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.
If you grew up in church, you probably memorized John 3:16 early. Maybe you’ve heard hundreds of sermons that have referenced the verse. You have understood it. You have embraced it. You are glad to have experienced the transformation that comes from taking in the truth in this one short verse, but have you ever shared it with anyone else? Could you explain what this verse means to someone who hasn’t yet accepted Christ as Savior? During this Year of Equipping I want to make sure that you are not only learning God’s Word and how to live well, but I am desperate to communicate that you have a responsibility to lead other people to discover what you have found. That’s today’s bottom line, friends. What God offers to everyone is our responsibility to share.
Do we realize that God’s plan for the world to know what is available to them through Jesus Christ is that we tell them? We are God’s mouthpieces, friends. Turn to your neighbor and say, “Tag, you’re it.” It’s true. You are God’s mouthpiece. II Corinthians 5:20 tells us, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
Is God making His appeal through your life? Have you been “ambassading” anywhere recently? Have you been talking to anyone about Jesus? I know it can feel awkward at first. I know we can be intimidated at first, but we push ourselves to do a whole lot of other things that are beyond our comfort zone, whether going to the gym, going back to school in our adulthood to change courses, applying for a new job, signing up for an online dating service and a host of other experiences that require we stretch and grow a bit.
When I started clogging two years ago just the shoes freaked me out. They didn’t feel natural. The taps on the bottom seemed slick. I was afraid that I would fall just walking around in them. But now, you ought to see me on Tuesday nights at 6:15. I’m doing Stomp Doubles, High Horses, Chain Rocks, Samantha’s, Doubles and Triples like a champion. I’m even now in what is considered to be “Advanced Clogging.” I can “Yee Haw” and “Hee Haw” with the best of them! It was weekly practice that took me from awkward to awesome. (Well, “awesome” might be a stretch, but I love it.) Not only do I love to clog, but I love to witness for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s exciting to me. It’s an honor for me. I am Christ’s Ambassador. What an assignment! This is what we are, church. It’s not what we become somewhere down the road or after we turn fifty or after we have been a Christian for 20 years. If you have been saved you are now an ambassador. Tag, you’re it. What could happen in our community if everyone who is an ambassador for Christ was “ambassading?”
I want to give you a strategy, I want to equip you with a way to talk about Jesus with people you know. It involves the five words that are bolded in our text. Take a look at them again: 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.
In addition to these five words, I want you to repeat five phrases after me. Will you repeat these after me one at a time: The Promise, The Problem, the Provider, the Person, the Process.
I am going to begin with the last of the five words highlighted in John 3:16. It is the word LIFE.
LIFE-The Promise-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.
Your first breath, your first cry on this planet was only possible because you were given the gift of life. You didn’t form yourself, right? You had nothing to do with the creation of your life. Your physical existence is God’s doing, and God wants your life to be connected with the knowledge of Him. God wants your life to be centered in Him because when He created you, He had a purpose in mind. He wired you for a certain impact.
God knows not only why He gave you life, but He wants to help you discover that purpose. He also wants to support you with strength and hope and wisdom as you travel through life because there is so much along the way that drains our lives and brings pain into our lives. God wants to give you power to live well, even in the hard times. The Bible calls us “abundant life” or “life to the full.” (John 10:10)
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.
He promises to do this for anyone who wants to experience it. A great question to ask someone is simply this: Do you believe you are living real life to the full? Why or why not?
That question will get the conversation started. Start it online with someone. Start it at the office with someone. Go to lunch and slip it into the conversation. Tell them your preacher talked about how real life is life with God and ask whether they believe that or not. Don’t start with sin. Don’t start with lots of Scripture. Start with someone we all can relate to, that we all need. Start with LIFE and the Promise of God. Everyone say, “Life-The Promise.” God’s promise is life!
The second word and phrase from John 3:16 I want us to look at is:
WORLD-The Problem 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.
If you want to talk to someone about Jesus, ask them how they see the world’s brokenness. Ask them what problems they see. When God saw the world He saw things that were totally messed up from His designs when He created the world. The political division in our country has turned an entire generation off not only to civic responsibilities but to all-things God. People are walking on egg shells in their schools, in their workplaces, and in their families because everything you say is held against you. It seems America’s number one right is to be offended. And when someone is offended the internet is informed. The inflammatory speech is at an all-time high. People say things on purpose to make people mad. I’ve never seen anything like it.
It is easy to see this is a broken world. No one is going to argue with that. 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.
Romans 3:23 tells us everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is born with the same problem. Everyone says and does things that go against what God would want for us. Everyone of us has lived disconnected from God’s will. That’s the problem with sin. It separates us from God and His plans. That separation, sadly, can become permanent. Did you see the word “perish” in our text? Here it is again: “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.
The word “perish” means to suffer complete ruin or destruction. Left on our own, we will all perish. That is a problem. Many are perishing right now. They are being ruined by the ways of sin. They are dealing with destroyed relationships, destroyed finances, destroyed reputations, destroyed health, destroyed careers, destroyed minds, and destroyed futures. The Bible says we can perish in this life and worse yet, we can perish for eternity. Our eternal end can be destruction in Hell. That’s the problem we all face.
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. And the more people who live connected to God and learn His ways, the more peace and love we are going to have on this earth. If you want to talk to someone about Jesus, talk to them about the problems that exist in the world. There is no denying we need major help.
Here is the third word and third phrase we can pull out of John 3:16 to help us with our “ambassading.”
GOD-The Provider-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. Boy when Thom and I fell in love we would move heaven and earth to be together. We lived about 35 minutes apart and we would burn up I-75 between northern Cincinnati and northern KY to see each other. One time, Thom took a trip to FL and he missed me so much, he paid to change his flight so he could come home early to surprise me with roses in my driveway that spelled “I Love You.” When I pulled into my driveway that night after church I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough! Extra money. Extra effort. He wanted me to feel special. He wanted me to know how much he loved me. He was moved to do something extravagant for me. I couldn’t change his flight and buy myself roses. I don’t think I would have even thought of that. But it was in his heart to do that for me.
Do we understand the power of love? 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.
If you want to talk to people about Jesus, start with the power of love. 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.
Here is the fourth word and phrase:
SON-The Person. 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. When people acknowledge that Jesus is the perfect Savior of the world and ask that what He did be applied to their lives, the inside sin nature, that which drives us to do wrong, is converted, changed, and transformed to want to do that which pleases God.
God’s love would be pretty twisted if Jesus had stayed dead, but He didn’t. He rose from the grave proving He is the Lord over death, and He ascended into Heaven and is seated on a throne in power. Jesus not only took care of sin, but He took care of death as well. People who trust in Him have nothing to fear, not even death. Just as He showed us the way to God through His blood, He will show us the way to Heaven. Jesus is the PERSON who has made it possible for you to know and love God, for you to have eternal life.
As you talk with people, just ask what they think about Jesus, what they know about Jesus. Take the opportunity to tell them that He was sent to rescue us from our sin, to rescue us from separation from God, to rescue us from an eternal Hell and to take us to an eternal Heaven someday. He did it through His perfect life and sinless sacrifice and by rising from the grave.
Finally, here is the fifth word and phrase:
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.
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.
Allow me to illustrate the kind of believing I’m talking about this way: When presented with a freshly baked apple pie, you could react in two ways. One way is that you look at it and believe it’s an apple pie. You believe that apples and sugar and flour went into the making of it and that it went through a process of baking to be ready for you to eat. You even believe that it tastes good. This is to objectively believe that the pie exists and that it’s a good, tasty apple pie.
But another way to react is that you take a bite. As you eat the pie, you receive it. You know that the pie exists, but you have more than objective knowledge because you’re taking it in. You subjectively experience the pie as more than an object existing on the table. You enjoy its taste and texture. Your hunger is satisfied. The pie is no longer outside of you. You have received it and as you digest it, it becomes one with you. (https://blog.biblesforamerica.org/the-difference-between-believing-in-and-believing-into-jesus-in-john-316/)
That is what God’s process involves. 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.
Do you have people in your life that you could just ask, “What do you believe about salvation or heaven and how a person gets there?” That question alone can open so many doors for conversation.
So that’s it. We are Christ’s ambassadors, but are we “ambassading?” Can we now talk to people about the Promise, the Problem, the Provider, the Person, and the Process? The first conversation will be the hardest, but you will never do anything more rewarding in your life.