The Word for today:
Judges 17, 18
Judges 17, 18
We’ve all heard John 3:16:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
It says that any person who believes in Jesus will not perish. OK, but what does "believe" mean?
I know people who believe that Jesus led the perfect life, and so they see his life as proof of man’s ultimate perfectibility. But that is not what believe means in John 3:16. Jesus’ life never saved anybody. Instead, Jesus’ life stands as an indictment of mankind's imperfections.
I know people who believe in the Sermon on the Mount: “The Sermon on the Mount is my religion,” a man once told me. But there is no salvation in the Sermon on the Mount. (There would be if we could live by it, but no one except Jesus ever has.)
I know people who believe in Jesus’ philosophy. But philosophy is certainly not what believe refers to in John 3:16.
Neither Jesus’ life, nor his law, nor his philosophy has ever saved anyone. What saved us was his death. To believe, as the word is used in John 3:16, means to believe in the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. Here is the gospel’s most succinct expression in the New Testament:
I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
That’s the belief mentioned in John 3:16. You will not find a hint of Jesus’ life, his laws, or his philosophy in those words.
Here, in the death of Samson from the Old Testament book of Judges, is a prophetic picture (carefully visualize Samson’s arms) of the cross/gospel:
Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived. (Judges 16:29-30)
Just when his mocking enemies thought they’d conquered him, Samson sent their temple crashing down. In his death he defeated more of the enemy than he had during his life.
Just when His mocking enemies thought they’d conquered him, Jesus turned the tables and through His death overcame Satan, sin, and all the powers of darkness.
When we speak of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is not a do-gooder’s to-do list; it is not a grand philosophical statement; it is not, in fact, an idea at all. It is blood, shed for the sins of a single believer who is known in John 3:16 as “Whosoever.”
When Whosoever’s sin and God’s blood commingle at the cross, Whosoever is saved. That is what “believe” means.