The preacher’s message was brimmed with sentimentality as he talked about his visit to a dog shelter. As he and his little girl peered into each kennel, they were overcome by the number of dogs waiting to either be adopted or euthanized. His daughter petted and called to each animal one-by-one. Crying, she begged her father to be allowed to take them all home. Just as tearfully the pastor explained that it was only possible to save one of her furry friends.
As he reached the conclusion of his sermon, there was nary a dry eye in the congregation. Reaching the height of hopey-changey theology, he quoted John 3:16. He reminded us of how his love for his daughter and compassion for the dogs moved him. He could only save one dog, but God’s love reached down out of Heaven to save everyone present.
Asking for every head to be bowed, he invited all those who wanted to know God’s love to raise their hand. Several raised their hands, and after repeating a prayer, the congregation applauded these new Christians.
But the Bible doesn’t say that God saves anyone by His love. John 3:16 says that God so loved that He sent His Son. His love sent Jesus; His love doesn’t save.
The salvation offered by God in Jesus has only ever been realized in one way: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
John 3:16 describes God’s motivation for sending His Son; it was the death of Jesus as your Substitute that saves.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).