John 3:16 – 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.
Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees, a ruler of the Jews, when He makes this profound statement about the Father: “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.”
Although the whole of Christianity is about being born again, the Bible only mentions being born again in two places: John 3 and 1 Peter 1. The born again experience is also interchangeable with having eternal life. But what exactly is eternal or everlasting life? Jesus mentions to us in this passage that we must be born again and continues the dialogue with Nicodemus about us having eternal life if we believe in Him. Are they one and the same? What do we know about it?
We know from John 3 that in order to have eternal life, we must believe in Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. We know that if we have eternal life, we will not perish, or spend eternity in hell. Any believer should be able to explain this in its simplest terms. But is there more?
In John 17:1-3 it is written, “Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
For about a week now, this verse has been resounding in my heart. This is eternal life, to know God the Father and the One He sent, Jesus!
When Jesus mentions that eternal life is to know the Father, He is not saying that we get to know of the Father to experience eternal life. For example: If I was in a conversation with you and you asked me if I knew Beyoncé, I would have to say not really! While I know who she is and what she does, and some details about her life, I don’t know her. We have never had a conversation, and she is clueless as to the fact that I am alive on planet Earth.
Many people feel that because they know of Jesus, and know of the Father, that they know them. This is so inaccurate.
To know, in this verse, is more accurately understood as to recognize or to perceive. Throughout the Old Testament God continuously let it be known that His desire was to be known by His people. (Isaiah 1:2-4; Jeremiah 9:2-3; Jeremiah 31:33-34)
God’s one desire for mankind is that we might recognize that He is the One true God and that Jesus, His Son is the only Savior. Much has been done by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to aid us in the process of recognizing Him, and yet, even to believers, He seems to be hard to understand.
I believe the difference between the person who prays the prayer of salvation and there is no change and the person who prays and there is a marked difference is in the recognition of the person of Jesus Christ and the One who sent Him.
Eternal life is given and received when your spirit hears the voice of the Eternal One and responds with a conviction that you have been touched by heaven and can now see (perceive) that which you were not able to receive before. Jesus!
So what is eternal life? It’s recognizing Jesus as your Savior, recognizing He is the Son of God, recognizing the great love the Father had for you in sending Him, and recognizing that you now have been offered the chance of a lifetime: to know Him; then you act on that knowledge and receive Him as the truth He is and you are born again.
I would say, John 3:16 gives us the motivation of God’s desire to be known by us and John 17 gives us the insight of what that born again experience looks like. They actually go hand in hand. It’s a wonderful thought to know that eternal life is not a destination, but the person, God the Father through Jesus His Son. I hope this encouraged you as it did me. Wonderful Jesus!