“You ever watch any sporting events on television,” Stan asked me one morning, “when there is some person in the seats with a sign that says ‘John 3:16’?”
“John 3:16,” I replied. “The verse that’s at the heart of the gospel. Eternal life for all who believe. Yeah, I’ve seen those signs but I have to admit I’ve wondered about if such a sign has any impact on anyone coming to faith.”
“I’ve wondered the same thing,” Stan said, “but that’s another subject for another day. What I want us to focus on today is why don’t we ever see a sign that says, “John 17:3.”
“John 17:3?” I replied. “Why would anyone hold up a sign that says that? What does John 17:3 have to say?”
“It’s a verse that I think goes hand-in-hand with John 3:16,” Stan said. “In fact, I once heard a pastor say that he couldn’t preach John 3:16 without also preaching John 17:3.”
Again I said, “What does it say?”
“It’s where Jesus stated that eternal life is knowing Him and His Father,” Stan replied.
“Knowing them?” I said. “I thought eternal life was about what happens when my time here is done and I step into eternity.”
“I like to think of that part of eternal life, the part covered by John 3:16,” Stan replied, “as more focused on life eternally with God when my time here is completed.”
“Life eternally with God,” I said, “as contrasted to the eternal life of knowing Him and Jesus. If that’s true, where is the knowing part supposed to take place?”
“Here,” Stan replied. “Here, while I’m still on this side of eternity working out the salvation that grants me life eternally with God when it’s time. It’s the time for being a disciple here on earth.”
“Oh,” I said, “I get it. That’s why a pastor would say he couldn’t preach John 3:16 without also preaching John 17:3. They go hand-in-hand. We are supposed to do something with the salvation we have been given, and that ‘something’ is to know Jesus and God the Father.”
“That’s it,” Stan replied. “At least that’s what it seems to me. And the whole purpose of knowing Jesus and His Father is intended so I will know what it is I am to do in being a disciple while I remain here.”
“In being a disciple,” I repeated. “Like in denying self, taking up what God has for you to take up each day, and following Him. Is that it?”
“Bingo and amen, my friend,” Stan replied with a smile. “Hold up both signs!”
Bible verses to consider:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16.
And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. John 17:3.
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision of life eternally with you when my time here is done because I have accepted your free and gracious provision of the cross of Christ. Thank you, too, for the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus ever more deeply while you keep me on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do not make the effort to know you and Jesus by working out the salvation you have worked in through the finished work of the cross. Please forgive that foolish approach to living the life you have given to me. And please, Father, help me to follow every step of your lead in knowing you and Jesus exactly as you intend. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Have you accepted God’s free and gracious provision of life with Him forever when your time here is completed? If no, why? What’s in the way? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with the eternal life of knowing Jesus and the Father in an ever-deepening relationship on this side of eternity? As well as you would like? As well as God would like? If you sense the need for change in your relationship with Jesus and the Father, how is that change going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?