Bible Reading: John 3.16
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3.16
In this familiar words we read 25 words of hope that begins with God and ends with life. And it urges us to do the same. It is a great place to start and great place to return to often. They are words spoken softly by Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago, but they are as relevant and life-changing today as they were then. We will look at this text in four ways, God, God’s love, God’s loving act, and God’s loving gift.
Jesus teaches us that there is a God. Jesus also teaches us that God has a Son. Jesus speaks of God’s Son as God’s only begotten Son, literally, His unique Son, only one of His kind Son. This Son is not created. There has never been a time when God had not begotten His Son. Hebrews 1.3 says about the “Son, He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” The Son is the same substance, the same nature of God, the Father. They are equal. Paul in Colossians 1.15 says speaking of the Son, “He is the image of the invisible God.” He is the revelation of God that as the apostle John says speaking of the only begotten from the Father (1.14) says, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (1.18). From eternity past the Son has laid in the bosom of the Father sharing in His love, knowing His counsel, so this unique One, who is the Son of God is eternal, sharing the same love of the Father, knowing the will, wisdom and knowledge of the Father and He has come to explain Him literally in the flesh. In other words the only begotten Son is Jesus, the one speaking these 25 words! He is God, eternal, co-equal to the Father, He shares the same love as the Father, knowing His will and He came obediently to do the will of the Father to explain God to you and I in the flesh.
Let these words sink in: “For God so loved the world.” Scripture tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4.8), that He is “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2.4), and slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness (Numbers 14.18). The love here is sacred love (we see it in the context and this verse). (In the context) His love is not limited to a specific group of people or race, but His gift of love is for the world. We see this with Jesus’ love for Nicodemus and the woman of Samaria.
God’s loving act is that He gave His only begotten Son. Romans 5.8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It is the love of God that was the motivation of the Father to act on the behalf of humanity by giving His Son to die. On the cross the extent of God’s love is seen as Jesus, the perfect, sinless God-Man, literally becomes sin on our behalf, so that you and I can a relationship with God ( 2 Corinthians 5.21). The apostle Peter says, “Jesus bore (carried) our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2.24). But we know that Jesus’ death did not end in the grave. On the third He conquered the grave, was resurrected and appeared to many. Jesus conquered sin, the enemy and the penalty of sin which is death, both physical and spiritual. He did this for you and I that we might truly live and live forever.
God’s loving gift is that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. There are two different states of being and destinies mentioned here. One is a great delight and the other a grim danger. First, the Delight: What is eternal life? It is a new quality of life, which is a present possession of one who has trusted in Jesus as their Savior and Lord, the life they live now is in and for Jesus and even though they are in the world they are not of it. No longer do they love or follow the world, but they love and follow Jesus! One who has eternal life will possess this life forever even after their physical death as they will be in heaven where Jesus is.
What does it mean to perish? John 3.36 says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” God is a loving God, but He is also a just God. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6.23) and if the death and resurrection of Jesus is not applied to us, because we do not trust in Jesus, we will be punished, we will face not only physical death, but remain under the wrath of God forever, including a final destiny of ruin and destruction in hell apart from God. Scripture speaks of perishing as a fiery place of torment (Revelation 14.10), as separation from the glory of God (2 Thessalonians 1.9), and it speaks of this perishing as being everlasting and irreversible (Matthew 25.46; Luke 16.26).
So, what must one do to have eternal life? Believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ! Ephesians 2.8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works.” You can’t earn this unearthly love…Your goodness can’t win His love nor can your badness lose His love. It is free and undeserved. All you must do is receive it. You receive by believing in Jesus Christ alone!
Memory Verse: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.” John 11:25