There are many people who recognize the words of John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son. Many can quote these words verbatim. Unfortunately, many of those same people do not know the context in which the words are spoken.
Let us consider, briefly, the context of God’s love in John 3:16 to better understand God’s love as it is revealed in scripture. Let’s begin with verses 14-15:
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Now consider the Old Testament account from which Jesus references in verses 14-15 above.
5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto theLord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. ~ Numbers 21:5-9
The serpent of brass which God commanded Moses to make was the atoning provision to save the people from the judgment which God had sent. Notice that the text says: “And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.” (v.6)
According to Jesus, this was a type of how God would deliver us from our sins, and it was an Old Testament foreshadowing of how God would display his love for us in Jesus Christ.
Sinful man is under the judgment of God, but God sent his son to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all who will repent and turn to him, and this is how God so loved the world. He gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16
Now consider John 3:17 – 21:
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. ~ John 3:16 – 21
Now notice verse 36:
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
God gave his Son to bestow his love on all who would humbly turn from their sins. God’s love for all people is revealed in his giving of his Son, with the condition, that the recipients of his love turn from their sins.
Those who refuse to turn from their sins by rejecting the precious gift of God, which he gave through the offering of his Son, have consequently rejected the love of God. Therefore they are condemned, and are under God’s wrath.
Whether we like it or not, there are people throughout the world who hate God because they love their sins. God’s love is extended to them, calling them to repentance. If they persist in their rebellion against God, refusing to humble themselves, they will be judged and damned in their sins: In this way, they are under the wrath of God.
The New Testament teaches that God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man he has appointed: Jesus Christ.
God has given his Son as the witness of himself, and in the Son, God offers forgiveness, grace, and mercy, to all people. Those who believe God’s witness, in his Son, receive life everlasting through God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy; which is freely given in Jesus Christ.
Those who reject the Son of God; reject the love, mercy, and grace, God has offered them. God is holy and just to be displeased and angry with those who refuse to humble themselves before him so that they may receive mercy and grace.
On the day of judgement, those who reject God’s love will have no intercessor, no advocate to defend them, and will stand before a holy and righteous God with all their sins exposed before him. They will be judged for their sins because of their defiance of his goodness, and their rejection of the love God offered them in Jesus.
For them, there will no forgiveness when they stand before God to be judged. They will be judged, not by God’s compassion, but by God’s wrath.