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The Living Waters Podcast

Ep. 153 – John 3:16 and Why So Many Get It Wrong

The most popular verse in the Bible is also one of the most misunderstood! Today the guys dive into John 3:16 to explore how the giving of His only Son shows how God loved the world, and how this verse helps us to understand the gospel.

Show Notes

In today’s episode, the guys discuss the most recognized Bible verse in the world: John 3:16. This verse states, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This verse can be quoted by non-believers and can be seen everywhere you look, but it is one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible. When we know Bible verses, we can either become so intimately familiar with it or know it so well that we gloss over its significance, and don’t grasp what it really means. In order to understand this verse, we have to look at the context. In the verses prior to John 3:16, Jesus is having a conversation with Nicodemus, telling him that unless one is born again they cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus was a Jew, leader, and teacher of the law, and heard this truth for the first time.

Next, the guys talk about how we misunderstand this verse in the way we approach it. In our hyper-individualistic culture, we read that God loved the world so much that He had to give His only Son to save us, but that is not the way it’s meant to be read. This word “so” can actually be translated as “in this way.” Instead, God loved the world in this way that He sent His only son. This is saying God’s love is actionable and here is how He loved the world. This change of looking at the verse shifts it from a man-centered or a man-focused view, to instead look at what God did. It made no sense for God to save man because we all sin. God so loved the world not because He needed us, but because we needed and still need Him. People all over the world hear that they need to be saved, but never hear why they need to be saved. As Christians, we need to tell others why we need God and how He has changed our lives.

Lastly, the guys discuss how in Numbers 21:8, God’s people escaped Egypt, but they were tired, grumbling, complaining, so God showed His wrath by sending a curse through poisonous snakes. Then the people repent, and God instructed Moses to construct a bronze serpent and instruct the people to look at it. In order that the Israelites may be saved, God makes them look at the very thing that was cursing them. This shows a distinct parallel to Jesus in that He who knew no sin became sin to save us. We must look at Jesus to be saved and just like the serpent was on a pole, Jesus was sacrificed on a cross. Christians also want to detach from the wrath of God because we want to view God as oozing with love, but that doesn’t rightly paint God as the judge of the universe. We all deserve to go to hell because of our fallen nature, but God already paid the fine for us and reconciled the world to Himself. We can’t have a God of love if we don’t have a God of wrath. True love is sacrificial in nature and God allowed His son to experience the wrath that we deserved because of His love for us. God is the only true judge and will make all things right and bring everything to how it was meant to be. When God is not the center of all things in our lives, then everything is in chaos.

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