“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).

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Check out the cover picture. Which line would you stand in? What about your church? Does it really make a difference? It very well may.

For years now, the Lord has put the message on my heart that He is being largely misrepresented, and in turn, so is the Good News. The fact Christ would be distorted by the world comes as no surprise, but what God finds deeply disheartening is the misrepresentation from within the church. Therefore, I will continue to share the message I have been given the best I can. If there are those who choose to heed my message, then hallelujah and praise be to God! If there are those who choose to ignore, then in time, I will knock the dust off my sandals (figuratively speaking) and move on to the next house (Matthew 10:14). I realize now that there are too many others out there waiting to hear. Time is short.

John 3:16 is easily one of the most well known verses in the entire Bible, and for good reason, much like Romans 8:28, this verse, from the Gospel of John, is incredibly powerful and full of encouragement, but don’t just read John 3:16 and then stop there… keep reading. Indeed, what Jesus says here is encouraging and amazing and most definitely life changing but keep reading. What Jesus goes on to say is also encouraging and amazing and most definitely life changing.

“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).

Let the Lord finish His thought.

“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, 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 3:16-21).

There you go, Christian.

“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 3:20-21).

The message of God’s grace here is incomplete without contemplating Jesus’ entire thought. I have nothing against referencing John 3:16 alone. All the coffee mugs and t-shirts, bearing that inspirational message, are great. But Christian, keep reading. We must step into the light, that is, the Lord Jesus, and acknowledge our sinfulness, beyond platitudes, then trust Him, the Savior, not reject Him, and be born again through faith. Context is crucial, and cherry-picking scripture in order to sooth itching ears is a dangerous practice to say the least (2 Timothy 4:3). After all, Jesus isn’t the one waiting on the other side of the wide gate, and to lead anyone there is to lead them, as well as oneself, to destruction. Let us be wise, especially in our dealings with nonbelievers, and may our words be preserved in honesty, full of grace and humility, and be without hypocrisy (Colossians 4:5-6); there is no love to be found in a lie, and no deception to be found in Christ.

John 3 closes with Jesus reiterating His message of God’s love and the promise of eternal life. “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:35-36). One of the seven times in John’s Gospel where we are told that the Father loves the Son, and in verse 36, the Father’s love is manifested in giving the Son control over all things, which includes the destinies of man. So you see, the wheat can’t help itself from bearing witness to God’s love; whereas, the chaff can’t bring itself to leave the darkness, despite the wrath that awaits them. Therefore, by all means, read John 3:16, then keep reading.

As I have prayerfully contemplated what Jesus had to say in John 3, I am reminded of what Jesus taught in Matthew 7, which I recently wrote about in Jesus Who?—Narrow and Wide. I recognize that the messages shared in these two posts are intertwined.

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