From the series Jesus Loves Me
You have heard it said that God is love. But with all the chaos, wars, disease, and natural disasters happening today, many do not see Him that way. In this message, guest teacher John Dickerson says: did you know this broken world was never part of God’s plan? Don’t miss how God's personal, perfect love always delivers what we are looking for and meets our deepest desires.
This broadcast is currently not available online. It is available to purchase on our store.
Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Jesus Loves Me free mp3 download.
About this series
Jesus Loves Me
Christian Essentials for the Head and the Heart
Do you know the core beliefs of Christianity? Forget what churches, denominations, or notable pastors say for a second - what do God and His Word actually state are the essential truths to being a follower of Jesus? In this 10-part series, journalist, author, and pastor John Dickerson helps us uncover the foundational building blocks of the Christian faith. By using the simple children’s song - Jesus Loves Me - John reveals what these lyrics tell us about God, His love for us, and the reliability of the Bible. So whether you’re a new Christian looking for guidance or you’ve been a believer your whole life - and you need a refresher, John’s words will encourage you!More from this series
You know, how can you really know if someone loves you?
These people that you are building relationships with and investing in, how can you really know if someone loves you? I mean, beyond passing them a note and they check a box. But in real life, doesn’t it get a little more complicated?
And so, how can you really know? In a world where maybe your parents have gone through a divorce and there’s a custody battle and it’s like both of them will say anything to tell you that they love you, but you start to realize, like, it’s really about controlling, about having me as a pawn in their little fight with each other.
Or you have an employee or advertisers, right? It’s like they will tell you anything you want to hear because they actually just want to get something from you. And the longer you live life, the more you start to realize, like, okay, it’s not as simple as someone checking a box. Like, how do I actually know if someone actually loves me?
So, I have been married for about nine years to my wife; Mel is her name. And Mel and I were talking this last week about this question. And we were kind of thinking, like, you know, in real life, how do you actually know if someone actually loves you?
And here’s the conclusion that we came to as we thought through a lot of our different life experiences. We concluded that love proves itself in actions. Would you agree, at least to some extent, love proves itself in actions?
We have all seen this in our lives and, in fact, it kind of came up as I was asking Mel, you know, in our nine years of marriage, “What are the times, what are the things I have done or said that really, to you, communicate love?”
And I was really surprised by some of her answers, because some of them were things that I would never have thought of. And one of them was this. She said, “John, when I have the flu, when I have the flu and I’m throwing up…” And I’m sorry if this is disgusting to you guys, okay? This was her answer: “…when you come and you put your hand in my hair and you rub my back, that to me, that’s a moment where I know that you love me.”
And here’s the thing I realized, like, this is why that communicates love to her, because there are not really many other people in the world that I would do that for. What is it about that? It’s self-sacrifice, right? It’s willing to get your own hands dirty or be uncomfortable, because you love another person more than you love your own comfort. And it’s real love that shows up in the dirty and in the yucky and in just the real life stuff.
And I wonder, do you think that God loves you like that? Maybe because I stand up here and sometimes they put the word “pastor” in front of my name you might think that I never doubt if God loves me. But I have lots of days that I do, especially when I have made a mistake.
You know, if I have just done something stupid or specifically if I know, like, something was wrong. I knew something was wrong, I knew not to do it, and I did it anyways. Afterwards it’s like, Man, I know on paper God loves me, but is He going to give up on me at some point? Is He going to get tired of putting up with me?
You know, another time that I doubt if God really loves me is when I’m experiencing pain. And this happened, actually, this last week. I have this really rare medical condition called a hemiplegic episode. And thankfully I don’t get them very often. In fact, I hadn’t had one in a year. But I had one this last week and thankfully it was not a very bad one, but when I get them, I get the symptoms of a stroke. I lose my ability to speak and half my body will go kind of paralyzed and have some pain and other things.
And as I was having this one this last week, whenever these things start, I have these really candid conversations with God. And within it, I was really stressed out at the time. And I remember telling God, You know, God, I feel like all these different people want different parts of me and I need to be something as a husband, I need to be something as a dad, I need to be something in my workplace, and I need to be something as a writer.
And I remember just telling God, like, I don’t think I can be what all these people want me to be. And in the moment, just as clear as you’re hearing me now, I heard God say to me, “You are who I want you to be. Just relax.”
And what I want to talk about with you today is having a love relationship with God where you know that He is with you in your suffering, you know that He is with you if you get laid off at work, you know that He’s with you in the difficulties of life. I want to talk to you today about a love relationship with God that very much like a marriage, it has a sort of very formal beginning date that it’s like, “That’s the date that me and God committed to each other. But just like a really healthy marriage, it doesn’t end there, it begins there.
And you experience the love of God on a daily basis in all the ups and downs of life. Would you like to know about a relationship with God like that?
Well, we are going to learn about it in the book of Romans chapter 5. This is a book of the Bible and it’s a book that really summarizes for us God’s love for us. And when you first read this verse, you might think, What does this verse even mean? Okay, I’ve read this verse a bunch of times and as a former newspaper reporter and writer, I tend to think, God, this is kind of a wordy verse. But let me read it for you and then I’ll explain what it means, okay? “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.” What is God talking about here? Well, God is talking about this idea that we all kind of agreed on to some degree that love proves itself in actions.
Love proves itself in actions. Actions over time. And the more self-sacrificing the action is, the more sincere the love is. What is the biggest self-sacrificing action that you could make for someone you love? Well, Jesus answered that in John 15, verse 13. He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that a person would lay down their life for their friends.”
So, very specifically right now, I want to ask you a question: Who in your life would you be willing to die for? It’s probably not a long list, but are there some people in your life that you would be willing to die for? Maybe you’re at a place in your life where you think, No, not really.
But I would guess there are probably some husbands in this room or some boyfriends who, if someone came in and they were going to take the life of your girlfriend or your wife, you would step in the way, you would intervene and you would give your life. And you probably wouldn’t do that for just anyone, but you love her so much that you would willingly lay down your life for her.
I bet in this room, I bet there are some moms who you love your kids so much that if it were a life or death situation, you would step in the way and you would sacrifice your own life because that’s how much you love that child.
The point of this verse is to get us thinking about that. To get us thinking that, Yeah, you know, even a really good person, you’re probably not going to give your life for them unless you really, really love them. And with that in mind, God tells you this about how He feels about you in verse 8, we are told this, “But God demonstrates His love for us in this way.” Is God going to demonstrate His love just, you know, by checking a box, by saying some words? No, He’s going to prove His love with actions.
While we were still sinners, and we’ll explain what this means, but the idea is while we had our backs turned to God, while we were in a posture that’s kind of like, “No thanks, God. Don’t want Your help, don’t need Your help.” While we were turned away from Him, Christ died for us.
Christ died to rescue us. Now, we are in part three of this series called Jesus Loves Me. And we are using the kid’s song, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” We are using it as kind of a memory tool that we can carry this with us throughout life. And if you’re on an airplane with a co-worker or if you’re tucking your kids into bed at night, and someone asks you, “Who is Jesus? What’s He about?” you can say the words to this little song. “Well, here’s what it’s all about. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And the meaning is in the words.
And we learned that Jesus is not just a good teacher or a prophet and He’s not one god among many gods. We learned that Jesus is the one true God. And the reason Jesus had to be the one true is God is that He was the Messiah. And, in fact, we learned that this word “Christ”, is not Jesus’ last name. And there was a point in my life where that was new information. I was like, “Whoa! I always thought Christ was Jesus’ last name, right? Jesus Christ.”
But, no. This word “Christ” is actually an ancient word for Messiah. And it’s this ancient word for this prediction that God would come down among humanity to rescue humanity. Who is Jesus? He’s the one true God, the Christ. What do we mean when we say, “The one true God loves me”? What do we mean when we say He loves me? And here’s what we mean, according to the Word of God.
Jesus died to prove He loves you. Jesus died to prove He loves you. He didn’t just say it, He didn’t just check a box, He proved it in actions. In a very well-documented, public execution when He was crucified on a cross, on a real day in history, and He went to that cross willingly so that He could reconnect you to your Creator.
So, if you’re tracking in this series and you’re like, “Okay, I get why Christianity matters, I get that Jesus is the one true God, now I understand what you’re saying. But here’s kind of a normal question. Why is this even necessary? You know? If God is smart and He’s in control and He made everything, like, why did He let things spin so out of control that He would have to self-sacrifice like this to restore us?
And so, to answer that question, I want to give you a, really, a summary of the whole Bible in just a few minutes. And here’s where it starts. It starts with God’s desire.
Here’s God’s desire for you. God desires for you to be in the very presence of God. This is kind of like the idea of God has His arm around you. And this is what you were created to experience and enjoy. Part of being in God’s presence is that there is no death. There’s immortality. Or sometimes we call it eternal life.
Part of being in God’s presence is that there is no scarcity or shortage of: Is there going to be enough food to go around? Part of being in God’s presence is that God is the source of love. And so, this longing that we have, this hunt that we are on our entire lives to be affirmed by our Creator. When we are in His presence, all those tensions are resolved. This is what God created us for.
And God starts His love letter to us, the Bible, by telling us this repeatedly right at the beginning. Here’s one example from the book of Genesis. “When God created mankind, He made them in the likeness of God and blessed them.”
As a human being, you are different from the animal world, you’re different from the rest of creation. You have a soul, a spiritual part of you that will outlive your body and your soul is made in the likeness or in the image of God.
What does that mean? Well, it means that you have a capacity to create and it also means that you have a free will. A free will is this spiritual and moral part of you that you can choose God or you can choose away from God. And the idea of it being free is that it’s yours. No one else can make the choice for you.
And so, when God created all of creation, He makes this sort of crown jewel of creation – “Humanity will be in My image. They will create like I create and they will have spiritual capacity. They will be eternal beings and they will have a free will. They can choose My ways and My presence or if they choose, they can reject My ways and My presence.”
And this is the next step in the story of God and humanity. This is the bad news, that there was a catastrophic divorce. There was a catastrophic divorce between humanity and God, a great chasm, an earthquake in the fabric of the universe when our spiritual ancestors, with their free wills, chose, having known God and His presence to say, “We would like to know what evil is like.”
And God had told them, “In My presence, You won’t know evil. Here’s kind of the door if you want to go through it but if you do, it will bring death. It will bring destruction.” And having created us with a free will, they chose that. And just like when you’re a kid and your parents have a divorce, you don’t get to have a say in whether or not they divorce. And you have been born into a world that is divorced away from God because of the choices of our spiritual ancestors.
And so, what do we experience? Mortality, that we’ll die. We experience that we are broken away from God. And whether we realize it or not, we spend our whole lives hunting, trying to restore that relationship. And we spend our lives unresolved.
Emotionally and spiritually, we are unresolved.
In Romans 3, verse 23, God says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All of humanity is on this side, broken away from God and falls short of the glory of God. In other words, this is like a Grand Canyon chasm. You can’t, like, give enough money to a church or go on enough mission trips, you can’t earn your way over here.
So, this is bad news, right? If the story ended here, it would be depressing. You guys ready for some good news? Here’s the good news. When God looked down and saw humanity in this position, He didn’t just leave us there. He decided that He Himself would intervene. And this is why the Christ, the Messiah Jesus, had to be human and God at the same time, because you see, He came to perform God’s rescue.
When God created all of creation, He makes this sort of crown jewel of creation – “Humanity will be in My image. They will create like I create and they will have spiritual capacity. They will be eternal beings and they will have a free will. They can choose My ways and My presence or if they choose, they can reject My ways and My presence.”
And this is the next step in the story of God and humanity. This is the bad news, that there was a catastrophic divorce. When our spiritual ancestors, with their free wills, chose, having known God and His presence to say, “We would like to know what evil is like.”
And so, what do we experience? Mortality, that we’ll die. And we spend our lives unresolved. Emotionally and spiritually, we are unresolved.
In Romans 3, verse 23, God says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And the idea is that we are born into a world that is already contaminated.
Here’s the good news. When God looked down and saw humanity in this position, He didn’t just leave us there. He decided that He Himself would intervene. And this is why the Christ, the Messiah Jesus, had to be human and God at the same time, because you see, He came to perform God’s rescue. He came to perform God’s rescue.
And what Christ literally does is create a bridge between us and God. And this bridge is very significant. Jesus says in John chapter 14, verse 6, He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” In other words, as Jesus will say many times throughout His life, the way to the kingdom of God is a narrow road. It’s not just, like, all roads lead to God and heaven. It’s a narrow road, but it’s a road that is available and open to everyone.
Whosoever will may come. In fact, God outright says in Scripture that He desires that no one would perish, but that everyone would come to salvation. God desires that all human beings would set foot on this bridge of rescue and be restored to God, but God respects the free will He has given you. And you get to choose for yourself. Do you want to accept this gift?
So, here’s a verse that summarizes all of this really well. Romans 6, verse 23. It says, “The wages of sin is death.” That’s the bad news we have talked about. That’s this side. We’ve got broken relationships, death, anxiety. What are wages? Well, if you have done your taxes yet this year, you’ve probably seen that word. It’s on your W2.
You have wages, tips and other income. Wages is your paycheck, right? Wages is your salary. Wages is usually an agreed upon, “I will work for this much per hour or for this much per year. That will be my wage. It’s a give and take.” And what God says is the payment of sin is death. And it’s interesting. It’s not an immediate death. It’s not like when our ancestors sinned, that they immediately – God didn’t strike them dead right away.
And when you sin, He doesn’t strike you dead right away. But what happens is you get separated from the source of eternal life. So, it’s not like God is mad at you and so He’s going to cause death in your life. It’s that you have been pulled away from the source of eternal life and until you get restored to it, you won’t experience eternal life.
So, the wages of sin is death, but, here’s the good news, the gift of God, a gift is something that is free, a gift is something that you don’t earn, but you do have to open it up, right? You have to receive it. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, our Lord.”
Now, here’s the thing about eternal life. First of all, you know, I mean, I know right now. If I have a stroke tomorrow, if I get in a car accident and die tonight, I know with all confidence that I will wake up in God’s presence in an eternal life. I’m not afraid of death anymore. But here’s the thing. Eternal life is so much more than that.
It's that, but it also begins now. Like I mentioned earlier, I know God is with me every day in this world. Eternal life begins now. Because I have been made right to my Creator. And my longing to be loved and to be accepted and to be secure, those needs have been met by my Creator. And so, it changes my life now and it also guarantees me eternal life after my body wears out.
Think about it this way. You know, picture in your mind your age as a number. See it? Now, add fifty to it. You know, if life expectancy is about eighty years, will you be alive fifty years from now? Will you be alive twenty years from now? Will you be alive sixty year from now? We don’t want to acknowledge it, but we have this short time on earth to decide whether or not we will receive the gift of eternal life.
One of the things I love about being a dad is that with my little kids, I get to kind of experience maybe a little bit of what God must feel like with us. Because sometimes they do silly things, sometimes they do stupid things. But I never stop loving them. Even if they say, “I don’t love you anymore,” or, “I don’t want to play with you ever again,” I don’t stop loving them.
And I get all these little pictures of what it must be like for God as He is saying, “Accept My free gift. Come back to Me; I love you.” Very simply, why is it that we don’t feel God’s love for us? It’s because we have things in our lives that we are embarrassed about. We have things in our lives that we are ashamed of. We have guilt and we have shame and whether or not we have the right words for it, we realize that there is something between us and God.
And when Jesus came, what He did on the cross is that He willingly laid down His life to do the clean-up, to get dirty. And what did He take upon Him? He took upon Him every murder that has ever been committed. Every lie that has ever been told, all the genocide, all the rape, all the evils of humanity that have split humanity away from God, He said, “I will willingly take upon Myself the clean-up duty. I will take the consequences for their mistakes so that all who desire to be made right to God can receive a free gift and be restored back to God.” That’s what it means that God loves you.
I want to give you a physical picture of this. My favorite picture from the physical world. It’s a true story. It started in August of 2010 with about thirty miners who were three miles underground. You might remember this. They were in Chile when a mine collapsed on top of them.
And what followed was one of the greatest rescue missions in human history, because nations from all around the world gathered and NASA sent down its top engineers to help the Chilean government figure out: How are we going to rescue these thirty-three guys who are buried three miles underground?
What I love about this picture is this is how God describes humanity right now. He actually outright says, “We are born into a world that is fallen. We are born into a world that is collapsed.” And so, because we are made in the image of God, we still have a little bit of God in us. But at the end of the day, we are in a mineshaft and none of us is going to live more than about ninety years.
At the end of the day, even the best things that happen down here end up getting tainted by cancer and divorce and just evil. And so, what Jesus did when He came to this world is He cut through the fabric of the universe, the God who created everything, He cut through the fabric of the universe and He made an escape tunnel. He made a way out. And He said, “Whoever believes in Me, I am the way, the truth, and the life.” And this is why Jesus, when people would come to Him and they would say, “Hey, Caesar says this and this political group says this, Jesus, what do You say?” Jesus would say, “Don’t you realize? My kingdom is not of this world.”
In other words, “You guys are arguing about who is in charge of the food rations and the collapsed mineshaft. Go ahead, argue away. I came to drill a way out to entire higher realm to be completely free from the darkness and the death and the dustiness of a collapsed world.”
So, those miners, from August of 2010 until October, for sixty-nine days, they lived in the darkness, knowing that rescue was coming from above. And finally, rescue did arrive in the form of this capsule called the Phoenix.
You had to step inside of it. And I love this because this is exactly how it is with God. He has done the hard work. He has made the self-sacrifice to drill down into our lives, but this rescue capsule, it would thump down at the bottom of this mineshaft, three miles underground, and each miner had to decide for himself: Will I step into this thing? It’s got to be a little claustrophobic. Will I get strapped into this thing and be lifted up by a winch, held by a wire rope, three miles above the ground in a tunnel that goes straight down.
I mean, if that rope breaks, you’re dead. Am I going to trust in that? Am I going to put my faith in that? And by placing their faith in the rescue capsule, they were acknowledging that they couldn’t do it on their own. Right? Wouldn’t it have been sad if one of the thirty-three miners, after all the effort to get to them said, “Hey, you know, I’ve got a pickaxe and a flashlight. That way is fine for you guys, but that seems kind of narrow to me. I’m going to go find my own way to the surface.” That would be sad. But that’s what so many of us do when it comes to Jesus.
So many of our neighbors say, “Well, that makes sense, but that’s so narrow, I’m going to find my own way.” Jesus said, “The way out is narrow, but it is open to all.” So, let’s look at God’s rescue again. Let’s look at this bridge that Jesus created.
And here’s what I want to ask you very specifically. Where do you find yourself today?
Do you find yourself over here still separated from God? Have you had a moment where you have set foot, by faith, on believing in what Christ has done for you? Do you know with certainty that you have eternal life once your body wears out and that you can begin to experience the eternal life of God right now?
The gift of God is eternal life. I think one of the hardest things about receiving a gift is that you can’t take any credit for doing it. And I have met people who have completely understood this and they say it’s just too easy.
Well, here’s what not easy about it. Just like those miners had to admit, “I can’t get myself back to the top,” receiving this gift, the one thing that is hard about it is you have to humble yourself before God, very simply to say, “You know what, God? Spiritually, I’m humbling myself before You and I acknowledge I can’t fix myself. I can’t, I can’t achieve eternal life. I can’t fix my broken relationships. I can’t even fix what is broken inside me.”
And so, you know, Jesus actually said once, He said, “It’s easier for a camel,” a big tall camel, “to kneel down and go through a small door than it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Why did Jesus say that? It’s not about money, it’s about pride. It’s about humbling ourselves.
So, how do you receive this gift? It’s very simple. God tells us in Romans chapter 10, verse 9: Here’s how you receive the gift. God says, “If you declare with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and if you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” You will receive God’s gift, very simply, by believing that Jesus is the Christ, that He died on the cross for your sins.
I want to give you a chance to do that today and as you think on this, I want to tell you a true story. Actually, the saddest moment of my journalism career. I was profiling a heroin addict in Phoenix. And the story had started just about a heroin epidemic, but within the interviews I was doing, I had started interviewing this twenty-one-year-old heroin addict named Mickey.
Ended up doing a profile just on Mickey. She had come from actually a really good, middle-upper class family, her dad was an attorney. Somewhere along the way, a friend gave her some heroin. She had injected some heroin in her arm and from the first day she injected it, she was an addict.
By the time I met Mickey, she was about twenty-one, she had been addicted to heroin for two years. And she was down to eighty-five or ninety pounds. Just this skinny little shaking creature with these electric blue eyes.
And I would meet Mickey at the drug house where she lived and we would walk together to the Jack in the Box near there. And we would sit there at the Jack in the Box and I would interview her. And Mickey would describe her life with just these traumatic sentences and she would blur words together like agonizing and anguishing. She came up with this word “agoshing.” Her brain was just so messed up.
And she was at a point where she knew she was dying and she had seen other heroin addicts at her drug house die. And she wanted to get free from this. So, as I’m profiling Mickey and meeting with her, I’m also talking with the best addiction recovery center in the state.
And so, as a reporter, I pitched this idea to the recovery center of, “Hey, I know treatment, six months of treatment costs, like, tens of thousands of dollars. But what if Mickey agreed to do the treatment, I could write about it all along, it would be a lot of publicity for you guys. Would you guys give her treatment for free if I agreed to cover it?” They said, “Yeah.” They agreed to it.
Mickey said she wanted it. So, we got it all set up. The day was scheduled. The day was scheduled where we would pull up in the treatment van in front of Mickey’s drug house and all Mickey had to do to receive this free gift, she didn’t have to pay anything, she didn’t have to do anything, but with her own free will, she would have to walk out the front door of the drug house, walk down the sidewalk, and get into the van.
And it was one of the saddest moments of my life. I was sitting in my own car behind the treatment center’s van and we waited there for about fifteen minutes. The door doesn’t open. Finally gets to twenty minutes. I get out of my car, I go up and I knock on the door, “Is Mickey here?” “Yeah, Mickey is here.” I talked to Mickey. Mickey does not have the willpower to move herself to the van. And the whole agreement with the place, they’re like, “People can’t come unless they want to come.” There’s this free gift, life or death, and in the moment, she just won’t choose.
So, here’s what I want to ask you today. What would keep you today from receiving God’s free gift of salvation? Is there really a reason good enough to say, “Not today”? Because I’ll tell you what Mickey said and I have worked with a lot of addicts. “Oh, I’m not going to do it today, but I will do it someday.” And the ones who say that never do it.
And I wonder, is there really any reason today why you wouldn’t receive God’s free gift?