John 3:16-21 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
This verse is probably the most famous verse in the bible. Yet recent surveys reveal that nationwide, seven out of ten adults feel that they know don’t know what it means. Just posting the verse on your bumper of your car, or parading it around on your shirt is not evangelism. However, getting our there and actually talking about this verse is evangelism.
This saying of Jesus’ was so radical for the time he said it, and it still is a radical concept… God loves. SO…much…that HE… gave…
Much like the changes in the church that brought the Protestant Reformation, do to the corruption and burdens the church had laid on its parishioners. The Jewish synagogue with its additions to the law made it totally unbearable to the average Hebrew. They were afraid of God. Afraid of being caught and punished. They didn’t serve God out of love, but out of stringent tradition, fear, and burdensome loads. In fact, it had been around 400 years since they even last heard from God.
They were living in an oppressed society, with no real sense of identity as a nation, or as individuals. I would imagine a lot of the Hebrews had probably given up on God a long time ago.
So this… God loved me? What a different tune this was, and still is.
I think it is wonderful that Jesus chose to start this statement on the grace of God, the same way the very scriptures begin in the old testament. He said “For God so loved…” In Genesis 1:1 the scripture reads, “In the beginning God….”
There is no debate on whether:
- God exists
- God has all authority
- Or that God initiates the first move
You would be a fool to thing otherwise. Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool hath said in this heart, There is no God”
Psalm 19:1-3 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth knowledge. There is no speech not language, where their voice is not heard.”
Probably this word is one of the most misused words in the history of language. What does it mean? Does anyone know? We use it to describe our car, or some heart-throb for an entertainer, even how a new toy of tool works or feels. Merriam-Webster has a whole lot to say on love.
(1) : strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties maternal love for a child
(2) : attraction based on sexual desire
(3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests
These are only a handful of the meanings in the dictionary. If we tried to apply any of these terms we would be sorely mislead on the LOVE of God towards us. You see in this verse it actually says, “God SO loved the world.”
This is then a demonstrated measure of the LOVE of GOD towards us. Let’s look at it this way, If I said I love Americans, that would be true. Americans are my favorite people on earth. But that does not mean I would necessarily die for just any American. Let’s face it even the apostle Paul said, “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.”(Romans 5:7)
However, if you pulled a gun on my wife, I would definitely get in-between you and her. I would gladly die in her place, because I cannot see life without her. You see that is the kind of love God has for each of us. God loves us ALL because he loves EACH of US! In saying “God so loved the world” – we can say the he loves every single person in the world. SOOO Much! That he gave his one and only son.
My wife and I have 3 sons and once again, I cannot imagine that I love someone enough to ask any one of my sons to die in their place. I know that God loves his Son, Jesus. What a hard thing to have to ask. To look into the eyes of your only begotten son, and tell him. There is something I need you to do… and its gona hurt… a whole lot, and it is going to kill. But I don’t see another way for it to happen.
He (God the Father) loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten son. This means that is was not Christ’s death that turned God from hating and being angry, but that God’s love for us compelled Christ’s sacrificial death.
God so loved….. that he gave.
But why did Christ have to die? The was a debt that had to be paid. Remember way back in Genesis when God warned Adam not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, because when he did, he would surely die? Well guess what… he ate from it…. And he died, not only that, all of his decedents died.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Then God so love the world that he gave his own Son, Jesus Christ to pay the wage for sin. That is he gave him up to die on your behalf. Romans 5:8 explains, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Whosoever means anyone. There is no limitation. No “elected” amount. No special selection process, where only certain people are allowed in. In fact there is not mystery here at all on whom it means. There is not even any guess to the assurance of the promise. Whosoever means me, it means, you!
1 John 4:15 tells us, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”
Belief means that you accept something as truth, that you trust in it. You have confidence in it for faith. Listen salvation is not found in believing in the preacher, or in getting baptized as an infant. In fact, Baptism does not save someone at all. You cannot be a “good” person and be saved. Popular movies like to portray some rich arrogant guy who passed away and then when he meets St Peter at the pearly gates, Peter tells him he cannot come in until he corrects some of the wrongs he committed and then sends him back down in a borrowed body so he can get busy. You cannot earn your way into heaven by good works, and you cant get in with good looks either! You cannot buy your way into heaven with all the money in the world, or your charitable contributions. Your mother or father being saved does not save you either.
No there is only one way to pay that debt of sin and that is death. Your avoidance of death comes from believing that Jesus paid that penalty for you, and having confidence in his payment, was payment in full.
I do not know who wrote this, but I saw a poem that said:
For God – the Lord of earth and heaven,
So loved – and longed to see forgiven,
The world – in sin and pleasure mad,
That he gave – the only Son he had,
His only Son – to take our place,
That whosoever – Oh, what grace,
Believeth – placing simple trust,
In Him – the righteous and the just,
Should not perish – lost in sin,
But have everlasting life – in HIM.
What Jesus said was in contrast to the traditional, Jewish, acceptance of scriptures that related to the coming messiah. The Hebrews believed that the Messiah would come and deliver them from the Gentiles by judgement, by judgement I mean destruction of the gentile nations… all of them.
But Jesus said, the Messiah is here to save, and not to judge. He was here to provide that salvation himself. Not only to the Jews, but for the WHOLE world. By using the term of the “whole word” I mean YOU as an individual, loved by God Himself! Loved so much that he gave his life up so you could live.
Then to ensure the deal would be permanent, he rose from the dead so that he could officiate over the New Covenant between God and man. Imagine Jesus is saying that he has the power and authority to save the entire world. He is the deliverer!
We can have confidence in the salvation provided by Jesus, because it is a free gift, given to us in love. He is the guarantor of the payment. He is the overseer of the contract. His blood is the binding signature. The very Son of God himself holds the receipt of payment – in full! Jesus loves us to much that he holds our salvation himself. None of it is your responsibility.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans; “For I am persuaded, that neither death, not life, nor angels, nor principalities, not powers, not things present, nor things to come, note height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
This is such an amazing gift that has been given to us. The creator of the universe loves you and me so much that when we failed and turned our backs on him, he found a way to bring us home again. What a blessed assurance we then have that if God, holds our salvation, that we cannot lose it and nothing can separate us from God, ever again… Amen