Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Introduction to the Christian Walk: Salvation

John 3:16Image by arti47 via Flickr

John 3:16 is arguably the most popular Bible verse in the whole Bible. A recent sample taken on Bible Gateway John 3:16 was at the top of the list (The 100 most-read Bible verses at BibleGateway.com, May 15, 2009). It was actually that blog that got me started thinking about a study on the "Introduction to the Christian Walk." So the question is "what does John 3:16 mean?"

To start with we have to understand that we fall short. You probably did not need me to tell you that, but it is true. Think about your own standards of a good moral person. What are the core values of morality? Honesty? Kindness? Generosity? Friendly? Not Stealing? Not Lying? The list goes on and on. Now think about those things that you hold dear. Do you measure up? For most of us (if we are honest) it is impossible to measure up to our own standards let alone God's standards. That is a problem! When we miss the mark the Bible calls that Sin. Sin is missing the mark. The Bible says "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23; HCSB)" You see we all have missed the mark in some way. Now we tend to look at a person that has missed the mark more than ourselves and say "I am not as bad as that person over there!"
Consider this Story:
With 15 minutes to spare, he ran through the confusing terminals of JFK, sprinting from the gate his delayed flight had left him to the gate of his connecting flight. Out of breath, he reached the counter of his international flight and seeing the giant plane through the window, he breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, it was a sigh prematurely taken. Complications were explained politely, though he ceased hearing much of anything after "too late to board" hit him like the 250-ton airplane at which he was staring. Frustrated beyond belief, he watched his 17-hour flight take off without him.

Needless to say, my husband's first bout with international travel did not set well with either of us. I was on the other end of that flight waiting for his arrival, and like him found myself maddened with helplessness. Being that close to making a flight, and yet missing it, left a sickening twinge in both of our stomachs.

Those who have heard his dramatic telling of Murphy's Law in action have responded similarly. In fact, everyone seems to cringe on cue, particularly at the part where he watches his plane sit for several long minutes until taking off, all from the vantage point of the airport window. Missing the flight seems incredibly intensified by the reality of being oh-so-close. And yet, it was missing the flight at all that was the problem. Whether he missed the plane by five or fifty minutes, he still missed the flight.
(From The Wrong Side of the Window)

Sin is like missing that flight. No matter how close we thing we are to meeting God's moral standards we still have missed the flight. Why is that important? When we miss the mark with God then we cannot have his favor. Sin separates us from God. What is more we cannot make it up. Missing means missing. What can we do then? That is where John 3:16 comes in. Let's take a look...

"For God loved the world in this way..."


God loves each one of us. His passion and desire (the type of love He has for us) cannot be measured. He is the very essence of love. His Compassion for our state is great. He desires that none would perish in sin.

"...He gave is one and only Son..."


Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is the one that spoke the words of this verse. He came to the earth and lived a perfect life. He suffered and died so that we could have the forgiveness of sin. When we miss the mark then it creates a gulf between us and God. Jesus bridges that gulf. His death allows for the possibility of a restored relationship with God. His death was a sacrifice. He laid down His life because he loved us. God (the Father in Heaven) sent Jesus for this mission. He gave Jesus to the world for this purpose. Jesus also rose up from the dead. He died for three days and appeared to many. After 40 days He ascended into heaven. His victory over death into life allows us to move out from under sin's curse of death into a new life.

"...so that everyone that believes in Him..."


Believing in Jesus is an act of faith. It means that you turn your life away from sin and selfishness and wholly rely on Him. When you do this then you enter into a relationship with Him. His power over the the grave allows for you to have peace as well as victory in this life.

"...will not perish, but have eternal life."


We all will die someday. This verse is not saying that we avoid death. There is a second death which forever separates us from God. I pointed out that our sin creates a gulf between us and God. We have missed the plane and there are no other flights to make it to eternity with God. This eternal separation from God is called hell. It is a place of torment with no hope for relief. Eternal life on the other hand is called heaven. To be in heaven is to be with God. Everyone that believes in Jesus will spend eternity in this blessed life.
I remember when I received Jesus Christ. Someone asked me, "Do you want to go to heaven with God?" I said, "yes" And then they asked me to pray a prayer similar to this:
"Dear God, I know that You love me. I confess my sin and need of salvation. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and arose from the grave. I turn away from sin and place my faith in Jesus as my Savior and Lord. I want to follow you with my life. Amen"
If you have never received the forgiveness of sin that God offers through faith in Jesus perhaps you might pray that prayer right now. If you do please let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page (I would like to pray over your new commitment). If you are already in a relationship with Jesus Christ then perhaps you would take a moment to write a few words of encouragement to someone that is considering the faith, by sharing what Jesus has done in your life.

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