Hold Fast

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2, ESV)

Location: Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Devotional: John 3:16a

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son… (John 3:16a)

Probably the most well-known verse of the Bible, John 3:16 contains Christ’s precious promise of salvation to all who believe. And yet there is so much more that we can learn from this beautiful passage.

One such gem is the true meaning of the English word, “so” – as in, “God so loved the world, that…” This is how most English translations read. Because of this, Christians are tempted to read the verse in the following sense: “God loved the world so much, that…” While it is certainly true that God loves His creation greatly and seeks to demonstrate this affection, it’s not the actual meaning of Jesus’ words.

A more accurate sense would be, “For this is how God loved the world,” as a footnote in the English Standard Version points out. The Holman Christian Standard Bible renders the phrase this way: “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son…” In other words, John 3:16 is not trying to tell us how MUCH God loves the world, but in what WAY He loves the world.

Once we understand this difference, we realize that God’s actions are not simply the effects or results of His love. They are, in fact, that love itself. We are shown that God’s love for us, far from being a mere feeling or inclination, is an active love. God’s love is deeds, not just words or feelings. We see that God’s gift of Christ to the world was more than just a reflection or expression of love – this gift is love itself, love made real and concrete.


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