from Dan's Corner

John 3:16. We all know it by heart. Most every time we tune in to a ball game or some other big event on TV it seems that somebody is holding up a sign that says "John 3:16." Why is that? What's so important about that little dab of Scripture out of a whole big book like the Bible?

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It's because it sums up the Gospel message in one breath. "Whoever believes in Him (Jesus) will not perish."

Mark 1:15 says that Jesus was out proclaiming the Gospel. He said, "The time has come, the kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news."

Pretty simple. "A" -- repent (ask for forgiveness of, and turn away from, your sins), and "B" -- believe in Jesus. If the Galileans had had their New Testaments handy He could have simply told them to thumb to John 3:16. That is simple!

But it's been said that theology is the science of complicating the simple and making what is easy, hard. What God has presented as an easy plan, man has gunked up with over-thinking and over-doing. (Did I just define the word "religion?") Seems like every denomination has a different recipe for salvation: Do three of these, two of those, but don't do any of that!

Pastor John Kilpatrick visited our church a year ago. He spoke to a mixed group of pastors, church leaders, and lay people and said, regarding this diversity, "The only thing that matters is being 'under the Blood of Jesus.'" All other denominational or religious stuff thrown on top of that one point is superfluous.

Romans 6:23 is another popular verse, and for good reason: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord." Some translations even say "free gift."

If somebody offers you a gift or even a free gift, do you offer to pay for it, or work it off, or somehow earn it?

Let's say you love someone very much and you want to do something really great for them. You get them a present that they want and need and it's something no one else in the whole world has access to. And when you give it to them the conversation goes something like this:

You --      Here is a really cool present I got for you.
They --    Wow, thanks. How much do I owe you?
You --      You don't owe me anything. It's a gift.
They --   Okay, what can I do to repay you? Mow your lawn or paint your house, maybe?
You --      You don't have to do anything but accept it. I wanted to buy it for you.
They --    Y'know, I just don't feel worthy of such a gift. Maybe I should take some college
                 courses or something to better myself before you give it to me.
You --      No, you're fine right now. It was my idea to give it to you.
They --   Okay, well, maybe you should wait a couple years so I'd appreciate it more.
You --     (frustrated) Like I said, it's my idea so I'm just going to leave it here on the table.
               When you get over all these hang-ups you can pick it up, okay?
They --    blubbering incoherently.

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all man. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. -- Romans 5:18-19

Now, let's go back to the beginning of our "gift" conversation and replace the word "You" with "Jesus" and the word "They" with "Man."

We're lucky that God is so loving and patient. If I were Him in that situation, I might get the urge to slap somebody upside the head.

Joyce Meyer teaches on the Who-Do principle. "It's not what you do, it's who you are in Christ." We all would do well to keep the Who-Do in mind when we feel like we need to do something.

By the way, for those of you who don't already have it, your free gift is on the table.

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