Summary: The only thing we bring to salvation is simply “We Believe.” Why don’t some believe? 1)Some people know, but don’t believe, and 2)Some people won’t believe because they don’t want to know. ..excellent illustration about our helplessness/God’s strength

Message developed as part of series inspired by Max Lucado’s book 3:16, Numbers of Hope, study guide materials, and his sermon series by the same title.

Scripture: John 3:11-21; John 20:19, 24-25

Title: We Believe

Series: 3:16 (part 4)

Author: Steve Miller


I hope that you’ve noticed that there is a progression in the titles of the sermons of this series. After the first sermon was introduced, there came…

He Loves, and He Gave.

Today is “We Believe” and next week is We Live. When you put them all together it sounds like a mathematical formula: He Loved + He Gave + We Believe = We Live. [Add the pluses and equal sign to the words on your bulletin]

Here’s how it breaks down:

God Loves (not that we loved him, but that He loved us first)

Then God Gave. (It took more than just the loving heart of God to redeem sinners. It was going to cost.)

Now we come to the first part of this equation that has a “we” part to it. So what is it that we bring to the table that will result in forgiveness and eternal life?

Is it “we love right back,” is it “we gave?” Actually no. No amount of love or sacrifice on our part added to the equation will result in the forgiveness of sins.

What we add to the equation is Belief and only belief. Simply put, if we are to live it takes God’s love, and God’s gift, and all we do is “We Believe.”

You say that’s too simple. It doesn’t add up. It should be “We Behave.” But the truth of the matter is that that is the truth of the Gospel of God.

If we want true life, then you must believe that God Loved and God Gave. But so many will not believe. In fact some of you here today most likely are unbelievers. And as surely as John 3:16 proclaims the Gospel, like all others who will not believe, your equation does not end in life, but eternal perishing.

For it says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Friends believe on the One and Only Son of God, the Savior Jesus Christ and live.


Transition Statement

Today we want to focus specifically on “believing on Jesus.” If our statistics about the lost population in North America are correct. If 3 out of 4 people are unbelievers, then believing on Jesus must be more than knowing about Jesus. Surely much more than a quarter of the population in North America know about Jesus. So, becoming saved has to be more than just knowing about Jesus. As we just said, it is about believing in Jesus.

I. Some People Know, But Don’t Believe

I want you to think about the background of John 3:16. Do you remember that it’s all about a ruling Pharisee of the Jews. He was a knowledgeable teacher of God’s Law in Israel.

He went seeking out Jesus one night. He knew about Jesus, In fact he says, “We know that you have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

So we see that Nicodemus knew Jesus, but there was something lacking. The problem was this: He knew, but He didn’t believe.

Skip to verse 11.

Jesus says “I know what I’m talking about.” In verse 13, Jesus adds that He is the only person who speaks what He knows about heaven and God from personal eye witness experience. “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man.”

In verse 11 it records Jesus telling Nicodemus, “We speak what we know and testify what we have seen”…”But,” says the last part of verse 11, “you do not receive our witness.”

“You won’t receive our witness.” IOW, you believe my teaching and signs are from God but you won’t accept the truth they point to. You know about me, but you don’t really believe in me.

That’s like the magic show we saw at First Baptist. You’re telling me that you’re going to make this ball disappear. And I can see you do it. But I don’t really believe that you actually made it disappear. I know there’s a trick to it.

But with Jesus. There’s no trick. He says He’s the Son of God. The things he says and things He does look like they’re from God. But the heart question is do I really believe this or not.

Will I accept the testimony or not? Nicodemus clearly had not. There was actually a time when one of Jesus’ disciples came to this point of deciding whether or not he would accept the testimony of others about Jesus. And he made the decision that so many today make. He refused to move his knowledge of Jesus to the next level of belief.

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