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Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

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

The above Scripture has been referred to as the “little Bible,” and is essentially the Gospel in condensed form. God’s entire message may be expressed by the following: (1) Man’s need, because of his perishing condition; (2) God’s love, proven in the gift of His Son; (3) our Lord’s willing cooperation; (4) God’s love, which embraces every member of the human family; and (5) God’s grace, that can only be obtained through a true acceptance of Christ. Let us examine each part of this verse briefly:

“For God so loved”: 1 John 4: 8 states that “God is love.” God possesses four great attributes of character – Wisdom, Power, Justice and Love – but of those four, Love is the most grand, glorious and high. His Love is shown in the provision He has made, not only that believers might be saved, but that in due time all may have the opportunity to hear, believe, obey and gain everlasting life. “And he [Jesus] is the propitiation [satisfaction] for our [the Church’s] sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2: 2).

“The world”: We can understand how God loves the holy angels, who have always been loyal and true, and how He loves the saints, who have turned to righteousness, but can it be that God really loves the world? Yet that is exactly what God’s Word declares: Jesus “was made flesh” – was made a perfect human being – “that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (John 1: 14) (Hebrews 2: 9); that through Abraham and his seed “shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12: 3) (Genesis 28: 14) (Galatians 3: 8) (Galatians 3: 16) (Galatians 3: 29).

Though God’s oath-bound promise (Genesis 22: 16-18) (Hebrews 6: 17, 18) has not yet been fulfilled, it will be in God’s due time, for He “will have ALL men to be saved [from the Adamic sentence], and [additionally] to come unto the knowledge [epignosis, exact knowledge] of the truth.” What truth? Especially the truth that “the man Christ Jesus . . . gave himself a ransom for ALL, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2: 4-6).

“That he gave his only begotten Son”: The Heavenly Father giving up His Son to humiliation and sacrifice unto death impresses upon us what a precious gift of divine love He has bestowed upon the human race, and at what a great cost to Himself! This gift was purely an act of His free grace, one that was not called for by Divine Justice, nor one in which He was in any sense obligated. Salvation is therefore a free gift to all men (Romans 5: 18), subject to the conditions of belief and obedience. Likewise, God did not compel His only begotten Son to die for Father Adam and his race, but He did set before Him a great prize, so that Jesus counted it all joy to lay down His life (Hebrews 12: 2).

There are many sons of God on various planes of being, yet there is only one special Son – His “only begotten Son.” St. Paul speaks of Jesus as “the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1: 15), and Jesus speaks of Himself as “the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3: 14). He was the Father’s active and honored agent in all of His creative work (Colossians 1: 16) before the Father sent Him into the world. Since His resurrection, He has been highly exalted (Philippians 2: 9-11), and will act as the Father’s Vicegerent throughout the universe forever.

“That whosoever believeth in him”: The Heavenly Father not only provided Jesus to be the Teacher of the Church during the present Gospel Age, but also of the entire world in the upcoming Millennial Age. We read: “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49: 6); “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11: 9); “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 31: 34).

Jesus is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1: 9). Therefore, all men shall “come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2: 4). Jesus Himself testified: “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw [favorably influence by My teachings and works of blessing] all men unto me” (John 12: 32). Then they will learn of the “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2: 10). Knowing this, the Apostle Paul could say: “The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel [the good news] unto Abraham, saying, “In thee shall all nations be blessed” (Galatians 3: 8).

But if the people of the world would have everlasting life, they must believe in him,” that is, accept Jesus as their Savior and King and dedicate their lives unto God, their great Benefactor, who will “in the dispensation of the fulness of times [in its first part, the Millennial Age] he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1: 10).

“Should not perish, but have everlasting life”: Webster’s Dictionary gives the primary meaning of “perish” as “to die, to lose life, in any manner.” Liddell and Scott’s Lexicon defines the Greek word apollumi, translated “perish” in John 3: 16, as meaning “to destroy utterly, kill, slay.” The text itself really defines its own meaning, by placing perishing as the opposite of obtaining everlasting life.

Five other Gospel Scriptures

Although our text is the most prominent, several other Scriptures also more or less summarize the Gospel message. We have quoted five of them below:

Galatians 3: 8: “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen [Gentiles] through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.”

Luke 2: 10: “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

Matthew 1: 21: “And she [Mary] shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

Romans 1: 1-4: “The gospel of God, (which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which [who] was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

Revelation 14: 6, 7: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

God’s great gift of His only begotten Son for the salvation of the world ensures to each member of Adam’s race a trial for everlasting life – not that there is a second chance for any of them, but that there is one full, fair chance for each of them, because Christ died for all. Some, the Church, have had their trial for everlasting life in this Gospel Age, and have been rewarded with the Divine nature (2 Peter 1: 4). But the vast majority of mankind will come on trial for everlasting life in the Millennial Age. The Heavenly Father has commissioned our Lord and His Church to restore all the willing and obedient back to human perfection, the image and likeness of God, and to repossess all the blessings and favors lost by Father Adam when he sinned. All the wicked will be destroyed, but the righteous will be given everlasting life on a perfected earth (Psalm 145: 20). Praise God for the unspeakable gift of His great, infinite love!

And what joy and thanksgiving should be the portion of all true Christians – we who have repented for sin and have accepted Jesus as our Savior, and have consecrated our lives to Him and become His disciples, and are striving to be faithful!