September 13, 2020

How Is It Good News

John wrote people love darkness rather than light. How is that evident today? What did Jesus have to say about that? Listen or read to find out,

Mike Gerhardt, 09-13-20, How is it Good News, John 3:16-21. Years ago, I was involved with Evangelism Explosion, known as EE. Looking it up on the web, I came across Essential Experience (an education in the art of living). They promise to answer questions like: How am I living my life? How do I want to live my life? How can I get unstuck to achieve what I want? You must go to their seminar for $795! The testimonials are convincing. It would be worth the money if I were asking those questions. Most of us ask ourselves other questions like what am I having for lunch? OR what NFL game should be good? Salespersons are notorious for asking questions that people are not considering. Sometimes exploratory questions do help people realize their needs. Doctors use questions to assess a patient’s condition. We use questions at Men’s Discipleship class to assess one’s spiritual condition. Evangelism Explosion uses two questions: If you were to die tonight, do you know for sure you would go to Heaven? AND If God were to ask you: Why should I let you into Heaven? What would you say? Your answers could reveal your spiritual need for salvation. Nicodemus came to Jesus in the cover of darkness to get answers to the most important question of life. Jesus told him YOU must be born again. Now we come to a continuance of the conversation or as I believe, a commentary on Jesus’ words from John, the writer of this Gospel. Let break apart verse 16. BELIEF is at the core of the Good News. Belief is not a momentary feeling in contrast with a momentary doubt; it is a settled conviction that is not negotiable. The verse begins with God so loving the world. 1 John 4:9-10 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. God’s attitude toward man is not disappointment or disgust, but love. God is not seeking an excuse to condemn or destroy humanity as other religions project, but rather God desires people to be saved. That is my kind of God. There is a religion today that believes God delights in the death of infidels. Let me say this clearly, I believe that God does not delight in the eternal death of any human. Ezekiel 18:21-32 But if a wicked person turns away from their sins …  that person will surely live; they will not die. None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them… Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live… For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live! This a dangerous grace Chuck Colson title, for ALL, can call on the Lord to be saved. Even an ax murderer? Yes. Even a democrat? Yes. Even Mike Gerhardt? Yes. The bible tells us that God desires everyone to come to repentance and be saved. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 I urge, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people… This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Belief is receiving the Truth as presented (not accepting something that you change to fit your sensitivities). Eternal life refers, not just to the duration of existence, but to the quality of life in contrast to the futility of temporary life. It is a deepening growing experience. The believer becomes immortal. The believer is given the righteousness of Jesus, he becomes a child of God. To perish is contrasted with everlasting life, as being lost is the opposite of being found, as walking in the dark to walking in the light, as heading towards destruction to heading towards Heaven. Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, is described in John 17:12 as one doomed to destruction – the same Greek word for being lost! This belief is to trust someone to save you over trying to save yourself. John 3:13-15 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. Jesus came down from Heaven to witness to The Truth. No one has gone to Heaven and has returned with complete information on the afterlife and how to get there. Our salvation from the biting snakes of sin and death is to look up to Jesus to be saved. The remedy is faith in someone who can save us. Belief is to rely completely on God to save! In 2014 Quebec enforced a ban on smoking in prisons. With no cigarettes, the inmates resorted to smoking tea leaves with the residue from nicotine gum provided to help quit the habit. The concoction was then rolled up in a page from a free Gideon New Testament. Robert, an inmate, and smoker told a reporter: I smoked through Matthew, I smoked through Mark and I smoked through Luke. I started to smoke through John where I read about how God loves me. Now I don’t smoke because I became a born-again Christian! Belief is foundational to salvation. Read 17-21: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. Jesus the Son of God came to save and not condemn. The concept of eternal life and eternal death is seldom found in the Older Testament. One clear reference is Daniel 12.2. Jesus came to change the world by giving His life for our salvation. By Jesus, we are no longer condemned. The Christian Science Monitor reports that there are over 100 books in print whose title includes the phrase that changed the world. Gunpowder: The History of the Explosive that Changed the world; COD: A Biography of the Fish TCTW; El Niño: The weather phenomenon TCTW; Model T Ford: the Car TCTW; The Pill: A biography of the drug TCTW; The Twist: the story of the song and dance TCTW; Mauve: how a man invented a color TCTW. Some titles overstate the importance of the subject, do you think? But there is one that lives up to the hype: The weekend that changed the world: the mystery of Jerusalem’s empty tomb! Verse 19 Men love darkness because it hides their sin. Adam and Eve hid from God immediately after they sinned. The word for evil (their deeds were evil) can be translated worthless. Unbelievers have no ultimate meaning to life, no worthy motivation to perform good, no adequate goal to serve others. They fear exposure to the light because it may reveal the truth that their life is meaningless without Jesus. The truth is that every individual is of great value and worth the Son of God dying for them. No one is left out of God’s graceful loving touch unless they walk away from it. The difference between the believer and the unbeliever does not lie in the guilt or innocence of either, it is in the attitude toward walking in the light. The unbeliever shrinks back and does not want to be exposed by the light. The believer willingly comes into the light to be changed. Jesus like a magnet draws people to Himself. The Spirit is working to make a super-sized life in us, with goals and purposes for eternity. In May of 2002, Leonardo Diaz, a Columbian hiker, decided to do some serious mountain climbing with friends. Their goal was to reach the Nevado del Ruiz summit, a volcano in the Andes. (I crossed the Andes from Santiago Chile to Mendoza Argentina on a mission’s trip. We saw a 22840-foot Mountain). Back to the story. On the second day, a major blizzard hit & Diaz became separated. The novice climber ran out of rations & began to suffer from the extreme cold. Though he had a cell phone, it was out of minutes. As he lay in the snow waiting for death, his cell phone rang. It was a salesperson wanting to know if he would like to purchase more minutes. Diaz said it was as if an angel called. He described his location. The caller could tell that hypothermia was setting in, so she called Diaz every 30 minutes to keep him awake and hopeful. Seven hours later, rescuers arrived. What ordinarily might have been a nuisance call saved Diaz’s life. Until we come to Jesus Christ, we often react to God’s call as an unwanted telemarketer, a nuisance call. Many of us only welcome the call when we are in desperate need. God is calling you because He loves you more than you can understand and that is Good News. So please don’t hang up on Jesus.