For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Without even a reference almost every American could probably tell this verse. It has to be one of the most memorize, familiar verses in all the Bible and yet it is so full of truth; truth that really should change the way we live.
Lately I have been listening to sermons by John Piper, but probably not the way that most people do. I listen to them generally around 10 times before I go on to the next. Dr. Piper has given 2 sermons to this verse and I have only completed the first week, but it is very good. I won't give you the entire sermon, just some high points for me.
There is a God and He does have a Son. This Son was not some product of God the Father having sex with some goddess. Apparently many people think this is how God has a Son. They are equal yet different. The Son is subject to the will of the Father, but He is perfectly so; in other words, His delight is to do the will of the Father. Often, when we are subject to authority, we place ourselves under their rule, but not very willingly. In Jesus' case He demonstrated that we can be subject to authority and have that be our highest delight.
One of the things that Piper talks about is the way we should think about what Jesus did on our behalf and even a different way of thinking what the Father really was asking Him to do. This is a paraphrase. Imagine saying to your son, "Son, there are millions of people on this planet that we have created. These people are my enemies and there is only one way that allows for the payment of their sins to be paid while still keeping our righteousness intact. Even though they are our enemies we must win them back and the only way this can happen is if You go to earth and make the way possible. You are the only way. You will be ridiculed, tortured, hated and hung on a cross to die. You will have to die and be buried but after I turn my back on you I will raise You up and You will be with me again". Jesus not only submits to this request but it is His joy to do so.
What wondrous love is this.
The second thing that really struck me was "perish" and "eternal life". These two thoughts are contrasting thoughts in the verse. John is telling us that everyone will have a form of eternality; everyone will either live for eternity or die for eternity. Our sins must be paid and they either have been paid for on the cross or they will be paid for in Hell for all of eternity. This is not new thinking, but sometimes we just need to be reminded.
Do your friends realize that at the end of this life, many of them enjoying themselves like there is no tomorrow, they will have "hell to pay" for their stay here on earth. Imagine going on a cruise for a few months. You have paid the price to get on the boat and all the food is included. You are traveling the world, having a great time, seeing lots of new things and just generally enjoying yourself to the fullest. As you go you don't limit your pleasure at all, but because it's a cruise you just put everything on your room tab. The cruise comes to an end and you have to now pay the ship's steward. You have no idea what your bill is and when you find out, it is so high you have no way to pay it. This is life for so many in the world around us. They had a great time while they were here, but were not thinking of the cost.
There is only One who can pay our debt of sin and that is Jesus Christ. He didn't come to earth to be our fire insurance; He came to be our treasure. There is no cruise, no vacation, no new car or house, no brand new baby, no nothing, that compares with the Treasure that is Him. Have you accepted Him as your Treasure?
Believing/receiving in not just saying that you acknowledge that He is a person; even Satan does that. There are many reasons we might receive someone into our home; "It's the repairman, let him in". "We're having company tonight so make sure your rooms are clean". What Jesus requires is that we invite Him in to stay and to actually have reign in our lives. He is not coming for the weekend, but forever. We can receive people with a totally wrong attitude, but Jesus knows our hearts and He requires willing, humble submission to His authority.
Just some thoughts that may help you share the Gospel with others and remind you of the cost of our redemption.