Tag Archives: john 3:16

For God so Loved He Gave

Almost everyone reading this is familiar with John 3:16.

“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.

A wonderful verse you’ve no doubt seen hundreds of references to plastered on poster boards, billboards, and bumper stickers.

But have you ever stopped reading that verse nine words in?

“For God so loved the world that He gave” – period.

A great jewel is found in this: it is love’s nature to give.

Think about it – can you come up with a single example of love that doesn’t involve some sort of giving?

You won’t, because if giving isn’t involved then it isn’t really love.

Our God is a lover and therefore a giver, and consider what God gave …

Besides Creation and life itself,  God gave us the greatest gift in the history of the universe – Jesus.

Why?

God lavishes His love upon us because His greatest joy comes from having children who love Him back!

In Matthew 22:36-40, a first-century Jewish teacher asked Jesus:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

To love God back – to give back to God – the greatest commandment in the Bible.

To love others – to give to others – the second.

Who was the perfect example for us? I’ll give you one guess.

To love is to give.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

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Faith IN Works, or Faith THAT Works?

[CLICK HERE to listen to this week’s lesson]

[CLICK HERE to get the PowerPoint]


John 3:16.

 “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 [emphasis mine]

“All you have to do to be saved is believe. All you have to do is acknowledge that Jesus existed – that He lived, died, and rose again, and you’ll be saved.”

I’ve heard that message a lot. I remember listening to the radio as I was driving in Tampa a few years ago, and the broadcaster (his name escapes me) said, “If you have ever believed in God – even if it was just for a split second – you will be saved even if you don’t believe in Him now! 2 Timothy 2:13 says that if we are faithless God will remain faithful, and John 3:16 says …”

I was a brand new Christian at the time. As soon as I got home, I looked up the Scripture the guy on the radio quoted, and was a little confused as to why he hadn’t quoted the verses immediately preceding it … check it out:

“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” 2 Timothy 2:11-13 [emphasis mine]

Yikes – what that guy was saying verse 13 meant didn’t mesh at all with verse 12, yet he was sharing his version of the message with thousands of listeners. I wonder how many bought it?

Martin Luther

I presented a lesson this past week on faith that works from James 1:21-25 and 2:14-26 (see also Hebrews 11; Matthew 7:21-29; John 14:15-24, 15:10; 2 John 1:6; Revelation 20:12)- something that broadcaster apparently hadn’t thought about much.

Did you know that Reformation leader Martin Luther hated the book of James? He called it an epistle of straw because he thought it contained a message of works-based salvation. In other words, Martin Luther thought the New Testament epistle of James taught people they had to earn their salvation – that they had to be ‘good enough’ for God to love them.

Luther did a whole lot of good for Christianity in general, but he completely missed the ball when it came to the book of James. That’s because Luther didn’t have the best understanding of what faith in Jesus really is.

So let’s ask the questions:

What is faith? Is faith simply a mental belief? Am I really saved if I mentally believe in God, mentally believe that Jesus is His Son, but neglect to follow His teachings? Do I really have faith if I refuse to obey?

I share what I think in the lesson – what do you think?

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