John 3:16 “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.
For me, these are the most powerful words EVER!
LIFE-Life is the promise of God to anyone in a right relationship with Him. While the word “eternal” means lasting or existing forever, it also means valid for all time and unchanging. Take that in for a second. There is this sense that God wants us to have something that brings stability to our lives, something that anchors us to that which never changes. You see, life is more than simply living. Life is about knowing who you are and why you are here. It is about being anchored to the One who created you, who gave you the gift of life.
Eternal life is more than something beyond death. Eternal life is spiritual life here and now and forever in Heaven one day. You begin to live the life for which you were created the moment you let God take control of your life. Before that, you are living some other existence. You may be doing the best you can. You may be trying to do what your parents taught you. You might be trying to live carefully or to be a good person, but you are missing out on eternal life in this life until you give your life to Christ. There is no spiritual life without God. In His mercy, God gives breath to all who have a pulse, but He only gives life to all who become His children.
WORLD-There are problems with this world. I don’t think you could have a conversation with anyone who would disagree with you. This world is a hot mess. We see chaos, craziness, violence, and heartbreak everywhere. I watched a video this week that said we have 7000 children in the state of WV who are in foster care largely due to the opioid crisis in our state. That is staggering. Folks, that is messed up. We lead the nation in children being removed from their homes due to drug abuse.
Where does that brokenness come from? It comes from people wanting to live life their way, according to their own wisdom, apart from God. That is what sin is. Sin is doing things our way versus God’s way. God’s way doesn’t lead to hate, divisiveness and violence. God’s way doesn’t lead to chaos and craziness; only peace, only love. But we are born thinking we know what is best. We are born with a bent that nobody is going to tell us what to do. No one would argue with that. That is called our sinful nature. We are born with it, and we can’t change it ourselves. It’s an inside job. No good behavior or good intentions can remove that which is deposited deep within us.
God says that no one has to perish. No one has to be overtaken by the disease of sin. There is a cure. There is a way out of the sin problem that plagues us from birth. There is a vaccine, and there is a way of life that can liberate us from this mess we are in.
GOD-So God has given us a promise to help us with the problem of sin. He shows up big as He provides the way for sin to be dealt with. Before I talk about what He did for us, I want to talk about the reason He did it. John 3:16 tells us that God so LOVED the world.
Love is a big motivator, isn’t it? It makes people do crazy things. It makes us willing to go the extra mile to put that smile on someone’s face. Parents, we understand the depth of at least human love. We will jump through hoops to support our kids, to reduce their pain, to give them the best possible life. They will never know the late nights, the times we did without, the way we pushed ourselves so that they could be at their best or experience something they wanted. Love has this sacrificial component.
The ULTIMATE lover is God. I John 4:7 tells us God is love. If you want to know what love is, how extreme it is, look at God. It is His nature to love us. We are His passion. Listen, when you aren’t thinking about God I guarantee He is thinking about you. When you aren’t acknowledging God’s love, I guarantee He is showing you just how much you mean to Him.
Part of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus is this: No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, God still loves you! That is how God feels about you! Ambassadors for Jesus, I guarantee there are people in your lives who are waiting for someone to tell them this incredible truth.
SON-God loves us, but sin can’t go unpunished. How could a holy God just wink at sin? It can’t be swept under the rug. How would we ever know what love is if there wasn’t a punishment for violating the boundaries God has set? How would we ever respect God’s ways if He didn’t enforce His own laws? We would never take God seriously, would we? Wrongdoing couldn’t go unpunished. How would that punishment be enacted? What would it involve?
It would involve God Himself, taking the punishment you and I deserved. Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth and lived a perfect, sinless life. Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time. That qualified Him to pay the price for the sins of the world. He was considered by God the Father to be an acceptable sacrifice for our sins. His blood was sufficient because it was untainted by sin. He was executed by being nailed to a cross. He received the death penalty, so we could go free. Remember, I said love makes us do crazy things. That’s crazy love, isn’t it? Jesus sacrificed Himself so that we didn’t have to take the consequences we deserved. And when He did, His righteousness, His perfection became available to us personally, and the opportunity for us to have our slate wiped clean was given to us. That is what forgiveness means.
BELIEVES-The process of salvation is simply believing that what God has done, He has done for you. It is accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. It is allowing God to love you through the sacrifice of Christ. It is allowing God to take the sinful nature from you by believing that His plan has worked and will work in your life.
God is not only a Father who loved you. God is not only a Son who died for you. God is also a Spirit who wants to bring transformation to every part of your life, and the way that process gets started is by simply believing this verse of Scripture. If you believe on Jesus and what He did, you can receive the Spirit of God and have eternal life. Jesus gave His life for you. You give your life to Him to lead. It’s more than just an intellectual belief. It is opening yourself to a relationship with God, the reason for which Christ died, that demonstrates you have placed your trust in Him. That is what the word, “Believes” means in the Greek. It means “to take into ourselves.” We get to become one with Christ. The guy who pleased the Heavenly Father, Jesus, becomes one with us, so that we, too, are pleasing to the Father. The life of Christ becomes ours not just in belief, but in our soul, mind, and our physical strength. We weren’t saved from sin just to believe something, but to become something. That is salvation. God hasn’t saved us so that we can become a better version of ourselves, but He has saved us so that we can become like Jesus.