Twenty three years ago this month, our family moved from another town to where we now live. We helped move three of our daughters since then and our son has also moved. Two moved the same day, both moved across two state lines, kept their old home and bought new homes that were formerly parsonages.
All this moving gives you an awareness of the quantity of material things we have. Don’t get me wrong, material possessions are wonderful in their place.
I just wish we didn’t have to keep moving them from place to place! Seriously, God has provided amply for most of us, and it’s up to us to use those things wisely and not attach too high a regard to the material things. They're for this world only.
Sometimes we consider our blessings from God more important than the God who blessed us. If you think too highly of some earthly object, just put it on a garage sale and you’ll find out it wasn’t so valuable anyway.
The most important thing we can obtain in this world is salvation from our sins. That’s what God wants us to do.
Sometime back, we decided to unpacked the things from our move that had rested unmolested for so long. When we started to sort through them, it was sort of a material cleansing. Whenever anything gets cleaned, something else gets dirty. The dust cloth gets dusty and the thing you dusted gets clean.
Kind of a crude picture of what Christ does for us. We have to remember to dust ourselves off spiritually every day. Christ made us clean from the penalty of sin, but the dust of sin needs to be confessed daily.
In the process of going through decades of papers and mementos, we came across some letters I had written home near the end of World War II and my red, yellow, and blue tanker shoulder patch that I was so proud of. It is just a colorful piece of cloth to me now. I read my discharge papers and the officer who signed them was named Lt. Kilroy. I finally found him! That was a World War II joke, everywhere you went, and I mean everywhere, someone had written on a wall or some sign, "Kilroy was here."
Another box contained my wife’s great grandfather’s discharge papers from the Civil War, issued at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and dated 1865. We didn’t find her father’s discharge papers from World War I although he served in France in that war.
In another box was my maternal Granddad’s obituary, cut from the daily paper. I always wondered if I’d ever see my Granddad. He died before I was born. The obituary stated that “At the age of 60, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord.” I'm going to get to see him in heaven! Shortly after that he was declared mentally incompetent and would have been unable to understand salvation and he died at age 65.
There was a letter from my wife's mother, written from Grand Canyon Village to an Iowa relative. My wife was born at Grand Canyon Village while her family was living there in the 1930’s and 1940’s, moving to Iowa in 1950. In that letter she wrote about a traveling evangelist couple from California named Shepherd who had been visiting Grand Canyon and had conducted a Bible School and also started a Sunday School. That’s a good name for an evangelist, Shepherd. The Shepherds wrote my wife’s mother after they left to encourage her to continue the Sunday school and Bible school work there among the whites, Indians, and Mexicans. That reminds me of the song, “Red and yellow, black & white, all are precious in His sight.”
Her mother also noted that a Mormon couple lived on one side of them and a Jewish couple on the other, so Helen grew up in a multi-faceted community.
Along with the other papers from those Grand Canyon days we found some Gospel tracts printed by the Good News Publishing Company. These had been furnished by the couple, Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd, that had been there. There was also a little black New Testament, and when I opened it to see where it might have come from, I noticed inside the front cover was written, “Page 313.” Of course, my curiosity got the better of me, and since I didn’t know anybody named "Page" I had to take a look at page 313. On page 313, marked in red ink was Romans 3:23. At the bottom of the page was written “page 318” and I just couldn’t resist. This went on through a number of scriptures and I kept going to see what it said next until I’d had a good gospel lesson and the program for Christian living. Unique way to get someone to read the scripture, isn't it?
Here are the scriptures that were underlined. Not all Bibles have the same page numbering so we will have to use the references.
Page 313--Romans 3:23. "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." [We're all sinners and need salvation.]
Page 318--Romans 6:23. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." [We earn the wages of sin; salvation is a free gift.]
Page 388--Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” [We are saved by faith. It’s a gift from God. Notice how this Scripture precludes any kind of works. To say otherwise is to call God a liar.]
Page 163--Luke 18:13. “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” [Confess our sins and ask forgiveness.]
Page 189--John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [God loves everybody.]
Page 348--1 Corinthians 10:13. “There has no temptation overtaken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.” [Believers are to live by faith. God is there for us in time of temptation.]
Page 321--Romans 8:38-39. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Here are God's saving and keeping powers. No power can cause us to lose our salvation once we have trusted Jesus for that salvation.]
Page 324--Romans 10:9-10. “That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [How to be saved. Confess our sins and trust Jesus.]
Page 367--2 Corinthians 6:2. “For he said, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” [Today is the Day. No guarantee of tomorrow.]
Page 257--Acts 8:35-39. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36: And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what hinders me to be baptized? 37: And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38: And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39: And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” [Believe and obey and rejoice. He believed first, was baptized, and rejoiced.]
That was the last page noted but this scripture had also been marked in red but no page number.
Page 350--1 Corinthians 11:23-26. “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death till he come.” [That is our Lord’s request for those who have believed in Him.]
Whoever marked this little New Testament and passed it on must certainly have been saved and wanted others to get saved so they, too, could spend eternity in heaven with Jesus.
I want to continue my message from John 3:16-21.
JOHN 3:16 - THE HEART OF THE GOSPEL
John 3:16-21. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. 18. He that believes on Him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20. For every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21. But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
John 3:16 is the Gospel in a nutshell. It spells out the grand purpose of the Bible.
The verse does away with the idea that some people have. They believe God is represented in Scripture as a stern, angry Judge waiting to destroy men because of their sins, but that Jesus, in some way or other, has made it possible for God to love sinners. In other words, that Jesus loved us enough to die for us and pay for our sins so that God could love us and be merciful to us. But that is not the gospel. Jesus did not die to enable God to love sinners, God loved sinners so much that He sent His Only Son to die for them. It was because God so loved all people that He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross for our sins.
This precious truth is set forth again in 1 John 4:9-10. "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (Propitiation means paid in full.)
The proof of the infinite love of God toward a world of guilty people is shown forth in the coming to this world of our Lord Jesus and His going to the cross to settle the sin question and meet every claim of God against the sinner. I thank Him daily and praise Him that He gave His Son for my redemption! Romans 5:8. “But God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It had to be that way because God is love. This is borne out in 1 John 4:8 and 16. "God is love." That is His very nature. We can say that God is gracious, but we can’t say that God is grace. We can say that God is compassionate, but we can’t say that God is compassion. God is kind, but God is not kindness. But we can say, God is love. That is His nature and He manifests His love toward all men. Man had forfeited every claim we might have on God; still He loved us and sent His only Son to become the propitiation for our sins.
Five times in the New Testament, Jesus is spoken of as the “only begotten.” In John 1:14, we read, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Also in verse 18, “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” Then, in John 3:16, “God so loved ... that He gave His only begotten ..." Again in verse 18, “He that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” The only other place where this term is used is in 1 John 4: 9, “God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” The Scriptures are constructed in that He is also called the “first begotten” or “the first born” five times each in the New Testament.
In Scripture, “Begotten” means the gracious act of God in conferring the position of sonship on someone, so the term “only begotten” refers to Jesus’ eternal Son-ship. The term, “the first begotten,” means that He was God's first born Son, born of the Spirit of God, and He came into the world as a man to pay the price of our redemption. “You art My beloved Son, this day have I begotten You.” God also confers the status of sonship on those who believe on His Son, thus becoming sons of God.
His birth was unique, no one else has ever been born of a virgin. Through an act of the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Triune Godhead, Jesus came into this world as a man and He is the first begotten Son of God.
The term “only begotten” also carries with it the thought of the uniqueness of the Son by special relationship. The word is also used in connection with Isaac. We read that Abraham “offered up his only begotten son.” Isaac was not his only son. Ishmael was born some years before Isaac in the natural way, so in the sense of Abraham’s posterity you would not speak of Isaac as the only begotten son. Isaac is called the "only begotten" because he was born in a miraculous way by an act of God when it was humanly impossible for Abraham and Sarah to become parents of a child.
To sum this up, Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God in a unique sense that no one else can ever be. He is His eternal Son; God’s unique Son. And when God gave Him, He not only became a man to bear the hardships of this world, God gave Him up to the death of the cross to pay for our sins. There can be no greater manifestation of God’s love than that.
If someone who is reading this dreads the thought of meeting God, let me call your attention again to what the Scripture says. “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”
God’s love has been made known to mankind through His Son, Jesus Christ. Verse 16 says salvation is for “whosoever.” “God so loved ... that He gave ... that “whosoever” believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." You can’t find more all-embracing words than that. “Whosoever” takes you in. It takes me in. It takes in everyone in the world.
There is another "whosoever" in the Bible. It’s the "whosoever" of judgment found in Revelation 20:15. "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." "Whosoever" there includes everyone who didn’t come to Christ for salvation. If they had acknowledged that they were included in the "Whosoever" of John 3:16, they wouldn’t be found in the “whosoever” of Revelation 20:15.
There are some today who think that not everyone can be saved. Scripture says that "He tasted death for every man," and that "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for the whole world."
The Bible also says that “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” And I just read that “Whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” There is enough value in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ to save every member of the human race. Whosoever will repent and turn to God, can be saved. The sacrifice of Christ is an infinite sacrifice. The One who died on Calvary's cross died for you and me and I repeat what God said. “Whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
To believe in Him is to trust in Him. You can’t save yourself. All your efforts to redeem yourself can only end in failure. God gave His Son to die for you. All you have to do is admit you are a sinner and trust in Him for your salvation.
There is a four letter word in the Bible that people don’t like to hear. Even many preachers are reluctant to use it. But, our Lord spoke of it many times. It’s the word “hell.”
Jesus warned mankind many times in the Gospels that rejecting Him was to accept your fate of spending eternity in hell. He even related a graphic account, in Luke 16, describing the plight of a man who died and went to hell. It’s a real place. The Bible describes it as a horrible place. Anyone who goes there does so by choice and will be there for all eternity.
When Scripture uses the word “perish” it means going to hell. Hell is a place of darkness and judgment and the awful torment forever. God wants to save you from that.
The Bible doesn’t say, “hope to have everlasting life.” You will have everlasting life right here and now if you believe Who Jesus is and trust in His death on the cross for your sins.
Everlasting life is far more than life throughout eternity. It’s far more than an endless existence. It is the very life of God given to our soul in order that we are able to, and may, enjoy fellowship with Him while still in this life. John 17:3. This is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”
My oldest daughter brought a friend home from Florida on one of her visits. While she was here the subject of prayer came up. The lady said she prayed to Mary regularly. I asked why she prayed to Mary and not Jesus. She said it was because Jesus was too busy to hear all the prayers directed to Him and that Mary, as His mother, could influence Him to answer her prayers.
I asked her where that was in the Bible and she said it wasn’t but the church taught it. We told her that the church can’t save you but Jesus can. She later joined a Bible study and about two years after that she got saved. Not too long after that, this lady became ill and died and is in heaven now.
Since that time and along that same subject, I have read about a man who said that “the Lord is so great and mighty and holy that it is not befitting that a poor sinner should go to Him, and there is no other who has such influence as His mother.” That attitude is a little hard to understand when Scripture says “This Man receives sinners,” and He says to sinners, "Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden."
John 3, verse 18, makes the result of salvation plain and simple. “He that believes on Him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
All the people in the world who have heard the message that Christ died for their sins are divided into two groups. Those who believe in Jesus are in one group. The other group are those “that believe not.” Every person in the world is in one of those two groups. You are either among those who believe in Jesus or among those who don’t believe in Jesus. It isn’t believing about Him; it’s believing in Him. Jesus said, in John 14:1. “Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.” It is not the mere facts of history about Him. It is trusting in His finished work on Calvary’s cross for the payment of your sins. If you pass from this world while you are still in a state of unbelief, you will spend eternity in hell.
You are not condemned simply because of the sins you have committed through your lifetime, it’s because you refused to believe in the Savior that God has provided. If you continue to reject this offer from God, you are committing the only sin that will condemn you to hell.
Jesus came into the world to bring light where there was only spiritual darkness. If you turn away from that Light, you are responsible for the darkness in which you will live and die and remain for eternity.
John 3:19, tells us “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
It seems strange, but the natural person would rather continue in spiritual darkness than turn to Jesus for salvation. He is the light of the world, the light Who gives spiritual life, the only One in whom you can find forgiveness for your sins and eternal life.
Acts 16:31. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”
You will be saved instantly and forever
with no possibility of ever losing your salvation.
That’s God’s promise.
If you haven’t already done so,
will you trust the One who is the Light of the world
and accept the salvation Jesus paid for with His sinless blood
and that He freely offers to you?