We all know the verse John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. This verse is typically the very first one we ever learn. We hear everyone quote it, whether they are saved or not. It is the verse that most Christians claim as their life verse. Tim Tebow made it even more famous by writing it on his face during football games. This verse is a wonderful verse and describes the Gospel quite well. This is nearly the entirety of the Gospel, the good news. God loved the world and He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life. But people tend to read John 3:16 and refuse to read the verses before, or the verses after. They don’t think about the verse and the free gift of salvation.
Guest speaker Jeff Jones preached a wonderful sermon on this yesterday evening at Temple Baptist and he said this, and it struck me. “A gift is never free to the giver.” We would do good to remember this. God gave us this free gift, so that all we have to do is take it. To believe in Him, on Him. To follow Him and asked for forgiveness, to live our lives for Him. And for that… we receive everlasting life in Heaven. What a gift. And yes, it is practically free. Many people will disagree with it being a free gift, and I both agree and disagree with that. You see, you can’t just take the gift of salvation then plan on living sinfully like you did before, or have the gift just by believing. You can believe in God without believing on Him; even the devils believe. And God is not a genie in a bottle. You can’t just wish for things, take the gift, then do nothing. God requires action. Salvation requires action. So yes, we have to follow Him in order to have this gift, but God’s forgiveness is well worth all of this.
We don’t often think about what our Lord had to pay in order to give this gift to all mankind. We don’t often think of the price He paid on the Cross, in His life in general. We may remember the crucifixion and the resurrection on Easter, and a couple times in the year before and after, but I don’t think we really appreciate it or live like we are honoring Him. We don’t often think of the persecution our precious Jesus went through before He ever stepped foot on Calvary. We don’t often think of how hard His life must’ve been. You see, scripture tells us that Christ was tempted with everything we’ve ever been tempted by. He did not simply walk in life and refrain from sin easily. He was tempted. He struggled. But He stayed sinless for us. He was in a constant battle with Satan and his demons. He fasted for forty days and forty nights and suffered, then had to fight Satan again. We can hardly fast from certain foods (like sugar, or dairy, or meat.) for more than a week without cracking. And when we fast from food in general…we become weak, depressed, and easy provoked. Jesus went without, and He fought Satan and won. He walked on this earth with so few friends. He was persecuted, mocked, tortured, and finally… He was killed. He left His Kingdom in Heaven selflessly so He could save us. We selfish humans who want to take that free gift and then go on living in our sin.
We are selfish.
We claim Christ as our Savior but we stay in the bondage of sin. We are willing to celebrate His crucifixion, we acknowledge it, we read about what He went through, but we still refuse to repent completely. We read John 3:16 and spread it to the world as if this gift is free and you can take it with your dirty hands and go on living however you like and just because you believe, or just because you prayed a sinners prayer, you are free to do as you wish. Later in John 3…I believe scripture says it perfectly..
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
Jesus came. Light has come into this world. But men preferred the darkness because they enjoyed their sinful deeds. And everyone who sins hates the light because they don’t want to repent, and he doesn’t want to come into the light lest he be reproved. (AKA Judged, rebuked, etc.) It is clear on this; You can not love your darkness and also love the light of Christ. You can not come into His light and still have one foot in darkness. He paid the ultimate price, and He demands that you follow Him best you can in order to take it.
We are so focused on ourselves that we don’t even bother thinking about Him and the price He had to pay to give us this gift. Our “thanks” and a sinners prayer is not enough. We must live the life that He demands. Like He said to Nicodemus (also in John 3) you must be born again, and being born again means CHANGED. We become a new creature. Repenting and striving to be righteous for Him is our reasonable service. Being born again and acting like it…forsaking our sinful flesh and our sins is the least we could do for the God who gave everything for us, the ones who killed Him. The ones who persecuted Him. The ones who hated Him. The ones who forsake Him time and time again.
I leave you all with verses from Romans…be transformed, not conformed.
12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.