By Leo Hellyer
Just recently, I came across a complete update to a fantastic Bible study by Max Lucado. Max developed the original 3:16 Video Bible Study Series as a live presentation with a group of participants at a church. This study examines the one verse of John 3:16 in a manner that brings depth and clarity to the verse like few have been able to do. This new study is presented through streaming video.
In this updated version of “3:16: The Numbers of Hope,” Max starts off by recalling a moment when, as a youth in a Bible class, this verse came alive for him for the first time. “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 is a verse we have all heard many, many times, but few of us have deeply examined the truth behind these very familiar words. As we look into this verse, we find out that 26 words can explain the unconditional love that God has for each and every one of us.
Max Lucado is a great communicator and brings life to this verse in a very unique and down-to-earth manner. He summarizes it in four phrases: He loves, He gave, we believe, we live. This study is done in a way that allows listeners to feel they are present while Christ is having conversations with followers and searchers about how to be saved.
There are two other presentations on John 3:16 that I highly recommend you take the time to watch. Both of these presentations can be found on YouTube. The first is “Tim Tebow Shares the Incredible Story of John 3:16.” He presents a very personal story about how John 3:16 has impacted his life forever. His story brings out the truth that God speaks to each of us, in a way that works for us, at a particular time in our lives. Most of us are well aware that God is in control of all things; but when God brings things about, that really gets our attention, and it reinforces that He is truly in control.
The second is a very unique, hard-hitting presentation called “John 3:16 – The Story of Love.” This is a video story about a bridge operator, his young son, and a train full of passengers. The story is narrated by Reggie Dabbs. It is an edgy presentation, but it is very moving. Be prepared to be affected by this video.
God Almighty created each of us for one purpose, and that purpose is to have relationship with Him. God loved and still loves this world – and each of us in this world – so much that He wants us to be with Him for eternity. His love for us is so great that He was willing to give up His only begotten Son, his pride and joy, so we would be able to spend eternity with Him.
God also loves us so much that He doesn’t force us to be in relationship with Him. He loves us so much that He gives us our own free will. We get to decide whether we want to accept His gift or not. He also loves us so much that He makes it very easy to accept His gift of eternal life. It is not a complicated process. We do not have to choose which way of many ways to receive the gift of eternal life. All we have to do is accept the only way to eternal life with God Almighty, and that is to accept the gift of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
John 3:16 is one verse in the Bible that most of us have heard many more times than we can remember. The danger of that is that it can become just words on paper. We must remember that the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God. We should always endeavor to extract every bit of wisdom, truth, love, guidance, mercy, etc. that we can out of all Scripture. We cannot just read Scripture as words on a piece of paper. Our God communicates with us in many ways, and His Word is definitely one of those ways.
John 3:16 is just one verse in the Bible – 26 words – but these few words are the foundation for the salvation of mankind. This Scripture describes what unconditional love for all means. We need to frequently come back to this one verse, dissect it, examine it, believe it, and live it.
Who knows which method God will reach you with: a pastor, a football player, a motivational speaker, a friend, a co-worker, a stranger, or His Word? The truth is, God is reaching out to you. The question is, are you listening – and what are you going to do with the truth?
Leo Hellyer is a non-staff pastor with a local church and has been married to his wife Norma for more than 45 years. The couple volunteered with the Boise FamilyLife Ministry Team for 20 years. Leo has also been serving with Boise Rescue Mission Ministries for 20 years and is currently serving at the River of Life Rescue Mission. He is president and chief firearms instructor with Helping Hands Firearms Training LLC. If you have questions about Real Man’s Toolbox, or need other assistance, Leo may be reached at [email protected] or 208-340-5544.