Some time ago I took an evangelism class that was supposed to make it easy to share the Gospel message. There was an outline that we were given to memorize that included a lot of different scriptures and options of what to say based on the response of the person we were talking to. We practiced on each other in class and then tried out our new formula by dropping by the homes of recent visitors to our church. While most of the time we were able to get through our outline successfully, rarely did it feel comfortable or natural.
Since then I’ve come to realize that instead of a memorized formula, we need to just learn some key truths. As the annual celebration of the resurrection of Jesus approaches, I thought it a perfect time to remind ourselves of basics of the Gospel summarized in the most familiar verse in scripture.
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. – John 3:16
What God is – “For God so loved”
If you were to make a list of people that you love, who would be on it? Parent, friends, children, sisters, brothers, etc. Generally, we wouldn’t include the person who twisted things around at work and really let us to take the fall. Or that relative who is constantly picking at every little detail of your life. Or that person who has flatly rejected you again and again.… The honest answer would be that those kinds of people wouldn’t make the list, would they? Aren’t you glad God isn’t like that? Where would we be all be if God only loved those who loved him first?
What God did – “He gave His One and Only Son”
Often you hear even committed Christians who are going through a rough time say something like this… “If God loved me, then He wouldn’t have let ____ happen.” The truth is that getting what we want in life is not what determines God’s love for us. God’s love is most clearly seen in His ‘giving’ … specifically in the giving of His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Romans 5:8 says it like this. “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” This verse states plainly, that Christ’s death is what proved God’s love for us.
Who it is for – “Whoever”
Most people know that God loves the world, but rarely do we stop to grasp what that really encompasses. His definition of “whoever” is far broader than ours would be. It means that His love crosses political, racial, socioeconomic, and cultural boundaries. It’s not limited to a particular race or ethnicity or gender. It is extended to people who have committed all types of sin. It’s not limited to a particular time in history – It existed before the earth began and will continue into eternity. As the psalmist says… it is from ‘everlasting to everlasting.’ (Ps. 90:2) As big as that seems… it is also very intimate and personal because God’s love isn’t just a blanket for the multitudes… It’s reaches out and holds an open hand each of us as individuals.
What is required – “Believes in Him”
This verse doesn’t say that whoever believes the facts about Jesus will have eternal life. It says “whoever believes IN HIM.” It’s a different kind of belief. Plenty of professors and theologians have oodles of knowledge about God and the Bible that would impress anyone, but to hear them talk about the “historical Jesus” in a way that questions His existence or relevance makes it clear that all their book knowledge hasn’t impacted their hearts. Facts aren’t what makes one a Christian; it’s belief IN HIM, that begins in the heart that brings about spiritual birth. (Rom. 10:9-10)
What the promise is – “Shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
When you mention the words “eternal life,” most people default to thinking about streets of gold and pearly gates that will swing open at the moment of our death. While heaven is definitely part of eternal life, it doesn’t start there. Those who believe in Jesus possess eternal life immediately… right now, in the present tense! Jesus lives within us through the presence of the Holy Spirit, and because death had no hold on Him, it has no hold on us either!
As you prepare to celebrate Christ’s triumph over the grave, think about the sure and true words of Jesus: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (Luke 6:37-40)
22 thoughts on “For God So Loved…”
How true. This was such a great reminder of all that God has done for us through Jesus. Thank you for this insightful study and the depth of the meaning in this verse. Such a good word. #lifeislovely
Thank you so much. Even when I translated it to Dutch it is for me good to read. Thinking about this message today. Here it is already Good Friday.May God bless you.
God beautiful Word translates to all of us, no matter where we are or what we are doing. So glad you took time to read and comment! Blessings to you!
Sometimes we make God’s word more difficult to understand than it should be. Thank you for this beautiful, simple truth! May you have a blessed Resurrection Sunday!
I agree! Sometimes we get so caught up in the details that we miss the simplicity of the basic message. Thanks Debby!
We seem to make sharing our faith more difficult than it is. Yet the basic truth is wonderfully simple, isn’t it!
A heartfelt concern and love combined with some naturally shared truth is a powerful combination!
Thanks for sharing this today! It’s good to revisit a verse that we say so often, yet remember the full meaning so little. I also think many people have over complicated evangelism with outlines. It makes more sense to know the truth well and share it in relationships that are already growing. I used to think I had to knock on doors and give speeches to strangers to share Jesus but it turns out I can share Him just by living my day to day life in relationship with Him and striving to love others 🙂 thanks for the encouragement today!
I agree 100% Jordan! The early church grew exponentially by people just sharing what they knew and how God changed their lives through Christ… and they did it all w/o one class or a single outline telling them how to do it. If we really live what we say we believe, the overflow of our lives will be wholly attractive to those we live and work with. thanks for the spot-on comment!
Great reminders. It is similar to what I have on my “What is the Gospel?” page on my website. Would you mind if I linked to this post on my page, also?
Such a great way to express this verse to new believers. Truly depicts the message of the gospel and the need to make a response in faith – not works or thoughts or intentions. Great post, Karen.
Sometimes we over complicate that which is easy enough for a child to understand, don’t we? I think that shows us that God’s heart is for us to hear, believe and, as you said, respond in faith. Thanks for stopping by Tiffany.
Love this! Recently I heard it pointed out that often when we think Gospel – we think Salavation – and we should, yes…. but the Gospel that Jesus preached was Kingdom and how it is at hand! Yes – eternal life starts now… and as much as I love Scriptures and tools to help share our faith, I think sharing the Gospel is easier than we think! Great post!
I think you’re right. We miss that Jesus focused on the kingdom of God and not just getting a ticket to heaven. Good point to remember when we talk to others! Thanks for visiting!
A friend of mine said her pastor says, God loves “every one” and gave His “only one” so that “any one” can have eternal life. I love that.
And I agree that people miss out when they don’t grasp that eternal life is immediate upon salvation. That truth is rich with beautiful alterations for our perspective. Someone once said, its not that we are a human body that has a soul, but we are a soul that has a body. Our citizenship to somewhere else is already true. We are now, “only passing through” as the song says.
Succinct and to the point! I love that memorable summary sentence! Thanks for sharing!
And it was Bill Gillham who said “you are a spirit-being in an earth-suit!” I’ll never forget that!
Beautiful reminder to not only make sure our hearts are where they need to be, but that we tell every one God sends us to about it! I think I would have a hard time telling someone about Jesus the way you described in the class. Billy Graham once said that if you want to change someone’s life – tell a story – and I think those are the stories about how Jesus impacted our lives. I wish I could roll out scripture in an organized format like your class encouraged you to do – I haven’t been able to yet – but I can tell the stories he gives me. Thank you for sharing how beautifully you did! Shalom!
While the class I took did give me some useful scriptures to hang onto, I didn’t like the stiff and formal outline b/c it was awkward. I think you are much more on target with the better approach. Tell a story. Better yet, tell YOUR story. We definitely need to base it in scriptures and the solid truth of God’s own Word, we still need to make it more than an argument about theology. Much better to show them what God has done to and through us personally! Thanks for adding to the conversation!
Thank you for such an in-depth study of this scripture. I know I’m guilty of the “if you love me, why is this happening?” line of thinking. It’s definitely crazy to realize eternal life means it’s happening right now! I just love this. Thank you.
I think we are all guilty of asking God why things are happening to us. I think that’s why we have to stay close to the scriptures to see that sometimes the things we label as “bad” are actually the things that are the greatest expressions of His love. Thanks Leah!
This is beautifully written. I love how you have broken down the verse and extracted the meaning from each section. Visiting From 3 Words Wednesday.
This verse is packed with truth that we could swim in for a lifetime! Thanks for taking the time to read and share your thoughts!