“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”John 3:16
In the Bible, we do not find another verse that is so familiar, packed with so much content and so many promises. In this verse, the plan of salvation is revealed in all simplicity and clarity. We see God’s overwhelming love, His wonderful salvation, which is unique and incomparable for all people, all generations, for all eras, and which will last forever.
Let us look at this verse in more detail:
For God – the greatest Lord of all, the most High!
Who here on earth is capable of describing the immutable, eternal, unchangeable, almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth? God’s Word gives us a small glimpse, showing us the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne surrounded by great heavenly hosts, by seraphim who call out to another and say: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3)!
so loved – the greatest one-of-a-kind love!
We often speak of love and being kind to one another. There is also motherly love, parental love, brotherly love, loving one’s neighbor, love between a bride and groom, and love that binds a man and woman. But at the same time, we are acquainted with misguided love, unfaithful people, even the love of evil which brings God’s judgment.
But God’s love is the greatest, unchanging, eternal love. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you” (Jeremiah 31:3). “Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you” (Isaiah 43:4). Yes, “in this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).
the world – the greatest number!
We are able to count fingers on our hand, and days, people, and years. We are told the population of villages, cities, countries, and nations. But these words are directing us to God’s plan of salvation, and God’s desire is for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
All people, all nations, all generations are to be saved from their guilt and sins and find the Lord’s redemption through the blood of the Lamb. This is the world – the greatest number! Oh dear reader, may God find you and me included in this great number!
that He gave – this is the greatest promise!
In the Garden of Eden, Satan, in the form of a snake, made a great promise to Eve; but it was only a half-truth, a deception. And this deception caused the fall of mankind, separation between God and man, and terrible distress upon all mankind. But when God makes a promise and the Lord Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you!” we know that what God says is the complete truth.
At the time when Jesus was born, the greatest promise was fulfilled: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4). And with Jesus Christ, all promises of God are fulfilled. God gave, God gives, and God forgives!
Take from the fullness that Jesus is giving;
His hands are open with blessings anew.
Grace upon grace He gives for daily living,
Not by your merit, but since He loves you.
His only begotten Son – this is the greatest of all gifts!
Oh, how happy and excited we were as children when we received gifts at Christmas or for our birthday. God is the Giver of all gifts, but His greatest gift is His Son.
God tested Abraham’s faith and obedience when He asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac. When he completed the test, being willing to do what God asked him to do, Abraham was able to sacrifice a ram as a substitute. However, God “did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). Yes indeed, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (1 Corinthians 2:15)! Have you received this greatest of all gifts already, and do you value it?
that whoever – the greatest invitation!
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come” (Isaiah 55:1)! When Jesus began His ministry, He repeatedly called out: “Come, follow Me” and “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
At the wedding of the king’s son, he sent out his servants, calling, “Come to the wedding!” But when so many rejected the invitation, a command was issued: “Go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding” (Matthew 22:9). “Invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind” (Luke 14:13). “That whoever” is the greatest invitation that should be sent out today!
believes – the greatest simplicity!
What do so many people in the world do to find peace? They try journeys and trips to holy waters and places, penance, and even self-mutilation in order to reach a merciful God.
Thousands, even millions, of people have tried throughout all times to find personal righteousness in their own power and works. But no, not your own works count! Only faith is needed! “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). Having faith and believing with your whole heart, yes, that is simple, child-like faith!
We’re living by faith in the Savior alone,
Who suffered on Calv’ry for sin to atone;
He fully redeemed us from Satan’s domain
By raising us up to this glorious plane.
in Him – the greatest and most supreme Person!
There are so many names, celebrities, so many gods, who are honored, highly extolled, and often even worshiped. But there is only One who can proclaim to the entire human race: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Only One is worthy, of whom the angels say: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12)!
The apostles testified, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
should not perish – the greatest rescue mission!
Almost every day, we hear about shipwreck rescues, survivors rescued from earthquakes, and how helicopters and ambulances try to rescue the injured from an accident. But these human rescue missions are actually quite limited!
God, however, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Our heavenly Father started the greatest rescue mission through His Son. Peter writes: “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
but – the greatest difference!
Every person has a choice to make and must decide whether to accept, believe, and follow God’s voice. Alternatively, those who choose to ignore and reject God’s invitation and Jesus’ offering, actually choose their eternal ruin.
The prophet Malachi writes: “Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Malachi 3:18).
Yes, that is the greatest difference! “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
My dear reader, do you see the huge difference? On Judgment Day, the Lord will speak to those standing on His right: “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” And to those standing on His left, He will say: “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:34, 41). Where will you spend eternity?
have – the greatest assurance!
Many here on earth practice a religion, but they do not have the assurance. “I hope that I will be saved; I think I am better than others, so I believe I will make it somehow!”
We have the privilege of saying, like the apostle John: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19).
All of God’s children have the privilege of testifying with Paul: “In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesian 1:7). Oh blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
everlasting life – the greatest wealth!
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
Everything on earth is fleeting and will pass away. We are fully aware of the fact that we were born naked, and that when we die, we will leave empty-handed. However, who will have a part in all the heavenly riches and the greatest wealth in eternity?
Here is the answer: “If children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:17).
Dear reader, it is true: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
Dear reader, the wonderful word of God in John 3:16 was written for each and every one of us! Believe it, live it out, and you will have everlasting life!
H. D. Nimz