He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15
God sent Jesus into the world for a specific purpose. One day, Jesus went into the temple and read from Isaiah 61.
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Luke 4:18-19
Then, Jesus closed the book and sat down, and He said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:221.
Jesus’ message? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17
Wait a minute! I thought He was sent to bring healing and liberty or freedom. How is repenting freedom, and what is that about the kingdom of heaven?
Think about that. Salvation isn’t just your e-ticket into heaven. It’s deeper; it’s wider; it’s longer. Salvation is eternal life … right now … today. It is knowing God. It is knowing Jesus. Deeply. Intimately.
God so loved the world that He gave Jesus to enter the world through the womb of a peasant girl, to live in poverty, to learn the craft of a carpenter, to walk this earth proclaiming “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and to tell Nicodemus that he must be born again (born from above) by believing in Jesus as the Son of God. God so loved the world that He made a way to offer men and women eternal life, to have a relationship and an intimate union with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus came so that we can experience the kingdom of heaven today and forever.
Eternity is NOW for those who follow Jesus.
WHAT IF YOU WOKE UP EACH MORNING THINKING THAT YOU WERE WALKING IN ETERNITY?
Do you think that might shape your day a little differently?
Salvation starts with knowing who we are and recognizing our position before God.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked in the cool of the day with God. Can you imagine what they talked about? Their position was that of a friend of God.
Yet, they exchanged that walk for the taste of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
But God had mercy on them. He prevented them from eating of the Tree of Life that was also in the Garden of Eden. If they ate of that fruit, they would live forever in their sin. God covered them with animal skins, the first sacrifice, and He locked them out of the Garden of Eden for a season. Mercy. AND He promised them that a Redeemer would come.
God called Abraham out of idolatry and promised him that a chosen people would come from his loins. Abraham recognized who he was and who God was, and he believed and packed up his family and belongings and started walking.
Nicodemus recognized that God was with Jesus because He was able to perform amazing signs. This member of the 70-member ruling Jewish leaders, the Sanhedrin, was a Pharisee. Pharisees opposed Jesus and sought to discredit Him and finally to kill Him. He was meticulous in following the Law. He knew the Scriptures better than most Jews. In fact, he taught the Israelites.
Nicodemus had some questions for Jesus and came to Him by night.
Jesus told him that he must be born from above, born of the Spirit, born again.
“How can this be?” asked Nicodemus.
Jesus explained that he must have a spiritual birth in addition to a fleshly birth, and that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, Jesus must be lifted up in order for that spiritual birth to be possible. For the spiritual birth is a birth into eternal life with Jesus.
Nicodemus would have remembered the story of the Israelites in the wilderness complaining about the lack of food and water in the wilderness, although God provided water and manna to sustain them. Because of their complaining, God sent fiery serpents to bite the Israelites and kill them.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. Numbers 21:7
Moses prayed for them, and God told him to create a bronze pole with an image of the fiery serpent on it and tell the people that when they are bitten by the serpent, they should look at the serpent on the pole of judgment, and they would live.
Notice that God did not remove the serpents. The Israelites were still bitten, but they had to trust in God that He would provide the gift of life to them if they would look upon the serpent, the image of their sin against God and Moses.
Jesus used that history lesson to show Nicodemus that Jesus must be lifted up on the cross to take the sin of the world on Himself, so that those who look upon Him and believe will receive life … eternal life.
Jesus follows this history lesson with our beloved verse that many of us learned as children.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
When we repeatedly see a sign, sometimes, it becomes distorted like this yield sign, and we no longer notice it or the distortions overgrow its original use.
I fear that there are some Scriptures that we recite without thinking deeply about them. I have to admit that John 3:16 has one of those Scriptures for me. I have loved it superficially.
Notice the verbs: God “loved;” God “gave;” whoever “believes,” not “perish,” and believer “has.”
- God loved. God is love. He creates what He loves, and one of those creations is humanity. He loves man and woman because He created them in the likeness of Himself. We have a part of Him in us, even now, even though it is distorted because of sin. With love, God created man and woman in His image. Just as a mother and father love their children, so God loves those who are created in His image.
- Love gives. God gave Himself. God gave His only begotten Son, His equal, His one with the Father.
- He gave His son to become a man, the perfect man.
- To live in poverty.
- To die in shame.
- To die in unimaginable pain.
- To become sin, despicable sin.
- To be forsaken by God!
God gave His ONLY Son from before the foundation of the world. Remember, Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus at the beginning of His ministry. The promise of a redeemer was given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God gave His Son BEFORE Jesus hung on the cross in earthly time. In eternity!
“Yet the Lord God spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all, doing it in his heart from age, to age. Herein is love: love which many waters could not quench: love eternal, inconceivable, infinite! C. H. Spurgeon
- This gift is given to whosoever believes in Him. What does ”believe” mean?
- “The word itself means to embrace something as true; and when it’s a person, it means to trust them to be what they are and do what they say.” John Piper
- “Believe” means to trust, to cling to, to receive Jesus.
- Receive Jesus as what? The Bread of Life, the Living Water, the Good Shepherd, the Savior, the Resurrection and the Life, the Door, the I AM.
- Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
- Believing is trusting in Jesus’s yoke, learning of Him, and following Him.
- Believing is trusting so much so that you cast all your cares upon Jesus, and you depend upon Him for the path you take, for your provision, and for your joy.
- We can have head knowledge and it doesn’t change our actions. When we experience true, deep down belief, we act as if we trust our lives with it.
- Shall not perish. What does perish mean?
- The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36
- To perish is to experience complete separation from God forever … separation from all that is good, all that is righteous, and union with evil.
- It is the lake of fire; it is hell.
- Perish means to be condemned, and to not receive eternal life with God. John 3:18
- “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.” John 3:36
- But shall have eternal life. This life that God gives is everlasting. It possesses those who believe.
- “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”John 17:3
- The word “know” means to intimately know; it is an experiential relationship in addition to head knowledge; it is the union a man and woman have in marriage, but it’s much deeper, it’s a kingdom union. It’s the Holy Spirit dwelling in you.
- As we know God in eternity, we see His glory, His majesty, His power, His beauty, His wisdom, His Presence, His all.
Do you have eternal life?
The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
Believing in Jesus is much more than a ticket into heaven when you die.
It’s believing that Jesus paid the price for your sins, that He endured the beatings and the shame of the cross, that He took your sins and my sins upon Himself and paid the ultimate price for them. It’s believing that the Father turned His eyes away from Him for a moment in time because Jesus became sin, and the Father cannot look upon sin. It’s believing that Jesus died and was buried in a tomb for three days and rose on the third day.
It’s believing with all your heart—receiving that forgiveness—turning from your sins—and walking as if you believe from your very depths that He is your Savior. Jesus is THE Savior from a life of sin and a Redeemer to a life of eternity with Him,
NOW. That’s what accepting Jesus means.
This is a call to non-believers, young believers, and mature believers.
What if you took Jesus’ yoke and learned of Him, not with just head knowledge but with heart intimacy? You can – today.
What if you cast all your cares on Jesus and trusted Him to provide, to lead you and guide you? You can – today.
What if you prayed the Lord’s prayer and really meant, “Your kingdom come in my life today”? You can – today.
What if you lived as if salvation is more than a ticket into heaven? You can start today.
What if you lived as if eternity is now and as Jesus said it is knowing God intimately, having a relationship with Him that is dependent and trusting in Him? You can – today.
Christian – What if you went deeper with God and cried out to Him to show you His love, His glory, His majesty in a deeper way? You can – today.
What if heaven broke through into your life today? Right now?
Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day of a new walk, a new direction.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him, in Jesus, will not perish but have everlasting life. A life filled with the presence of God. A life in the kingdom of God.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Freedom to walk in the kingdom of God – FOREVER.
WHAT IF YOU WALKED THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY WITH AN ETERNITY MINDSET?
HOW WOULD YOUR LIFE CHANGE?
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