What was the very first Bible verse that you can remember memorizing?
It would be John 3:16 for me. In fact, with my memory going away in my old age, it is probably the only verse I still have memorized. I know lots of verses by their context, but if it wasn’t for the internet search engines and the Bible concordance on my computer, I would have a hard time finding them. But John 3:16 is one I still remember.
So, why do you think that is? Why would this verse stay with me so readily, when others do not? It is because it tells me of God’s love for the whole world, but it is written in such a way, that it seems like He is talking to just me. God loves the world, but the word whosever means including me.
Who does the verse say loves this poor lost world? The one, true, almighty God. The eternal, self-existing, uncreated, and having need of nothing, God. It is God, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. It is God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. It is God, who takes the initiative. It is God, who loves and gives. It all begins with God.
That God is “not willing that any should perish” is a great Biblical truth that is revealed to us. John tells us in 3:16 that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That is God's earnest desire for all the children of Adam. The gospel invitation is extended to all. If you want to make the invitation of this verse personal, then put your own name in the verse. For example say, For God so loved the world (including Keith Martin), that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever (including Keith Martin) believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God’s plan for salvation, includes me, even me. God does not want me, or you, or anybody else to perish.
The word Perish is a word that should make us all tremble as we think of the consequences of our sin against God. The word perish reveals the other side of God's character. He is not only a God of immeasurable love, he is also a God of infinite holiness. It is the finality of the word that terrifies us. Death, and what occurs on the other side of death, is a mystery to the lost person, but John 3:16 brings clarity to the mystery. In it, God puts a choice before us. He says, “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.” The choice that God gives us is to believe in Jesus Christ or perish. If we reject Christ, then God will allow sin to complete its work beyond the grave of condemning the soul to an eternity in torment.
But that is not what God wants for us. God would have every person come to repentance. That is why the invitation of John 3:16 is universal, hinging on believing in him. Those who do, become heirs of everlasting [eternal] life. God created us with eternity in mind. We have an immortal soul and spirit that will exist for all of eternity. This great verse, which summarizes the whole gospel story, begins with God and ends with everlasting life. It begins with one who had no beginning. It ends with that which has no ending.
The fact that Jesus Christ has come into the world provides each person with the ultimate test of believing or disbelieving, of choosing whether to continue in their sins and surely perish, or whether to believe in him and pass from death to life. The coming of Christ into this world is the single decision point of eternal destiny for each of us.
This great verse is the essential foundation of the gospel of Christ. God loved the world, including me, so much that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever, including me, believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Don’t walk away and reject such a gift. Choose Christ. Choose eternal life.
Click on the link below to learn just how much God loves you.