I use the S.O.A.P. method of Bible study:
Scripture / Observation / Application / Prayer

Saturday, April 13, 2013

John 3:16-17 - A Loophole or Lifeline?

John 3:16-17:
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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

If you have ever been out on the ocean, maybe you have thought about how vulnerable you are out there. All that water — and no land in sight!

“Man overboard!” is not a cry to be taken lightly. A man left on his own, swimming in the middle of the ocean has absolutely no chance to survive. If he doesn’t exhaust himself from treading water, there are a host of other reasons he will not survive — from hypothermia to becoming dinner for a large sea creature.

A man overboard cannot save himself no matter how good a swimmer he might be. How he came to be overboard is of no real concern — the real concern is that he is where he is!

His only hope lies with those left on the boat! His salvation depends on someone throwing him a lifeline to hang on to and be pulled back on board. Once the rope is thrown — he has to hold on for all he is worth!

There are some among us who read John 3:16, and see it as a loophole — as if God inserted an alternative for those who obey Him to avoid suffering consequences:  if you believe, you live — if you don’t, you perish.

That truly isn’t the situation at all!  God isn’t the one condemning us — we have condemned ourselves!

A person who finds himself in this world without God and drowning in a life of sin, is exactly like the man who has fallen overboard! He is in a place where he cannot save himself, no matter how hard he tries. His hope lies somewhere outside himself.

Read John 3:16 closer.  What you will see is God recognizing that we are hopelessly drowning in sin — and He is arranging a lifeline for us! This isn’t God simply encouraging us to have faith in Him, He has arranged this lifeline because — He loves us!

Romans 5:8:  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Think you can save yourself from sin? You will eventually exhaust yourself and sink to the bottom of the hopeless abyss. Without God, we have no hope. 

Yes, God wants us to have faith in Him, but that faith is not being forced on us at the risk of punishment — we are lost already! God is throwing us this rope in hopes that before we are lost forever, we will grab on and let Him pull us back to safety!

Don’t be confused, this is not just a light-hearted belief in God… This is an active, soul-rending, life-changing belief.  If it were anything less, then even the demons would be saved.

James 2:19:  You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.

God has done all He can by casting out the lifeline in the form of His Son.  Have you taken grasp of it?

Galatians 3:26-27:  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

And — if you have grasped onto Jesus, and have been pulled to safety, are you diligently watching the waves for others sinking souls you can throw a lifeline to?

1 Peter 4:10:  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

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