The Bible is full of magnificent and beautiful words. What makes them so amazing is not them alone, but how they are pieced together. Written by the Greatest Writer of all time: God Himself.
As we wander through the Words of God, certain parts tend to jump out. These are verses and passages that bring love, promise, hope, mercy, and more gifts to light. There are stories, poetry, prophecies, and so much we cannot count it all. Bits and pieces of scripture that show God to us in ways we might not otherwise ever see. Yes, our relationship with God is personal. He is able to love on me specifically. To love on you specifically. And because of that, we have an intimate and genuinely spiritual connection to God Almighty. But knowing all that He has done for the world in scripture encourages and strengthens that hope that we have come to live in.
So I want to explore some of those “special” passages and verses that are foundational to our relationship with Him. As before, I plan to cover this in several blogs. Hopefully, I will. As you may have noticed, I have several times began a series and never completed it. With the full intentions of returning to those. I may yet. Who knows? But we will try to move forward regularly with this one. In fact, if you’d like to have me explore a specific verse or passage, click here and let me know. Or just add a comment below.
The first verse that I wish to discuss is, quite possibly, the most well known scripture in the entire Bible. John 3:16. We find Jesus has been visited at night by a Pharisee. A teacher of the Old Testament. He seems to believe in Jesus, but doesn’t want to be seen by others. A fear of reprisal. His name is Nicodemus. During their conversation, which covers a myriad of important topics, Jesus utters the words that not only give millions hope, but prophesy’s His own demise upon the cross.
As I usually do, I will post it here in the New King James Version. The “essence of the message” transcends a version. Please do not get hung up on the version.
“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.”
There is a very important reason that this is so well known. It is foundational to the entire Gospel. In fact, it IS the Gospel. The Good News. That God loves us that much. If you have children, it might be easier to relate. Giving your beloved child up for the sake of someone else. It would be much easier to give ourselves. But He, God, gave His own Son. His only Son!
To call this scripture the Cornerstone verse of the Bible might, in some opinions, be a stretch, but of all the Bible, the story of mankind and his desperate need for, yet fight against, true love, none quotes the way God is better than this.
Mankind was not long on the planet before he spurned the love of God and found his “own way.” A way that led us to death, destruction, disease, hatred, pain, and sufferings of all kinds. This scripture pushes all the horrors of our existence aside and says, “There is a better way. God made a better way. True Love made a better way.”
God doesn’t demand that we be perfect. He loves us. He is not expecting us to be anything super powerful and amazing. He loves us.
Another way we might say this verse in our more “modern lingo” would be this:
“God, our Creator, loved us humans so much that He was willing to trade our eternal separation from Himself for the life of His son. All we need to do is to believe in Him.”
It’s really that last part that throws people off. God loves us so much that He went to great lengths to save us. All we need to do is believe in Him. Translations might vary a little bit, but the reality is that we have to believe in Him.
I have had many people who say, “I believe in God. I believe in Jesus.” Then live a life that doesn’t coincide with the life that the Bible teaches us to do. You might point out at this moment that I just said He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. This is not a contradiction.
While it is very true that God is not expecting us to be perfect, He is expecting us to follow His word. And His Word not only says that He sent His Son to save us, but it also tells us to “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
It’s not enough to believe in God. Remember, the devil believes in God and there is absolutely no chance he will ever be saved. Believe here, in this passage, means to “follow” Jesus. To try to be like Him.
There is an old saying that goes something like this: “God loves you right where you are at. It’s just that He loves you too much to leave you there.” If you are out hiking and you are being led by a guide, a smart person will follow that guide, step by step, to avoid becoming lost or hurt. That is what it means to follow Christ. To believe in Christ. To be a Christian.
So, God loves you far above any other person in existence. So much so that He was willing to let His only Child, His Son Jesus, go and be beaten, spit on, laughed at, stabbed, whipped, mocked, pierced, hung in the open air on a sticky, nasty, splintery, blood encrusted (He was not likely to be the first one hung on that cross – it was a regular way that the Romans killed people guilty of crimes), wooden cross. If you ever wanted a visual for what took place the day that Jesus died, the movie “Risen” depicts it well. There was nothing gentle or easy about it. It was ugly and horrible.
But He’d rather accept that than have us apart from Him. Forever.
Much of the ramifications of this verse are truly difficult to take in. Again, I invite you to ask questions. I am no scholar, but I will find an answer for you.