“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned. But he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18)
Jesus came to offer salvation from sin and eternal life with him in heaven. One Bible verse that many people know, even by heart, that states this clearly is John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
It’s a clear statement of salvation through Christ. Whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
This statement by Jesus was made to a man named Nicodemus. He had heard Jesus’ public teaching, witnessed miracles performed by him, and came to talk with him at night.
Nicodemus acknowledged Jesus as a teacher come from God, for no man could do the miracles Jesus did unless God was with him. Jesus responded straightforwardly to Nicodemus warm greeting.
He told him, “unless a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus questioned this. How could a man already old be born again? Could he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born twice?
Jesus said he must be born of water and the spirit. Already born of the flesh, he must now be born “from above”. Or be born “again” from above, having a spiritual birth, entering into a new convent with God in a new life.
Nicodemus was the highest and noblest religious teacher in Israel, but he had a spiritual void in his heart. He knew something was missing, that he wasn’t reconciled to God, that he had no assurance of heaven, but he didn’t know what to do. There was no other religious leader he could ask, for no one knew more than about his religion than Nicodemus.
Then he witnessed Jesus, who spoke with authority and could do miracles. Surely, he would know. So, he approached Jesus privately at night.
Jesus answered giving him the basic message of Christianity: all are sinners headed to an eternal hell to be punished for their sin. But eternal life in heaven is available, where there is joy, peace and fulfillment forever.
How does one escape hell and get into heaven? That is the central message of Christianity. Jesus unfolds it.
One enters the eternal heaven by faith, not by works or religion. God’s way is by believing. “By grace you are saved by faith.” Come to him in faith believing, and he cleanses you of sin and gives you righteousness.
The Bible says in Genesis 15:6, that father Abraham “believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Nicodemus knew the Old Testament stories and would have been familiar with this statement about Abraham.
God gives life and forgiveness to sinners who come to him. He is a pardoning God.
Further, Nicodemus would have known from reading the prophet Isaiah that God forgives, cleanses and saves.
Nicodemus was steeped in a legalistic religious system. Jesus makes it clear that there was absolutely nothing Nicodemus could do to make himself good enough. Nothing he can do to earn salvation. Something must happen from above that he could not contribute to. He needed for heaven to come down. He needed for God’s Holy Spirit to do a work in Him.
God would give Nicodemus a new heart by His Spirit. But Nicodemus needed to ask for it. It’s a divine miracle. God cleanses of the sin committed and takes away the sin nature. By His Spirit, one is born again from Heaven and made a new creation with a new nature.
He receives eternal life --- the life of God --- which is everlasting, radiant and supernatural.
Who can receive this? Jesus said, “whosoever”. Whoever believes in the Son of Man. Jesus the Savior, crucified on the cross, buried, resurrected, and continuing His eternal life in heaven.
What is behind this? God’s love motivates Him. “For God so loved the world.” God’s invitation extends to all of humanity: to people of every tongue, tribe, people and nation. From the worst of all sinners, to the most morally pure. An invitation broad enough to include everyone.
How much did he love? He loved us enough to offer up the one he loves the most. His only son.
The gift is eternal life.
But, there’s another side. Those who don’t belief, who reject his offer, are condemned. Judged already.
Condemned from birth because born an unbeliever. Damned to hell because of unbelief. Perishing in sin.
Jesus said… “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
--- Beverly Nickles