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The Adorable Love of God in Giving His Own Son for Us (A Display of Christ – Part IV) by John Flavel

By April 10, 2011April 12th, 2016Christology

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son‘ John, 3:16.

In these words are to be considered,

  1. The original spring or fountain of our best mercies-The love of God.
  2. The mercy flowing out of this fountain, and that is Christ, The Mercy, as he is emphatically called, Luke, 1:72; the marrow, kernel, and substance of all other mercies. ‘He gave his only begotten Son.’
  3. The objects of this love, or the persons for whom the eternal Lord delivered Christ, namely, ‘the world.’ This must respect the elect of God in the world; such as do, or shall actually believe, as it is exegetically pressed in the next words, ‘That whosoever believeth in him should not perish.’ Those whom he calls the world in that, he styles believers in this expression; these are the objects of this love. It is not angels, but men, that were so loved.
    • The manner in which this never-enough celebrated mercy flows to us, from the fountain of Divine love, and that is most freely and spontaneously. ‘He gave,’ not he sold, or barely parted with, but gave. Nor yet doth the Father’s giving imply Christ to be merely passive; for as the Father is here said to give him, so the apostle tells us, that he gave himself: ‘Who loved me, and gave himself for me.’ Gal. 2:20. The Father gave him out of good will to men, and he as willingly bestowed himself on that service. Hence we learn, that

The gift of Christ is the highest and fullest manifestation of the love of God to sinners, ever made from eternity.

How is this gift of God to sinners signalized in that sentence of the apostle, ‘Herein, is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins!’ I John, 4:10. Why doth the apostle so magnify this gift in saying, ‘Herein is love,’ as if there were love in nothing else? May we not say, that to have a being, a being among rational creatures, therein is love? To have our life carried so many years, like a taper in the hand of Providence, through so many dangers, and not yet put out in obscurity, therein is love? To have food and raiment convenient for us, beds to lie on, relations to comfort us, in all these is love? Yea; but in all these there is no love, in, comparison with the love in sending or giving Christ for us: these are great mercies in themselves; but compared to this mercy, they are all swallowed up, as the light of candles when brought out to the sun. No, no, herein is love, that God gave Christ for us. When the apostle would show, Rom. 5 :8, what is the noblest fruit, that most commends to men the root of Divine love that bears it, he shows us this very fruit of it, ‘God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us:’ this is the very essence of that love.

In expounding this precious point, we will show,

I. How Jesus Christ was given by the Father, and what is implied therein.

  1. His designation and appointment unto death for us; for you read that it was done ‘according to the determinate counsel of God.’ Acts, 2:23. As the lamb under the law was separated from the flock, and set apart for a sacrifice; and though still living, was intentionally and preparatively given, and consecrated to the Lord; so Jesus Christ was, by the counsel and purpose of God, thus chosen, and set apart for his service: and therefore, in Isa. 42:1, God calls him his Elect, or chosen One.
  2. His giving, Christ, implies a parting with him, or setting him (as the French version hath it) at some distance from himself for a time. There was a kind of parting between the Father and the Son, when he came to tabernacle in our flesh: ‘I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.’ John, 16:28. This distance, occasioned by his incarnation and humiliation, was properly as to his humanity, which was really distant from the glory into which it is now taken up; and in withholding the manifestation of delight and love, the Lord seemed to treat him as one at a distance from him. Oh! this was it that so deeply pierced and wounded his soul, as is evident from that complaint, ‘My God, my God, why bast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not,’ &c Psa. 22:1, 2.
  3. God’s giving of Christ, implies his delivering him into the hands of justice; even as condemned persons are, by sentence of law, given or delivered into the hands of executioners. So Acts, 2:23, ‘Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain;’ and so he is said ‘to deliver him up to death for us all.’ Rom. 8: 32.
  4. God’s giving of Christ, implies his application of him, with all the purchase of his blood, and settling all this upon us as an inheritance and portion. ‘My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven; for the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.’ John, 6:32, 33. God hath given him as bread to poor starving creatures, that by faith they might eat and live. And so he told the Samaritan woman, ‘If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.’ John, 4:10. Bread and water are the two necessaries for the support of natural life; God hath given Christ, you see, to be all that, and more, to the spiritual life.

II. This gift of Christ was the highest and fullest manifestation of the love of God that ever the world saw.

  1. Consider how near and dear Jesus Christ was to the Father: he was his Son, ‘his only Son;’ the Son of his love, yea, one with himself; the express image of his person; the brightness of his Father’s glory: ‘Unto us a Son is given,’ Isa. 9:6, and such a Son as he calls ‘his dear Son.’ Col. 1:13. A late writer tells us, that in the famine in Germany, a poor family being ready to perish, the husband proposed to the wife to sell one of the children for bread to relieve themselves and the rest. The wife at last consented it should be so; but then they began to think which of the four should be sold; and when the eldest was named, they both refused to part with that, being their first-born, and the beginning of their strength. Well, then they came to the second, but could not yield that he should be sold, being the very picture and lively image of his father. The third was named, but that also was a child that best resembled the mother. And when the youngest was thought of, that was the Benjamin, the child of their old age; and so they determined rather to perish in the famine than part with a child for relief. And you know how Jacob mourned when his Joseph and Benjamin were rent from him. What is a child but a piece of the parent wrapt up in another skin? And yet our dearest children are but as strangers to us in comparison of the unspeakable dearness betwixt the Father and Christ. Now that he should ever thus part with his Son, his only Son, is such a manifestation of love as will be admired to all eternity. And then,
  2. Let it be considered to what he gave him, even to death, and that of the cross; to be made a curse for us; to be the scorn and contempt of men; to the most unparalleled sufferings that ever were inflicted or borne by any. It breaks our heart to behold our children struggling in the pangs of death; but the Lord beheld his Son struggling under agonies that never any felt before him. He saw him falling to the ground, groveling in the dust, sweating blood, and amidst those agonies turning himself to his Father, and, with a heart-rending cry, beseeching him, ‘Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass.’ Luke, 22:42. To wrath, to the wrath of an infinite God, was Christ delivered, and that by the band of his own Father. Sure, then, that love must needs want a name, which made the Father of mercies deliver his only Son to such miseries for us.
  3. It is a special consideration to enhance the love of God in giving Christ, that in giving him he gave the richest jewel in his cabinet, a mercy of the greatest worth and most inestimable value. Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ is: ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee?’ Psa. 73:25. Oh what a fair One! what an only One! what an excellent, lovely One is Christ! Put the beauty of ten thousand paradises, lPostsike the garden of Eden, into one; put all trees, all flowers, all smells, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all sweetness, all loveliness in one; oh what a fair and excellent thing would that be! And yet it should be less to that fair and dearest well-beloved Christ, than one drop of rain to the whole seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths. Now, for God to bestow the mercy of mercies, the most precious thing in heaven or earth, upon poor sinners; and, as great, as lovely, as excellent as his Son was, yet not to account him too good to bestow upon us, what manner of love is this!
  4. Once more let it be considered on whom the Lord bestowed his Son: upon angels? No; but upon men. Upon men, his friends? No; but upon his enemies. This is love; and on this consideration the apostle lays a mighty weight. ‘God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. When we were yet enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.’ Rom. 5:8-10. Who would part with a son for the sake of his dearest friends? but God gave him to, and delivered him for enemies: Oh love unspeakable!
  5. Let us consider how freely this gift came from him. It was not wrested out of his hand by our importunity; for we as little desired as deserved it. It was surprising, self moved, eternal love, that delivered him to us. ‘Not that we loved him, but he first loved us.’ 1 John, 4:19. Thus, as when you weigh a thing, you cast in weight after weight, till the scales break; so doth God, one consideration upon another, to overcome our hearts, and make us admiringly to cry, ‘What manner of love’ is this! Thus I have showed you what God’s giving of Christ is, and what matchless love is manifested in that incomparable gift.


  1. Learn hence the exceeding preciousness of souls, and at what a high rate God values them, that he gave his Son, his only Son out of his bosom, as a ransom for them. Surely this speaks their preciousness: all the world could not redeem them; gold and -silver could not be their ransom; so speaks the apostle, ‘You were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.’ 1 Pet. 1:18. Such an esteem God had for them, that rather than they should perish, Jesus Christ shall be made a man, yea, a curse for them. Oh, then, learn to put a due value upon your own souls: do not sell that cheap for which God hath paid so dear: remember what a treasure you carry about you; the glory that you see in this world is not equivalent in worth to it. ‘What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ Matt. 16: 26.
  2. If God has given his own Son for the world, then it follows, that those for whom God gave his own Son, may warrantably expect any other temporal mercies from him. This is the apostle’s inference, ‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not, with him, freely give us all things?’ Rom. 8:32. And so, 1 Cor. 3:21-23, ‘All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s:’ that is, they hold all other things in Christ, who is the capital and most comprehensive mercy.

    No other mercy you need or desire, is or can be so dear to God as Jesus Christ is. As for the world, and the comforts of it, it is the dust of his feet; he values it not, as you see by his providential disposals of it, having given it to the worst of men. ‘All the Turkish empire,’ saith Luther, ‘as great and glorious as it is, is but a crumb which the Master of the family throws to the dogs.’ Think upon any other outward enjoyment that is valuable in your eyes, and there is not so much comparison between it and Christ, in the esteem of God, as between your dear children and the lumber of your houses, in your esteem. If then God has parted so freely with that which was infinitely dearer to him than these, how shall he deny these when they may promote his glory and your good?

    As Jesus Christ was nearer the heart of God than all these, so Christ is, in himself, much greater and more excellent than all of them. Ten thousand worlds, and the glory of them all, is but the dust of the balance if weighed with Christ. These things are but poor creatures, but he is ‘over all, God blessed for ever Rom. 9:5. They are common gifts, but he is the gift of God. John, 4:10. They are ordinary mercies, but he is The. Mercy, Luke, 1:72, as one pearl or precious stone is greater in value than ten thousand pebbles. Now, if God has so freely given the greater, how can you suppose he should deny the lesser mercies? Will a man give to another a large inheritance, and grudge him a trifle?, how can it be?

    There is no other mercy you need, but you are entitled to it by the gift of Christ; it is, as to right, conveyed to you with Christ. So, in the fore-cited 1 Cor. 3:21-23, the world is yours, yea, all is yours, for ye are Christ’s. So 2 Cor. 1:20, ‘For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen.’ With him he hath given you all things richly to enjoy. 1 Tim. 6:17.

    If God has given you this nearer, greater, and all-comprehending mercy, when you were enemies to him, and alienated from him, it is not imaginable he should deny you any inferior mercy, when you are come into. a state of reconciliation and amity with him. So the apostle reasons, ‘For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.’ Rom. 5:8-10.

  3. If the greatest love hath been manifested in giving Christ to the world, then it follows, that the greatest evil and wickedness is manifested in despising, slighting, and rejecting Christ. It is sad to abuse the love of God manifested in the least gift of providence; but, to slight the richest displays of it, even that peerless gift, wherein God commends his love in the most astonishing manner, this is sin beyond description. Blush, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth! yea, be ye horribly afraid! No guilt like this. But, are there any such in the world? Dare any slight this gift of God? Indeed, if men’s words might be taken, there are few or none that dare do so; but if their lives and practices may be believed, this, this is the sin of the far greater part of the christianized world. Witness the lamentable stupidity and supineness; witness the contempt of the Gospel; witness the hatred and persecution of his image, laws, and people. What is the language of all this, but a vile esteem of Jesus Christ?

And now let me a little expostulate with those ungrateful souls that trample under foot the Son of God; that value not this love that gave him up to die. What is that mercy which you so contemn and undervalue? is it so vile and cheap a thing as your conduct speaks it to be? is it indeed worth no more than this in your eyes! Surely you will not be long of that opinion! Will you be of that mind, think you, when death and judgment shall have thoroughly awakened you? Oh, no: then a thousand worlds for Christ! Or, think ye, that any besides you in the world are of your mind? You are deceived if you think so; ‘To them that believe he is precious,’ 1 Pet. 2:7, through all the world: And in the other world they are of a quite contrary mind. Could you but bear what is said of him in heaven, in what a dialect the saved of the Lord extol their Saviour; or could you but imagine the self-revenges, the self-torments, which the damned suffer for their folly, and what a value they would set upon one tender of Christ, if it might but again be hoped for; you would see that such as you are the only despisers of Christ. Besides, methinks it is astonishing that you should despise a mercy in which your own souls are so dearly, so deeply, so everlastingly concerned, as they are in this gift of God. If it were but the soul of another, nay, less, if but the body of another, and yet less than that, if but another’s beast, whose life you could preserve, you are obliged to do it; but when it is thyself, yea, the best part of thyself, thine own invaluable soul, that thou ruinest and destroyest thereby, oh, what a monster art thou to cast it away thus! What! will you slight your own souls? care you not whether they be saved, or whether they be damned? is it indeed an indifferent thing with you which way they fall at death? have you imagined a tolerable hell? is it easy to perish? are you not only turned God’s enemies, but your own too? Oh, see what monsters sin can turn men into! Oh the stupifying, besotting, intoxicating power of sin!, But perhaps you think that all these are but uncertain sounds with which we alarm you; it may be thine own heart will preach such doctrine as this to thee: ‘Who can assure me of the reality of these things? why should I trouble myself with an invisible world, or be so much concerned for what my eyes never saw, nor did I ever receive the report from any that have seen them?’ Well, though we cannot now show you these things, yet shortly they shall be shown you, and your own eyes shall behold them. You are convinced and satisfied that many other things are real which you never saw; but be assured, that ‘if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at first began to be spoken to us by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by them that heard him, God also bearing them witness?’ Heb. 2:2-4. But, perhaps you say, if they be certain, yet they are not near; it will be a long time before they come. Poor soul! how dost thou cheat thyself! It may be not one twentieth part so long a time as thy own fancy paints for thee; thou art not certain of the next moment.

And suppose what thou imaginest; what are twenty or forty years when they are past? yea, what are a thousand years to vast eternity? Go, trifle away a few days more; sleep out a few nights more, and then lie down in the dust; it will not belong ere the trump of God shall awaken thee, and thine eyes shall behold Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven, and then you will know the price of this sin. Oh, therefore, if there be any sense of eternity upon you, any pity or love for yourself in you; if you have any interests more than the beasts that perish; despise not your own offered mercies, slight not the richest gift that ever was yet opened to the world; and a sweeter cannot be opened to all eternity.