JOHN 3:16 (Part Three)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Angel Martinez called John 3:16 AThe sweetest music this side of heaven in the key of Be Saved.@ This has been my favorite Bible verse since childhood. I was saved because of it, due to Dad=s tutelage, and surrendered to the ministry under Grady Etheridge=s preaching of it.

John 3:16a AFor God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten
Son . . .@

Where does salvation begin? In God. The origin and initiative in all aspects of salvation lies with Him. His love is the Lake from which living waters of salvation flow.

Christ=s death did not initiate the Father=s love, but demonstrated it. The cross did not turn God the Father from anger and hatred. Rather, the Father=s love appointed Christ=s death.

John 3:16 reads, AGod so loved the world that He gave,@ not AChrist came, and God began to love the world.@ God the Father is as kind, tender, loving, forgiving, and sweet as we consider God the Son to be.

Who receives and benefits from this love? The world B sinners separated from God, and organizing themselves without reference to God. His love is not directed to any special nation or spiritually elite group. A distinctive teaching of Christianity is, God=s love embraces all mankind.

Since God=s love is directed toward sinners, we can never escape it because we never cease being sinners. We may drag ourself away from God=s hand of blessing, but we will never drive away His love.

His love may have to take on inconvenient, yea painful, forms, but whatever we do He still loves us. On every human of earth, God=s love rests.
What verifies and proves God=s love? He gave. His was an entire surrender, a gift given to the utmost limits of sacrifice. Love cannot be precisely defined, but we can be sure of its presence by two outward signs, a delight in giving and a willingness to deprive self.

All the Godhead displays love for us through giving and through self-deprivation. God the Father gave the dearest possession, His Son, and suffered separation from Him. Jesus gave Himself (I Timothy 2:6) and suffered crucifixion. The Holy Spirit gives witness to Jesus (John 16:14) and makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26).

God=s giving and self-deprivation give significance and content to the word Aso.@ A world of intensity resides in that two-letter word (Spurgeon).

Bring surveyors. Let them try to measure it. They will fail. Bring cartographers who map nations, bring those who chart seas, they will not fathom it. Bring astronomers who measure in light years. Ask them to measure the extent of this Aso.@ This small word defies imagination and will never be fathomed.

John 3:16b A. . . that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.@

What did Jesus come to give? Life. AEverlasting@ should actually be translated Aeternal.@ The word describes life characteristic of the final age to come. Since the final age will last forever, it is accurate to say its life is also everlasting. The word=s main emphasis, though, is on quality, not quantity, of life. Eternal life means a life of such wonderful quality that it is worth calling life.

Jesus came to give eternal life, God-life, heaven-life here and now. We don=t have to die to have already perished (John 3:18), and don=t have to die to have eternal life. We can have and enjoy it in this present life.

How can we receive eternal life? Believe in Jesus. Eternal life is available for all, but given only to those who believe in Christ. God did all He could. We must respond with faith. God=s work for us is of no avail unless we do our part.

We must believe Ain@ Jesus. This kind of belief involves more than head knowledge. Demons believe, but are lost. Believing Ain@ means trusting Jesus as the only solution to our sin problem, forsaking all other remedies, and leaning hard on Him. We must flee for refuge to Jesus and to nothing, or no one, else.

Who can have eternal life? Whosoever. Hang on to this word. God=s intent was to provide a plan of salvation attainable by all. None are excluded, except by their own choice. Jesus came so that every sinner could have opportunity to be saved.

Don=t let talk of God=s worldwide love become a stumbling block to our appreciating His love for us as individuals. We easily make broad, general statements about God=s love. He loves the Church, children, the poor, etc. The broader we speak of God=s love, the shallower its specific meaning can become.

Many think God loves people only in a general way. They see His love as intended for the whole race, but not helpful to them as individuals. AWhosoever@ erases this possibility. God loves all. He loves each. God loves every one of us as if we are the only one He has to love (Augustine).

AWhosoever@ makes John 3:16 come alive. It is nice to hear AGod loved the world@ and AGod is love,@ but the best truth we will ever hear is, God Aloved me, and gave Himself for me@ (Galatians 2:20).

A Christian, asked what gave him radiance, said he had six months earlier heard a message on AWhosoever believeth in him should not perish.@ That night he dreamed whosoever included him. He got out of bed, found the word in his Bible, and rejoiced in it. He had always known it was there, Abut I wanted to see it with my own eyes, and I=ve been resting on it ever since.@

My dad often says he would rather read the word Awhosoever@ in the Bible than see his own name. He claims he is afraid ACharles Marshall@ might refer to some other man with the same name, but Awhosoever@ includes him for sure.

Whosoever means anybody and everybody. Most important, it means you and me.