The Message we Preach

What is the Gospel?

Part 1 of 9

"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." -John 3:16

John 3:16 has to be one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. It does appear to capture the essence of the Gospel quite well. It contains a positive message of love, forgiveness and self-sacrifice on the part of God. Who wouldn't like to know that God loves them and has nothing but divine well wishes towards them. You would think Jesus Himself intended for John 3:16 to be the catchy slogan and mission statement for His ministry. At least many Christians think so. They see evangelism as the sharing of divine love, and their God given mandate is to tell a world who are ignorant of God's affection towards them.

God is very much like the shy school boy who has his heart set on the prettiest girl in his class, and Christians are his best mates trying to help out a God who is so madly in love with the sinners. Well intentioned Christians help Him write sonnets, draft love letters on His behalf and try to capture the wayward sinner's attention.

Many desperately try to secretly meet her felt needs and give the credit to all powerful, all knowing God. The ever more popular approach is to attempt to persuade the sinner how their lives will be much better and fulfilling than it is now if they decide to "accept Jesus into their heart." All the efforts and energy swells into a climatic proclamation designed to woo and swoon the love of God's life into submission and surrender. It's diced and sliced a thousand different ways, it's all called evangelism and it's all about love, sweet love. Surely nothing can be wrong about such a lovely, positive and uplifting message, can it?

Unfortunately it can, and the love driven, sinner centered message is not the Gospel message of the Bible. Even our beloved verse of John 3:16 itself gives us a vital clue:

"...whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life..."

Have you considered this all important question: perish from what?

Part 2: Never Read a Bible Verse