How many people have quoted this scripture? It is probably the most recognized scripture in the bible and has been immortalized in poetry, song and verse by many writers and musicians. And with good reason for it encapsulates in a few words the awesome purpose of God for man and the Creation. These few words written by a fisherman two thousand years ago have captured the minds, hearts and spirits of so many that I am humbled even considering adding to the liturgy that already exists. So I will be brief and speak about what see in these words.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
For God so loved the world
The opening words of this verse convey so much meaning. They show us the heart of the Creator and how much He cares for us.
How many of you have children? Do you love your children? The great majority of people would answer a resounding “Yes” to this questions.
Now consider God's position. He is the Creator and Father of ALL the people, animals, birds and everything else in the Creation. We are His children, and like a parent He cares about every one of his children. He does not want to see us come to harm and has provided all good things for us so that we may live a life to the best we can.
He provided us with rules and regulations under the law, not for harsh control, but so that we could learn right from wrong. When we choose what is right, it actually makes our life better and easier. Which makes it puzzling why man chooses to live in sin rather than in the truth of the glory of God. God's desire for us is that we live lives of peace, joy and freedom.
And God did this…because he loves us. And it is because he loves us that he took the process so much further so that even though we became bound by sin, He gave us the opportunity to be set free from sin and to receive life. How did he do that…?
He gave His only Son
Would you give your life for your children to protect them? Most parents would consider it and would indeed do it.
But would you give your life so that your enemy could live? Most people would not. They would prefer to see their enemy suffer either in death or incarceration.
But God loved the world and his people so much, even while we were his enemies through sin, that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ to die for us so that we could have life. Would you give up your son or daughter to save the life of an enemy? Probably not and yet that is exactly what the Lord did for us.
And not just any son, for the angels also are called the sons of God. But he gave his firstborn, his “…only begotten son,” to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. And how is it that we receive life in the death of His Son, Jesus Christ?
That whoever believes in Him
Through faith. When we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and we follow His commands, we receive the life that is available to all of mankind if they will do likewise.
It is by obedience to God that we are made alive. And that obedience is in learning, understanding and believing in the purpose of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Paul wrote, “It [righteousness by faith] will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:24-25)
It is not possible to please God or to come to the kingdom of God without faith. That is why it is so important to believe in him. And what is the reward of our faith?
Should not perish but have eternal life
Eternal life. This is the ultimate reward for believing in Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection. The apostle Peter said it this way.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)
This is the outcome of our faith, to receive salvation of our souls to enter the kingdom of God and live into eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ.
What else needs to be added to this? The promise of God contained in these few words of the Apostle John says it all. Love, sacrifice, faith and eternity. How great is our God and greatly to be praised.
I am in awe!
(Image sourced from stock.xchng at www.sxc.hu/ provided by Nevit Dilmen)
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