Gregg Nydegger column sig

This is the last article in our series examining John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

These 24 words of Jesus have been a blessing to so many for the last 2,000 years.

This verse contains the gospel message in a nutshell, telling of God’s plan for saving people from their sins and giving them eternal life. The plan has a name: Jesus. Today we’ll focus on the final four words.

“... but have eternal life.” This is life forever under God’s blessing, and forever in God’s presence. Eternal life is what God wants for everyone: for you, for me, and for the world.

Before day one of creation, God’s amazing love drove him to conceive and implement a plan of salvation that’s open and available to all, regardless of race, nationality, or language.

The apostle Peter tells us that God doesn’t want anyone to perish; He desires that all should repent and gain eternal life (2nd Peter 3:9). God would like nothing better than for everyone to be able to sing, “When We All Get to Heaven!”

However, as we’ve seen throughout this discussion, eternal life comes only because of, through, and in Jesus Christ. Eternal life is available through no one else and in no other way. The same apostle who wrote the Gospel of John and recorded Jesus’s words in John 3:16, also wrote the letter of 1 John. There he said, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (5:11-12).

If we have Jesus, we have eternal life. If we don’t have Jesus, we don’t have eternal life. There’s no grey, muddled middle, and no wishy-washiness with the apostle whom Jesus loved. John says eternal life is all about Jesus. Period.

How could John be so black and white about the issue? Because Jesus was! In John 3:36, Jesus said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” That sounds a lot like what Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”

Was Jesus a narrow-minded, judgmental bigot when he claimed to be the exclusive way to God? No, he was just telling the truth. Someone might ask, “But why should we believe Him?” As he predicted, he was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead on the third day. Who else has ever done such a thing? What other prophet, priest, king, or religious founder has ever risen from the dead besides Jesus?

None! Jesus’s resurrection is a clear confirmation and affirmation that he was the Son of God and that we should listen to him!

Jesus spoke a lot about how to have eternal life. Not once did he say it was because we were born into it by our heritage, that we gain it by good deeds and living a moral life, or because we go to church or live in “a Christian nation.” Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).

This is the good news of the gospel message and John 3:16: Jesus Christ, the grace and gift of God, came bringing the opportunity for salvation for everybody. He came to bring eternal life, which doesn’t start when we die, but when we put our faith in him as Lord and Savior.

Jesus promised eternal life and abundant life to his people now, while they were still on earth. The apostle Paul said Christians are blessed with every spiritual blessing because of Christ and in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Christians have the Holy Spirit living within them, the forgiveness of their sins, the hope of Christ, and the blessed assurance of where they’ll spend eternity and with whom.

Do you want eternal life and abundant life? You need Jesus! Those aren’t my words, but Jesus’s words! Just before he ascended back into heaven, the resurrected Lord of life told us what we need to do to be saved and have eternal life.

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

Do you have eternal life?

Gregg Nydegger is the evangelist at Christ’s Church at Monticello.

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