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 3:16From Dave Atkinson:
John 3:16 may be one of the Bible verses that you know off by heart. It is one of the most popular and well known verses in the Bible, and has been described as the gospel in a nutshell.
I think there may be two potential problems with what I’ve just said. Firstly, there is a risk that we can become over familiar with the verse and treat it as ordinary. I recently found myself, when reading John chapter 3, almost skipping over verse 16, perhaps because I thought I knew it well enough already! Secondly, my opening paragraph may be true for Christians, but how well is the verse and its meaning known across today’s society?
What is accurate, though, is that John 3:16 is a masterful and moving summary of the gospel and knowing it, not just off by heart, but deep in our hearts, will put us in a good place in terms of both the points I’ve mentioned. Having a deep grasp of the truths of this verse will not only help us to focus our thanks and praise on Jesus as we get a bigger vision of him, but it also provides us with a great resource as we hope and pray for opportunities to Name Him.
One way that you might want to refresh or deepen your understanding of the verse is to, firstly, read the surrounding passage – I suggest John 3 verses 1-21. And then, go through verse 16 slowly, word by word, asking the Lord to deepen your understanding of each word, and combination of words, and how they fit within the whole verse and passage.
What was foremost in my mind, as I worked through the verse, was the phrase that I’ve used as today’s blog title. God, in his unfathomable love, took the initiative and gave us Jesus. He gave Jesus to save us from perishing, so that we can have life with him forever. He gave to save.
The blog title also applies to the verse, the words, that God has given us to help Name Him. He gave us the words of John 3:16 to use in our witness so that others would believe in Jesus and be saved. He gave to save.