When the year is yet fresh, it is time to breathe deep, re-evaluate our priorities, and get back to basics. And what can be more basic than the most famous verse of the Bible, John 3:16–the Gospel of John, chapter three, verse sixteen?
“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.”
Based on the bold words above (and borrowing another preacher’s outline, presumably John Piper’s), let me point out three basics of life:
1. Your Dilemma: You are perishing.
Each birth-day is a reminder of your coming death-day; but unlike your birth-day, your death-day is unknown.
Are you ready?
To many, preparing for death means finishing tasks that they hope to do before life is done. This is certainly part of it, and often a benefit to those left behind, but it certainly not enough. If you perish, you perish. Is there a net to catch you when you die? Do you know for certain that underneath are the everlasting arms? Or are you banking on the Grand Assumption that somehow everything will turn out fine in the end? So many people put more thought into the safety of their money than the safety of their soul!
2. God’s Design: He loved this world and sent His Son.
Death is serious. More serious than AIDS, cancer, and heart disease is death itself. Should all disease be done tomorrow, death remains, for death does not have a physical cause, but a legal cause. In fact, no one technically dies of “natural causes” for death has been imposed upon us due to our guilt. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Therefore, for the sting of death to be removed, the true cause of death must be faced. That is why Jesus came.
Please note: Death is a legal necessity because we have broken God’s Law. Therefore, in order for the demands of the Law to be met, we need a substitute to die in our place for our guilt. To be a true substitute, this “Scapegoat” must have no guilt and possess equal or surpassing value. But who of us is without sin? A sinner cannot die for a sinner; therefore, the Savior had to be sent into this world from outside of this world. That is why we have the Virgin Birth of Jesus. Moreover, even if one of us were without sin, we could only redeem one other human. Where can we find a life so valuable, that the exchange of that life is enough to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29)? The life of God is that valuable! That is why God sent us His Son–His “only begotten Son.”
In the Cross, the divine Son died in the place of sinful man, and thereby met the full demands of the Law. Death is no longer a legal necessity. Perishing can be avoided in Christ. So how does this benefit come to you?
3. Your Duty: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.
Many people believe things about Jesus, but they do not believe in Jesus. To believe in Jesus is to have confidence in Him, to rely on Him, to bank upon Him. Such faith begins when we see our need of salvation, and trust Him alone for this great gift. Such faith is then shown to be real in the trials of life. Do you have true, saving faith? For example, when you face major decisions in life, does His truth formulate your core principles for action? Do you wait on Him in prayer, confident that He will meet your needs in His timing and in His way? When you feel shame over moral failure, do you reject the temptation to fill your sense of empty self-esteem with reminders of where you have succeeded, or how the circumstances justified your behavior, or at least lessened its guilt? Does the Cross of Christ alone satisfy the demands of your unbending conscience? Is His substitution death your only plea for entrance into heaven?
Or do you even know about these things? If not, please come to church. Hear the word about Christ! The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17). Is it not time to once again get back to the basics?