Pastor Tim Howard
September 25, 2009
If you have ever watched professional sports, especially football you have probably noticed from time to time the camera person focusing on someone who is holding up a sign that reads: John 3:16. For those familiar with the Bible it is recognized as a scripture from the New Testament but for those unfamiliar with scripture, it must be an enigma.
John 3:16 is one of the most widely quoted verses from the Bible and has been called the most famous Bible verse by some. It has also been called the "Gospel in a nutshell" because it is considered a summary of some of the most central doctrines of traditional Christianity. It’s a verse that ‘In-N-Out Burger’ chain prints it on the bottom rim of their paper cups and the clothing chain ‘Forever 21’ prints it on the bottom of their shopping bags.
This verse reveals five very important truths about God and is proof that the God of creation wants you and me to know him. John 3:16 says: “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.” NIV
The first truth revolves around love. “For God so loved…” Love is God’s motivation for doing what he does. Behind every act there is a motive and the motivating factor behind every act determines the results that will ensue. When you do things out of anger, bitterness, pressure, guilt or duty, you reap one kind of result and when you do things out of love, kindness, mercy, grace and compassion you produce a totally different effect. Motives are very important! If we give all our possessions to the poor and do many humanitarian acts but don’t have love, we don’t gain anything. That’s what Paul tells us in first Corinthians 13:3.
God’s love is focused primarily on the whole world and this is His mission. He is not a respecter of persons and does not show favoritism. He loves all mankind and has a desire to relate to each and every individual. This second truth is vital for us to understand, if we are to escape the Me, Myself and I, mentality.
“God so loved mankind that He gave”… Thirdly, giving gifts is God’s method for reaching you and me and is the prescribed way for us to help others. He didn’t give us a CD, DVD or send us an e-mail but came Himself. Jesus came as God’s greatest gift and message of love, hope and forgiveness, which is good news. Knowing that God himself came to us in Jesus Christ is not only the forth truth in this passage of scripture but reveals the identity of the true God in a world filled with many gods.
Last but not least, this Bible verse reveals God’s purpose for doing what he does. He wants us to live with him forever. All of us have been given a certain amount of days to live on this earth. We will all face death at some point. Then what? John 3:16 answers that question. Our future is yet to be written. We are today where our choices have brought us and will be tomorrow where our choices take us. True life awaits those who pick up on these five truths about God.
Love is God’s motive. The world is his mission. Giving is his method. Jesus is his message and Life is the miracle we get to experience when we put our trust, faith and confidence in Him. John 3:16 may be a short verse in the Bible but it packs a powerful punch to those who believe.