An epiphany

Don’t you love it when you’re reading something or looking at something you’ve seen many times and suddenly you see something new! But it’s been there all the time.

That happened to me not long ago.  I was reading John 3, enjoying the night scene of Nicodemus finding Jesus at the Mt. of Olives and engaging Him in conversation.

Nicodemus had been an admirer of Jesus and wanted to visit with Him, but was not ready to be seen openly with Him yet.  Nicodemus inquired of the disciples where Jesus went after a day’s work and was told just where he might find Him.  Nicodemus follows the directions given him and, indeed, finds Jesus.  Jesus welcomes him to His hideaway.  John’s account is graphic!

Carefully, Jesus lays the groundwork for the revelation He is about to share with Nicodemus: the water, the Spirit, the wind, the serpent.  Nicodemus identifies with Jesus’ portrayal.  After dialoguing on some medical and physical impossibilities come the words known by more people than any other words of Jesus,

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

And then I saw it!  How could I have read this repeatedly through the years and not seen it?  Perhaps you, too, have seen it. If not, I hope you will find new meaning in this verse.

God so loved the world .  . .   Jesus is saying that God loves all who live on this earth – that’s now more than seven billion people.  That’s a lot of people!  I’m one of seven billion now living on this planet!  How do I know that He even knows me?  How can I be sure that He cares for me and has my salvation in mind?

That whosoever believeth in Me. . . That’s anybody.  Yes, that would include me, too, but again, I’m just one of whosoever.  What if He misses me in the crowd?  

And then I saw it!  I saw myself standing before my Creator and Judge and He saw ME! I reread the verse,

For God so loves ME, that He gave ME Jesus, and if I believe in Him I will not perish but I can now have the certainty of everlasting life.

Jesus loves me this I know seemed more real to me than ever before!  I concluded that when I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior God in turn gave me the gift of His Son, Jesus.

But was I reading too much into this powerful verse of Scripture?  Then I turned to 1John 5:11-13,

And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you HAVE eternal life  (NASB).

YES!  Here is the beauty of the Christian life!  That’s me John is talking about!  When I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior I was given the gift of  eternal life! That’s what it says!  If I love Him; if I trust Him; if I have faith in Him – I can know NOW that I have everlasting life.  No longer will I carry a load of doubt or faint hope - as we often pray, “when You come, Lord, may I be accepted into Your courts of heaven . . . .”  NO!  I can know now that I have been and now am accepted by the God of heaven through the merits of the death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary.  God the Father gave Jesus to ME.

I am important in God’s sight!  I am part of “the world”; I am one of the “whosever.”  It’s Jesus and me!  

“If there had been just one lost soul, Christ would have died for that one” COL 187.

I was that one lost soul.  But no longer.  I have accepted Jesus; He has accepted me.  Now I live daily rejoicing in the certainty of everlasting life.

What difference does that make?  What does that do to my motivation to live the Christian life?  Now I want to do His will out of gratitude for what He has already done for me.  I am no longer trying to gain His love; to earn His love; to qualify for His love, because now Jesus and I are friends.  

How many go through life never certain of their standing with God.  They live in fear that they haven’t done enough to warrant His acceptance; haven’t witnessed enough; haven’t sacrificed enough, etc., to have the assurance of the gift of everlasting life.  In this condition of uncertainty the devil can lead us to do things we otherwise would not do, i.e., seek assurance through self deprecation and needless worry and anxiety.  That person will end up confused and depressed.

Not long ago my wife and I stood by the bedside of a close relative.  A medical doctor, he and his wife had spent years in the mission field, had held a variety of positions in the local church, sponsored foreign students to study in the USA, were faithful tithers, Sabbath-keepers, and measured up to the highest visible standards.  And yet, at age 96, he was uncertain of his salvation.  “What if I haven’t done enough?  What if there is some sin I haven’t repented of?”  His questions were heartfelt.  

I shared with him the assurance of God’s gift of Jesus; I rehearsed the many promises of God that tell of His acceptance if we ask and receive; I recited John 3:16 in the first person singular!  His eyes lit up as he said, “I get it!“  He had an epiphany!  He passed to his rest, in peace, within a few days.

All God asks of us is “to walk in the light” 1John 1:7.  That light is brought to us daily by the Holy Spirit, who will guide us safely to the day of the coming of Jesus.  How reasonable to accept that Gift and live in harmony with Him and have the assurance of acceptance NOW! 

For God so loves Me that He gave Me Jesus . . . .