3:16 On 3/16
By Bobby Blakey on March 18, 2022
3:16 On 3/16
By Bobby Blakey on March 18, 2022
Thank you for being here, everybody. I want to thank especially those of you who got invited by someone, and you came to church on a Wednesday night, and we welcome them right now. Thank you. Maybe there are people watching this video, somebody sent the link to you, and you're watching it. Thank you for joining us. I want to invite everybody here, open the Bible to John 3:16. If you've got a copy of the Scriptures, open up to John 3:16. We're here to talk about Jesus tonight. And those who really listened, those who are the disciples, who followed around Jesus as their teacher, they came to be convinced that Jesus had the words of eternal life. And so, I want to make sure that we really understand what John 3:16 means. And so, maybe you've heard this verse many times, maybe it's new to you. The disciple whom Jesus loved, his name is John. He's an eyewitness to the whole ministry, the whole death of Jesus on the cross, the empty tomb, that Jesus rose from the dead. John witnessed all of that. And he wrote it down here in this gospel.
And so, if this is all new to you, if you don't really know the story of Jesus, we want to give you a free book here tonight; it is the Gospel of John. And when you go out in the courtyard afterwards, if you go to the Compass Connect booth there, they will give you one of these for free; just ask him for a copy of the Gospel of John. You can see it's just a small little book that anybody could read. And you can get a free copy.
Now if you know John 3:16, you're like, oh well, I've heard this so many times. One of the things that happens when you become familiar with something is you can forget what it's actually all about. Like I hear people refer to John 3:16, and sometimes the way they talk about it, I'm like, I don't really think you understand what it means. So just because you know something, like a whole bunch of times what happens when you get used to something is you start to miss the point of it, you start to become familiar with it, and you end up moving further away from the meaning rather than closer to it. I mean, there are people who know John 3:16 very well, that doesn't mean they really know Jesus. And so, I want to make sure that whether this is your first time, or your fortieth time studying John 3:16, we got to get clear about what it really means here together tonight. And so let me pray for us as we get into this, but let's all pray:
Father in heaven, we come to you in the name of Your Son, Jesus. And we thank you for everybody being here. And we pray that you will open our eyes so that we could really see who Jesus is and what he did for us. God, we know that many of us, we live our lives blinded to the reality of Jesus, and to let tonight be the night that eyes are open to really see. Give us that clarity. Give us that wisdom, that we could see Jesus Christ, so that we could believe in him, and have eternal life. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
I remember the first time I went to a church service in Huntington Beach. The guy who was preaching at the end of the service, he said, if you need Jesus, come forward right now, if you need Jesus for the first time, or the fortieth time, come forward right now. I remember him saying that very clearly. And I was like, I guess we're all going to get up and walk forward right now. And then, to my surprise, nobody got up and went forward at all. And I was like, wow, there's a lot of confusion about this. What does it really mean to believe in Jesus? Let me read it for us, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Now, I feel like maybe in English, we kind of miss it when it says, “should not perish but have eternal life.” Or maybe you have a translation, or you've heard it said, “everlasting life.” And I think what people think is at the end of that verse, oh, that's what's going to happen to you after you die. Like, when you die, you will not perish, but instead, you'll have eternal life. Like, you won't go to a bad place when you die. Instead, you'll go to heaven to be with Jesus. But is that really what it means? When it says, “not perish but have eternal life”? Is it really talking about like, where you go after you die? Or is it actually talking about how you're living right now? Is this about the future or is this about the present? Let me just show you how John uses this idea of eternal life. Go over to chapter 10. If you're in John, just turn on over to chapter 10. We're going to let John explain himself here. Let's let him tell us what does he mean when he talks about perishing and eternal life? Well, he quotes Jesus here. This is John 10:28. This is Jesus speaking. Maybe you've got a Bible that has red letters whenever it's Jesus speaking. Well, this is one of those verses. And Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” So, Jesus has given out eternal life in the here and now. Can I get an Amen from anybody on that? Does anybody here have eternal life here tonight? See, that's what we're here to talk about. Jesus is giving, and what it really means is those who have eternal life, they cannot perish. Okay, it's impossible. It's like there is no possibility of someone who has eternal life, perishing. That's what Jesus is saying. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” Like, it's not possible for that person to perish. No one can snatch them out of my hand. See, perish and eternal life, they are opposites, definitely their eternal destinations. Yes, that is true. But there are ways of living right now. And you either right now are perishing, or you already have been given eternal life.
Go over to John 17:3 and look how Jesus describes eternal life. Here, John 17:3, this is actually a prayer from Jesus to our Father in heaven. And he says, “and this is eternal life,” because this is such a theme throughout the Gospel of John, because Jesus is giving people eternal life. He defines it here. “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Eternal life is not going to heaven when you die. It's knowing the God of heaven while you live. It's not just something that is everlasting. It's knowing the one who is everlasting. Eternal life means that inside of you, and who you really are in your soul, you know God; you have a relationship with God through believing in His Son, Jesus. That's what eternal life is, yes, your relationship with God will go on forever. Yes, when you die, you will go into the presence of God, but eternal life is having that life of the age to come right now in your soul. It's being made alive spiritually. That's the definition.
So, both of these things are presently working out on this planet right now. People are perishing right now. And people are being given eternal life where they know God, this is something that is happening. And now like, look at this verse, I think we have it here to throw up on the screen for you. This is 1 Corinthians 1:18. I don't know if you can read that, but it says, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are” ... what does it say, everybody? “perishing.” Not like the word of Jesus dying on the cross is not going to be folly for those who are going to perish. But know the people, they don't see the importance of Jesus dying on the cross, because they are perishing right now. Perishing is their present condition of their life. But to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. See, Jesus is either nothing to you or he is the one most important thing to you. And how you see that what Jesus did for us when he died on the cross and rose again, that Jesus is the Son of God. Like, if people believe in Jesus, boom, they enter into eternal life; otherwise, people are perishing.
Let's get that down for point number one, if you are taking notes, if you got our handout. Number one is: People are perishing. That's why this verse is such good news, because this verse is telling us how to go from perishing to eternal life. And it's not something to put off or procrastinate or wait till the future when you think you're going to die, then you should figure it out. No, you could change the quality of your life right now here tonight. You could stop perishing. You could see who Jesus is and he would give you eternal life where you could know God from this day forward. That's what we're here to talk about. You could go from perishing to eternal life all because of Jesus. Let me show you an example of this.
Turn with me to the book The Gospel of Luke chapter 19. It's just a few pages over to the left if you got the Bible open but Luke 19:1-10 we get the story of a guy who this happens to. Okay? His name is Zacchaeus. I don't know if you've heard this story before. This guy, he wants to go see Jesus, when Jesus was passing through Jericho. That's what it says here in Luke 19:1-2: Jesus “He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.” Okay. Now the only thing I got to see when I went through Jericho was a camel. That's basically all I got to see. People were like, hey, you want to ride this camel? I was like, not really, but okay, you know what I mean? But Zacchaeus, he goes to Jericho. I don't know if it was March 16th, and that's why he went there. But he goes to Jericho to see Jesus. Maybe like some have come to see Jesus here tonight. But the plot twist is that when Zacchaeus goes to see Jesus, he finds out that Jesus is actually coming to see Zacchaeus. So that's what a lot of people don't realize is they think, oh, I'll go check Jesus out. No, Jesus is coming for you. See, that's what happens here. He gets up in a tree. It says Luke 19:3: “And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature.” Okay, so that's a very biblical way to say that someone is vertically challenged. All right, so verse 4, “So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him.” He wanted to see, right? he wanted to see the Lord here, and he was about to pass that way. “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So this guy thinks I'm going to go see what Jesus is about. People are telling me, come and see Jesus, I'll go check him out. No, Jesus is like Zacchaeus... Right now, I don't know what people would have thought about Zacchaeus, but he didn't have a very good reputation. We already got a description of him in verse 2, it describes Zacchaeus as a chief tax collector, and was … what does it say there, everybody? The guy is rich, okay. The guy has a level of authority that he can take other people's money on behalf of the Roman government at that time. And what we're going to find out is that he was taking a little bit extra for himself along the side. And so, a lot of people would have had a bad impression of Zacchaeus, because he was a tax collector, meaning, he was taking from the Jews to give to the Romans. And because he was probably taking more than he was supposed to, and now he is a rich guy. So, when you see rich people, you probably don't think that person is perishing. When you see rich people around here in Orange County, or LA County, you usually think, wow, they're doing pretty good. They're living it up in the here and now, like they've got it all set for them. So maybe some people would have thought Zacchaeus had a good life. But others, they knew what kind of guy he really was. Look what they say here Luke 19:7: “And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’” Like, the people thought, hey, this guy's a bad guy. Why is Jesus inviting himself over to the house of one of the bad guys? That’s what's going on here. Verse 8: “And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’” Okay, so right away is that he says when Jesus comes over, I'm giving half of all I have today to those who are in need. And if I took money that I shouldn't have taken from anybody, let's say I charged them an extra 250, well, I'm going to give them now 250 times four, I'm going to give them 1000 in return. So, I mean, this is an overwhelming redirection. This is a radical change of mind here for Zacchaeus that he would, instead of trying to take money from everybody, he's going to now go and start giving money to everybody and making things right. And look what Jesus said to him. Verse 9: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’” What if I told you that that word translated “lost” there in Luke 19:10 is the same exact word as translated perish in John 3:16. See Zacchaeus was perishing this whole time, taking people's money, living it up as a rich guy. And he's a sinner. He's not right with God, he doesn't have eternal life. The kind of life that Zacchaeus is trying to get is like, he's trying to get it from the outside what money can buy, the pride of possessions, he's trying to get some kind of status with these riches. And then we find out when Jesus comes over and we get down to what's really going on is that Zacchaeus, he knows he's not right. And he changes his mind, he repents, he has a complete turnaround. Instead of taking people's money, I'm going to give money back to the people that I wronged. I'm going to give it to those in need. And Jesus says, everybody, look at this, look at this guy, look at the rich guy realizing he's empty, and look at him, giving all his stuff away. That's what eternal life looks like right there. That’s salvation. And Jesus then gives us a mission statement. He says that he came to seek out and to save those who are perishing, those who are lost. That's who Jesus came for. Right now, people are on their way towards destruction. People are on their way towards death. And people are on their way towards the judgment of sin. And Jesus came because he wants to seek you out. He wants to save your soul. And he wants to give you notice. He doesn't say now, when Zacchaeus dies, he's going to go to heaven. No, he says, today salvation has come to this house. Today Zacchaeus got eternal life. And a rich man found out it would be better to lose it all and gain Jesus, than have it all and lose your soul.
So, this is what we're here to say is, we're talking about your soul right now perishing, or eternal life. And Jesus, he is what the difference is. The difference between the two is Jesus. And maybe you thought you would come and check out John 3:16, and see what Jesus is all about here today. No, Jesus is seeking you out. And Jesus wants to save you today. Salvation could come to your house because you could go from perishing to eternal life, right here tonight. Now go back to John 3:16. Now that we know what's really at stake, we're not just talking about the future here. We're not talking about what happens after death. We're talking about your present condition in your soul here tonight. And there are people who have eternal life in the house, and there are people who are perishing. And tonight, if you believe in Jesus, now, this is the key. Look at it here with me, John 3:16. It says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever” or all this, this is open to anyone here, “all who believe in Him.” That's how you do not perish, but you are given eternal life. It's all about what does it mean to believe in Jesus. We got to really define this here. What does it mean to believe in Jesus, because many people today would say that they believe in Jesus, but the Bible would say that they really don't believe in Jesus. Okay, so this is our big, big thing we got to make clear, what does it mean?
Go to 1 Corinthians chapter 15. I just want to make sure we start with the right information that you need to believe about Jesus. And it even says there is a kind of fake faith. Okay, so let's really think this through 1 Corinthians 15 is a good chapter to define the good news of Jesus. We call it the gospel. What do you need to believe about Jesus to be saved, to have this eternal life? Well, it says, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.” So, there's a kind of believing that's not real. More on that in a minute. First, let's get to what we need to believe. 1 Corinthians 3-6: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.” Okay, so here's what you’ve got to know about Jesus. You’ve got to know first of all who he is, that Jesus is the Christ, or the Messiah. He is the Anointed One of God. There are So many prophecies that said, this is who Jesus would be. And he fulfilled every one of them. Can I get an Amen from anybody on this?
So, the prophecies, the whole part of the Bible written in Hebrew today, people call it the Old Testament. What's that all about? With the Jews and Moses out there in the wilderness and father Abraham, what's that all about? It's all leading up to Jesus; Jesus is the one that it is all about. And he did something very important according to all those scriptures, he died on the cross for our … what? To pay the penalty. And now for the wrong things that we have done before God, he took our place, he took our judgment, and then he was buried. He was all the way dead, not mostly dead. No, he really died. And on the third day, he rose from the dead as according to the Scriptures. All of this was said before it ever happened, hundreds of years beforehand, guys wrote about this Messiah, and how he would suffer. And they wrote in graphic detail how he would suffer with nails in his hands and feet, and how he would be pierced. And they wrote about all that would happen to Jesus on the cross. And they also wrote about how he would not stay dead; he would not see decay, he would not undergo corruption, but on the third day, he would show that he has life, and eternal life, that anyone who believes in him can now be given. So, you’ve got to know who Jesus is. He is the Anointed One of God. And you’ve got to know what he did, that he died, and he rose again. But even if you know about that, even if you believe that those are the facts, that Jesus really is the Son of God, he really did die. And he really did rise again. Has anybody played Wordle? Anybody ever played this game before? I've never played. Who here has played Wordle? I can tell it's cool, all right. So, like facts would be one of the words you could guess for Wordle, all right. I don't know if this has ever been one of the words, right. So today, if you believe the Bible, if you believe what we just said about Jesus, if you believe, yeah, I think that really happened, I think Jesus was the Son of God, I think he did die on the cross for sin, and I think that Jesus actually literally physically rose up from the dead on the third day. See the world today, America, they'll say, oh well, then you're a Christian if you believe that. That's not what the Bible says, though. The Bible says these are the facts. Just the facts. That you know they're the facts, doesn't really mean that you believe. See, even the demons know who Jesus is that he died on the cross and rose again. Even the people who are mocking Jesus know that he was who he claimed to be, how he died and rose again. No, just because you know the facts does not mean that you believe according to the Bible, because we just got a couple letters wrong here. It's not about knowing the facts. It's about having real faith, that's actually the correct word that everybody needs. Have you actually trusted in the death and resurrection of Jesus to save you from perishing and give you eternal life? It's not about whether you know it's true in your head. It's about whether you have trusted. Have you transferred your trust from anything else in life to Jesus? That is what we're looking for. That's what it means to believe. Today, I think people think believe means I've heard that. I agree with that. I know that. But in the Bible, belief doesn't mean you just know it. It means no, I'm living for it. I'm trusting in it. That's what's going to save me. That's why I have eternal life. It's all because of Jesus dying and rising again.
Now go back to John 3:16. Now that we've tried to explain the word “believe” a little bit, one of the things that happens with John 3:16 is we pull this verse out of context. Nobody reads the other verses around John 3:16. When they're putting up a verse on a sign, you don't have room for all the other verses all around it, right? So, be very hard for Tim Tebow to put all that context on that black stuff under his eyes, you know what I'm saying? So, people just say, John 3:16, or people just write down the verse, John 3:16. And that's great. We want to spread the good news that people who are perishing can go to eternal life, but over time, what we lose is the whole context. And see, there's something that is said in the verses right before this. And they actually say there's an example if you want to know what it means to believe in Jesus. There's an example that already happened, that could give you an idea of what it means. Look at verse 14. It says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” A lot of people, they just say, well, you’ve got to believe in Jesus. But we don't define the terms, we don't try to get into what does that actually mean? Well, if we look at the verses right before it, it already gave us a picture. If you know the story about how Moses lifted up a serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man, and that's a title that Jesus would use to refer to himself, so he's talking about himself,. Just like Moses lifted up a serpent, so I'm going to be lifted up. So, if you want to know what it looks like to believe in me, if you want to know, whoever believes in him may have eternal life, go back to the story of Moses lifting up the serpent, compare that to Jesus being lifted up on the cross, and that'll give you an idea of what it means to believe. And this word “lifted up” is very important here in the Gospel of John, like he's saying, it got lifted up, like it got exalted. Like Jesus, the image of Jesus on the cross is one of the most recognizable images anywhere in the world. In fact, people who don't really believe in Jesus will wear the cross as some kind of symbol of bling. Or I don't know what it means to them, but this idea of Jesus being lifted up on the cross, like a lot of people are familiar with that picture, or that image. But a lot of people don't know this story with Moses lifting up the serpent, and like, that's an example of what it would be like to believe in Jesus being lifted up on the cross.
So, let's go to Numbers 21. Everybody, grab your Bible, go to one of my favorite stories in all of Scripture, Numbers 21:4-9. And this is supposed to be a graphic picture for us of what would it look like for someone to believe in Jesus isn't just knowing the facts. Is it just saying, yes, I believe that or is it like you are reaching out to Jesus, you are looking at Jesus, you are going to cling to the cross of Jesus, like you need it to save your life, because you realize you are perishing, and you don't want to die? You want to live; you need that eternal life. That's what's happening here in Numbers 21. Start with me in verse 4, where it says, “From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea.” So, I don't know how much you know about the story of Moses and the Israelites, and how they told Pharaoh, Let my people go. And maybe you've seen one of those movies where they leave Egypt and they go through the water on both sides, and they go on dry land, and God he does this exodus, where he delivers his people out of Egypt, and now they're in the wilderness. And so, it says here in verse 4, “the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Now, that is a great example of complaining, and anybody who's a parent, and has ever tried to serve dinner to other human beings, you know what I'm talking about right now. Like, anybody ever seen one of your kids looking at a full fridge, a full pantry, and being like, there's nothing to eat here. Am I speaking to anybody right now? Right? Which one is it? Is there nothing to eat or do you hate what we have to eat? Which one is it? Make up your mind Israel, right? I love this. This is some real complaining right here. We've got nothing to eat. Or I hate what we have to eat. Make up your mind. Do you hate it? Or is there nothing? You know what I'm saying? So basically, we've just dropped in here to a story where people are not happy with the life God has given them. People feel like they're dying; people are perishing. Like God, why did you get us out of Egypt to be out here in the wilderness? And so, people do here what people often do today, they speak against God. See there, they're not feeling full of the life of God. They don't have love, joy, and peace in their soul. They're looking at their life, and they don't feel like they're really living; they feel like they are perishing. And they start to speak against God, like it's his fault. When really, God clearly was providing food for them. They just didn't like what he was providing for them. That's how life is for a lot of people. They are dissatisfied with the life that God has given them and, and they sometimes complain about it. They grumble, they speak against God. And so, here's what happens. This is the next part of the story, Numbers 21:6: “Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.” That escalated quickly right there. That's like, why does it have to be snakes? Right? I mean, I remember saying that to my children one night at the dinner table. Oh, really? How about we just throw a snake on the table right now? Would you appreciate that right? This seems pretty intense, fiery serpents are now biting people so that they die. And look, the people they came to Moses, verse 7, “And the people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.’” This is great that people change their mind. They're realizing we shouldn't have spoken against God. We were wrong to say that God wasn't providing for us. So, Moses, will you please pray for us? We have sinned, we have not been thinking right about God, we need to change our mind and how we've been thinking about it. Or they realize here what they have done. They ask for prayer; they come and confess their sin. And then it says, “So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole. And everyone who is bitten when he sees it shall” … what does it say there, everybody? What's going to happen? They're going to live. “So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.” Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up that whoever believes in Him shall have eternal life. If you're looking for a picture of what it means to believe in Jesus, that here's the picture that God gave you right here. Let's think it through. You realize that you have sinned, you realize that you need forgiveness, and what a picture of judgment! What a picture it is to have fiery snakes, like people often associate snakes with Satan going back to Adam and Eve. People associate fire with the judgment. Here we go, we got serpents that when they bite you it feels like you're on fire. And so here come these serpents, they're a picture of judgment for sin. And then there's out of all these serpents going around biting people and people are actually dying. Well, now we set up, we lift up this bronze serpent on a pole. And when one of those fiery serpents, when they bite you, if you look at the pole, you will”… What's the key word, Everybody? “Live”. Okay, so let's play this out. Let's think this through. Can you imagine if one of these serpents came and bit you, and it feels like fire spreading all over your body, and somebody says, Moses, just set up a pole, go and look at that poll, and you will live, what would you do to get yourself over there to look at that pole? You would move heaven and earth, you would crawl on all fours, if you thought I'm perishing and I need to be saved. I mean, imagine. Even let's take this, like parents. Or if you have roommates, imagine someone that you live with, someone that you love that you consider like this is one of the people that I care about most on planet Earth. Imagine if you saw one of these fiery serpents come in, and you watch that serpent bite your loved one. And then the word comes that Moses is setting up the pole way over there. What would you do to get your loved one to go and look at that pole so they could live? Like you would be begging with it? Can you imagine if somebody was like, I don't want to go over there? It's just a small bite. It'll be fine. Right? You know, you would be begging with them. You would be pleading it; then you would say I don't want you to die, I don't want you to go down like this, please. Will you come and look, and will you come and live? I want you to live. This is the picture that we have been given that people are perishing. People are going the way of the snake, and they are going to burn in the fire. And if they look, if they go and they look and they see the one who's been lifted up, if they believe in him, they will not perish but they will live. Is there anybody here who wants to live and not die? That's what it means to believe in Jesus. It means I'm unwilling to say that I am going to die in my sin, my sin is going to kill me and there's only going to be one who can save me from that. And so, I'm putting all my trust in Jesus dying on that cross to pay for my sin. That's what the picture is that we’re talking about here. And no, though it's spiritual and cannot be seen, like snakes coming around biting people, I mean, that's a picture that we can see there. Oh, it's just as real. Like, your sin is leading you to death. Your sin is leading you to judgment. And you’ve got to change your mind, you’ve got to realize that God hasn't been wrong to you. You're the one who's been wrong in you're thinking about God. God's not trying to force your life. God's not trying to take life away from you. God is the one who wants to give you eternal life. God is the one who sent his son, who lifted him up so that you could believe in Jesus and live.
Let's get that down for point number two: All who look to Jesus live. All who looked to Jesus live. Write it down with all capital letters. It's that level of desperation tonight. If you want to believe in Jesus, if you are tired of perishing in your soul, and you want to be given eternal life, and you want to say I want to look at Jesus, and live tonight, at the back door there will be people waiting to talk to you in a few minutes. When we play a song. And you should go out there and you should say help me live. I don't want to die in my sin. I don't want to perish. Please show me the way to look at the one who was lifted up on the cross. I want to live. That's what we're talking about. When it's not like, oh yeah, I know about Jesus. No, no. It's like I'm hanging on to the cross of Jesus, because I don't want to die in my sins, and I want to have eternal life.
Now go back to John 3:16 because we haven't even got to the best part yet. We've been saving the best for last. And the best part is actually the part that comes first here in the verse, and a lot of people, they just cruise through it. Oh, yeah, I've heard these words before, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son.” Oh, yeah, God loves us. God loves the world, God gave Jesus. And then it's like, whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. So, this idea of God, loving the world that He gave His only son. Okay, there's a lot to really think about there. The fact that God would choose to love the world. It's not talking about the planet Earth at that point, the “world” that it's talking about here. It's like this fallen world, like how things have become so corrupt, how things around us are so evil. See, there is a spiritual force of evil out there. Satan and the rest of the demons, they're out there doing evil things, Satan's even out there blinding people so they won't see Jesus and have eternal life. And this whole system, I mean, the nations and all that's happening in the world today, it's not hard to look at our world and pay attention to what's going on. And say there is a level of corruption taking place here. Tings are not as they ought to be in this place that we are living. People are in it for themselves. And people are doing evil things to other people. A lot of people who are rich got rich by taking it from the poor in ways that were not even just or right. And the poor people are getting trampled on by the people who think that they are better than others. This is not okay, this is evil. Go with me to John 17, and we'll see how Jesus talks about the world here. He talks about the world like something we need to get saved out of a place, we need to be rescued from. When he's praying, he says here in John 17:14, he says, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them.” Like Jesus said, the world hated him, that's why they kill him. And everybody who really has this eternal life, this life of the age to come, this life that Jesus gives you when you really live, the world is against that. The world is like angry, jealous of people who are not perishing, and there's a hatred from the world against the things of Jesus. Notice how he talks about it here in verse 14, he says, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one,” the one who's leading the world into all this evil, that’s Satan himself. So then verse 16, it says “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” Now it's clear that Jesus, when he speaks here in John 17, does Jesus have a positive or a negative connotation with this idea of the world? Very negative. He's describing it as evil. Something that we need to be saved out of is the world. This verse, John 3:16, the most famous verse says, “For God so loved the world.” See, maybe you've heard this question. I hear people say this sometimes, like if God's in control of everything, and God can do whatever he wants, why does God allow evil in the world? You want to know why God has evil in the world? Because God wants to show us what love is. That's why God loves the evil world. God wants to love people who speak against him, who are not satisfied with what he's given them, who sin actively in rebellion against him, who deny his reality, and live based on lies. God wants that world that Satan is deceiving and leading us astray into all kinds of evil. God wants to show us that love. He so loved the world. God loves people who are sinners, and he wants to rescue them. God loves his enemies and wants to make them a part of His family. Like, I don't like how there's evil in the world. Well, do you like how there's love in the world? Because that's where it comes from. You wouldn't know how God loves you, if there wasn't such a thing of evil in the world. When you treat someone, and you treat someone who's your enemy, and they are against you, and you come and love them. See, that's a beautiful thing. That's how God is. That's what it's saying. It's not like, oh yeah, God loved the world. No, Satan rebelled against God, he led the world astray from God, the world came up with this whole system that is completely anti God, anti Jesus, and anti all of his people, and God decided he was going to love them. That's who God is.
Go to Romans chapter 5. Let me remind you of what it says here that this love, that this is not like a familial love. This is not like what I love my family. This is not like what I love the people who love me. It's a completely different kind of love that God has here. When it says, “God so loved the world.” Maybe you think of the planet, maybe you think all the people. Jesus loves the children of the world. Maybe you think of all the people all over the world, but God loves the people, even the people who are doing evil against Him, even the people who are rebelling against Him. Look what it says here in Romans 5:6: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die. But God shows His love for us in that “while we were still” what? Weak. Okay? When did Jesus invite himself over to Zacchaeus his house when he was still a tax collector, taking money from other people? See, the initiative, the move of God to love you, that's what starts your whole relationship with God. God decides to love you even when you're still against him. See, this is not a natural, like a worldly kind of love. See, people love people who love them. That's how it works down here. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. Praise God, He doesn't love like we do. He doesn't love us based on how we treat Him. No, He chooses to love us based on who He is. See, it says here in verse 8, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I mean, this is what love looks like. This is the demonstration of God's love that he so loved the world, like people who were living in evil, people who are looking at God and they're speaking out against him, and they're saying, I don't like what you've done in my life. I don't like how it's like this. I don't like how everything they ever have has all been given to them by God. And here they are saying, I don't like what you have given me God. And God decides still to love them, even people who are against him. That's what it means when it says ,“God so love the world.” No, even though people are being deceived, and people are going away into wickedness, no, God still sends His Son Jesus to die for their sin. God makes the first move. Now, that's amazing that he would choose to love us even when we were his enemies, even when we were ungodly, even when we were sinning against him. But go back to John 3:16, because it even says something more than that, something that is hard for us to even fully understand. What I'm about to tell you is going to be difficult for you to grasp, because it goes against the very way that we feel and think and act in our being. It says here in John 3:16, that “God so loved the world” that he wanted to say that he gave his what, everybody? monogenes is the Greek word, “his only begotten.” This guy, he has one son. Now, maybe that word has just become cliche. Maybe you've just heard that so many times, it's lost, like the effect that it's supposed to have on you.
Go over to back to John 1:14, let me show you how it already told us that earlier in John. It says, and the word that's it's using, this word Logos to describe Jesus, he says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” So, the idea is that there is a father and there is a son, and his son has come. And it's not like there's a whole bunch of kids. It's not like there's a whole bunch of options. There is one and only son, so a father and his son. In fact, go back to John 1:1. It says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. And the word was,” … what does it say there, everybody? “God”. So there is one who is there with God who is God, and it's the son; there's a father and a son, and the son comes down and puts on flesh and is born as one of us; we call his name Jesus. So, there's a father and a son from the very beginning of everything that's ever been for eternity past. There is a father and a son who dwell in perfect relationship. the father is pleased with the son, and the son loves the father. And the father gives his only son, for sinners like us. I think that word has become so cliche that we forget, like, you know what? Look what it costs him. Look what he gave.
Go over to Genesis 22, go all the way back to the beginning, because God gave us a story to illustrate this. And this story is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable. It's supposed to just really bother everyone who's a parent here, everyone that God has blessed with a child. The purpose of reading this story is we are supposed to think, I don't like how this story is. This is Genesis 22. This is between God and Abraham. And God made a promise to Abraham, that he was going to bless him with a son. And he didn't have that son for a long time in his life. In fact, Abraham had to wait until he was 100 years old to have his son. And now he's had his son, the promise child, the one that he'd been waiting for his entire life. And God made a promise to him, that in his son there would become a great nation, a nation that would bless everyone on planet Earth. And so, Abraham, he must be so happy to finally have his son. And then this happens in Genesis 22:1: “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’” Now, I remember when I was a son, and my dad would read me that story, and I knew right away this ain't right right here. No dad should be killing their son as a sacrifice. Now, as a dad, it even has more meaning to me. I mean, I was so blessed when God gave me a son. Praise the Lord, He gave me another one. I was like, this is so awesome. I want to have more than one right? When I've only known my son, either one of my sons, I've only known them for a few precious years here on planet Earth. And I have such an attachment to them, such a passion that there's not something that I wouldn't do for my son, and I'm just a sinful man here on planet Earth. Can you imagine the father and the son have been together in a perfect relationship for all of eternity? There is not a single way that the father is not pleased with his son. And there is not a single thing that the son would not do for his father. It is the ideal, it is the perfect relationship. And that father is willing to give his son, his only son, he's got none others, he's got one son, and he's willing to sacrifice that son for you. That is a kind of love that personally I cannot even understand. I would not give my son for anyone here in this room. No, you would have to kill me to take my son. And we're talking about a father who cared about you so much. The day that there was a need to pay for your sin, the ways that you had been against him, that he was willing to sacrifice his one and only son, his son whom he loved. And he laid down his son as a sacrifice to save you from your sin. You are loved by God. See, this is what is offensive when you say oh, do you know that God loves you? I mean, people say that in such a cliche way these days. Oh, God loves you. And then other people are like, I don't know if he really loves me. No, let's just make it very clear here. God loves you so much, He gave something that we can't even imagine giving. God gave His perfect one and only son, and he sacrificed him. And he put this story here with Abraham in Genesis 22, not because it was really about Abraham and Isaac. This story is about what God was going to do for you . Look at it with me again here when it says in Genesis 22:2, notice where it says the land of Moriah. Do you know that the land of Moriah according to 2 Chronicles 3:1, the land of Moriah is Jerusalem, that he tells Abraham to go sacrifice his son on the very hill where Jesus ends up dying on a cross? Notice how many days it takes him to get there. Genesis 22:4, it says, “on the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.” We're going to the place where Jesus is going to die. It's taking us three days to get there. And Isaac he's old enough to realize that something's not adding up here. Here, dad, right? Isaac says verse 7, “And Isaac said to his father Abraham, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’” So, it's just a father and a son on a walk. And it doesn't get much more intimate than this. Hey, father, Hey, son. Just father and son having a conversation. “He said, ‘Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’” Hey, Dad, what exactly are we going to sacrifice here, you know? And then Abraham said something amazing here in verse 8, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So, they went both of them together, says Hebrews 11:17, that when Abraham was ready to offer his monogenes, as his one and only son, he believed that even if he did kill his son, God would be able to raise his son from the dead. So, God just told a man to go to where Jesus is going to die. It took him three days to get there, and the man he's ready to sacrifice his son because he believes that even if he does kill his son, God could raise his son from the dead. This is a story that God wrote down between Abraham and Isaac because God wanted to show you what he was going to do with his son. It becomes a famous place. Look at verse 14, at this place that where Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac, but he didn't because God ended up providing a ram that was caught in a thicket by his horns that they ended up sacrificing instead of his son. So, Abraham called the name of that place, The LORD Will Provide, or on the mount of the Lord, it shall be provided or on the mount of the Lord, it will be seen. Like on this place where Abraham almost kills his son, on this mountain, it will be seen if you want to know what love looks like. It looks like a father being willing to give his one and only son for people who are against him. And you can see it and God gave us this picture of a father with his one and only son. I mean, do you see how even like we had to wait so long for the son. And then the sun finally comes. I mean, everybody would be relating to Abraham reading this story. Oh how much how much love Abraham must have for his son Isaac. And then God says, yeah, go and sacrifice him. Not because he really wanted Abraham to do it, but because God wanted you to know he would really do it for you. God so loved you that He gave His one and only son Jesus, to die for your sin, so that you don't have to perish, but you could have eternal life. You need to look at Jesus and live.
Point number three, let's get it down like this: Do not reject God's love. Do not reject God's love. This is what's offensive when people act like it's no big deal that that God loves me. Maybe with the way people say it, they say it in like a trivial way, that it's not that big a deal that God loves somebody. Or maybe when people hear it, they're like, well, why does God love me? What do I really need him to love me for? I guess that's nice, that he loved me. Good. No, go back to John 3:16, because there are a few verses after this that we should look at together. We looked at the verses before. And they gave us a picture of what it means to believe in Jesus. Well, if you keep reading after John 3:16, it describes that if you really know that God loved you as a sinner, and he loved you so much, I mean, what kind of love is this? It's a kind of love I can't even relate to. It's a kind of love that is beyond what I can understand, that a father would love one of his enemies so much that he would lay down his one and only son to die in the place of the enemy. And it says it here in verse 17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Verse 18: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned.” When Jesus came, and he put on flesh, and he was born as a man, and he died on the cross and he rose from the dead, did Jesus come to judge us? Or to save us? What does it say in here? Okay, well then, look what it says in verse 18. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Now, see, do you realize what it means that God loves you? It means everything. It's take it or leave it, it's all right there like the Father gave His son to save you as one of his enemies. If you say no to that, you think a father is going to give his son for you, and you're like, o thanks, and everything's going to be cool between you and the father? When He sacrificed his one and only son for your sin, and you say, hey, that's nice. You gave me Jesus, but I'd rather stay in my sin. See, it cost God a lot to love us. It cost Him His one and only son. He judged His son for your sins so that you would not be condemned, so that you would not perish, so that you would not have to face eternity paying for the penalty of your sin. He poured all of that judgment out on His son in your place because he wanted to love you and you're like, yeah, I'm not going to believe that. Oh well, then, all you've got now to look forward to is perishing in your sin, because He gave His son. Look what it says here in verse 19. “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” God sends His son, and you choose your sin. You do not want to meet that dad; he is going to be mad. He judges Jesus for sin, and your choice is, no, I'm going to keep on living in my sin. That's the problem right there. See, when people act like God's love, oh, I know about that. I've heard about that. I don't think many people really fully understand what it means that God loves you. You didn't deserve God to love you. You are against God, but He chose to initiate love for you. And He gave like what more could God give when he gave His one and only son, His perfect, righteous son who did everything that pleased him, and he sacrificed him in your place. And now you're going to say, wow, that I can see it, I can see that He sent His son to die for me there on the cross, I can see Jesus lifted up, I could see Jesus bleeding out on that tree for me, but you know what I'm going to be over here, just keep living my life, keep doing my sins. See, that's the judgment right there. That's where the judgment comes from. Because when he sent His one and only son to rescue you from perishing, to save you from your sin, you chose sin instead of His son. That's the condemnation. It says here in verse 20: “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
See, John 3:16 leads us to a choice. But it's not the choice that people talk about. People think when I die, do I want to go to a bad place or a good place? That's the choice that people think John 3:16 is all about. What the verse is really about is for you here tonight, right now, while you are alive, do you want God's son or do you want your sin? That's the choice you're making. And that choice either leads to perishing, or you have eternal life. So that's why we're here tonight. We're here tonight to say that Jesus is worth it, that the love of God that He gave His son, it's worth losing all of your sin, it's worth changing the mind about all the things that you thought were going to get to make you rich, all the things that you thought that were going to make you have the life that you wanted. It is worth it to lose all of that sin, to gain Jesus as the son of God, who died for you in his love. It is worth it to lose your life, to lose the world, to lose everything as long as you gain Jesus. And so tonight is the night, tonight is the night that people here in this room could go from perishing to eternal life, that people here could say I need to look at Jesus on the cross, because I don't want to die. I want to live. And that people could realize, maybe for the first time ever, that God is not against you. God actually loves you. And God proved His love with an overwhelming display because He gave His one and only son to pay for your sin. And to choose your sin over Jesus is to reject the love of God. And I want to encourage you, do not reject the love of God. Celebrate the love of God, realize that you don't need to go looking for something in the world. No, God has come looking for you. And he loves you. And he sent his son to die in your place. You could not be more loved by God. Then you are in Jesus. That's good news.
So, what we're going to do right now is we're going to give people a chance to respond to this good news. And so, the worship team is going to come up, and they're going to give us a song. And this is a song for us to think about, okay for us to maybe pray about, maybe tonight if you already have believed in Jesus, and you already have eternal life. Maybe tonight is the night for you to celebrate how wonderful the Father's love is. And for you to really think about why God would love a sinner like me to give His one and only son so that I could be saved, so I could have eternal life. For those of us who believe in Jesus, tonight is a night to worship Jesus Christ. Okay, but there are some people here that you need to go and you need to believe in Jesus, you need to go look at him there on the cross. And you need to look at him in the way so you could live; you need to see that God loves you. And you need to put your trust that God has loved you by giving Jesus, and you need to believe tonight is the night that you need to stop perishing in your sin and find life in Jesus. And so, as they're doing this song when I'm done praying, if you go out these doors and out into the courtyard, there'll be a booth there, Compass Connect booth, and they'll have these Bibles if you want one, and there'll be people who are trained, equipped and ready to talk to you about how you could believe in Jesus. And I'm here to tell you like this is something don't put this off. Don't think I'll figure this out before I die. No, let's stop perishing here tonight. No, let's look on Jesus and live here tonight. Let's not act like God's love is no big deal. Let's not reject His love. Let's believe in Jesus and find out what God's love is really all about here tonight. I promise you, whatever your sin is, there is love from God in Jesus to save you out of that sin. I promise you that this room is full of people who were so lost, and so perishing and they have been saved. They have eternal life in their soul, they know they are loved, and they will never be condemned, will never perish, because Jesus has us, and no one can snatch us out of his hand. You could be one of the people of Jesus here tonight. Do not wait. Run, run and live. Go talk to someone tonight, and you could believe in Jesus. So let me pray. And then we'll have that song. And if you want to go talk to somebody, go out the back and look for them.
Father, we thank you for this verse. And we can see why it’s became famous. But father, sadly, this verse has just become familiar. And what should be such good news has become old news to so many people. And Father, I pray that you would really open our eyes to see Jesus. We could see him on that mountain, where you sent Abraham to sacrifice his son, when really you wanted to show us what you were going to do with your one and only son. We could see Jesus lifted up. We could see him there with the crown of thorns pounded into his skull, with the nails in his hands and his feet there on the cross. And then we could look at Jesus here tonight, and we could live. We could be given eternal life. We could realize I don't have to keep living in this sin anymore because Jesus already died for it. Jesus already paid for that. Today salvation could come. So, Father, I pray that tonight you will hear the prayer that many of us have been praying for days, for weeks, maybe even we've been praying for some of the specific people who are here tonight. We've been asking you to save them by their names. As a father, I pray that tonight people will believe in Jesus Christ, and you will give them eternal life. And the people will not have to keep going home and feeling so sad, feeling so alone, feeling so lost, wishing they had a relationship, wishing they knew what love really was. God, help us to see; open the eyes of the blind so that they can see that we are loved. In fact, the love that we have through your son Jesus, it's a kind of love that we can't even fully relate to. We can't even fully understand what kind of love is this. What kind of a wonderful love would be for someone to give their son for a sinner like me? Why would a perfect Holy God in heaven sent His one his only son, His son whom He loves and sacrifice him in my place. Father, please open our eyes to see how much you will love us. I pray for the people who think oh, I already know God loves me. Help them to think again here tonight, Father. And I pray for those who would dare to reject your love, who would dare to choose what is evil over what is so pure and the gift that you gave us in Jesus and his precious blood being spilled for us. I pray that they would look at Jesus tonight and live, that they would look at Jesus today and be loved. So, Father, please save souls. Please let people who came here looking to see what Jesus was about see that Jesus came looking for them. He came to seek them to save. So, Father, we pray that you will show us the wonders of your love and open our eyes to see Jesus.
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