"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
Even those who are not ardent students of the Bible are familiar with this passage of scripture. I believe, therefore, it is a wonderful place in which to start when trying to aid someone in his or her conversion to Christ. God's love for man is truly remarkable and should be considered mentionable when talking with our friends about Christ and His plan for redeeming man. There are at least four key elements within this single passage to express to one the entirety of the gospel. Let us take a look at these four "D" mentionables.
God's love has DEPTH. "For God so loved the world ..." Why shouldn't He love it? He created it! (Genesis 1:1) John writes that God is love. 1 John 4:8. He is the epitome of love. God loved man so much that, from the very beginning, He allowed us freedom to choose for ourselves whom we would serve (Genesis 2:15-17). God will provide us with our basic needs, as the Lord said in Mathew 6:26-33. God will provide the faithful with an eternal inheritance, as Paul expressed in his second letter to the Corinthians where he spoke of "... an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1-2). God loves us, and He is not sitting and waiting for us to fail so He can cast us into hell fire. God is not willing that anyone should perish, but that all might come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
God's love has DESIGN. "... He gave His only begotten Son." This was how God made known His love for fallen man. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him (1 John 4:9). The Bible not only tells us of God's love, but also gives us the divine design by which we obtain eternal life. Look closely at Hebrews 5:8-9: "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;" [emphasis added, jak].
God's love has DEMANDS. "...Whosoever believeth in him ..." Faith is what motivates us toward the action of obedience. The Hebrews writer put it this way: "Without faith it is impossible to please him ..." (11:6). Faith is too vital to misunderstand, but, sadly, many do misunderstand. The only time I could find the phrase "faith only" in scripture, it was in the negative. James 2:24 says, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." Two verses prior he writes, "... by works was faith made perfect." Mark 16:16 makes it so simple, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." I would encourage a careful study of James 2:17-26 for a complete treatment along this line.
The love of God with its Depth, Design, and Demand culminates into what we desire when we have taken our last breath, the DELIVERANCE that His love provides. That we "... should not perish, but have everlasting life." If we would look at a few of the descriptions of hell that we find in the Bible, we would understand why this deliverance is so important. A lake of fire, Revelation 20:14; A place of outer darkness, Matthew 25:30; Eternal destruction, Matthew 10:28; Weeping and gnashing of teeth, Matthew 8:12; A place of no hope, Luke 16:26; and, if that is not enough, consider 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." Conversely, Mathew 25:46 says the righteous shall go into life eternal.
To accept God's love, we must obey His commands. Our desire to go to Heaven should be coupled with our desire to serve God and meet Him on His terms (Matthew 7:21).
Heaven awaits us if we do. -70 Gale Avenue, Newport, OH 45768. (740) 473 2528.
Return to West Virginia Christian