Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Safe & Sound

"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([a]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.
    He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation--he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ's name.]" (John 3:16-18, AMP)

When I stop to think of it, I find myself disgusted at the fact that I have heard and read the passage from John 3:16 so many times that I've almost become a bit dispassionate about it.  That's truly shameful!  But God, in His infinite mercy and kindness still finds a way to break open His words of life to me, in spite of myself.

Recently, I purchased a parallel Bible to deepen my studies.  This time, when I found John 3:16 in my devotional reading for the day, I was able to view it through fresh eyes using the above translation.  The sense of awe that those words were meant to have once again washed over me.

Allow me to share with you how I saw this passage pulled apart.  "For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world..."  I am the object of His affection.  And so are you.  We are His prized possession.  "...That He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son..."  He values each of us so much, that He was willing to go to the expense of sacrificing His one-of-a-kind flesh and blood.  He held nothing back when it came to reaching us.  He spared no expense.  In Him we each have immense value. "...So that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him..."  Talk is cheap.  Even Satan believes Jesus is who He claimed to be.  But belief demonstrated through a behavioral change of trusting in, clinging to and relying on Him is one that, "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."  If salvation means that I am safe and sound in Him, then what do I need to be afraid of?  The words "safe and sound" bring to mind arriving to the shelter of our home.  Jesus is our shelter and the place we call our own -- home.

"He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation--he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ's name.]" We are not rejected by God.  It is we who reject Him.  Sadly, if we refuse to rely on and trust in Him, we've already sentenced ourselves to hell on earth.  Our hell starts here, because without Him, there is no hope.  The choice we make is between being safe and sound, and being without hope now or in eternity.

Boy, this revelation is a far cry from the aloofness that began to settle in as I returned to visit these verses!  And it causes me to wonder, Am I remembering that I'm the object of His affection?  If I am, then worrying that I will not receive what is best is fruitless.  Am I remembering that He gives me incredible value?  If I am, then I realize that all my meaning comes from and through Him.  Am I remembering what it cost Him to rescue me?  If I am, then I proceed through life with a baseline of gratitude rather than selfish entitlement.  And am I trusting him, clinging to him, relying on him for every concern big or small?  If I am, then I know at every doctor's visit, at every IEP, at every financial woe, He is with me, and He has it handled.

How frighteningly easy it is to charge headlong into the demands of each day when we should be pausing in awe at the God-proclaimed manifesto presented in these words!  I pray that my quiet time with Him will also be a blessing that edifies you.  Slow down and dig deeper into what the Lord has to share with you in His word.  In the consistent shelter and promise of the Bible, you will surely find yourself safe and sound!


Pray:  Oh, God!  You spared no expense to reach me!  Please open the eyes of my heart, so that I can understand and fully appreciate Your word.


Footnotes:
  1. John 3:16 James Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary.

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