Day 20: Eternal life
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.
John 3:16 is without a doubt the best known verse in the Bible. If there was a verse that was known off by heart inside and outside of Christian circles, it would be this one.
One of the dangers when reading familiar verses, is that we can rush past them, assuming we have learnt everything they have to offer us. I’ve certainly been guilty of this from time to time. Today let us go on a journey of reacquaintance with this verse, capturing its wonder, its power and its promise.
‘For God so loved the world..’
If you’ve ever felt unlovable, or doubted your place in God, here you have it – God loves the world and that includes you. The original word for love here is ‘agape’ meaning unconditional love that transcends and persists irrespective of circumstances. This is not a love that comes and goes, or changes if we mess up. Elsewhere John writes that God is love (see 1 John 4:8), demonstrating that to love us is his nature.
‘..that he gave his one and only Son..’
God’s love towards the world is not simply theoretical, but it has considerable substance behind it. The pinnacle of God’s love is right here, that he gave his one and only Son to die on the cross, taking our place, to overcome sin and death.
19th century hymn writer Charles Hutchinson Gabriel expresses the power of this in a well known hymn with the words ‘how marvelous, how wonderful, is my saviour’s love for me’. I recall as a young Christian receiving a dramatic revelation of God’s love when worshiping to a modern rendition of this song at a conference. I remember leaving the room that day overflowing with the revelation that God had given, knowing that my life would be different from that point forward. That moment was over 10 years ago now, but it is etched in my memory as a significant time and a turning point in my faith and calling. I wouldn’t be where I am today were it not for that moment.
In the ups and downs of life, let us never allow over familiarity to rob us of the marvel and the wonder of God’s love towards us.
‘..that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’
God gave his one and only son, for a reason – that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Although all of us will die, eternal life in heaven after death starts with making a decision to follow Jesus. So when we believe in Jesus, we are making a decision that not only impacts our today, but sets us up for the rest of eternity. John 10:10, tells us that Jesus came to give us life to the full and that life can start today if we put our trust in Jesus.
In summary, a promise that we can stand firm upon today is that we are loved greatly by God, and if we believe in him, we have the promise of eternal life with Jesus.
God I pray for each person reading this blog today. I pray that you would reveal afresh the greatness and awe of your love towards us. We pray against overfamiliarity of all kinds. We recognise that your love is not normal, it’s not everyday, but instead we see it as the greatest love ever shown. We ask today that you awaken in us a sense of true wonder at everything you’ve done for us.
In Jesus’ name we pray,
Ps Dan Hoyle
Campus Pastor, Bishop Auckland