The Scripture After the Scripture: John 3:16
Have you asked anyone to open the bible with you this week, shared about Jesus or invited anyone to church?
We’ve started a series about the importance of context in our bible study. Has closer study of a verse ever shattered a preconceived notion that you held? Or, can you think of a time you’ve been given meaningful insight from deeper bible study?
1. Luke shared a powerful summary of the gospel from Tim Keller: “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
Although John 3:16 is able to elegantly encapsulate the gospel message, the passage below takes the time to draw out the depth of our depravity and the reach of God’s grace; it uses some powerful imagery to do so.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (New International Version)
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
There are passages in the New Testament that outline the appropriate response on our part to God’s grace, but what kind of language is used in this passage to compare our role to the initiative and power of God in our salvation?
No one wants to be an object of wrath, but, depending on our situation and pride, being the object of mercy can be very unappealing as well. Have you ever struggled to accept mercy from someone else, maybe even from God?
God’s incredible rescue mission has completely transformed us and in many ways left us unrecognizable from our former selves. We know logically that we’d be nothing without Jesus, but do you still feel rescued?
2. It’s likely that Nicodemus’ feared being associated with Christ because he didn’t want people to think less of him; many of Christ’s followers were considered losers. Jesus calls him out saying that following Him and walking in the light would expose him as weak and needy. Confessing Christ has serious public implications, but there’s also a level of exposure and vulnerability among fellow believers that can be just as frightening.
If the gospel of John is meant to be an evangelical appeal to non-believers or new believers, the first epistle of John can be thought of as a pastoral appeal to members of the church. The following passage in 1 John 1 applies the truths of John 3 to our relationships with one-another and God.
1 John 1:5-2:2 (New International Version)
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
The metaphor of light and darkness is found throughout John’s gospel and letters; based on what you learned this Sunday what do they two represent and why does John use this metaphor to describe the way people relate to God?
As Luke said in the sermon the closer we get to the light the more exposed we really are. Has exposing your heart to God and other disciples revealed sin or impurity in you that you weren’t aware of before becoming a disciple?
There are obvious motives we have for saving face, but one of the most unsettling parts from this passage is verse 8 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” This suggests that more than anyone else, the person we want most to convince of our strength and invulnerability is ourselves. Who do you think we lie to first, ourselves or others?
Bringing it Home
God’s love is mind blowing. The rewards of walking in the light far out weight the apparent cost of exposure and vulnerability. What are some of the benefits of eternal life that we enjoy right now through Jesus?
Are you involved in any Bible studies this week? Please share so we can pray for God to open the eyes of the heart.