John 3:16 — For God So Loved The World

[Jesus said:] For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

No verse in the Bible is better known than John 3:16. Thanks to it being on display everywhere — from billboards in sporting arenas to messages written in the sky — even unbelievers know the words: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” This is the gospel — the good news of salvation — condensed into one sentence. How does one understand it? Here is an explanation in a few more sentences.

The universe is a huge place. There are billions of galaxies, each with trillions of stars and planets. God created it all — quite possibly with a Big Bang — but despite its immensity, he is fond of a little planet called the Earth with its few billion inhabitants. Incredibly, God cares about us, who are like specs of dust in the vastness of the universe. And he cares about us all. “For God so loved the world,” Jesus says. That’s everybody in it.

And he loved it so much that he sent his only Son Jesus to save it. But save it from what? From eternal damnation. Scripture says the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a). This death is a spiritual death, where we are damned for all eternity to suffer in hell. Hell is not a place of fire and brimstone, but a separation from God, which might be worse than being in fire and brimstone. Sin results in that. Now God allowed for a substitutionary sacrifice where an animal could be killed instead of us, but this was just a pointer to something else. 

A perfect sacrifice was needed, and because no human was without sin, God sent Jesus down to be that perfect sacrifice. Although divine, he walked upon this Earth as a human being like us, lived the perfect life that none of us could live, and then was crucified and died in our place. That’s the part where Jesus says, “God gave his only Son.” On the third day, Jesus rose again. 

And as he says in this passage, “everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” All we need to do is believe that this is what Jesus did, repent, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, and we will have eternal life. It’s amazingly simple. So, if you are listening to this (or reading it) and aren’t saved, you know what to do.

“The wages of sin (might be) death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

God bless you.