While hanging out in God's word the other day I had one of those cool moments. It is something I have known for years, but perhaps God just needed to remind me of it once again. I am in the process of developing a new book that explores some of the basics of the Christian faith, utilizing the analogy of God's Community of Faith; a local neighborhood (the church) made up of individual houses/temples (the believers). I am always amazed when I look at God's plan for His people and how clear He has sought to make it in His word.
Well, as I was working on my outline for the chapter dealing with having something to share as we seek to grow this community of faith, I was looking at what would be my starting passage for the chapter. I sat there thinking about what I learned in seminary about the key elements to a witnessing plan: God's Love/Plan, Man's Sin, God's Provision, Man's Response...and then of course what comes next when a person receives Christ into their life. Great basic plan, but where to start in Scripture for this chapter? There is always the Roman Road to Salvation that is so popular. And then there are the Four Spiritual Laws used by such great groups as Campus Crusade for Christ. But none of those seemed to me to be where I should start. And then God just seemed to say to me that He has it all right there in one simple, well known verse.
For 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)
Nearly all of us have heard that verse, quoted that verse or been exposed to that verse in one way or another. But did you ever notice that it is the basic witnessing plan right there in one sentence? Explore it with me....
For God so loved....
That is the starting point of any search for salvation. To know that God loves each and everyone of us. To know that He has not only a plan for your life, but a keen interest in what happens to you and what your future may hold. God loves us...WOW! The Creator of heaven and earth loves you. The One who can speak a universe into existence loves you. GOD LOVES YOU!!!
Have you ever sat back and truly looked at the world around you? It is broken and full of sin. Sin is, of course, anything that goes against God and His will. You can hardly turn on the news, or boot up your computer without being hit in the face with the evil that pervades our world. And to make it even more personal...you and I are part of this fallen world. We have sinned. We have failed God. We need a Savior. We need this God who loves us. GOD LOVES YOU...A SINNER OF THE WORLD!!!
...that He gave His only begotten Son...
God does love us, even though we are a world of sinners, He still loves us. So what does He do to prove His love to a sinful world? He send His only Son as a gift for us. Sin demands a punishment. Sin will always have consequences. And this God who loves us so much chose to pay those consequences and that penalty for us. God has made a provision for our sin...and it was His only Son dying on a cross for you and for me. GOD LOVES YOU..A SINNER OF THE WORLD...AND SO HIS SON DIED FOR YOU!!!
...that whosoever believes in Him...
To believe in Him is to cast total trust in Him. To have the faith to come before Him and respond to His gift of love. To have the faith to place your self into His capable hands. To believe is to move from a knowledge of the head and a feeling of the heart...right into a life that trusts Him, the One who loves you so very much. GOD LOVES YOU...A SINNER OF THE WORLD...AND SO HIS SON DIED FOR YOU...YOU NEED TO CAST YOUR FAITH ON HIM!!!
...should not perish, but should have everlasting life.
Why did God show His love for us and give us a chance to find forgiveness? So that we can enjoy the fullness of a living relationship with Him. To not perish from our sins, but to find life; eternal and abundant. To find hope and a future. God Loves Us For A Reason...That We May Have Life.
And my friends, this is the good news of Jesus Christ in one simple verse. Sometimes we try too hard to find cute and creative ways to express the gospel message. When the reality is...God's witnessing plan is far easier to remember and no one could have said it better than God.