Greetings in Christ!
This week we come to John 3:16, the most beloved Bible verse of Christians the world over. John 3:16 is the universal gospel tract. You can find it on signs, in pamphlets, and on bumper stickers. Sports fans hold it up at football games. When Tim Tebow played college ball, he wrote John 3:16 on his eye black, causing quite a stir. The NFL said no way but God had other plans. Twenty-five words‚ twelve before and twelve after, with the Son right in the middle. The key to life is to always keep Jesus in the center of all you do:
…..…there am I in the midst of them.
…..…two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.
…..…sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
…..…came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
Whatever your endeavor is, whether it be a marriage, a career, or a contest, remember to keep Jesus in the center of it. Father, give us wisdom and open our understanding as we read your precious word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
……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.
Even if we were to only take the first six words of this verse, that would be a truly amazing truth to consider: For God so loved the world… The idea of a loving God was a radical concept in that day. Even today, Muslims still believe in the jinn, an entity or entities that you want to avoid upsetting at all costs if you know what is good for you. Neither do Muslims think of Allah as a god of love, but rather one of submission and discipline. In fact, the word ‘Islam’ literally means submission. Many other examples could be given. The fact that God loves us, all of us, is good news indeed. But does He really love all of us? It says the world. That is all of us.
that he gave his only begotten Son
Jesus was God’s gift to us all. Red and yellow black and white, brown, olive, mulatto, albino, or illustrated head to toe with colorful tattoos, Jesus is available to everyone. If you are a parent, I’m sure you can appreciate what a tremendous sacrifice this was. Would you give your son or daughter to be crucified as payment for someone else’s crimes? I didn’t think so. What made this sacrifice even more amazing is Jesus is God’s only begotten [Gk mono-genē] Son. God has many sons and daughters but Jesus is the only one that is begotten of Him. Adam was created (Heb bara) by God. Eve was literally built (Heb wayyiben) by God. Only Jesus was begotten by God. (I believe that in the resurrection all of us who claim the name of Christ will be begotten as per Acts 13:33, James 1:18, et al.)
The invitation is open to everyone. Nobody can say that they were not on the list. Nobody is forced to take the gift, but it is offered to everyone.
Shortly after Governor Newsom shut California down I left Los Angeles and moved to the country to work on a ranch. This morning as I was meditating on John 3:16, my friend Angela sent a text message to everyone on the ranch that she was making flapjacks. Everyone was invited. Not everyone accepted the invitation, but everyone was invited. Angela was a little hurt that not everyone accepted her invitation, but nothing could be done. You cannot force someone to accept a gift if they do not want it. Someone will inevitably complain that some did not hear, but God speaks to everyone in ways sufficient to convey his love to them. (Ps 19:3) Anyone who is truly interested will find God. Jesus promises For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. There are plenty of accounts of people who found God all on their own without a Bible or a preacher. When the missionaries found them they said we already worshiped Him, we just didn’t know his name. I met one such person when I was living in Harare. He told me about dreams and visions he had which at first he did not understand, but they led him to leave his village and go to the city seeking answers. In his visions he saw cherubims with four faces: a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. He also saw Christ crucified. He later learned that his visions came from the Bible and he became a Christian.
believeth in him
Here we have the glorious good news that whatever you have done, no matter how terrible it may have been, the only requirement is that you believe in him. You do not have to atone for your sins. Jesus has already done that for you. All you have to do is believe in him. Religion says that you have to do something. Christianity says it is already done. All you have to do is believe it. If you do not believe, you are not one of his. (John 10:26) In our day and age, there are multitudes of Christians who say they believe, but their actions prove otherwise. I once visited a friend in the hospital who was dying of cancer. This person was what one may call a ‘carnal Christian’. She showed me a three-ring binder some church people left with her. She said they told her if she wanted to be delivered she had to implement all of the instructions in this very thick binder. As I thumbed through it, I found that it was full of things that I considered just normal Christian behavior. To her though, it was a radical change of lifestyle because she never really believed enough to read her Bible and do what it said. Being a Christian does not mean just saying a prayer. If you truly believe, you will continue in the word, believe what it says and do what it says.
should not perish,
If you will believe in Him, you will be saved from spiritual death. If you reject Him, He will say I know you not. The last thing you will see before you are thrown into the lake of fire is Jesus seated on his throne in all his glory. After you bow your knee and confess with your tongue that Jesus is Lord, you will be cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. There is no contradiction here. If you have ever been in a room with a fire in the fireplace and the lights off, or by a bonfire on a dark night, you know you can have darkness and fire at the same time. If you believe in Him, instead of being separated from the God who created you, you will be welcomed into his family as royalty:
but have everlasting life.
If you will receive Jesus as your Saviour you will hear Him say enter thou into the joy of thy lord and nothing will be able to separate you from the love of God. It has been said you are either a whosoever will or a whosoever won’t. If you are a whosoever will, God loves you the same as He loves his only begotten Son. (John 17:23) If you are a whosoever won’t, God’s wrath is upon you. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. Which one will you be?
Father, thank You for giving us your Son. I receive Him as my personal Saviour. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and take control of my life. Thank You for the precious blood You shed for me on Calvary. I repent of my sin and promise to follow You wherever You lead. Father, thank You for writing my name in your book of life. Please fill me with your Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name. Amen.