My Response to God’s Gift

It should come as no surprise to you that we at the John Ankerberg Show would focus our attention on God’s incredible gift as described in John 3:16 during this Christmas season.

This is such a familiar verse that you might be tempted to just skip over it instead of reading it. But don’t! Here it is in context in the Amplified version:

“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert [on a pole], so must [so it is necessary that] the Son of Man be lifted up [on the cross], in order that everyone who believes in Him [who cleaves to Him, trusts Him, and relies on Him] may not perish, but have eternal life and [actually] live forever! For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.” (John 3:14-17 AMP)

Verse 14 references a time when the Israelites grew impatient and “spoke against” God. God reacted to their ingratitude by sending serpents, poisonous snakes, among them. Many died because of their attitude toward God. But even then, God was gracious. When the people came to Moses to repent, God told Moses to make a snake and set it on a pole in the middle of the camp. Anyone who was bitten by a snake could simply look at that bronze snake, and his life would be spared. (Read the story in Numbers 21:4-9.)

God was gracious then, and He is gracious now, providing a way of escape and forgiveness of sins as His own Son is lifted on a cross to die in our place. But what happens next? How should we respond to this incredible gift of love the Father has bestowed on us? The apostle John tells us in his first epistle: 

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:9-12)

But there’s something else to keep in mind. How can we know we love one another? John explains: “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands” (1 John 5:2-3). 

Remember that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Can we do any less than show the depths of God’s love by our love for one another? Can we do any less than loving God and carrying out His commands? 

A new command I give you: Love one another.

As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).

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