The Lord's people love evidence of their calling. A prayer answered or a genuine experience with the Lord serve as "handfuls of purpose" to increase our strength and revive our hope for tomorrow. Our Lord has also been gracious to provide many evidences of our calling in sacred writ. Sprinkled amidst the numerous verses of scripture, the Lord has given abundant proofs of our calling that serve to be just as dynamic as prayer answered or miracles observed. Sometimes, they are so simply stated, we might overlook the evidence. One of the most powerful is 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."
When Jesus quoted what we now refer to as John 3:16, He was not presenting a condition for sinners to meet to be born again or to become part of the world He spoke of. One who is dead in trespasses and in sin can do nothing. Life, whether natural or spiritual, may only be given by the Lord. Man did not invent life and man has never had the ability to take either up by his own power. Yet, there are many evidences of life. When a baby is born, the most wonderful sound in the mother's ear is the cry of the infant. The cry did not give life…. it was evidence of life. Like the infant's cry, prayer is an evidence of spiritual life. Who would call upon One in whom they did not believe? As one preacher said, "I can not go back far enough into my experience to a time that I did not call upon God nor believe in Him." These are not the words of a fool for "the fool has said in his heart, there is no God." No, Jesus was not holding something impossible before fallen sinners to give life. He was providing His sheep with security…..hope…..evidence.
John 3:16 presents evidence that is simple for the believer to discover, yet impossible for the infidel. "Whosoever believeth" is not something that everyone can do. It is evidence for the world and an offense to the world. We are not confused when we say this, we just need to identify which world is which. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son" tells us that Jesus died for a world. Which world? It was not terra firma, the earth, which is spoken of as the whole wide world. It could not be the world of all creatures, for satan and the fallen angels have no redeemer. It could not be every human being or Jesus would be a failure for all men have not faith and say "there is no God." In his day, Caesar decreed "that all the world should be taxed". The taxed world could not be the world that Jesus died for. John wrote, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." Here is a world we are commanded not to love. Obviously, the world means many things in scripture. So, the question arises: what world did Jesus die for? Was it a particular band of believers? Does it hinge on a certain ordinance? Must a certain phrase be quoted to obtain it? Is the giving of this special world placed in the hands of certain men? How can we know? Look at the evidence. Do you believe in Jesus? If you do then you have the evidence and the answer: Jesus died for the world of believers and if you believe in Him you are of that chosen world. The evidence is in your own heart, given freely by God.
Jesus knew that the journey is long and that if we are honest, many times we are made to wonder and doubt the awesome majesty of God and the Spiritual world. There are times that our hope grows dim and we are made to cry with the apostles, "Lord, increase our faith." At times like these, let us go to John 3:16 and ask, "Do I believe in Jesus, that He is the Son of God; that He died for my sins upon the cross; that He rose victorious over the grave; that He is seated at the right hand of the Father today; that I am a sinner and all my hope of heaven is in His finished works?" The question should not be, "Do you accept Jesus" for that is nowhere to be found in scripture. The question should be , "Do you believe in Jesus?" If we can answer in the affirmative we have firm evidence that He died for us and one day we will be with Him.
Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church. Singing begins at 10:30 each Sunday morning followed by preaching at 11:00.
By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor.