Excerpt from “In It For Life” by Rev. Fred
Part - 1 “For God, And Only God”
I believe this to be the greatest verse in all the Bible. It is the best loved and best known verse. There are only 25 words in this verse yet no other single verse in all the Scriptures has been as blessed in the salvation of so many souls. Martin Luther called John 3:16 the miniature gospel. It has also been called the gospel in a nutshell. It has been called a love letter from God written in blood and addressed to all. If ever there was a verse that Satan would love to blot out of the Bible, it would be John 3:16. If ever there was a verse that makes hell tremble, it is John 3:16. If ever there was a verse that has enlightened the path to heaven for multitudes of people, it is John 3:16.
Some have divided the verse into parts like; God’s Grace – “For God so loved the world”; God’s Gift – “That he gave his only begotten Son”; God’s Gospel – “That whosoever believes in him”; God’s Glory – “shall have ever-lasting life”. There are many ways to look at this verse but for the sake of this teaching, I want us to simply look at the words - beginning with “For God”.
Charles Simeon was a British pastor, who—every Friday afternoon would entertain the upper class-men of Cambridge who were contemplating the ministry. It was a time when he would share his thoughts and give instruction and advice to the students. At one of these meetings, Simeon told the group of the difference between human writings and God’s Word. “It’s hard to hesitate or weep upon paper” he said, “It is hard to give the tone of love or kindness on paper”. But, when it comes to Divine writing God gets a hold of our heart and soul and mind and spirit in a way that we ‘feel’ the heart of God”. And, there is no better verse where this is true than John 3:16”. If this were the only verse we had, it would be enough.
“For God” - The atheist says, “There is no God” and denies the existence of God, but John 3:16 simply proclaims His existence. “For God” - Like Genesis 1:1 - “In the beginning, GOD” … and that’s all that is needed.
An atheist was talking to a Christian, and was pointing out all the holidays that we celebrate; Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the National Day of Prayer; “We atheists don’t have any holidays” he said. The Christian replied, “Why sure you do, what about April Fool’s Day!” Psalm 14:1 says “A fool says in his heart - there is no God”.
A Russian astronaut said, after his return from space, “Some people say there is a God out there, but I did not see him”. We would call him a “rationalist” - “My mind refuses to believe that which no one has ever seen”. To this a pastor replied; “Have you ever seen the Eiffel Tower?” The rationalist replied, “No, but because I know of others who have seen it, I can bel-ieve it exists.” “Oh”, said the pastor, “I am beginning to understand your reasoning”. “Have you ever seen your brain”?… ”No”…“Has anyone else ever seen your brain”?…”No”… “Then I reckon you have no brain!”
The words “For God” simply declare that He is! And, that is where it must start. “Those who would come to God must first believe that He exists” says the Bible. If we don’t believe the first two words, then the rest of John 3:16 is useless.
I looked up the words “God is”, and I found several verses that tell us who and what God is. Not only does the Bible say that “God is” or that He exists, but it also says that God is : “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end”; God is “Holy”; God is “Merciful”; God is our “salvation”; God is “true and faithful”; God is “spirit”; God is our “portion” (or supplier); God is “light”; God is “life”; and God is “love”! The words “For God” declare that “He is”!
I have heard that there are some people who believe God exists, but see Him as disinterested or disassociated from all that is happening. As if God created, and then left us to fend for our-selves. They see him as a God who is out there, somewhere, and who knows if He will ever come back? These may be the same kind of people who say they believe God exists, but refuse to believe or obey His Word. Some may have even experienced God in their lives in some way, and yet, refuse to be transformed or changed in any way by their experience.
In the early days of Ohio, while it was still wild and untamed, a story is told of a young husband and wife who built a little home in the wilderness. They had a little girl, and one day when she was just passed two years old, she wandered into the woods. Some Indians found her and took her with them. The Mother and Father hunted for days but to no avail. They tried to live in that little cabin, but they couldn’t stand it. There were just too many things to remind them of their little girl. They packed up their things and moved. For fourteen years they lived with heavy hearts. Then one day, they were at a trading post, when some Indians came with a white girl who had a birthmark on her right shoulder that identified her as their lost child. The father ran like a madman to see his daughter and tell her that he was indeed her father. She laughed at him. The mother threw her arms around her, but the girl pushed her away. The mother was devastated. Then she remembered something… and she began to sing the lullaby she sang to her daughter in the cradle. The girl raised her eyes as if in a dream, as she heard a voice from long ago…
She realized the truth, and ran into her mother’s arms.
In the beginning of time, God created mankind. But, man was carried away, captive by Satan. Nevertheless, God, in his love has sought after his children with a passion in his heart, to deliver them from their captor. He reaches out to us and says; “I am your Father”…”I created you and I love you”… But, many in our world react like the little girl, they laugh and ridicule…they push Him away… They have been in captivity so long, they won’t or can’t believe it to be true. It is God’s desire to save us from our captor and restore the relationship that has long been broken.
“He that comes to God must first believe that He exists”. Some might say that this is the hardest part. This is the area that we all struggle with. This is the thing that we all doubt at some time. But, the fact is that it is easier to believe God exists than to disbelieve it. Light and truth and knowledge from God, and of God, is streaming all around us, and the Bible says that all we need to do is open our eyes. In fact, in Romans 1 it says that we are “without excuse” for God’s “invisible qualities, his eternal power, and divine nature have been clearly seen, being under-stood from what has been made”. It is amazing to me that children have no problem believing God exists. They have a simple faith that has not yet learned to reason or doubt.
Do you know that it requires a long and great effort to train the mind to reject the evidence for the existence of God, but faith is easy. Faith is the combination of the physical senses, the heart, soul and spirit, convincing the mind of truth. This is why the Bible says that “Without faith, it is impossible to please God”. It starts with a simple faith, the faith of a mustard seed, faith in two words; “For God”….