Words All Too Familiar

5/12/2022

“I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world”

C.S. Lewis
"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.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned,.........."  John 3:16-18a   

The Bible verse John 3:16 is one of the most well known and revered Scripture verses. We see it on billboards, in the end-zones at football games and on bumper stickers. It is from a discourse in the Gospel of John where Jesus is speaking to one of the Jewish high priests named Nicodemus (see 3:1-21). These verses appear to initiate a climax to the entire conversation. God’s extreme love for mankind and the offering of grace at the very expense of His Son Jesus Christ is succinctly described in little more than two sentences. The bottom line truth of the verses is that faith in Jesus Christ is the way of eternal life.

But as well known as the above verses are, the connecting and concluding verses spoken by Jesus in the conversation are just as unknown to most. They are not seen on billboards or bumper stickers and get very little attention even in churches these days. But you might say they are the bookend to John 3:16.

"but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. "   John 3:18b-21.

It is easy to understand why they do not get the attention or have the notoriety of the first set of verses. They are not exactly feel good reading. But they are still the Words of Jesus; they still speak truth and need to be given equal weight in the discourse on eternal life. Additionally, they are the counter weight to the scale of understanding of God’s grace and His righteousness. Put the whole set of verses together you have an “either or” choice outlined by Jesus.

Simply put: Jesus is offering eternal life (forgiveness and everlasting life) for those who choose to believe and trust in Him or the alternative (judgment and hell) to those who chose not to believe and trust in Him. They are completely divergent paths to and in eternity. But as a God who created mankind as a free-will being, He is simply saying it boils down to our choice which we each make one way or another.

Jesus: "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." John 12:46
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.                                      2 Corinthians 5:20-21.