John Piper gives an outstanding pair of messages on John 3:16. The second message is focused on the difficulty many have reconciling the universality of God’s love for sinful humanity with the clear fact that only some are in fact saved by Christ’s sacrificial, atoning death on the cross. On this topic, Piper recommends (as do I) a short, helpful book by D.A. Carson entitled Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.
An excerpt from Piper’s 2nd message:
We may, therefore, say to every human being, “God loves you. And this is how he loves you: He gave his Son to die, so that if you would believe, your sins would be forgiven and you would have eternal life.”
And another excerpt from that same message:
There is a greater love than the love of John 3:16. The love of John 3:16 is an amazing gift of Christ to the world so that the free offer to eternal life goes out to everyone: Believe and you will be saved. Believe and your sins will be forgiven, God’s wrath will be removed, you will have eternal joy with him. If you believe.
But there is another love of God. It goes beyond offering eternal life and actually creates it in your heart. If you only know the love of John 3:16, there is more love for you to know and enjoy and admire and be amazed at and be thankful for and be strengthened by.
Those of you who believe on Christ, God wants you to know yourself loved, not only with universal love of John 3:16, but also with his death-conquering, hardness-removing, rebellion-eradicating, sight-imparting, faith-creating, personal, individual, invincible covenant love of which we are absolutely undeserving. He inspired the Gospel of John and I have preached this message so that you would know more fully and experience more deeply how you are loved.
Confused? Curious? Check it out.