Recently, I perceived a real stirring in the Holy Spirit. . . one which convinced me that the Lord was desiring for His body to move on from John 3:16 to John 17. Please pray over this and be obedient as the Holy Spirit might lead. God bless, Grover
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal.
Joh 3:17 For God has not sent his Son into the world that he may judge the world, but that the world may be saved through him.
John 3:16 is the pillar of evangelical Christian theology and, I understand, the best known scripture in the world. It has given the message of life to many who have looked for a place of hope in which to lay down their burdens and enter into the peace of God's kingdom. It is certainly the core of the gospel message of salvation, and is the door of understanding God's love for a dying world.
I know many Christians who have based their life on this wonderful scripture, and have moved into a life of fullness and blessing. I know others who have believed in the Savior and have the hope of heaven, but seem to be unable to transition from the future hope of heaven into that transformed life that Jesus promised to His believers in this life. Remember that hope is the starting place, but transformation is the fullness of God's plan.
If we understand God's plan, and have some insight into His heart toward us, we are blessed and able to move closer to Him. This is the beauty of John 3:16. . . it reveals God's heart and intentions toward man. If we aren't sure that God loves us, we can never really trust Him. However, if we are confident of His love and that His purposes are to help us to be free from sin and shame and come into close fellowship with Him, we have moved into a place of purpose, power, freedom and trust (faith.) John 3:16 declares that God loves us and has provided this way.
I'd like to challenge you at this point and say that John 3:16 is not the whole message that is revealed in the gospel of John. It is the doorway, the place to enter, and certainly of great importance, but it is the beginning, not the end of the gospel.
The Last Supper
John 13-17 describes what we commonly call The Last Supper. This is the time that Jesus has gathered the disciples and is sitting with them for the last time before fulfilling His destiny on a lonely cross at Calvary. He washes their feet and begins to speak His last words to them as they celebrate the feast of Passover which is the symbol of what Jesus is about to become. . . the perfect sacrifice for the sins of humanity.
Essentially, this dialogue was the last will and testament of Jesus to His beloved disciples. Consider that what He was imparting to them was likely the most important message of any during His time on earth. We know that if a person is on his death bed and he calls his family together for a last word, that the things discussed will be of uttermost importance. It's not a time for trivial or superficial conversation. I believe this part of scripture, culminating in John 17 is of paramount importance, and that we should read and study it carefully. For the sake of brevity, I would like to concentrate on a part of John 17 that I believe is the central issue being examined. John 17 is often called The High Priestly Prayer in some Bibles. It is Jesus' prayer to His Father as He prepares to embrace the cross.
John 17:13 And now I come to thee. And these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in them.
Jesus is praying that His followers will have the same complete joy that He has. Remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Also remember that this is the prayer of the perfect Son to the Father. Understand that His prayers ARE always answered.
15 I do not demand that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them out of evil.
Jesus is praying that His people would be protected from the evil one.
19 and I sanctify myself for them, that they also may be sanctified by truth.
Jesus is stating that HIS sanctification is adequate to sanctify us.
20 And I do not demand for these only, but also for those who believe on me through their word;
21 that they may be all one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
23 I in them and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.
We know that Jesus is praying for His disciples, who are at the table, but now He is expanding it to all who believe the testimony of the disciples. Then He prays that His people may be one with one another AND one with God, just as Jesus and the Father are one! Also, that the world would understand that God loves us just as He loves Jesus. Praise God, are you getting this? God's plan is for us to have the same relationship with Him that He had with Jesus! He has not only declared "peace on earth and goodwill toward men," but He has decreed that His people would have the power to become "sons of God." He has provided the door to enter in (John 3:16) and the way to move into the fullness of life in His Spirit. Certainly we have the promise of heaven, but we also have the assurance of hearing His voice, knowing His presence, living with Him and in Him, knowing Him as FATHER, and having proper relationship with other believers. That is HIS desire for each of us.
Let's DO Life!