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Today's Little Lift

    by Jim Bullington

Two 3:16's
Date Posted: August 31, 2021

Two 3:16's, two different books by the same author, and one common theme - this is today's devotional.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Some have rightfully called our first 3:16, the Golden Text of the Bible. It is golden because, among other reasons it contains the heart of God revealed in His love for us. A brief commentary that is not original with me says that John 3.16 speaks to the greatest being – God; It expresses the greatest love – God's love for lost humanity; It encompasses the greatest company of people – the world; It expresses the greatest gift – the gift of His Only Begotten Son; The greatest sacrifice – the life of the Sinless Messiah; The greatest trust – believing completely in Jesus Christ; The greatest salvation – not perishing eternally; And, the greatest hope – that hope of everlasting life.

Our focus will be on the extent of God's love for lost humanity and the means by which that love was/is expressed. In John 3.16, the extent of God's love is expressed by the little two letter word, so! Have you ever had anyone ask you how much you love them – maybe a child or a grandchild. The limits of one's ability to answer this question is quickly demonstrated when this question is asked. In attempting to answer such a question, we soon find that there is simply no way to express the degree of love that we have for that special loved one. In this matter, God is the great communicator. But beyond His words, there stand His actions. He gave His Son as the Divine Demonstration of the most profound love that could ever be known. No one else could have given this Gift; it was God or nobody. Sometimes we encourage one another in benevolent matters by saying, “Give until it hurts.” Well, for sure our beneficent Father gave until it hurt when He willingly suspended His right to punish and replaced it with the greatest love ever spoken of, imagined, or manifested.

1 John 3.16 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” John takes up the theme of the love expressed in John 3.16 by stating that the sacrifice on Calvary is the means by which we can know love. Right away we find ourselves in a deficit. If that is love (i.e. the love expressed on Calvary) then it is a love that is beyond my ability to give. My human frailties simply disallow my giving to that extent; I cannot attain unto it!

But John goes a step further; he expresses how the believer ought to react to that love. He (Jesus)laid down His life for us, and we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Ponder this thought for a few moments. I cannot believe that John wrote these words as empty or unachievable heights. In fact, each of the apostles hazarded his life in the years following the establishment of the church. Ironically, it is thought that John was the only one of the twelve to die a natural death. Let it be known, however, that John demonstrated time and time again his willingness to die for his fellowman. When He stood with Peter before the Sanhedrin as a result of the miracle in Acts 3, he stood ready and willing to give his very life for the cause. In fact, as events unfolded, Peter and John left the high court of the Jews “...rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5.41-42).

Love manifests itself; it cannot be contained. God manifested His love for humanity through the sacrifice of Jesus. John manifested his love for others by incessantly preaching Jesus – even when his very life was threatened. Likewise, our love for others is expressed by what we are willing to give!

Questions:

1. In your own words, express why John 3.16 might be called the Golden Text of the Bible.

2. Is the belief that is required in John 3.16 more than merely knowing the facts about Jesus and His sacrifice? Why or why not?

3. How did John demonstrate his willingness to die for his fellowman?

4. Can YOU understand fully the sacrifice which the Father made? Which Jesus made? Does your lack of understanding prohibit you from receiving the blessings that are available due to that sacrifice?

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Biography Information:
Jim Bullington - A Christian writer whose insight into the scriptures is reflected in practical application lessons in every article. The reader will find that the Bible speaks directly to him/her through these articles. God is always exalted and His word is treated with the utmost respect in this column.
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