“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This passage is the foundation for many Christians’ confidence that God has their best interests at heart as they look to relationship with God. At first glance it appears to be a transaction of sorts. If I believe, then I will receive . . .
Let’s examine the finer points of this passage. First, we are informed that God loved the world enough to sacrifice his son to benefit humanity. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.”
The second part of the passage requires our action. “that whosoever believeth in him.” Some people look at this part of the passage in superficial terms. Some people equate this belief as belief that God, or Jesus, exists. Please forgive the comparison, but to some people this kind of belief can be compared to the belief in Santa Clause, or the Easter Bunny, or fairies.
It sounds simple enough, though. If I believe, I will receive. But I would assert that the broader definition of the word “believe” would include not only belief in Jesus’ existence, but a whole-hearted belief and faith in his mission and what he taught us. This takes a little more effort on our part. The reward for this kind of belief is self-evident. The true belief in Jesus Christ often leads us to comfort, peace of mind, and the personal realization of God’s love for us. It is the cornerstone of our journey toward God.
The final part of this passage “should not perish, but have everlasting life.” is the frosting on our ‘belief cake.’
In other words, if we understand the mission of Jesus, we know that our life is everlasting, eternal—that we will live forever, in spirit. The belief in Jesus allows us to comprehend this life. Everlasting life means just that. We live on through eternity with the love, peace and understanding of God.
John 3:16 is not a transaction, but a way of life.