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                    When someone mentions 4-1-1 we think of a person needing help. 9-1-1 tells of a need that is now urgent.

Then there is 3:16. It says, “Someone cares for me very much. He gave His best for me. There is now hope in any circumstance and best of all, it is free to me.” The best known verse in the Bible is John 3:16. It begins, “God so loved the world, He gave….” That’s free! And that’s a lot to get for nothing.  It continues, “that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.


As surely as God is alive and well today, He desires that all of his created humans be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. The good news we have today is the same gospel that Nicodemus, the cautious inquirer, heard from Jesus in the conversation we have been viewing with interest.

JOHN 3:16 BEGINS WITH GOD AND ENDS WITH LIFEThe life God offers is received by faith and provides us with the comfort of knowing we will never perish. In another place God’s word says that He is “not wanting anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance”-II Pet. 3:9.

A man noted, “When I was a boy I used to hug a rubber hot water bottle in bed at night to beat off the chill air from the frigid Irish Sea. Comfort! One morning I woke up wet, cold, and miserable. The rubber hot water bottle had perished. It had slowly deteriorated, imperceptibly disintegrated and was ultimately useless. Perished! That can happen to humans too—and God so loved the world that He gave us Jesus so that we would not perish but have everlasting life.”
-Stuart Briscoe, Author of What Works When Life Doesn’t

God’s good provision is a new birth “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,”- I Pet. 1:4

JOHN 3:16 TELLS US THE FATHER GAVE HIS SON FOR ALL PEOPLE! Jesus would later point out that his followers were in the world but not of the world- John 15:19. Yet, this is the very “world” that is the recipient of His great love. This is truly unmerited, and in many cases, unsolicited. To give anything to someone unworthy and uncaring would be termed “amazing”, but to give one’s greatest possession, is in a different class. God gave His one and only Son.” Jesus often used stories to make points. He told of a landowner who planted a vineyard, rented it out and went away for a long time. Some of the produce was his. However, when he sent his servants to collect the tenants beat them up and threw them out. The owner had only one hope left. He would send his own son, saying “Perhaps they will respect him.” They did not. They did worse and killed him. -Lk. 20. The “heir” commands respect. God freely send his only son in order to save us- all people. There was not a greater price one could pay.

When we try to visualize the debauchery of the days of Noah and read of the injustice, immorality and idolatry during the times of the prophets and then simply read the text of John 3:16 we are faced with the fact that a hard decision would have to be made. God did not choose to destroy the world but save it through His own Son. Another father must have experienced the overwhelming flow of unsolicited negative emotion when faced with a terrible dilemma. 

After a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the church's preacher once again slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit, and gave a very brief introduction of his childhood friend. With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit to speak, "A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific Coast," he began, "when a fast-approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and the three were swept into the ocean."

The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story. He continued, "Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life.... to which boy he would throw the other end of the line. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian, and he also knew that his son's friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves.

As the father yelled out, 'I love you, son!' he threw the line to his son's friend. By the time he pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beyond the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered."

By this time, the two teenagers were sitting straighter in the pew, waiting for the next words to come out of the old man's mouth.

"The father," he continued, "knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus, and he could not bear the thought of his son's friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, he sacrificed his son. How great is the love of God that He should do the same for us." With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room.

Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man's side. "That was a nice story," politely started one of the boys, "but I don't think it was very realistic for a father to give up his son's life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian."

"Well, you've got a point there,"
the old man replied, glancing down at his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face, and he once again looked up at the boys and said, "It sure isn't very realistic, is it? But I'm standing here today to tell you that THAT story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me. You see ... I was the son's friend."

JOHN 3:16 - WHEN WE PRACTICE IT, WE LOOK GOOD.  In the city of Chicago, one cold, dark night, a blizzard was setting in. A little boy was selling newspapers on the corner. The people were in and out of the cold. The little boy was so cold that he wasn't trying to sell many papers. He walked up to the policeman and said, "Mister, you wouldn't happen to know where a poor boy could find a warm place to sleep tonight would you? You see, I sleep in a box up around the corner there and down the alley and it's awful cold in there, of a night. Sure would be nice to have a warm place to stay."

The policeman looked down at the little boy and said, "You go down the street to that big white house and you knock on the door. When they come out the door you just say John 3:16 and they will let you in." So he walked down the street, up the steps, and knocked on the door. A lady answered. He looked up and said, "John 3:16." The lady said, "Come on in, Son." She took him in and she sat him down in a split bottom rocker in front of a great big old fireplace and she went off. He sat there for a while, and thought to himself, "John 3:16.... I don't understand it, but it sure makes a cold boy warm." Later she came back and asked him "Are you hungry?" He said, "Well, just a little. I haven't eaten in a couple of days and I guess I could stand a little bit of food." The lady took him in the kitchen and sat him down to a table full of wonderful food. He ate and ate until he couldn't eat any more. Then he thought to himself "John 3:16.... Boy, I sure don't understand it, but it sure makes a hungry boy full." She took him upstairs to a bathroom and a huge bathtub filled with warm water and he sat there and soaked for a while. As he soaked, he thought to himself, "John 3:16...I sure don't understand it, but it sure makes a dirty boy clean. You know, I've not had a bath, a real bath, in my whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in front of that big old fire hydrant as they flushed it out." The lady came in and got him, and took him to a room and tucked him into a big old feather bed and pulled the covers up around his neck and kissed him goodnight and turned out the lights. As he laid in the darkness and looked out the window at the snow coming down on that cold night he thought to himself, "John 3:16.... I don't understand it, but it sure makes a tired boy rested." The next morning she came back up and took him down again to that same big table full of food. After he ate, she took him back to that same big old split bottom rocker in front of the fireplace and she took a big old Bible and sat down in front of him. She looked up at him and asked, "Do you understand John 3:16?" He said, "No, Ma'am, I don't. The first time I ever heard it was last night when the policeman told me to use it." She opened the Bible to John 3:16, and began to explain to him about Jesus.  The lovely lady told the warmed and fed boy that God is love. He loves to love. Loving means giving. When He saw the helpless state of all people on the earth, He sent his Son Jesus to this planet to help them. It didn’t matter if people loved Jesus or not, it made no difference what color they were or what they had done or even if they were homeless children. God just loves everybody.  She stopped to ask the boy if he had ever lost someone close to him. “Well, I never had a mother or father but I did have a brother almost my age. We were always together. Then we got separated and I haven’t seen in for many years.  I miss him all the time and wish he could sleep in my box with me. “ She said, “Good, you can really understand how hard it is to be without someone you love. That’s how it is with God. He gave us Jesus so we can be helped.” The lady told the little boy that the only way for the world to be better was for Jesus to die for everybody.  “That’s the part,” she said, “where Jesus was killed along with two real criminals.” She explained that the next part of John 3:16 tells us how Jesus can help us.  Each person must believe in Jesus, that he was God’s son and the medicine to cure sin sickness. She pointed that that Jesus would later die by being put on a cross, the way that bad people were punished. The only reason Jesus died like this was to help us.   Right there in front of that big old fireplace, the little homeless boy thought, “John 3:16. I don't understand it, but it sure makes a lost boy feel safe."

JOHN 3:16 THE ANSWER TO BOTH 4-1-1 AND 9-1-1  When we began with “The Best Things In Life Are Free,” we noted that it may take a shift in our values to see “best” in the way God does. After we have made that transition we know for certain that what God gives is superior to all we could make, buy or even imaging.

As a young preacher, many years ago, I felt the need to “nail their hide to the wall.” The sad part of that is, I was speaking primarily to God’s saints! This is an embarrassing misconception of which I was guilty. On day a lovely older sister came to me privately and discretely handed me a note. On this piece of paper were words of commendation followed by some suggestions. She noted, “You sound and look like you are mad at us. Could you about positive subjects like grace and love more often? The remainder of the page was filled with sermon suggestions and every single one was on love!  She sweetly wrote that perhaps I could cover love from God’s vantage point heavenward, from earth to heaven and our love for one another. Wise woman, greenhorn preacher!

A well know man of the past had a similar happening, as perhaps many of us, in our zeal and desire to do right have experienced.

Dwight L. Moody had the words, "God is love," written above his pulpit. When he first began preaching, his zeal for God and his hatred for sin kept him from feeling the full force of these words. Then he preached that God was angry with the wicked and stood behind them with a drawn sword, ready to cut down sinners if they did not repent. In a measure, this is true. God loves the sinner, but He hates the sin. Unless we depart from sin, we shall perish with it; but God would have his love come first always.

A young Englishman taught Moody to preach the love of God. When Moody first visited England, he met Harry Moorehouse. The people called him "the boy preacher." One day Moorehouse told Moody that he would like to go with him to Chicago and preach in his church. Moody said he looked at the beardless young fellow and decided he was too young to preach; so he did not let him know what boat he sailed on. But not long after, he received a letter stating that Moorehouse had arrived in the United States and that he would come out to Chicago and preach for him if he wished. Moody wrote him a very cold answer, telling him that if he came west, to call on him.

In a few days he received another letter, telling him that Moorehouse would arrive in Chicago on Thursday. Moody did not know what to do. He had to be in another city over Friday and Saturday. But, finally, after thinking it over a long time and seeing no way out of the difficulty, he told his church officers that a young preacher from England was to arrive on Thursday and they had better invite him to speak the two evenings he was away. They too, were afraid that the young stranger might spoil the interest; but Moody said, "Well, try him."

When he returned, about the first question he asked his wife was how the young preacher got on. His wife said: "He has preached both nights from John 3:16. I think you will like him. He preaches a bit differently from the way you do." "How is that?" Moody asked. "He tells the people that God loves them," replied his wife. Moody said: "He is wrong; but I will ask him to speak again tonight so I can hear him myself." "I think you will agree with him after you hear him," Mrs. Moody said.

Moody went down to the church, and he noticed everybody had Bibles. "My friends," began Moorehouse, "if you will turn to the third chapter of John and the sixteenth verse you will find my text." He preached seven sermons from that one text!

The last night Moorehouse went into the pulpit, every eye was upon him, wondering what text he would preach from. He began: "Friends, I have been hunting all day for a new text, but I can not find one as good as the old one; so we will go back to the third chapter of John and the sixteenth verse."

Moody said he could never forget the closing words of that night's sermon: "My friends, for a whole week I have been trying to tell you how much God loves you; but I can not do it with this poor, stammering tongue. If I could borrow Jacob's ladder, climb up to heaven and ask Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, to tell me how much God loves sinners, all he could say would be, 'God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'"

Moody was convinced, and changed his manner of preaching. Now he preached that God was behind the sinner with love instead of a sword, and that, in rejecting God, the sinner was running away from the God of love.

Whether we are traveling light or loaded up for all situations, make sure John 3:16 is part of your equipment.



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