John 3:16

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

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It is possible that this single verse has had more impact on the world than any other verse in the Bible.  Contained within these few words, the entire message of the Gospel, or Good News, is laid out for us.  It is truly amazing how broad and how deep the spiritual message is of this one verse.  And if you asked most people to tell you what their favorite verse is, or what verse they learned to memorize first, the answer for many people is John 3:16.

In many ways, this verse is the foundation for one of the most popular Christian pamphlets of the ’70s and ’80’s.  It was called “The Four Spiritual Laws“.  The message of that pamphlet could be summarized in four words: 1) God; 2) Mankind; 3) Sin; and 4) Jesus.  The message was: “God existed, and then created Mankind.  But Mankind sinned and became separated from God. The only solution to this problem of sin was to send Jesus, the Perfect Man/God who died on the Cross to make a bridge so that men and women could come back to God.

To appreciate the spiritual depth of this verse, I want to slow things down and have us take a look at each of the important words and phrases of this verse.  I pray that all who read this will not just see the beauty of this magnificent verse of Scripture, but will take the Message to heart and let Jesus be the Lord of their life.

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“For God…”

  • At the end of verse 15, Jesus had just told Nicodemus that if any person would put their faith in Him, the Son of Man, that person would then have eternal life.  Many scholars think that vv. 16-21 are now John’s words as he reflects back on the life of Jesus.  Seeing that there existed this unpassable chasm between God and mankind, God decided He would have to do something to bridge this gap.  We could translate these words, “And so thus God…”  It is always God who acts first for our benefit.

“For God so loved…”

  • If there is any one single truth about God that people need to understand, it is that God is a God of love.  1 John 4:7-8 tells us that Love comes from God, for God is Love.  Far too many people have an image of God up in heaven, either as an old man who is not interested in nor involved in the affairs of men, or they see God as a punishing God who stands by with a big stick to hurt us and make us suffer when we sin.  This is as far away from the truth as a person can get.  GOD IS LOVE!!

“For God so loved the world…”

  • It is also wrong to think that God shows favoritism, or is just the “God of the Jews”.  The word ‘world’ here does not have anything to do with geography, but refers to all of mankind that fills the world.  The love of God is meant to be Universal in its scope, so that any person who wants to can be able to come back to God.”

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son…”

  • Some versions say that God gave “His only begotten Son,” which sounds like the Son was “born” from God just like we give birth to our children.  A more accurate translation for the Greek word here is “his unique” or “his only one of a kind” Son.  What is truly amazing about the love of God for mankind is that God could have chosen many other ways to show His love for us, but He didn’t.  There was one and ONLY ONE Son of God. 
  • The Son, who also shares the nature of Godhood, was intricately bound to the Father and the Holy Spirit in a triangle of pure love for each other.  Read John 17:20-26.  And yet, God gave His One and Only Son over to the world and allowed Him to die so that we might live.  Such sacrificial love.  God did that for you and for me.  What amazing love!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him…”

  • In this phrase, we see once more the love of God.  When sin was about to enter the world, God could have prevented it…that is if God had created us to be robots without the option of free will.  But even after sin came into the world, God has never forced Himself upon us.  God is the perfect gentleman, and He patiently waits for anyone who will come to Him in faith and believe that Jesus can forgive us our sin once we willingly repent of sin and accept Him as Lord.  Have you done that?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

  • When I see the word ‘perish’ I see the picture of a person out at sea and about to drown.  If the person goes back under the water one more time and not come back up, then that person will perish.  But if someone reaches out and lifts him/her up, then that person has just passed out of death and into life. 
  • That is what happens when a person accepts Jesus as their Lord and Saviour of their life.  That person is no longer in danger of eternal death and separation from God; that person will live forever in heaven with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

So my friend, what is your response to John 3:16?

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