Summary: God graciously made salvation easy so that all could understand.
Christmas time is a time of shopping, frantically going from store to store looking for the best gifts and bargains. It is a time for baking and seeing family and friends that you probably have not seen in a while. What is Christmas about? I recall this from a sermon I heard in the past. It was the week before Christmas. Parking spaces were hard to come by. There were long lines, crowded stores, rude people, and grossly inflated prices. In one long checkout line, one man was heard to say, "They should kill the guy who started Christmas." One wise and godly woman in the line said, "They did- they hung Him on a cross." Its sort of funny, but sadly rings a truth of forgetting what the Christmas holiday is really all about. Jesus Christ.
We, even as Christians tend to forget that Jesus' birthday didnt just happen to be on Christmas Day as in some great coincedence. We need to remember that there was no Christmas until He was born and that He is the reason, or at least the intended reason behind the day that bears His name. Today, Walmart is full of people lining up to return their gifts. But the gift we are going to talk about today is one that you cannot, and wouldn't want to return if you could.
John 3:16, is probably the most known and most quoted verse of the Bible ever. Even the most unlearned Bible students or those who have only attended church a few times in their lives know this verse. For those of you who do not, I will go ahead and read it for you. John 3:16, 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. Many know this verse and that God loves the world, but how many of you know how to receive this love? With all the talk of gifts this time of year, lets look at the greatest gift that was ever given to us as a whole.
John 3:16. That verse is well known and used so much for good reason, it sums up the Gospel in a nutshell. That is, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The gospel, the good news, translated literally, is the basis of salvation. The means in which to obtain the gift of Gods love.
We see in this one verse that #1 God loves us, #2 that God loves us so much, He gave His only begotten, that is, His direct seed, to die for us #3 that whosoever, that means anyone, anyone that believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life, life eternal in Heaven.
Wow. That is true love. Something beyond the comprehension of human thought. God sent His only begotten Jesus, who came to earth in the flesh, who lived a perfect life, to die on the cross for us. Sent His only begotten, knowing He would be torturted and mocked by the world He was there to save. Not only did God the Father willingly do so, God the Son Jesus Christ went willingly.
What love has God for us that He would send His son and what love had the son had that He would go! Knowing what lied ahead, knowing the pain, the suffering, the mockery and humiliation that was going to be put upon Him by the very world He created.
Take that in for a minute. Let your heart and mind try to absorb what kind of love that truly is. Now, after seeing just a little bit about how much God loves you, wouldn't you care to know about how to receive this love? This love that is in the redemption, the salvation offered by Christ.
You might be thinking, well I go to church, that must count for something right? Well, sure, going to church is a good thing, but it isn't the way. Someone else might say, well, I do good things, I recycle, I help the homeless and I donate to save the spotted owls. All those things are nice and commendable things to do, but still not the way. You might have been baptized as a baby by your well meaning parents, but that won't cut it either.
Here is the point. There is nothing you can do good enough, nothing you can earn or work towards to get you to Heaven. You can go to church every single day of your entire life and still be headed on a straight path to hell. You can feed the children, adopt a highway, read to the blind, cure cancer and build a million houses with habitat for humanity, and still be on the way to eternal damnation! By human logic, human reasoning, at first thought, we would seem to think that everything must be earned. That to get something, we must work and often work hard to obtain it. This is not an unnatural viewpoint and in most aspects of life is a respectable view to hold. But it doesn't hit the mark with God. No matter how sensible we may think we are, we cannot comprehend all of God's ways. You see, the Bible says that mans wisdom is foolishness in the eyes of God.