Last week we took a brief look at the idea of hope, where it comes from and how quickly it can fade. We saw that hope is essential to the Christian life but the only hope that we can truly know is certain is hope that comes from knowing that Christ has gone before us and prepared a place in heaven for us to be with Him eternally. A hope that holds on in the calm times and in the storms like an anchor holds a ship.
We also looked at the idea of whether or not we could give a reason to anyone who asked us about the hope that we have in Christ. So the question is “Do you have hope in Christ” If so Why?
Tonight we are going to start with a very another simple verse.
Who can tell me what is the most quoted bible verse. John 3:16
Can anyone recite this verse?
Who said these words? Jesus. Who were they said to? Nicodemus. This verse comes very much as the centre piece of Jesus conversation with Nicodemus. Who was Nicodemus? He was a Pharisee who recognised that Jesus was different to anyone who had come before him.
Jesus teaches Nicodemus many things here but the main one we will look at tonight is John 3:16.
Read John 3:16
This verse is often said to be the gospel in a single verse. I wonder how can that be, when Jesus death, burial and resurrection are not even mentioned. When we think about it the death, burial and resurrection were all major events that occurred in the life of Jesus but without the reason as to why they occurred there is no meaning. That is where this verse comes in.
ON BOARD: There are 4 aspects of this verse we will touch on – Danger, Plan, Duty and Destiny
Danger: The first thing we need to know is that we are in danger, in danger, mortal danger. There is a danger in this verse that all people need to realise. Can you find it? The peril all people face is that without Christ we are all perishing. “That we might not perish”
Now we all know that eventually we will all perish. That is one certainty in life is that it ends. We know that physically we are in a state of perishing; we know that no one is getting any younger. Is that what He means by perishing here? No. The truth here is simple, you and I and everyone else will perish if we don’t trust Christ. Apart from Christ we are all perishing.
John 3:18 adds to this. We are not merely dying but we are actually what? (Condemned). Without Christ we are condemned, our perishing is sealed.
John 3:36 adds that not only are those who do not believe condemned but God’s wrath remains on them. To perish means that we are not only condemned but also under God’s wrath. Perishing is being put out of the presence of God.
Perishing cannot be reversed once your time on Earth is done. We know that from the story of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man wanted Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool his aching tongue but he couldn’t. Abraham said there is an uncrossable chasm set between heaven and hell. Luke 16:26
Now that all sounds like gloom and doom, not very positive stuff but the truth is that we need to realise that there is a problem in our lives before anything can be done about it and for us this is the problem. The great news is that Gods has made a way to rescue us from what we cannot avoid on our own. God had a plan
Design – Read John 3:16 again. What was God’s plan? To give His son.
This verse starts off “For God.” Everything Jesus teaches is about God; everything He says relates to God, everything He does is for God. The world was created by God, the world depends on God, and we are made in the image of God.
Jesus teaches here that God had a son and that He gave Him to us.
Why does this verse say he did that? Because he loved the world, not only loved but “so” loved. Of all the things you know about God is that He loves you. And He proved that. His love is so deep that He gave his one and only son. He gave Him up to rejection and death. That’s Gods type of love, a giving love, giving His most treasured possession, His son.
Romans 5:8 says God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
God did not just give up His son to anyone; He gave Him to His creation. What did His creation do with His son?
God gave Him to us, where we spat on Him, hurled insults at Him, rejected Him, rebelled against Him and caused Him untold pain and suffering. You might ay hang on a minute “I wasn’t there, it wasn’t me” That may be true but I tell you ever time you rebel against Him, you spit at Him, you insult Him, you reject Him, and cause Him untold pain and suffering to see one who claims to be His own child living as if He didn’t exist or matter.
God gave His son into a world of rebellious people and in doing so He provided a way back to Him. That is His plan.
He knew we could never be worthy to stand sinless in heaven before a sinless God so His plan was to send His sinless Son to make a way for us.
But there’s a catch
There is a duty we need to perform. What do you think that is? That duty is simply to believe. Believing is the essential link between the gift and eternal life. If we don’t believe we simply reject the love of God and remain under His wrath.
God’s love and the gift of Christ are sufficient, we only need believe and we are no longer perishing.
When we sincerely believe we enter into a lifelong relationship with God. Our hearts and minds are renewed and our love for God grows. The object of our love becomes Jesus Christ, we believe the truths of God’s word and they become the way we live our lives. We are content in these truths and satisfied by Gods love. Our hunger and thirst is satisfied by Christ. John 6:35. Even the deep longings Christ is able to satisfy.
Read John 3:16. What is the destiny this speaks of? Eternal Life. This is not merely living forever but living forever in the presence of God.
We cannot find eternal life any other way; we cannot find it on our own. John 6:44 says “no one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him.” God is the one who draws people to Christ.
The bible describes Jesus as the light of life that has come into the world but in and of ourselves we would rather remain in the darkness because the light exposes us and our deed for what they are. But when God draws us to Christ he opens our eyes to the darkness and allows us to see Christ for who He is.
At that point we are unite to Christ as a branch is to a tree, just as the branch gets its life from the tree we get our eternal life from Christ. If we are not united to the tree we cannot get that life.
John 17:3 says this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”
Eternal life will be made complete when we are united with Christ in heaven but rest assured if you have placed your faith in Christ you already have eternal life. God has removed the danger of perishing and replaced it with the joy of eternal life.
This story is taken from the film “Bridge over the river Quay.” I cannot vouch for the details being 100% accurate, but you will get the overall picture.
During World War 2, some British soldiers were taken captive by the Japanese, and made to work very hard building a railway track through the jungle in Burma.
One day, the Japanese guards discovered that an axe was missing from the storeroom. Naturally, they thought that one of the British soldiers must have stolen it. The camp Commander lined all the British soldiers up, and asked for the man who had stolen the axe to step forward, because they were going to take him away and shoot him. Nobody moved. “Very well” the Commander said. “I will give you one last chance. If the soldier who stole the axe doesn’t step forward right now, I will choose one soldier at random and shoot him instead. Then, if the guilty soldier still doesn’t own up, I will keep on shooting other men until he does so. Will the soldier who stole the axe step forward now.” A soldier took one step forward. He was taken away and shot.
Sometime later, the guards checked on the storeroom again. To their surprise they found that all the axes were present! They had made a mistake the first time they had counted. Nobody had stolen an axe. That British soldier had not stolen an axe. In fact, he had done nothing wrong. What he did do was give up his life so that his friends might live!
What do you think the other British soldiers thought of their friend when they found out he had given his life that they might live? If, in some way, they could have communicated with him, what do you think they would have said? I think they would have said something like this. “Words cannot express how grateful I am to you. You gave your life for me. Whenever I hear your name I will remember you, whenever I remember you I will remember your sacrifice for me. Whenever I talk of you I will tell others what a wonderful thing you did. I will live to my life to honour your sacrifice. I think that would have been the natural response.
When we think of the sacrifice of Christ, the fact that He stood forward when he had done nothing wrong, the fact that he took the punishment so that we could live, how could we not want to express our love and gratitude by remembering his sacrifice each day in our lives and letting others know what a wonderful sacrifice it is.