Rev. Dr. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr.
Los Angeles, CA
March 16, 2014
The passage contains the very essence of the Gospel, some say it’s the Gospel in a nutshell. Let me explain the passage in a systematic way.
1. God’s Greatest Character: Love (v. 16).
In theology, there are many attributes or characters of God. In each name of God, an attribute, is revealed such as Jehovah Jireh (God is provider), Immanuel (God is with us or omnipresent). God is said to be omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), etc.
In our passage, love is the attribute of God. Love which is agapo in Greek means “unconditional love.” It is the love that “brings forth caring regardless of the circumstance.” Lewis recognizes this as the greatest of love (wikipedia.org). Indeed, it is the greatest love since it functions even though the object of love (man) does not request it. It is like an amazing grace of God, that love is also an “unmerited free gift” from God.
1.1. God Gave His only Begotten Son (v.16). The gift of God is not a useless thing, or a thing that he doesn’t want to use. Out of God’s love, he gave his only Son, Jesus Christ. God gave his most important gift, the Son of God.
1.2. God Gave us Faith (v.16). Out of God’s love he also gave us faith so that we could use in serving the Son of God.
John Murray calls it “penitent faith” since repentance is twinned with faith (pisteuo).
Wayne Grudem says that “the person who genuinely turns to Christ for salvation must at the same time release the sin to which he or she has been clinging and turn away from that sin in order to turn to Christ.”
This kind of faith comes only from God. Faith that is committing and putting his trust with God.
1.3. God Gave us Eternal Life (v.16). God promised immortality to every believer of Christ. The Greek aiōnios may mean perpetual, everlasting, or eternal. This may also mean that kind of life (zoe) was already prepared beforehand, and ready for us to enjoy.
When A.J. Gordon was pastor of a church in Boston, he met a young boy in front of the church carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Pastor Gordon inquired, “Son, where did you get those birds?”
The boy replied, “I trapped them out in the field.”
“What are you going to do with them?”
“I’m going to play with them, and then I guess I’ll just feed them to an old cat we have at home.”
When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, “Mister, you don’t want them, they’re just little old wild birds and can’t sing very well.”
“Okay, it’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.” The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue.
The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ’s coming to seek and to save the lost — paying for them with His own precious blood.
“That boy told me the birds were not songsters,” said Gordon, “but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, ‘Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!”
You and I have been held captive to sin, but Christ has purchased our pardon and set us at liberty. When a person has this life-changing experience, he will want to sing, “Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!” (sermonillustrations.com).
2. God’s Greatest Vision: Salvation of the World (v.17).
World or kosmos refers to the physical world and its inhabitants. Some say it was referred only to people who are saved, but actually kosmos has universal scope.
2.1. Jesus does not Judge/Condemn the World (v.17). Jesus says, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn (or judge) the world.” When the Son of God incarnated his intention was to become Lamb of God for all of us. Meaning he sacrificed himself for the salvation of the world.
2.2. Jesus saves the world (v.17). John 3:17 and 4:42 also mention that Jesus is the savior of the world. The Bible emphasizes that he alone is the savior of the world. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The Apostle Peter said, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
3. God’s Greatest Desire of Man: Born Again (v. 3)
Jesus said unto Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (KJV).
“Born anew,” “born from above,” “generated from above,” “born again from above” and “born again” are the same thing.
King James Version, Webster, Modern KJV, and Old Tagalog version used “born again.”
Jubilee Bible transliterates “born again from above.”
The International Standard Version and the New Revised Standard Version translate “Born from above.”
Gennao (Greek for born) means “procreate” and figuratively it means “regenerate.” Being born again is not a title, a church or privilege. Being born again means “being in Christ.” Every Christian must be born again; so being born again and being Christian are synonymous!
Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (v.5, KJV). You may ask, what’s being born of water and being born of the Spirit?
3.1. Born of Water (v. 5). The Greek “hudōr hudatos” literally and figuratively means “water.” This may refer to water baptism. Oxford Annotated Bible explains that the “birth into a new order is through water.”
3.2. Born of the Spirit (v.5). The Greek “pneuma” means “spirit.” Thus being born again is being born in the Spirit.
God promised to Israel in the time the Prophet Ezekiel (593 BCE), and we claim nowadays that He did it to us nowadays,
“And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them” (Ezek. 36:25-27).
How much it cost to have a new heart? According to The New York Times Magazine, published on May 16, 2010, a new heart costs $864,700 to “procure, transplant and maintain with imno-suppressant drugs.” [Immunosuppressant drugs are a class of drugs that suppress or reduce the strength of the body’s immune system. They are also called anti-rejection drugs. One of the primary uses of immunosuppressant drugs is to lower the body’s ability to reject a transplanted organ, such as a liver, heart or kidney] (healthline.com).
Yet the most lasting heart transplant you ever will receive is the one Jesus performs on you when you surrender your life to Him. You receive a new heart that never will expire, never fail, never need replacing again (biblestudytools.com).
During the Spanish-American War, Clara Barton was managing the service of the Red Cross in Cuba.
One day Col. Theodore Roosevelt approached her, and he said he wanted to buy food for his sick and wounded soldiers. But she refused to sell him any.
Roosevelt did not understand it. His men needed the help and he was prepared to pay out of his own funds. When he asked someone why he could not buy the supplies, he was told, “Colonel, just ask for it!”
A smile broke over Roosevelt’s face. Now he understood–the provisions were not for sale. All he had to do was simply ask and they would be given freely (Our Daily Bread, October 11, 1992).
It is like the salvation of the Lord. It is not for sale, simply have faith, and you will have it! The act of God is amazing!