“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." (John 3:16-17)
This lesson is the second in the series on "Christians and the World." This lesson focuses on God's offer of salvation and eternal life to the world through Christ.
Consider. Have you heard of God's offer of salvation and eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ? Have you accepted God's offer?
What is God's offer? God offers the world salvation and eternal life through his Son Jesus. John 3:16-17 tells us, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."
To whom does God make the offer? God offers salvation and eternal life to all the people of the world. There are no exclusions. There is no "asterisk." There is no asterisk that says you are excluded from God's offer because you are * (fill in the asterisk). The Apostle Paul wrote that God "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God's offer is available to you.
Even though God has made salvation and eternal life available to the world, not all people will be saved. Some people hear God's offer and reject it. Some people have not heard the gospel message; however, they reject what God has revealed to them already through the creation. "That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:19-20). God has promised that all who seek him will find him (Deuteronomy 4:29).
Why does God make the offer of salvation and eternal life? Because God loves the world. God loves all the inhabitants of the world including people who do not know and love Christ and people who are hostile to Christ (John 3:16, Ref. 2).
God sent his Son Jesus because of God's divine love for the world. Even though mankind has sinned against God, disobeyed God, and turned away from God, God still has loved us. The Apostle Paul wrote, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). John, Jesus' disciple, wrote, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). The word, propitiation, means atoning sacrifice (Ref. 3).
Why is God's offer of salvation and eternal life necessary? Because through Adam, sin has come into the world and infects all people. Romans 5:12 tells us, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." Without the treatment of Christ, the infectious disease of sin is fatal. That is why we need a Savior.
What is the salvation that God offers? John 3:17 tells us, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." The Greek word for saved in John 3:17 is sózó. Sózó means deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety) (Ref. 4). Ref. 5 defines salvation as "The deliverance, by the grace of God, from eternal punishment for sin which is granted to those who accept by faith God’s conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus."
What is the eternal life that God offers? Eternal life is a free gift of God to those who believe in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). Eternal life begins when we put our faith in Jesus. As believers in Christ, eternal life continues with God after our physical death (John 11:25-26). Eternal life is the quality of life that results when we know Jesus Christ by experience, on a first-hand basis (John 17:3). For further information about eternal life, refer to "What is Eternal Life?" (Ref. 6)
What is the role of Jesus Christ in God's offer? God sent His Son Jesus to give his life sacrificially to pay the penalty for our sin. "And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22). By paying the penalty for our sin with his life blood, Jesus has redeemed those who believe in (trust in and have faith in) him. The Apostle Peter wrote, "You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19).
God's offer of salvation and eternal life is conditional. Even though God unconditionally loves the world, there is one condition that God stipulates for mankind to accept his offer of salvation and eternal life - believing in (trusting in, having faith in) his Son Jesus. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16, John 3:1-2).
Is there a penalty for rejecting God's offer? Yes. The Bible tells us, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:17-18). Jesus also stated, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (John 5:24).
Why is God's offer the most important offer you will ever receive? Unlike what the world offers, God's offer of salvation and eternal life results in eternal life-giving benefits when you accept God's offer by believing in Jesus.
Apply. God offers you salvation and eternal life through his Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17). Have you already accepted the most important offer that you will ever receive? If yes, then praise God. If not, will you accept God's offer by thanking Jesus for forgiving your sins and then fully trusting in him by faith today?
1. Ref.1 begins on the next line
Photo source: FreeBibleImages.org
Permanent Sheepfold Enclosure - Holy Land. Photo Copyright David Padfield. Used under license. Permanent sheepfolds were built on the sunny side of valleys where there is protection from cold winds. These had stone walls, 4-5ft high and one entrance guarded by the shepherd. Thorns were often put on the top of walls to deter wild animals. Jesus referred to such a sheepfold and to thieves and robbers climbing over the wall (John 10:1-3).
"So Jesus said to them again, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.' " (John 10:7, Ref. 1)
"I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." (John 10:9)
"Christ is the Door. And what greater security has the church of God than that the Lord Jesus is between it and all its enemies? ... Here are plain directions how to come into the fold; we must come in by Jesus Christ as the Door." -- Matthew Henry (Ref. 2)
This lesson is the third in a series on the "I AM" statements of Christ. This lesson discusses Jesus' statements, "I am the door" in John 10:7 and John 10:9.
Consider. Have you entered into the church of God by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you experiencing spiritual nourishment in Christ?
"If anyone enters through Me." (John 10:9) We enter the sheepfold, the church of God, through Jesus Christ (and only through Jesus Christ). Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep" (John 10:7). We enter that door when we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. "As the only proper way of entering the fold was by the door, so the only way of entering the church of God is by believing on him and obeying his commandments" (Ref. 3).
Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6).
"He will be saved." Once we have entered the door by faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we are saved. Jesus delivers us from perils such as ravenous wolves and false shepherds (Ref. 4, John 10:1-2). Jesus frees us from the power, guilt, and penalty of sin (Romans 8:1-2, Ephesians 2:1-9). Jesus gives us eternal security. Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:27-28).
HELPS Word-Studies defines saved as rescued from destruction and brought into divine safety (Ref. 5).
"And will go in and out and find pasture." To go "in and out" is the common Old Testament expression to denote free activity of daily life (Ref. 6). When Moses charged the Israelites at Mount Gerizim to obey the Lord, he said, "Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out" (Deuteronomy 28:6, Deuteronomy 27:11-12, Deuteronomy 28:1-2). David wrote about the Lord, the Keeper of Israel (Psalm 121:5). David said, "The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever" (Psalm 121:8).
Through Jesus (because he is the door), we have security for our daily needs and nourishment for our souls. Under the care of Jesus, we find pasture - food for our souls (Ref. 7). David wrote, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters" (Psalm 23:1-2 KJV).
Apply. Have you entered the sheepfold of Christ by believing in him? If not, then put your faith and trust in him today. Are you spending time with Jesus daily to receive spiritual nourishment? How can you improve in this area?
"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)
"Those who receive the gospel, and are enlightened by the Spirit of God, see more of God's wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified, than in all his other works." -- Matthew Henry (1662-1714) (Ref. 1, Ref. 2)
This lesson describes what the Apostle Paul meant by the phrase, "the word of the cross." God loves us so much that Jesus Christ died on the cross for us, and purchased the forgiveness of our sins. We will also study why for some people, the word of the cross is foolishness and for others, it is the power of God.
Consider. When the Apostle Paul wrote the phrase, "the word of the cross" (1 Corinthians 1:18), what did he mean? In your own words, how would you explain "the word of the cross" to someone else?
Definition of "word." The Greek word for word in 1 Corinthians 1:18 is logos. Logos means something said, a message, reasoning expressed by words, and instruction (Ref. 3). Acts 13:26 and 2 Corinthians 5:19 provide examples where logos is translated as message.
Definition of "cross." The Greek word for cross is staurós. Staurós has both a literal meaning and a figurative meaning. Christ was crucified on a literal Roman cross (Ref. 4). According to HELPS Word-Studies, "Staurós was the crosspiece of a Roman cross; the cross-beam was placed at the top of the vertical member to form a capital 'T' (Ref. 4). "This transverse beam was the one carried by the criminal" (Ref. 4, Matthew 27:31-32, John 19:17). In addition to the shape of a capital "T," researchers also discuss the cross in the shape of a cruciform ("†" or "✚") and as a vertical stake (Ref. 5). Most Christian denominations present the Christian cross in the shape of a cruciform (Ref. 5, Ref. 6).
Staurós also has a figurative meaning. Jesus spoke about the cross each believer bears to be his true follower (Ref. 4, Matthew 10:38, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23). Thayer's Greek Lexicon describes the figurative cross as an expression used by "those who, on behalf of God's cause, do not hesitate cheerfully and manfully [courageously] to bear persecutions, troubles, distresses — thus recalling the fate of Christ and the spirit in which he encountered it" (Ref. 4, brackets added).
What is meant by the expression, "the word of the cross"? The word, or message, of the cross is that God loves us so much that his Son, Jesus Christ, was crucified and died on the cross for us. Through his sacrifice, Jesus Christ has purchased the forgiveness of our sins. Through Jesus Christ, those who believe in him receive salvation and eternal life.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Foolishness to those who are perishing. The Greek word for foolishness is mória. Mória means folly, absurdity, foolishness (Ref. 7). The Greek word for perish is apollumi which means destroy utterly (Ref. 8). HELPS Word-Studies further defines apollumi as "to die, with the implication of ruin and destruction" (Ref. 8).
Why would Paul write that the message of the cross "is foolishness to those who are perishing" in 1 Corinthians 1:18?
1. "To the Jews 'the cross' was the tree of shame and horror; and a crucified person was 'accursed of God' " (Ref. 9, Deuteronomy 21:23). To the Jews, the thought of "a crucified Messiah" seemed "a revolting folly" (Ref. 9).
2. To Paul's Greek audience, the cross was the punishment for slaves and murderers (Ref. 9). The cross meant shame and agony. To the Greeks, worshiping "a crucified malefactor" was superstitious (Ref. 9).
3. Paul explains, "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (1 Corinthians 2:14). The natural man, who is "not truly enlightened and renewed by the Word and Spirit of God, and therefore has no other way of obtaining knowledge but by his senses and natural understanding … does not understand or apprehend the things of the Spirit of God" (Ref. 10).
To us who are being saved it is the power of God. The Greek word for saved is sózó, which means rescued from destruction and brought into divine safety (Ref. 11). The Greek word for power in 1 Corinthians 1:18 is dunamis. Dunamis means (miraculous) power, might, strength (Ref. 12).
The cross is much more than a decoration. "The cross is God's saving power" (Expositor's Greek Testament, Ref. 13). For us who are being saved, the cross is the means by which Jesus has forgiven our sins and rescued us from the path of destruction. By the cross, God offers us the gift of eternal life when we believe in Jesus Christ, God's Son. When we share the "word of the cross" with others, we share not a fable but God's mighty plan for saving people.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
Apply. God gives us only two choices. Either we are on the path of perishing or we are on the path of salvation. On which path are you? If you do not know Christ, put your faith in him today, and receive from him forgiveness of your sins and the gift of eternal life. If you do know Christ, thank him for his sacrificial death on the cross to forgive your sins, and for his power working in you each day.
5. (Ref. 5 begins on the next line)
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