"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. Why is it so hard to see the simplicity in this verse? Just about everyone it seems is able to quote it from memory, but not many actually understand the content. God loves each and every human being on this planet and He always has. Before He laid the foundation stone of the earth He had already designed the way of salvation for all His creation. The fact that He allowed His only begotten Son to be the payment for the sin of the world was not an afterthought. Why is it so difficult for people grasp what God is telling us in the above verse? Believing the truth of what Jesus did for us is all it takes for God to see us as His children. Whosoever believeth in him. Believing is the key which unlocks the doors of Heaven for everlasting life – eternally secure in the hands of our Savior.
God provided the way for everyone to receive everlasting life, and He did so with simplicity in mind. But, God has given us each the freedom to choose – to choose either life or death. He knew, before we exited our mother's womb, how hard headed and stiff necked we would turn out so He compensated, He designed the plan of salvation in a way that would be easily accessible to all. Please don't misunderstand, for God Himself there was nothing simple about planning and then watching the death of His only begotten Son. Providing the way had to be hard even for God. Watching while Jesus was spit upon, slapped, mocked, ridiculed, scourged, and finally nailed to that cross to die would have been anything but simple for the Father. The simplicity I'm speaking of is how easy God made it for us to simply say yes to His Son, Jesus the Christ, and obtain what we clearly don't deserve. Salvation is free for the asking. Believe, ask, and then receive God's free gift of salvation – what could be simpler?
All God asks of us is to believe. There are no works involved. We don't have to provide any proof of who we are, we don't have to perform any religious tricks, or follow a set of rules and regulations to receive God's free gift. Ya get it? It's free for anyone who believes. Yet we see that many Christian organizations want to add to the simplicity of what Jesus did for us on that cross. All manner of works related faith programs are being espoused these days to create an atmosphere of difficulty – and in many cases are impossible to comply with. Just like the leaders of the Israelites adding over 600 laws to keep their people in line, we see many Christian based organizations following in Pharisaical footsteps lording over the laity (the nothings) with works and rules for obtaining and keeping their salvation. This was not the intent behind the cross of Christ.
How much more simple could God have made it? "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Acts 2:21. I believe, yes Lord Jesus I believe in what you did for me on that cross. At the very instant that our mind begins to formulate those words we become born again, born from above, from God. God sees into our hearts and He hears our very thoughts, so He knew our words before they even came out of our mouths. Actually, God knew who would say yes to His son and who would say no long before any human habitation of earth.
God tells us in His word (the Bible) that Jesus (His only begotten Son) died on a cross and was buried. That He (Jesus) was three days and three nights in the grave and on the third day He rose from the grave. This is what God says we must believe in order to receive His free gift of salvation. There is nothing else for us to do but believe in order to receive that free gift. All God asks of me and you is to believe in order to freely obtain everlasting life. Does that sound simple to you? Doesn't accepting the gift of salvation God gives us freely seem easy to you? Yes? Then why do so many people try to make it so difficult?
Believing in the Son is the key to everlasting life, and it's not difficult to believe in Jesus because it's not difficult to believe truth. There is also simplicity in believing lies and we must be careful to always see lies for what they are, attacks by the enemy. There are many things that are difficult in this life; loving others with the same agape love by which God loves all of us can be very difficult, and at times it may seem impossible. But when speaking about God's free gift of salvation there is nothing that can take on a more simplistic tone than to simply believe. How hard is it to believe in a Creator who loves us and wants only to have a relationship with us? It's not hard at all, unless of course we've been taught that there is no God. Then we would certainly find believing in something that we were taught doesn't exist far from simple. But God does exist and He's proved it time and time again. With every new day we're confronted with God's majesty. With every night's sky we're confronted with God's plan of salvation in the stars.
After seeing God's creation, no one in their right mind can conclude that there is no God, not if they're being completely honestly that is. After seeing His creation and determining that He is and that He must be an awesome and powerful God, reality eventually sets in. At which point saying yes to Jesus Christ becomes a simple statement of faith "I believe". "What about asking for forgiveness – repenting – and turning from our sinful lives?" Now you're talking about sanctification which comes after we are justified (saved). The sanctification process is ongoing and will last until the day we die or until the rapture, at which point we will then be glorified. I've mentioned this in another commentary but I'll repeat myself here for clarification. God's plan is a three tier process. First we begin with Justification which is a done deal at the point in time when we first say "Yes Jesus, I believe". The second part of the process is Sanctification; this can be the longest part of the three tier process, but it is God who does all the work here. He works on our hearts, convicting us of sin so we will begin to move away from what we were once involved in. During this process God is reforming us into the exact likeness of His Son, Jesus. It's actually God who moves us away from sin by convicting – sort of like when a child gets too close to the edge the street. We call them back or we go get them. God does the same thing with those who are His children. The process of sanctification will take the rest of your life. Lastly, in this three tier process, is Glorification. We receive our glorified bodies and live with God for eternity.
The simplicity in believing in what Jesus did for us on that cross and then through His resurrection takes faith in God. We must believe that God loves us, and that He loves us so much that He'd send His perfect Son to take our punishment, to die in our stead. Believing this truth is the only way of salvation. Yes it's simple; it's just hard for those who've been taught in school or at home that there is no God. I can understand how hard believing in the death, burial, and resurrection of a supposedly nonexistent God would be. The simplicity comes when we are assured through the mountains of proof that exist everywhere we look that all we see must have been intelligently designed and that that designer is our Creator God, Jesus the Christ. "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" Romans 1:19-20. The fact is we are without any excuse for rejecting the truth which points to a loving God who does exist and who did die for His creation.
Really, the free gift that God offers is simply just that, a free gift. We can argue with God all day about how we feel that we should be required to do something to earn His free gift, that it is just too important to be so freely given. But at the end of the day Jesus said "Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." John 6:28-29. Believe on Him (Jesus the Christ) whom He (God) hath sent. How much simpler could God have made it? Remember the decision to die for His creation was made before mankind was created. The simplicity surrounding the decision to say yes to Jesus Christ has been given to us by God. Will you accept His free gift or will you reject it? Simple question.
Believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior is easy, it's just hard for those who wish to continue in their rebellion to God. And there will always be those works based Christians who insist on placing a massive yoke around the necks of those who want nothing more than a relationship with their Savior God. But hard hearts can be melted, and the works based deceived individuals can be set free. Just a few kind words from a follower of Jesus Christ can move mountains if we will only speak the words. This too is a simple thing, it's made difficult by people who think some kind of reprisal will be forthcoming once the subject of Jesus Christ is broached. Believe it or not, many times people put on a hard shell but underneath there's a Christian trying to come out (I was one of those). All they need is to hear a little truth and voila another dead person comes alive. The shell is broken and underneath that hard shell was another follower of Jesus Christ whose been dying to get out.
The truth is God does love every one. And His love is the same for each of us. "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:" Acts 10:34. God doesn't want any of His creation to perish. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9.
Salvation is simple, God made it simple. Why? Because He loves us with a love we can't even come close to comprehending. But we can understand "…that whosoever believeth in him should not perish…" John 3:16b. Believing in Jesus as our God and Savior is all it takes to gain everlasting life; Jesus paid the price, we in turn have nothing to pay. It's simple when you really think about it. We were all perishing at one time until we said yes to Jesus Christ and believed on Him. Simple isn't it? We humans make it hard but God designed it to be as a simple as a walk in the park. Everlasting life – all we need do is believe in the one who gives us that life, Jesus the Christ, Creator of Heaven and earth.