“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
Few believers bother to study the doctrines of the Word of God, and because of this they fail to understand why the Lord Jesus Christ had to die upon the cross. If we are going to appreciate the reasons why He came, and what the atonement means, we must comprehend the love of God.
God is love
In 1 John 4:8 and again in 1 John 4:16 the apostle states that “God is love.” This refers to the fact that God’s nature is love, that He is self-giving and sacrificial, full of mercy and compassion for all. John 3:16 makes this abundantly clear to us.
Whenever the love of God is spoken of in Scripture we will notice that it has to do with Him giving something to mankind. The following texts are a good example of this, 1 John 4:10, Romans 5:8 and Galatians 2:20.
Love in itself cannot release the sinner from the chains of iniquity or free him from the penalty of sin. God indeed loves the whole world and is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), nevertheless, the requirements of the law have to be met. The sinner cannot fellowship with the holy God despite the fact that God loves him, otherwise the Lord would have to compromise His righteousness and justice.
Let us not forget that God is the offended party and it is to Him we must be reconciled. Since on account of his depravity man is unable to approach the Living God, God Himself had to find a way to make reconciliation possible without undermining His righteous law. A mediator was needed, not come from amongst men or angels (Hebrews 1), but in the person of His only begotten Son (1 Timothy 2:5). His requirements are fully met in Jesus. He paid the price that no other could pay (1 Timothy 2:6; Romans 3:25-26). Therefore justification is part of the free gift of God’s perfect love and extends to all men through the atonement.
As we study the atonement we will notice other reasons for the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ, but here we have seen that God loved the world enough to send His only begotten Son to atone for our sin. Christ is the manifestation of this love and the fulfilment of the righteous requirements of the law. Salvation can come no other way but through His blood.