This passage of scripture presents another cornerstone of the Christian faith. You have heard John 3:16 many times and probably memorized it years ago. If you study the scripture surrounding that you will make many discoveries that will allow you to wrap up the gift of salvation and present it to your friends and coworkers. These verses close with the good news that those who accept the truth and come to the light are “wrought in God.”
Know The Word (John 3:11-13)
Verse 11 states “We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.” We all have a story that greatly illustrates this concept and compares us to the forgetful Jews of early scripture.
Think back just a little over ten years to 9/11/01. That was “a day in infamy” written into American history. Most of you will remember the events of that day as they unfolded. Now fast forward a decade or so. You are now the adult telling children your own age or younger about this. They are too young to have been there but you can tell it from first hand experience (some of you may have been in New York that day).
How does this compare to the early Jews? They experienced a miracle that could be attributed to nobody but God – the parting of the red sea. Yes, there are naysayers who will say that it was actually a low water level and they waded across. Of course, if they are correct then it is a miracle that the mighty Egyptian army and their horses and chariots could be swept away in so little water. Of course, the comparison from present day 9/11 terrorism and the Jewish escape from the Egyptians is shown in the response from each society.
The same Jews who had seen the red sea parted and Pharaoh’s army swept away asked Aaron to create a golden idol for them just because Moses had been on the mountain for so long. America claimed to be a Christian nation after the miracles seen on that fateful day of September 11, 2001. The Christian attitude lasted for a little less than three months before a noticeably wholehearted return to a lax attitude toward God and Christianity. For another comparison you can look at many religious leaders of today. Aaron gave in to the wishes of the people and made a golden calf for them to worship. He, as a priest chosen by God, knew that he and the people should follow only God. He gave in to the wills of the people anyway. Many religious leaders give in to the wills of the people in exchange for full pews and coffers. They forsake the word of God in order to give a “feel good” message.
Verse 13 gives us hope. Hope in the “Son of man which is in heaven.” Regardless of how life has progressed here on earth, you can turn back to Jesus as your savior. The verses following, along with much of the text in scripture, speak of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for the sins of every man, woman, and child on earth.
Jesus Is the Ultimate Sacrifice (John 3:14-17)
Verse 14 gives an excellent parallel between the early Jews previously mentioned and Christ on the cross. It says “so must the son of man be lifted up.” This could be taken in two ways – physically lifted up on the cross and lifted up in praise and prayers to him. Both are equally important. Without Jesus’ death on the cross we have no basis for our beliefs. Additionally, with his ascension to the right hand of God we have an intercessor for us and a buffer between our sins and the perfection that God demands. We are made perfect by our acceptance of Jesus as the final sacrifice for our sins.
How do we receive the gift of salvation? Verses 15 and 16 tell us exactly that. Believeth in him. If you believe that Jesus died on the cross as the final necessary sacrifice for the sins of all mankind, that is the first step. After believing, you accept him as your personal savior and you are there. As Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross – “Today you will be with me in paradise.” God loves everyone just that much. He gave his only son on a roman cross for you, me, and everyone who has come before and after us.
That even includes Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus. Can anyone say that he was a recipient of that salvation? Probably not. He committed suicide and there is no record of his repentance and request for forgiveness. Nobody can say for certain, because there have been true “death bed” confessions and nobody can deny that as a possibility for Judas. Verse 17 is proof of this since “God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world …” He came to save all who will accept his gift of grace.
Believe (John 3:18-21)
Verse 18 presents more of the good news of the Gospel to us. Those who believe in God are not condemned, but there is a flip side. Those who do not believe are already condemned, “because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.” We have seen this preached from pulpits since our youth. We, as Christians and believers of God’s holy word, know and accept this as fact. Unfortunately, those who “love darkness rather than light” do not believe as we do. They may not have heard of the love and grace that Christ offers from the cross. They may have grown up in a generation that has strayed far away from the teachings of the church.
Did you know that the United States was once viewed by other countries as a Christian nation? Yes, a majority of the population held and adhered to Christian ideology and values. Just like the Jewish culture, we strayed slowly away from those views and eventually so many had moved so far that the generation was no longer participating in the Christian values taught in solid, Bible believing, churches. A majority in our culture today fit well in the description of verses 19 and 20.
The current generation in this country, as a whole, “doeth evil and hateth the light.” There is good news for them and for you, though. All that it takes is a generation or two to completely turn the majority in the proper direction. Does this mean that an entire town or state needs to get together and commit their lives to fulfilling the command to spread God’s word? Although that would be a nice happening, neither is it likely nor absolutely necessary to fulfilling that command. It all has to start with one person. Look at the millions brought to Christ because of committed Christians like D.L. Moody, Billy Graham, and many others. What is often overlooked is the single person who brought these “gentle giants” to Christ. It takes one spark to start a fire.
We can’t close out the lesson on a negative note, as there is always good news to be gathered from any scripture. Verse 21 ensures that those who have “cometh to the light” will be “wrought in God.” Yes, if you have accepted Christ as savior there is nothing that can take this gift from you. Your salvation is ensured along with your eternity in Christ’s presence. You will have the opportunity to “cast your crowns” at the feet of God because anything gained here on earth pales in comparison to the shekinah glory of God.
From these verses you have seen support for another cornerstone of your Christian faith. Christ was lifted up so that you and all mankind could have eternal life with him. We have explored two aspects of that – it is for all mankind and it only takes a single person to start a revival. It is true that the overall leaning of this generation, and many before it, is toward the darkness of the world. True also is the fact that you, as a member of God’s flock, are called to spread his word and bring others into his flock. It is possible that you, your youth group, your church may be the spark that ignites a spiritual revival of this generation and many to come.
Something To Think About
What have you been involved in lately that will bring glory to God?
Have you invited friends and coworkers to experience a worship service with you?
Can you look back and see a specific point in time where one individual has affected the views and beliefs of a large group of people?