“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
John 3:16 is probably one of the most concise summaries of the major themes in the Bible. The main point of the verse is to emphasize the sacrificial love of God for the World. This love is so powerful that He offered up His one and only Son, the most precious and beloved Person to Him, for the sake of the World. What does it mean that He gave His Son and how does this impact you? Continue reading to find out.
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God So Loved the World
To understand John 3:16, we need to see the big picture. God created the universe(s) and all that is in it(them). He created Adam and Eve and gave them the ability to walk and talk with Him in the beautiful garden, enjoying a vibrant relationship with Him. This fulfilling and healthy relationship broke when they rebelled against God. In sadness, the sweet fellowship between God, Adam, and Eve ended when He kicked them out of His garden. Sin entered the world, causing a separation between them, and it continues today.
Isaiah 59:2. "It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore." [NLT]
The sin that caused them to be kicked out of the garden brought death to Adam and Eve and the whole world. It meant the death of their relationship, as well as their physical bodies and their spirits. God’s perfect world became marred by murder, jealousy, dishonesty, discord, rage, hatred, racism, dissent, war, fear, greed, and pride, to name a few.
Sin infected each one of us, without exception. Because God is holy, sin cannot exist in His presence. To seek His presence in a relationship, we must be sinless. Sin rendered us unqualified for a relationship with God.
Romans 3:23. "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard." [NLT]
Romans 6:23. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." [NLT]
After physical death, there is judgment. The Bible says those who reject Jesus Christ will remain separated from God eternally.
2 Thessalonians 1:8,9. "in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power."[NLT]
He Gave His Son
The story does not end there. God had a plan. He loved the world so much that He gave His own Son, who walked among us, healed the sick, fed the poor, and even raised the dead. Our response to His love was to crucify Him. Our intent was to hurt Him, but God used it for good. He counted His death as an acceptable sacrifice on our behalf so our sin can be canceled and the separation between us and God removed. This is why John 3:16 has the word "So" to describe the degree to which God loved us.
Romans 5:8. "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners."[NLT]
Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection provide the way to bring us to a loving relationship with God.
1 Peter 3:18. "Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit."[NLT]
Titus 3:5. "he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit."
You can have a relationship with God by accepting His death on the cross as a substitute for your death! This is available to whoever believes. John 3:16 teaches that Jesus accepts anyone from any race or background if they choose to trust in Him. Jesus does not belong to one culture or way of thinking. He came for all of us! To believe in Him means to trust that He is able and willing to save us.
John 1:12,13. "But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God." [NLT]
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”[NLT]