For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
This verse in the Gospel of John is perhaps the most well known verse in all Christendom. It is the fact of God’s love for His creatures. We see in this verse that his creatures were doomed, damned, and dead. We also see that God acted. He did not leave His creation doomed and damned and dead. We see how God acted in that God gave. The gift that He gave was magnificent, superlative, and, indeed was effectual and satisfactory in and of itself. The gift is the only begotten Son of God. Forevermore, God’s creation who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ could be forgiven. While belief in the Lord Jesus Christ in effect restored God’s people to the position that they were in in the Garden of Eden, they actually received more blessings than their ancestor, Adam, lost. Because, in the garden, Adam had his own righteousness before he sinned. However, as a result of God’s magnificent gift, God’s unparalleled, effectual gift in Christ Jesus, God’s creation received in the Lord Jesus Christ more blessings than their father, Adam, lost.
This verse of scripture is a remarkable, astounding statement. God knew that without the Lord Jesus Christ, all of His creation would remain doomed, and damned, and dead! A brief look at this remarkable, astounding verse of scripture, I hope and expect, will help each of us to have a new and better perspective on God’s great love wherewith He loved us. Indeed, as you read it, pass it on to others who may not know the Lord Jesus Christ, and pray that this brief devotional will help them to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and receive everlasting life. This is the very reason that the Apostle John gives for why the Gospel of John is written. Read John 20:30-31.
I. THE FACT OF THE LOVE OF GOD
a. The Degree of God’s Love
Here we see that it is a fact that God loved His creation. We are not left to guess or assume. We are told this fact. He continues to love His creation. We know from the second chapter of Ephesians that all individuals who are born into this world are conceived in iniquity and born in sin. We know for we are told in that second chapter of Ephesians, that everyone apart from Christ, is dead in trespasses and sins. In the sixth chapter of Romans, when Adam disobeyed God, he died. And in some sense, at that moment, all who would come after Adam were in Adam and died also as a result of Adam’s sin. Adam was our federal representative head, and we know that when he disobeyed God, sin entered the world, and death by sin. (Romans 5:12)
However, at the exact appointed time, God sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the last Adam and is also our federal head, our representative to be born in the Virgin Mary. Unlike Adam , who disobeyed God, the Lord Jesus Christ obeyed His Father in all things, even though He was tempted even as we are, yet without sin.
The context of this great statement in John is important also. The Lord Jesus Christ said this to Nicodemus, a master of Israel, a teacher, a Rabbi, and yet he did not know the holy truth stated by the Lord Jesus Christ. One cannot save oneself by keeping the law.
Indeed, in Romans chapter three, we see that “by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be saved.” The law was not given in order to save sinners, it was given in order to be our schoolmaster to bring us to the Lord Jesus Christ. So the Lord Jesus Christ is telling Nicodemus and us that God did not leave us hopeless and helpless, doomed, and Damned, and dead, but He loved us and the Lord Jesus Christ wanted Nicodemus to know God’s great love for His sinful people.
Therefore, we see first the degree and magnitude of God’s great love for His sinful people. That magnitude is expressed in the degree of His love by sending His only begotten Son, His Beloved, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the world. He gave His only begotten Son! The giving was for the sole purpose of coming to “seek and to save that which was lost and to give His life a ransom for many.” The Lord Jesus came to die. He came to bare our sin in His own body on the cross and also the sin of the whole world of those who would believe in Him. That involves one repenting from one’s sin, turning from it, with the purpose to endeavor not to disobey the Lord God, and who would also place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone to save them from the wrath to come. The Lord God delivered up the Lord Jesus Christ that He would bare our sin in His own body. Your penalty has been paid when you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. In the fifth chapter of Second Corinthians we are told, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
(2 Corinthians 5:21) That could be said to be the degree of God’s love. That’s how much God loved us that He gave His only begotten Son, His dearly Beloved, who bore our sin in His own body on the cross. He took our sin and gave us His righteousness. This is why the descendents of Adam have received more blessings than their father Adam lost!
b. The Manner of God’s Love
We also see the manner of God’s love. In the very first chapter of the Gospel of John, we see that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of the world.” Only God gives life. All men who come into the world are dead in trespasses and sins and are in need of life. That life is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, being dead in trespasses and sins doesn’t necessarily mean being as bad as one can possibly be. What it really means is that those who are dead in trespasses and sins live only for this world. They look only for what is the next thing that is going to fill their time. They look for what is the next thing that is going to give them pleasure. They ask, in effect, what am I going to do tomorrow to please me? What am I going to do this weekend to please me? All who are dead in trespasses and sins live for what pleases them, even if they sometimes do beneficial things for others.
Everlasting life begins at the point where one receives the Lord Jesus Christ and is placed in the Lord Jesus Christ in union with Him. Notice that it is not because of what we do. It is only and solely because of what God has done for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. That everlasting life is, indeed, as it says, everlasting. It goes on forever. It is not merely what am I going to do tomorrow or this weekend, it lasts forever. It is the opposite of perishing. Those who are dead in trespasses and sins are perishing and they live only for that which pleases themselves. Those who are in the Lord Jesus Christ have the life of God in them. They are looking to live for that which pleases the Lord God. Christ came to do His Father’s will, and to delight to do His Father’s will. That is what we who are in Him are to do also.
Therefore, what we can see is that everlasting life is the opposite of perishing. In Romans chapter six, we find that the Apostle Paul says, “Reckon yourselves therefore to be dead unto sin and alive unto God. (Romans 6:11)
Thus, we see that everlasting life is leaving the condition of perishing and living and participating in the life of God. Reckoning ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God. It means the life of God in a man’s soul. We see in scripture that we are not our own. We are bought with a price. The precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb slain without spot or blemish. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
II. EVERLASTING LIFE
Christianity, of course, is not just goodness or adding something to our natural upbringing, it’s not just morality; everlasting life is the life of God in a man’s soul.
Therefore, we see first that it means a quality of life; we are spiritually alive, and how does one spend life? What are we living for? Indeed, the Lord Jesus Christ himself said in the Gospel of John in the 17th chapter verse three that “This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we receive that as a free gift. Not only do we receive everlasting life as an indication of the quality of life, but it also is the quantity of life. It is everlasting. It never ends. Moreover, Romans chapter five says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) and
“God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) We see also in Paul’s letter to Timothy that “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16) God’s gift of everlasting life not only lasts forever, but it is given to – note that word given - it is given to rebels, sinners, the ungodly, who repent from their sins and place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Therefore, no sin is too great to condemn one who repents from their sin and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ.
III. THE FACT OF THE SHEER GIFT
We do not receive everlasting life as a result of a reward for our well-doing. That would be a wage. The wages of sin is death. The Lord Jesus Christ is clearly explaining to Nicodemus that everlasting life is a sheer gift! It is given by God who has created all things, including life. We receive this sheer gift by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. It cannot be earned; it cannot be bartered for; it cannot be traded for. It is a gift of God to those who repent from their sin and place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. It is entirely a result of the gift of God to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul said, “…to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16) This is justification by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. We see in scripture that “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17b)
What does that mean? It means that we believe in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth was none other than the eternal Son of the living God. He is the only begotten Son of God. When Peter, James, and John went up on the Mount of Transfiguration, a cloud overshadowed them as the Lord Jesus Christ talked with Moses and Elijah, and a voice was heard of God saying, “This is my beloved
Son: hear Him.” (Mark 9:7) The Apostle Peter later said, “…we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16) That is the truth of God’s word.
IV. HE CAME TO SEEK AND TO SAVE THAT WHICH WAS LOST
“For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17) “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
We, of course, are to do likewise. In Second Corinthians we see, “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) He is our righteousness.
The great expository preacher, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “In other words it means this. If you say truly that you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, what you’re saying can be put in these terms: I see that I am a sinner, I see that I am perishing, I see that I am outside the life of God, I see that all my goodness is nothing but filthy rags, even what the Apostle Paul calls dung, refuse, manure. I see that I can never put myself right, and I see and believe that the Son of God came from heaven to earth in order to save me. He took my sin upon himself and bore my punishment, and He gave me His righteousness. I believe that when He spoke to Nicodemus he was really speaking to me.” And the moment when you realize these things, you repent from your sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ now! You don’t wait. You do it now. And you receive everlasting life, and you are now a child of God and an heir of God, a joint heir with the Lord Jesus Christ. If you know these things pass, it on to someone that you think does not know them. If you don’t know them do so now.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20 & 21)
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