“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
We can use John 3:16 by itself to share the gospel. Simply walk a person through the verse using the simple outline of the three things God wants us to know: His love, His gift, and His offer of salvation.
- God’s Love – “For God so loved the world”
God’s love is so remarkable because He loves us not for who we are, but in spite of who we are. Harsh words, lies, selfishness—we are guilty of all of these and more. No matter what we’ve done, God still loves us. As sinners who have broken God’s commandments, we deserve His anger rather than his love. But God loves us so much that instead of turning His back on us, He turns His face toward us. Two thousand years ago, His love provided a gift only He could give.
- God’s Gift – “that He gave His only begotten Son”
The gift is God’s Son—Jesus Christ. Because we have sinned, we deserve to die and be separated from God forever. The Bible identifies that place of separation as hell. But God gave His Son to take our punishment.
Begotten means “one of a kind.” Jesus Christ is God's unique son. He is perfect. Christ is our substitute. On a cross two thousand years ago, He died for our sins. As God, He came back to life, proving He had conquered sin and death once and for all. Because the price for our sin has been paid, the way to God is clear and simple.
- God’s Offer – “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Jesus did not mean “whoever goes to church, is baptized, helps the poor, or tries to live a good life.” Whoever is not just the wealthy business person, the pastor at church, the volunteer at school, the alcoholic, or the struggling single parent—it’s every single one of us.
The word believe means to “trust,” “depend,” or “rely on.” Knowing about Jesus is not enough. We have to place our trust in Jesus Christ alone to save us. That means we must trust Christ as our only way to heaven, the only way we can have a relationship with God.