Recently, President-elect Biden told us that “Things are going to get worse before they get better.” The year 2020 has been a year of unprecedented bad news. The Covid-19 death rate continues to climb as the year comes to an end. Experts are fearful it will continue to climb in the first months of 2021. Many have experienced the ravages of this disease personally. It has been a year of unparalleled racial unrest and tension. The 2020 presidential election was filled with ugly debates and name-calling. Many have experienced significant financial loss; some will never recover. While we hope for brighter days ahead, it may not be so. Great news has been hard to find, but it can be found. It is in that ancient book, the Bible.
Perhaps one of the best-known verses in the Bible is John 3:16. It says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 ESV
Four great truths appear in this passage. First “God so loved the world,” God’s Love is Great.There are several items to consider. It does not say, “God loved the world,” but it says “God so loved the World.” God’s love for the world is great. The rest of the text will explain matters. But what is the “world;” what does that mean? When the Apostle John (author of the Gospel of John), speaks of the “world,” he does not mean “everybody in the world,” but he speaks of all humanity in its “lostness,” its rebellion to God. The Bible insists that humankind is not innocent or neutral, but in defiance and rebellion to their creator God. That includes you, that includes even me.
Colossians 1:21, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies . . .” Romans 5:8, “But God commended his love for us in this while we were sinners Christ died for us.”
Second, God’s Gift is Great. “that he gave his only Son.” He gave his unique, one and only son who was the second person of the trinity. The sacrifice of a life, one for another is a noble and good thing, but let’s examines the text closely. The text does not say that God gave his life, but he gave his Son, he gave the life of another. In Scripture the relationship between God the Father and the Son does tax our comprehension (a full explanation of the trinity, along with the Father and Son’s relationship to each other is not possible here), but one thing is clear: God’s love for his Son is greater than our love for our children. Yet, God’s love for man in his blatant rebellion is incredible. God gave his beloved, sinless, perfect Son to redeem, to save his enemies, people who have gone far astray and live in high rebellion to him, to save these from their sin. We were not desirable; we were reprehensible in his sight. His love, in spite of our unloveliness, leads to the next point.
Third, God’s Offer is Great. As we look at the text, it says, “whoever.” The offer is not limited to a certain segment of society, nor a certain class of people, not a certain race, but to anyone who believes…. Not white people, not conservative people, not Jewish people, but anyone, anyone of any race, creed, color, no matter how good or how bad. God’s offering is to “whoever,” anyone who would believe.
Further, God’s Offer is Great because it says “whoever believes.” Let’s state what it does not mean or say. It does not say whoever is a member of a church. It does not say whoever is baptized. It does not say whoever keeps the ten commandments or the Golden Rule as best as he or she can. It does not say if your efforts to be a good person outweigh your faults and failures. It says “whoever believes.”
What does it mean to “believe?” We cannot define “believe” as you or I might think, but as John uses it consistently in his fourth Gospel. (See John 2:23; 8:30,31,37-44). To “believe in” means to depend or to rely upon fully, to wholeheartedly cling to that person. You can’t rely upon yourself. You must acknowledge your lostness, your total lack and need for Christ, then depend fully upon Chris and the work that he has done for you on the cross.
Finally, God’s Salvation is Great. “should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Perish has to do with eternal damnation, eternal torments away from the presence and kindness of God. “Eternal life” in the Bible means more than something you get when you die. It is something that you receive now; purposeful, significant, meaningful abundant effervescent overflowing life in the here and now. Jeremiah says that God is “the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 2:13): Psalm 63:3 says that enjoying God’s love is better than life itself. Psalm 36:8 speaks of enjoying God as “drinking from a river of delights.” Jesus tells us in John 4 that he himself is the source of living effervescent life. He calls on us to turn from our lostness and to trust in him fully and completely to save us from our sins and to begin to enjoy everlasting life now, today, and forever.
Do you have eternal life? Have you trusted in his work for you on the cross? Would you do so now? Contact me at the email below if you have a need for more information or desire further interaction.