Summary: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
THE GOSPEL IN A NUTSHELL
This Bible verse has been called ‘the Gospel in a nutshell’, because it presents the central theme of Christianity. It consists in a chain of five links, leading from God’s love to our eternal life:
1. God’s love
2. The gift of God’s Son
3. Christ’s exaltation on the Cross
5. Eternal life.
Let us ask some questions of John 3:16: cross-examine it, if you will.
"God so loved the world..."
1. Who? God.
2. Which god? The God who gave His Son - so quite obviously from the context of the New Testament, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. So, this God, what did He do? He loved. Not merely loved, but "so loved."
4. How so? By giving His only begotten Son.
5. Which came first, the loving or the giving? The loving.
6. What did this giving involve? It was the offering of a sacrifice which alone could bridge the gap between God and man. To accomplish that, God became man in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ; and Jesus suffered the separation from God the Father which we deserve, by becoming sin for us: the infinite God paying the infinite price for finite man's infinite sin against the infinite God.
7. Which Son did He give? His only begotten. The One who was there with Him in the counsels of eternity, before the creation of the world, and through whom the world was made.
8. In what way begotten? By eternal generation. There was no "mother" before Jesus became Man.
9. Why did He give His Son? Because he loved.
10. What did He do it for? "That whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
11. So, mankind is perishing without him? Yes.
12. What does a man or woman have to do in order not to perish? Believe.
13. Believe what? In Him - which is to put our trust in Him as the One alone who can reverse our perishing state and give us eternal life.
14. What happens if I don't believe? You perish: "he that believes not is condemned already" (John 3:18)!
15. If I do believe? You have eternal life.
16. What is eternal life? It is a spiritual life beginning in the here and now, in which we enter a renewed - a right - relationship with God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Although we are still subject to physical death, it is the guarantee of our place in heaven when we die. Not "pie in the sky when I die" - but the fullness of a life of fellowship with God with its beginnings in the present.
17. Ah - but what about this "whosoever?" Well friend, that is where your responsibility lies. Your business is to obey the commandment to believe! Otherwise, by refusing the gift of God’s love, we make null the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf…