|The gospel in a nutshell|
|In a Bible discussion meeting, attention was drawn to the well known text in John 3:16-18. The room was silent as everyone glanced and reflected over this little portion of the Scripture. |
Sister Fulloflove couldnt help herself thinking as she looked upon the cross and saw how God gave his one and only Son. She realised that since God so loved her,
she also had to love God. Looking at her brothers and sisters around her, she
realised that she should love them too. She also realised that she was called to love all lost sinners and to do everything in her power to reach them with the gospel. As she sat there, she wondered what she could do.
The attention of brother Lawyer was drawn to 1 John 4:8 where it is stated that "God is love". He also reflected on the expression that "God is light", found in 1 John 1:5. How could a righteous God love and save guilty sinners? He then recalled that God gave
his Son who bore our sins in his own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24) and also that the Son was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). Brother Lawyer begun to relax. The problem of our sins (our deeds) and of our sin (our nature) was solved. Br. Lawyer confirmed once again that we are saved by the love of God, but that the foundation of our salvation is righteousness.
Sister Largeheart was struck by the words: "God loved the world". What a fantastic expression! God not only loved and saved some people as she used to hear: "one of a city and two of a family". No, God loved the whole world. And Gods desire is that everyone in the world should be saved by his Son. Her heart as filled with joy as she reflected on this, and she earnestly prayed for a blessing on the gospel wherever in the world it was preached.
But Brother Rightdoctrine had some difficulties with the expression: "God so loved the world". The verse was nice but would this mean that God would automatically and unconditionally save all people in the world? He read the words again "that whoever believes in him shall not perish". Yes, there was a clear condition! He need not to bow to the doctrine that "all men will eventually be saved". He realised that the work of Christ on the cross was so broad that God could save every one in the world, but sadly not everybody will be saved. Not all will accept God´s saving hand. Brother Rightdoctrine remembered the words of the Lord Jesus spoken concerning Jerusalem: "I have longed... but you were not willing!" (Luke 13:34). He rested and admired the clearness of the word of God.
There also was a sister called Activity. She mused on the words "whoever believes". In earlier days she thought that she had to do many good works in order to be saved. And she really worked hard! She was always willing and available to serve. She was a modern day Martha. But sadly she never had the assurance of being saved. She never knew if she had done enough. But years ago she had heard a conversation between an evangelist and a member of the Jehovah's witnesses. The evangelist had said: "The difference between the doctrine of the Watchtower Organisation and the doctrine of the Bible is this: Your organisation says "believe and do enough good works and you shall be saved", but the Bible says: "believe in the Lord Jesus and you willl be saved, and then, out of a thankful heart you will want to do good works." She had heard how the evangelist closed the conversation reading and explaining Ef. 2:8,9. This had opened her eyes to the fact that salvation was based on faith in Christ, and that this saving faith would not remain passive. Even more, God had created us in Christ Jesus so that we would do good works, good works which God Himself prepares! Sister Activity was enjoying John 3:16.
Brother Future let his thoughts go over the expression "to save the world through him". He did not embrace the doctrine of "all will be saved" yet he wondered how this purpose of God could ever be reached. He knew that God would judge the world. But he also knew that God would create "a new heaven and a new earth" (Isaiah 65:17; 66:20; 2 Peter. 3:13, 14). Gods plans will never fail!
There was also a Yuppie at the meeting. He was there because of his parents insistence. Most times his mind was on other matters. But today he was interested in John 3:16-18. Suddenly his eyes fell on the words: "shall not perish". There will be a judgement day. He realised that some day he would be judged. As a flash, his mind went back to that night that he went to bed with his girlfriend. His parents did not know about that. In fact, there were many other sins he had committed his parents were unaware of. But God knew each one. He felt unhappy. Right there he decided to confess his sins to the Lord in quiet prayer. Some time later, he expressed his desire to be baptised. His parents had already noticed a change in Yuppie's behaviour, but their son's decision came as a surprise. Tears of gladness rolled down their cheeks.
Also Depri was sitting there. She was an earnest girl and she liked to attend the meetings, but she was unhappy. Her problem was that she was not convinced that God really loved her. She felt unworthy. Would God accept her as his child? She was not sure. She prayed and prayed, but she felt the same. Now she was sitting in the meeting and reading the verses of John 3 over and over again. She turned back some pages and her eyes fell on chapter 1 verse 12. She read "to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God". Suddenly she realised that the issue was not if God would receive her, but if she would receive the gift of God, his Son Jesus Christ! God gave his Son and she had to receive that gift.
Just as you receive or reject a cup of coffee when somebody offers it to you. That simple yet powerful thought burned in her mind. Before the meeting was over Depri turned to the Lord in prayer: " Lord Jesus, I accept you as my Saviour".
After the meeting there was a pleasant time together. A sister said to Depri: "You look quite happy!". "Yes", Depri, answered. "Perhaps I could change my name in Opti. Now I'm glad! I now know that God has accepted me as His child". The other visitors were also talking about what they had found in John 3:16. And all their thoughts brought together showed the richness of that verse in John 3. Now they knew why some refer to this verse as: "The gospel in a nutshell".