John 3:16 is arguably the most familiar verse in the Bible. It seems everywhere you look there is a sign with this verse on it. Most sporting events will have at least one person setting in the stands with this verse in large letters on a poster board. “So, is that a bad thing?”
Absolutely not! It is extremely important that all humans know the message contained in this incredible verse. God loves humanity so much that he came in the form of a human being and died for all of us. And if we believe in him we will not die but have life! Let me note here that the title of this writing is somewhat deceptive. I do not really “HATE” John 3:16. In reality, I love the message of the verse. But let me ask you a question: “Without looking, can you quote verse 17?”
Because verse 16 is so familiar to us we have missed the glorious message of the rest of his statement. Verse 17 is the pinnacle of what Jesus was trying to get Nicodemus to understand: “I did not come into the world to condemn but to save!” Unfortunately, too often our salvation messages have forgotten this magnificent truth.
Most pastors have either preached or explained the message of salvation hundreds of times. We know that it is an absolute essential beginning for all human beings. Without this most important step it will not matter what else a person accomplishes in their life. This is a truth that all people must consider while on this earth because there is no opportunity to make this decision once we leave this life. Because of the consequences of making the wrong decision, we preachers tend to approach this subject with a grave demeanor. After all, this is the most important decision any human will ever make!
In our jealousness, we have too often presented this beautiful message of salvation with a flare that Jesus was actually denouncing in verse 17. We make our listeners feel condemned in an attempt to ensure they will make the right choice in this most important life-altering decision. But this is contrary to what Jesus stated in verse 17: “I did not come to condemn or pass judgement on humanity, I came to SAVE you.”
The word, “Save” in this passage is the Greek word, “Sozo.” It means “To make safe, deliver, protect, bring safely and preserve safe from destruction.” From the definition we can see that it carries with it 3 distinct meanings: 1. Deliverance: When a person is “saved” they are delivered from the past, spiritual consequences of sin. 2. Protection: A saved person is protected from the current sickness of spiritual sin. 3. Preservation: You are preserved for the future and made safe from future death.
The beautiful message of salvation Jesus is explaining in John 3 is very simple: “To show you humans how much God loved you I have come to give eternal life to everyone who believes.” “I have not come to bring a message of condemnation but I have come to deliver you from a life that has been missing the mark.” This too should be our message to anyone who will listen.
Will SharplesR.A.G.E. Ministries, INC