Text: John 3:1-16
We can become a little too familiar with a scripture and miss what it is God is revealing to us in truth. We can think we know what it says and become so used to hearing a half-truth that we accept it as absolute truth. We can let it run for so long and get a little out of kilter but the longer we let it run, the further away from the truth we become. One such verse is John 3:16
Begin by saying what this verse does not say, It does not say the reason Jesus died for you was to forgive you of your sins. Over time Christian communities have been guilty of preaching this as the essence of the gospel message turn to God so that you might receive the forgiveness of your sins through Jesus and not go to hell. A ‘turn or burn’ gospel.This is not what the gospel message is saying, Jesus did not simply die that our sin might be forgiven. The reason Jesus died on the cross was that we might have eternal life.
Many people read John 3:16 as this, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave his only son that whoever believes in Him should not perish.’
Jesus died that He might bring/reconcile heaven and earth back together and bring us into a restored/reconciled/unbroken relationship with God and this is what eternal life is. Sin of course was dealt with on the cross but only because it was the barrier between us having a relationship with both Jesus and God the Father. Sin was in the way and it had to be dealt with.
Jesus died so that we might be brought into a personal, intimate relationship with Himself and God the Father.
The Scriptures do not say that eternal life is something to be grasped in the future, it is not a future hope. John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son HAS eternal life but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. This talks about a present tense, the here and now whoever believes in the Son HAS eternal life. Eternal life or intimacy with God is not something that is going to start in the future, it is something that we need to get hold of now.
So eternal life is not about living forever and neither is it talking about just a quality of life. Eternal life should be the goal of our salvation, not just having our sins forgiven so that we escape hell. If we have made the goal of our salvation, having our sins forgiven and escaping hell we have not grasped the fullness of what Jesus did on the cross.
The problem with not understanding what eternal life is and its purpose, is that it causes many people not to see the relevance of daily Christian living. They think coming to Jesus is only to miss hell and that eternal life is something for the future, with no relevance to present day life and living.
John 17:2-3 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. Right here in John 17:3 is the only definition that the Scriptures give of eternal life and that is that we might know God. Note it is Jesus who has the authority to pass on eternal life.
So what does it mean to know Jesus?
You can follow Lionel Messi (No.1 Soccer player) on his social platforms, tell me when his birthday is, what his favourite food is, what films he likes watching, what his favourite music is. You can know about him but not know him.
And this is what Jesus means when he rebukes the Pharisees in John 8:19 You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” They knew the law and what the Scriptures said about Jesus but they didn’t know Him.
In John 17:3 the word ‘Know’ is the same word used in Genesis chapter 4 when talking about Adam and Eve. It is the most intimate, close, personal relationship. It is the type of intimacy that produces children. Now if we relate this back to John 3:16 we see that the purpose of Jesus dying on the cross wasn’t to forgive our sins, wasn’t to save us from hell but was to bring us into an intimacy, a close, personal relationship with God the Father.
That’s why the early new Testament Church was so powerful, they weren’t preaching ‘turn or burn’ they were preaching about a God that wants to have a relationship with us by investing His Spirit in us. In His desire to have intimacy with us ,He dealt with the problem of our sin.
Jesus died for us, the least we can do is live for Him. We cheapen what was accomplished on the cross if we only use Jesus as a fire escape.
God created us for fellowship with Him. This is why God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the shade because He wanted fellowship with them and He wants it with us.
When we understand the passion God has for us, His desire for intimacy it will transform our lives.