I want you to notice that word, “US, “ in this Scripture does not refer to all sinners, but only to those who have come to know Christ as their Lord and Saviour, those who are God’s elect. Nowhere in the Scripture is it taught that God loves everybody.

The Bondage of the Sinner's Will

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