The Gospel of John 3:16

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The Gospel of John 3:16

James R. Aist

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16)

In the New Testament, the word “gospel” refers to the “good news” that Jesus brought to mankind by way of His sinless life and effective solution to our sin problem. The fulfilling of the Great Commission by those who are saved – by grace through faith in Jesus – requires that we share this good news with unbelieving sinners so that God may also save them.  There are several sets of scriptures that have been identified that can serve as a guide to sharing this good news, perhaps most notably the “Romans Road”: Romans 3:10 and 23; 5:12; 6:23; 5:8; 10:13; and 10:9-10, in that order.

Not long ago it struck me that if one is looking for an inclusive, yet concise, summary of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, one need not look any further than John 3:16. This one Bible verse contains all of the skeletal elements necessary to present the Gospel to an unbeliever; just add some details, and there it is! Or, if you are a pastor or evangelist, it presents an excellent outline for a powerful sermon series.

To show you what I mean, let’s take John 3:16 and insert, in italics and parentheses, pertinent key phrases: For God (the doctrine of “God”) so loved (the “love of God”) the world (the doctrine of “man”) that He gave (the substitutionary death of Christ) His only begotten Son (the incarnation), that whoever believes (God’s supernatural gift of saving faith) in Him should not perish (eternal suffering with the devil and his angels in hell), but have eternal life (everlasting fellowship with God in heaven).

I don’t know about you, but I see the makings of an eight-part sermon series right there! And when you’re finished, you will have presented a wonderfully amplified version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with John 3:16 as the springboard! Whether you are preaching or sharing the gospel privately with a friend, you may want to include also a discussion of John 3:17, which completes and confirms the points made in verse 16 by explaining the purpose for Jesus’s coming into the world: that the world, through Him, might be saved. Now that is good news indeed!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Other Fisherman

The Other Fisherman

James R. Aist

Introduction

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Mark 1:17). That sounds like an exciting adventure, doesn’t it? But there is another fisherman, a sinister one, lurking about on the earth, also fishing for people…people like you and me! Maybe you have already had a run-in with him. If you have, what can you do about it? Let’s find out about this “other” fisherman.

Fishing for Fish

Think with me, for a moment, about how we fish for fish. We load a hook with attractive and “delicious” bait. Then, we cast our line into a place where there are, hopefully, hungry fish looking for something to eat. A fish notices the bait, and it looks like it might be good to eat. So, he swims over to it, getting close enough to confirm that it probably would be good to eat. Next, he takes just a little nibble, to get a taste. Finding that it does, indeed, taste good, he opens wide and takes the whole bait, hook and all. As he begins to swim away and prepares to enjoy his bite of food, there is a sudden and violent tug, and a sharp hook becomes inextricably embedded in the flesh of his mouth. It hurts terribly, so he struggles to swim away and shake the hook loose, but to no avail.

At this point, we have complete control of our snagged fish. We can reel him in quickly if he is in the clear, or we can pull him to the right or to the left to prevent him from swimming into the weeds or a submerged brush pile and getting the line tangled up, making it difficult for us to “land” him. He will go wherever we want him to go, and there’s not a thing he can do about it. Maybe, just for sport, we will “play” with him for a while before landing him, just to see him struggle and “break the water.” But, inevitably, we will capture and secure him. He will still struggle to free himself, but he doesn’t have the strength to get away. Eventually, we will kill and devour him.

Fishing for Men

When Jesus said, “I will send you out to fish for people”, He meant that we would seek those who are “lost’, proclaim to them the “Good News”, and help them to receive the gifts of saving faith and eternal life. This is quite a different and much more desirable outcome than what happened to the fish!

But there is another one in our midst who also fishes for men. This fisherman has in mind just the opposite of what Jesus had in mind. He is to us more like we are to the fish. He loads his hook with attractive bait to lure us close enough to get a better look. When we see that the bait looks good to eat, we take a nibble, just like a fish does. Then, when we find that it tastes good, we go for the whole thing, just as a fish does when he is about to get “hooked.” Once this sinister fisherman has jerked the line to set his hook in us, he has control of us. He can pull us in any direction he wants us to go, just like a fish on our line. And, he can force us to go wherever he wants us to go. When he has gotten his jollies by “playing” with us, he reels us all the way in and takes us captive. Try as we may, we cannot, under our own power, free ourselves. Eventually, he will devour us, just like we devour the fish we catch.

Foiling the Other Fisherman

How can we protect ourselves from this sinister fisherman, the devil? First, we can learn about his wily ways by reading the relevant passages in the Bible. This will help us to not be fooled by either the bait (temptations) he casts our way or by the deceitful thoughts [e.g., “Did God really say, ‘You must not…” (Genesis 3:1)] that he puts into our minds. Second, we can make sure that we are submitting ourselves to God; then, we can “resist the devil and he will flee from us.” (James 4:7). Third, like Jesus, we can command him, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). And fourth, if he does manage to get his hooks into us, then we can repent, come to our senses, and escape the “snare” of the devil (2 timothy 2:26)! So, let’s keep our guard up and send this sinister fisherman packing with an empty creel!

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)

 

The “Gay Gospel”

Reverend Melvin MillerThe “Gay Gospel”

James R. Aist

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The word “gospel” means “good news”. The true Gospel of Jesus Christ is the best good news ever for mankind, and it is for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. This is the only real Gospel, and for it to be real and effective in a person’s life, there must be repentance from sins (1 John 3:10; 2 Timothy 2:19). The “gay gospel” holds that one can be a Christian, never turn away from the sin of homosexual behavior, and still enjoy eternity in heaven with Jesus. Now any gospel that is not faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as presented in the Bible is the gospel of “a different Jesus”. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about a “different gospel” and a “different Jesus”: “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). This is how we can know that Satan is using the “gay gospel” to get Christians who are homosexual to continue to practice homosexuality, feel good about it, and end up in hell, rather than repent of it.

This “gay gospel” is not only a “different gospel”: it is also a heresy called “antinomianism” that can be traced back to the Pauline letters. Antinomianism holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation. What this heresy has right is that homosexual behavior is sin. However, the denial of the need for repentance of that sin in order to go to heaven flies in the face of the biblical witness. Jesus began his ministry preaching repentance leading to salvation: “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-16). Jesus did not come to save us and our sins, but to save us from our sins. Now, consider these additional Bible passages concerning the requirement for repentance:

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” — Jesus Christ (Mark 8:36).

“Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2);

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” (Romans 3:31);

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:6);

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:4-6);

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

Does any of that give the impression that anyone can deliberately keep on sinning until they die and still inherit eternal life? Quite the contrary! What it does say is that no one who goes on sinning deliberately has either seen Jesus or known Jesus (i.e., they are not really true believers) and that they can expect only judgment and the fury of a consuming fire when they die (that doesn’t sound like heaven to me!).

And here’s the clincher: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Here, Paul declares, point blank, that people who are living a homosexual lifestyle will not go to heaven. God has not given a special dispensation (to keep on sinning) to homosexual people because they have sexual attractions for members of their own gender or because they don’t want to repent! We are all – regardless of the nature of our sins — subject to the requirement for repentance of sins in order to receive the Good News (salvation)! So here we are, faced with a choice: Do we believe the doctrine of God, or do we believe the doctrine of men? Let’s go with God on this one.

There is only one, true Gospel of Jesus Christ! So if you are a homosexual Christian who is trusting in the “gay gospel” to get you to heaven, you may want to re-think that. I certainly hope you will. Remember the words of Jesus: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Finally, I would guess that very few Christians are aware that the Bible has stern rebukes and dire warnings for those who approve of sin or encourage others to sin, but it does (Leviticus 19:1; Isaiah 5:20; Malachi 2:17; Matthew 5:19-20; Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:22). Thus, anyone, including born-again Christians, who even approves of or encourages the sins of homosexuality will, someday, have to answer to God for it. If that’s you, then now is the time to repent!

Do It Yourself

Here’s how to do a study of the Hebrew and Greek root words used in the Bible to express God’s views on homosexuality, without being a Hebrew or Greek scholar yourself: 1) find online and open “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance” at “Bible Study Tools” (click HERE); 2) follow the instructions given in the introductory pane; 3) check the “Strong’s Numbers” box at the top right of your reading pane to view the Hebrew and Greek lexicons using Strong’s Concordance numbers; 4) enter, in turn, the following Bible verses — Genesis 19:5 with Jude 1:7; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:9-10; and I Timothy 1:10 — and click on the respective highlighted words (hyperlinks) to access the appropriate lexicon and read the meaning of the Hebrew or Greek words given in English. You can toggle between the King James Version (KJV) and the New American Standard (NAS) version. You will find, as expected, that wherever homosexual behavior is mentioned, it is consistently condemned as sin, abomination, per-version, etc. And understand that later English versions of the Bible, such as the NIV and MEV, consulted the ancient Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, rather than relying solely on the KJV. The claim of gay activists – that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior – is nothing but pure fantasy and wishful thinking, as you can see for yourself.

(For more articles on HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)

Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

Jesus H. ChristWill the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

by James R. Aist

One day God, seated on his throne in heaven, was looking quite troubled, so his Son, Jesus, who was seated at his right hand, asked him, “What’s wrong, Father?” God replied, “Son, there are so many different ideas among humans about who you are. How can we get it across to everyone who you really are?” Jesus thought for a moment and then said, “Do you remember that popular old TV show “To Tell the Truth”? You know, the one where they assembled a panel of people who all claimed they were a particular person, but they are all impostors except for the real person, who is also on the panel. Then they each gave their own short, verbal account of the real person, after which the MC said “Will the real person please stand up?” “Oh yeah”, said God, “I loved that show, except for the part where most of the panel lied about their true identity.” Jesus said “Great. So let’s arrange for a one-time retro production of that TV show and ask “Will the real Jesus please stand up?” “That way everyone will find out who the real me is.” Well, God liked the idea, so he said “Let there be a retro To Tell the Truth TV show”, and there was.

When the day came for the show to air, the panel was assembled, but God, in his infinite wisdom, decided to have Jesus seated in the studio audience rather than with the panel. He was sure that no one would recognize him there and blow his cover, since so few people seem to recognize the real Jesus any more. Moreover, God had hand-picked the Holy Spirit to be the MC, for the same reason. The Holy Spirit, grudgingly, introduced the entire panel as representing the world-famous Savior of the World, Jesus Christ, and each panel member presented a short, verbal account which they felt summed up what Jesus was all about, hoping that the audience would believe them. Here is a transcript of what followed:

Imposter # 1 – “I am, truly, the savior of the world, and I do mean all of the world, or at least those who profess to believe in some kind of “god”; it really doesn’t matter which one. Everyone who tries to live a good life, whether or not they have heard of me, whether they believe in me or not, whatever religion they belong to — as long as they try to live by whatever light they have — they will be in heaven with me after they die. My only mistake was telling everyone that no one comes to the Father except through me. Fact is, there are many paths to God, not just through me. The Good News of Jesus Christ is inclusive, not exclusive, as others would have you believe. Why would I set the bar so high that only a few could qualify? My purpose in coming into the world was only to provide everyone a perfect example of godly living, so that they could save themselves by trying to live like I did. I don’t know where they got the idea that I died for their sins; only a fool would do such a thing. Moreover, I think you will find that it is much easier to be liked by others if you ascribe to my way of thinking, and so you will feel better about yourself. The fact that millions, perhaps billions, of people from all over the world have seen my light and are following my plan is proof that I am, indeed, Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.”

Imposter # 2 – “It was I who went about doing good, healing the sick, raising the dead and restoring sight to the blind. This is how I proved how much I love everyone and that I am God’s only begotten Son. And because of my great love and compassion for all of mankind, you will never hear me offend anyone by speaking harshly to them, calling them names, calling out their sins, or – heaven forbid – resorting to violence of any kind just because they are trying to make a living in the temple of God by tipping the scales a bit. But I digress. I came into the world to make everyone feel good about themselves the way they are, not to encourage and enable them to change. What a cruel guilt trip that would be! Nevertheless, it is my hope that no one will perish, but that all will, instead, come to repentance.  However, you and I both know that most people are not willing to repent, even though many of them say that they believe in me. I don’t know where they got the idea that not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father. That’s harsh! After all, my love does cover a multitude of sins, doesn’t it? And isn’t it true that the only work that God requires is that you believe in the One whom he sent (that would be me, of course)? Therefore, I have dismissed the requirement for repentance and have established dispensations for anyone who is unwilling to repent and turn away from their sins because, for whatever reason, they simply refuse to change. It’s amazing how many have chosen to take me up on this offer and are expecting to go to heaven without repenting! My salvation is now available to virtually everyone, no matter how they are living. Now that’s what I call a real savior, don’t you agree?”

Imposter # 3 – “Well, you don’t really believe that a loving God would condemn anyone to hell, do you? Where’s the love in that? Isn’t it true that God actually IS love? I don’t know where you got the idea that you have to become the righteousness of God in Christ in order to “qualify” for heaven. If we are all made in God’s image, doesn’t it follow, logically, that he would want us all to enjoy our eternity in heaven with him? So, I am here to save you from the lifetime of anxiety and terror that comes from believing that God would ever harm someone, such as yourself, who represents the very pinnacle of his creative work. Believe me, you need a savior alright, but not one who will save you from your sins. God knew that sin would come into the world when he created mankind, and yet he went ahead with it? So, if anyone is at fault here, it’s God, right? The only way God can resolve this dilemma fairly is to let everyone into heaven. So, you see, I have come to save you from all that unnecessary mental anguish and dread of future damnation that others speak about. Isn’t that the kind of “savior” you would really rather have, one who doesn’t think he has to scare the hell out of you just so you won’t go there when you die? I think you’ll agree that my “salvation” is the easiest, most care-free and most pleasant way to live, in order to spend your eternity with God when you die. After all, can my millions and millions of faithful followers possibly be wrong?”

By this time, the Holy Spirit had heard enough, and since all three panelists had spoken, he declared an end to the process by saying “Now it is time to find out which one of these three men is the real Jesus. So, will the real Jesus please stand up?” After a lengthy pause, during which none of the panelists stood to his feet, everyone was puzzled, because they expected one of the panelists, the real Jesus, to stand up. Then the Holy Spirit again said “Will the real Jesus please stand up?” After a brief pause, a man near the middle of the audience rose slowly to his feet and began to speak with great power and authority, so that those who heard him were in awe:

“Why do you mock and slander me like this, after all I’ve done for you? You pick and choose my attributes, actions, words and accomplishments recorded in the Bible to fit the image of a Jesus who is no more than a figment of your imagination. You have been warned about following after “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4), and still you insult and offend me by creating a counterfeit Jesus to suit your abominable heresies and lifestyles. I am the real Jesus, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 21:6). Before Abraham was born, I am (John 8:58). I am the Word of God (John 1:14); his Word is truth (John 17:17). Because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), I came into the world that the world through me might be saved (John 3:16-17). I am the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). I am the one who died for your sins so that you don’t have to pay the penalty for them (Hebrews 9:15). I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to destruction (Proverbs 14:12). God does not will that any man should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). I came preaching “Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). I am the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5). Unless a man repent, he will perish (Luke 13:1-5). Do not fear men, who can harm your body, but fear the One who can throw both body and soul into hell (Luke 12:5). I am the judge of all mankind (Acts 10:42). Those who believe in me and obey my commands will be made the righteousness of God in Christ and will inherit eternal life with God in heaven, but those who do not will be thrown into the lake of fire with the devil, which is the second death (Revelation 20:14-15), where there will be eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:50). God is love (1 John 4:8), and he is also righteous and just (Psalm 50:6). He will reward the righteous and punish the unjust (Matthew 25:32-46). No one can resist the will of God (Romans 9:19), and there will be no excuse for the unbeliever (Romans 1:20). Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand (Matthew 4:17).

At that, those in both the studio audience and the TV audience to whom God had given eyes to see and ears to hear, recognized and believed in the real Jesus, fell to their knees, repented of their sins and were saved. Most of them, however, put their faith and their eternal destiny in the hands of one or the other of the impostors, thus sealing their ultimate fate with the devil and his angels in the lake of fire. All went to bed that night confident that they had made the right choice.

Now Jesus returned to his seat at the right hand of God his Father in heaven, and, turning to his Father, asked “Well, what do you think, Father? Did it work?” “It worked perfectly, Son,” said his Father. “Everyone will reap what he has sown (Galatians 6:7), and we did everything we could to reach out to them all (Romans 5:8). It breaks my heart to see so many headed in the wrong direction, but my offer was open to everyone who would believe (John 6:40). At least now they know that “the real Jesus” is everything that my Word says you are, and said, and did; not just the “feel good” things that they wanted to believe about you to justify their sinful ways.” “So then”, Jesus asked, “Do you feel better now?” His Father paused for a moment and then replied, “Yes, and no.”

After Words

Unless you believe in both the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah, you don’t believe in the real Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible, because the real Jesus is both the Lamb and the Lion. If that’s you, then you are believing in “another Jesus”, which the Bible warns us against (2 Corinthians 11:4). Moreover, if that’s you, then you are believing “another gospel”, against which the Bible also warns us (2 Corinthians 11:4). You need to believe in the real Jesus, because He is the Jesus who died for your sins (the Lamb) and will come again to judge the living and the dead (the Lion)!

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)