John 3:16. I believe this to be the greatest verse in the entire Bible. It is the best loved and best known verse.
There are only 25 words in this verse yet no other single verse in all the Scriptures has been as blessed in the salvation of so many souls. Martin Luther called John 3:16 the miniature gospel. It has been called the gospel in a nutshell. It has been called a love letter from God written in blood and addressed to all.
If ever there was a verse that Satan would love to blot out of the Bible, it would be John 3:16. If ever there was a verse that makes hell tremble, it is John 3:16. If ever there was a verse that has lightened the path to heaven for multitudes, it is John 3:16.
Years ago a doctor in a hospital gave me only 2 minutes with a lost dying woman who had called for me in her dying hour. The doctor told me he would give me only 120 seconds with her. What could I say in so short a time? God spoke to my heart and said, "Give her John 3:16 and pray the sinners prayer with her. It was all she needed. She died in peace and at peace with her Savior.
Some have divided the verse into parts like
God’s Grace - For God so loved the world
God’s Gift - That he gave his only begotten Son
God’s Gospel - That whosoever believeth in him...
God’s Glory - But have everlasting life.
There are many ways to look at this verse but I want us to look at some of the words of this great verse.
FOR GOD - John 3:16 begin as the Bible begins, with the existence of God taken for granted. See Gen. 1:1 Only a fool would think otherwise. See Psa. 14:1 The whole Bible stands on belief in God. There cannot be a here without a there. There cannot be an upper without a lower. There cannot be a before without an after. There cannot be a creation without a Creator.
The Bible says that this God...SO LOVED - What is love? It cannot be defined in words. The word "loved" occurs 56 times in the Book of John. The dictionary says love is "to have a feeling, affection, or regard for, to be strongly attached to or attracted toward, to hold dear". There are also synonyms like affection, charity, devotion, fondness, liking, and passion. All these definitions are weak when defining the word "love". The difficulty becomes greater when you add the word "so". GOD SO LOVED..."so loved" surpasses illustration. Many have tried to apply it to the love of a mother for her child. The following ad appeared in a Daily Monitor newspaper years ago.
TO MY BOY WHO LEFT HOME MONDAY NIGHT,
My darling boy, if you should see this, which I pray our Heavenly Father you may, please let your distressed mother know where you are.
The notice was signed with one word - "Mother". That was all. No name. Nothing to let the world know who she was. Just the cry of a mother seeking her lost boy. Not a word about whose fault it was. No blame. No reproach. Just the reaching out of a mother’s love seeking to bring her wanderer back. But a mother’s love falls short of the love of God.
The mind of man will never grasp the love of God. All we can say is the love of God is uncaused, uninfluenced, spontaneous, sovereign.
Deut. 7:7-8 says God loved you because he loved you. Jer. 31:3 - I have loved thee with an everlasting love. His is an everlasting, unending love with no beginning. God had no beginning so his love had no beginning. All earthly love had a beginning but God’s love reaches back to before the world was as well as forward to when all mountains are but dust. God’s love is infinite, illimitable, unbounded. The little chorus sung by children says it best, "Wide, wide as the ocean, High as the heaven above, Deep, deep as the deepest sea Is my Savior’s love"
A SINNER MAY GO TO HELL UNSAVED, BUT HE CANNOT GO TO
THE WORLD - The word "world" is found 77 times in John. This is not talking about the matter-world or the world system but the world people. The greatest love of man or woman is love of self. What a narrow love that is! One writer said that "No one in all the world could possible love everyone in the world. In fact most people find it difficult to love all their relatives." But God has found it possible, with His great heart of love, to love every individual in the entire world in spite of his faults.
God loves the Jews - but also the Africans, Russians, Chinese, Arabs, Americans, etc.
God loves black people - but “red and yellow, and white, they are precious in his sight" God loves the civilized - but also the heathen. God loves the Pentecostals, Baptists - but also Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Catholics. God loves the fundamentalists - but also the liberals and the communists. God loves preachers - but also murderers, gamblers, bartenders, and prostitutes. God loves ALL - ALL colors, ALL individuals, ALL social groups, ALL...
God loved a world of saints - NO - A WORLD OF SINNERS.
He loves the sinner not the sin, the criminal not the crime, the rebel not the rebellion, the liar not the lie, the idolater not the idol.
THAT HE GAVE - The world knows a little about giving but God’s giving costs something. Most of the giving we know about is giving that really has no element of sacrifice in it.
God did not give the cattle on a 1000 hills or silver and gold. He gave all he had in the person of his Son. "He gave" means suffering. We think a lot about the suffering of the Son but have you ever thought about the suffering of the Father. Could you stand in a window of your house and watch an angry mob spit on, beat, abuse, and kill your son with the power to stop it in infinity of a second’s notice. God could have stopped it but HE GAVE... Because he loved and for us.
HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON - Here is a word of relationship. David was a "son" to King Saul in I Sam. 26:21-25 by association. God the Father is called "Father" not because of relationship to his creatures but because of his relationship to his Son.
A child was once trying to quote this verse and said "his only forgotten Son" and how true it is. He has been forgotten by most people.
THAT WHOSOEVER - This means all. All have sinned and all need a Savior. It means any who will. It means those who believe. It means you. I am glad that it did not have my name in it because when I was 12 years old, I met another child the same age as I was with the same name, Ivan Ssewankambo. If a name had been put in this verse I would have wondered for whom was the promise intended.
If a name had been put here then all other people would have been left out. Thank God he said "whosoever". Whosoever meaneth ME. Whosoever meaneth YOU.
BELIEVETH - The word "believe" with its various endings occur 100 times in John. Believeth denies salvation by any other way but by faith. It denies works, even good works as a means of salvation. Look at Nicodemus. Nicodemus was educated, rich, moral, religious, a do-gooder, a "church member", intelligent, but not saved. Jesus told him in John 3:3 "ye must be born again". The doors of heaven swing on this experience. We are saved by faith and not by works. See Eph. 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5
IN HIM - Acts 4:12 and I John 5:12 show us that salvation is in a Person and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is not found in believing in the preacher, the church, a good Christian, but in Christ.
SHOULD NOT PERISH - Men of the old world perished but Noah was spared. People of Sodom perished but Lot was spared. The first born of Egypt perished but Israel was spared. Jericho’s citizens perished but Rahab was spared. Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish eternally in hell but make heaven their eternal home. There is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun.
BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE - Life is mentioned 36 times in the Book of John. Notice the verse begins with God and ends with life. Everlasting life is not just eternal existence because if that were the case, the devil and all sinners would have it.
What is everlasting life? It is having Jesus. He said "I am the life" in John 14:6. The Bible says life is in the Son and whosoever has the Son has life. I Jn.5:12 John 11:25 says, "I am the resurrection and the life..." John 1:4 says, "In him was life..." Eternal life is Christ living in me. Christ in you - Col. 1:27 Christ liveth in me - Gal. 2:20
I saw a poem years ago that said:
For God - the Lord of earth and heaven,
So loved - and longed to see forgiven,
The world - in sin and pleasure mad,
That he gave - the only Son he had,
His only Son - to take our place,
That whosoever - Oh, what grace,
Believeth - placing simple trust,
In Him - the righteous and the just,
Should not perish - lost in sin,
But have everlasting life - in HIM.