Friday, February 3, 2012

John 3:16-21

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

I’m pretty sure that this verse doesn’t need an address attached for you to know where to find it, since it is probably the most well-known verse in the Bible. Jon Courson, in his Application Commentary: New Testament, points out that these few words sum up God’s heart, His plan, and His will. He suggests that this verse is one we should meditate on it for ten days, emphasizing a different word each time:

For God so loved the world...
For God so loved the world...
For God so loved the world...

It is God’s greatest desire that the entire world would believe in His Son and have everlasting life. He does not want anyone to perish. In his second letter, Peter affirmed this:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Yet, I always find it interesting that rarely, when John 3:16 is quoted, do we ever hear the words that Jesus spoke next:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. (vs.17-21)

Jesus was sent into the world to SAVE it. Now, some people have a ho-hum attitude when it comes to being “saved,” and behave as if Jesus just came to show us the Father’s love for us. The silliness of this idea can be demonstrated in an illustration I heard years ago. Let’s say I’m sitting at the end of a pier, dangling my feet in water, and you come running down the pier and dive in for a swim. You are having a perfectly lovely swim, in no danger whatsoever, when I jump in the water to “save” you to show you how much I love you, and I drown in the process. That would not be love, that would be DUMB!

Well, Jesus did not die an agonizing death on the cross just to show us how much He loved us! He died on the cross because we were DYING in our SIN! We were “perishing” and needed to be “saved.” In fact, before His death, Jesus prayed that the Father would remove that cup of death if there could be ANY other way to save us. But He submitted to His Father’s will, because he loved us and because we needed saving!

The power in the gospel, much like an electrical charge, is in the partnership of the positive and the negative message. Without the negative, the positive has no power. As my pastor loves to say, “You have to know the bad news [you’re a lost sinner], in order to appreciate the good news [Jesus died for sinners].”

Verse 18 above tells us that anyone who does not believe in Jesus stands condemned [is perishing], because he hasn’t believed in Jesus. What does it mean to be condemned? Well, Revelation 20:15 tells us, If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. This will be along with the devil and the antichrist, and it’s a place where they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Rev 20:10) That’s harsh! But, because God is a holy, holy, holy God of justice, His righteousness and justice require wrath. But the good news is that we have been saved from that when we put our trust in Jesus, alone, to save us. Being saved sounds pretty good, right?

Why doesn’t EVERYONE receive this salvation gift? John 3:19 tells us:

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

Wow! Jesus tells us that men prefer to live in their sin! He also told us that His way is narrow and few would find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

I am so grateful that God opened my heart to hear and believe! But because I know He loves the whole WORLD, I need to make sure that as many as possible find that narrow Way!


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