God So Loved The World
E. G. Cook
Former Pastor - Philadelphia Baptist Church
Birmingham , Alabama
 (Now In Glory)

    To deny that God loved the world is to deny the precious Word of God. John 3:16 says plainly that He loved the world. But, on the other hand, if I affirm that God loved everybody would I not be denying other Scriptures that are just as true as John 3:16? Let me hasten to say there are no contradictions in the Scriptures. So, when I see Scriptures which appear to contradict each other, it behooves me to say, "Father, for the sake of thy great name, and for the sake of thy Son who became my great and wonderful Savior, and for the sake of thy precious Word which thou hast magnified above all thy name, open my eyes that I may see, and open my heart and my mind that I may understand these Scriptures for I know they do not contradict each other."
    Sometimes it seems that we prefer to just jump over certain Scriptures which appear to contradict some other passage rather than run the risk of having to admit that we have been wrong. But is that not a point of weakness rather than one of strength? Do we not honor our Lord by admitting that we have been wrong, and by giving Him credit for having opened our eyes to our error? If you know all there is to know on this subject it will be a waste of your valuable time to read any further because this little Bible teacher admits freely, and with out any fear of contradiction, that he does not know all there is to know about it. But, if you have an open mind and a receptive heart, may it please our dear Lord to bless our study of this subject together.
    May we begin our study of this subject with the question, if God has ever hated just one person among all of His created creatures, can we say that He loved every body? Then let us turn to Romans 9:13 where God says, "Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated". I know the popular teaching on this verse is that God loved Esau a little less than he loved Jacob. And in years gone by I could swallow that teaching as if it were a pod of boiled okra. But as time went on I came to see that this word "hated" comes from MISEO which means to hate. It has no other meaning. So how could I make the word "hate" mean "love" to any degree? The Greeks have two words for love. Their word AGAPAO is the one used in the case of God's Divine love. Then they have another word PHILEO which is a much weaker form. This word PHILEO expresses the love of husband and wife, or the love of parents and children. Now if God meant to say that he loved Esau a little less than he loved Jacob why did the Holy Spirit not use the weaker word PHILEO in regard to Esau rather than the word MISEO which al ways means to hate? Then in Psalms 5:5 the Psalmist says, "Thou hatest all workers of iniquity". The time was when I could jump over a couple of letters in this word "workers" and make it just plain old "work" Then I could put just a little imaginary love in the word "hate" in Romans 9:13 and go on my merry way. But, when I became willing to throw all of my preconceived ideas concerning God and His precious Word in the waste basket where they belonged and let my beliefs be in accord with the Scriptures rather than trying to make the Scriptures be in accord with my beliefs, I had to go back and put the two letters back in the word "workers" in Psalms 5:5. And then when I looked a little closer I found there was no niche, nor cavity in the word "hated" in Romans 9:13 in which I could squeeze the least tiny little bit of love. So, today, thanks be unto His Holy name, I can believe Romans 9:13 and Psalms 5:5 just as they were written, and at the same time believe John 3:16.
    But, before I could believe those three Scriptures just as they were written I was forced to make a sincere study of the word "world". I had been giving it the meaning I wanted it to have. Now I must either substantiate my definition of this word, or else throw it away. Well, I had to throw it away. I learned in II Peter 1:20 that no "Scripture is of any private interpretation." By that is meant that we must interpret John 3:16, or any other Scripture, in the light of other Scriptures. So for the sake of your time, may we study this word "world" in the light of other Scriptures found just in John's writings. First in John 1:10 how could the world that knew not our Lord ever include His disciples who did know Him? Then in John 1:29, if the Lamb of God took away every body's sin, why did hell enlarge herself, and open her mouth without measure in Isaiah 5:14? Since a saviour is one who saves, why is not everybody saved if the word "world" in John 4:42 means everybody? Please note, it does not say that he is the potential Savior of the world. It says He is the Savior of the world. If the word "world" in John 6:33 means everybody, how can any body be dead in trespasses and in sins? Here we are told that He "Giveth life to the world". Could the world that is gone after our Lord in John 12:19 ever include the Chinese, Japanese, American Indians, or the savages in Africa, or even the great majority of the Jews by any stretch of the imagination? Let us notice ,they are talking about a world that was in existence at that particular moment of time. They say "The world is gone (not will go) after "Him". If the world that Christ came to save in John 12:46 includes everybody, would you say His coming was a success, or a failure? Is old Satan who is the prince of this world the prince, or ruler of our Lord's own people? Could the world that hated our Lord in John 7:7 and 15:18 ever include His precious Saints who loved Him so much? Would you say that the world that our Lord refused to pray for in John 17:9 included the ones He did pray for in the first part of this verse, and the others for whom He prayed in verse 20?
    There are so many other references, even in John's writings, to prove to any open minded person that the word "world" in Scripture almost always means a certain group of people. In I John 5:19 for instance, "The whole world that lieth in wickedness" cannot possibly include the "we" who are of God. Our better dictionaries will give you something like twenty different meanings of the word "world". No one seems to object to such expressions as, the new world, the free world, or The religious world. And no fair minded person would dare say that the whole world in I John 5:19 includes everybody. So, in the light of that great array of evidence which proves beyond a doubt that the word "world" usually means only a part of the people, how can I ever again contend that John 3:16 means that God loved everybody? If God does not love everybody, does He tell us in His Word who it is that He does love? Since God is the only one competent to answer our question, let us turn to John 13:1 and listen closely as He says, "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end". Here he says plainly that He loves "His own". I am waiting patiently for someone to give me the book, chapter and verse where He says He loves the devil's crowd.

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