What’s Your Sign?

Have you seen the guy standing In the end zone bleachers of a televised football game as the extra point is kicked holding a sign with “John 3:16”? It has caused a lot of internet searches to find out what that means!

One of the most well-known verses in the Bible and most searched for Bible verses on the internet is John 3:16. It is the gospel summed up in a single sentence.

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. 

John 3:16 NKJV

But one of the lesser known verses and seldom searched for verses is “First John 3:16.”

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 

1 John 3:16 ESV

If we believe John 3:16, then 1 John 3:16 gives the staggering implications of such a radical belief. That is, “we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

The apostle John wrote two books in the New Testament, The Gospel of John and The Revelation, and three letters, First, Second, and Third John.

According to John’s writings in First John, chapter 3, here are some of those implications of believing in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.

  1. Love one another. (verse 11)
  2. Get rid of any evil attitude. (verse 12)
  3. Don’t be surprised that unbelievers hate you. (verse 13)
  4. Loving fellow believers indicates you are a believer in Jesus. (verse 14)
  5. Hate is an attitude that precedes murder. (verse 15)

Believers in Jesus Christ literally have His Spirit living in them. Since Jesus laid down His life for us, then laying down our lives for each other will be a supernatural result of Him living in us.

On the negative side, if you or I claim Jesus Christ as Savior and yet hold bitterness, grudges, anger, or even hate toward a fellow believer, then we need to question whether or not Christ really dwells in us.

On the positive side, if you or I claim Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, then we will reach out to fellow believers to help them, forgive them, and minister to them, even to the point of dying for them.

Following Jesus is not only a radical commitment to Him, but to each other. Unless the supernatural presence of Christ is in you and me and we die to ourselves, then these actions are not possible.

Is your “sign” John 3:16? If so, then the flip side must be 1 John 3:16.

What’s your sign?

Our Father, thank-you for sending Your Son who laid down His life for us. Fill us and use us to love others with the same self-sacrifice.

Flipping Pennies

The large room with high ceilings lined with shelves of books served as the high school library and study hall. Ms. Christy, the librarian and a teacher, had an office in the corner of the room surrounded by two walls only eight feet tall, so the walls did not go all the way to the ceiling.

One day I watched a classmate flip a penny over the wall where Ms. Christy was working.  It clinked and pinged on the concrete floor. The classmate stealthily looked busy studying at his table. Ms. Christy came to the door of her office, surveyed the dozens of students and went back into her office.

Everyone snickered and nothing happened. That looked like fun so the next day I decided to do it too. I flipped the penny over the wall. Ms. Christy came to the door, surveyed the room, looked straight at me and motioned for me to come to her office.

“Did you do that?”

“No.” I lied.

“Don’t lie to me,” she replied.

“Yes, ma’am, I did it,” guilt had instantly overwhelmed me.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

1 John 1:8-9 NLT

Our nation and we as individuals stand before a holy God who created us and sent His Son to die for our sin because He loves us! Today our nation is trying the same old tactics as I did as that kid in Junior High.

We simply deny we have sinned.  A popular response is to “say we have no sin.” The reasoning goes like this: if someone has a natural inclination to adultery or homosexuality, then that’s just who they are, therefore it is acceptable behavior, not sin. Already child molesters, monsters who rape children, are saying that this is their “sexual-orientation” and they should be accepted as normal.

But this is self-deception. “We deceive ourselves.” No matter how one wrangles the argument, sin is an affront to our holy Creator. And “the truth is not in us.”

The solution is not to redefine sin to make it acceptable. The solution is to “confess our sins” to God. That means to agree with God.  We must agree with God’s word in the Bible that sin is sin, it is not acceptable to Him, we must turn from it, and accept His gift of new life, a new way of living in His Son Jesus Christ.

If we can justify acts of sin as normal behavior, then the supreme sacrifice of God’s Son on the cross was unnecessary. But Christ’s atoning sacrifice will “cleanse us from all wickedness.”

By the way, Ms. Christy accepted my confession and I gave my word not to do it again.

Phobia

I grew up in the Mayberry-type small town of Glenwood, Arkansas. I could ride my bike wherever and whenever I wanted. I could go to the local Menlo movie theatre, watch the latest movie for twenty-five cents, and buy a coke, a popcorn and a candy bar for another quarter.

One evening I asked my Dad if I could go to the movie at night and meet some friends there. He drove me and dropped me off. After the movie my friends went home, but my Dad wasn’t there to pick me up.

I assumed he had forgotten me and started walking home, IN THE DARK! With few street lights, my imagination began to run wild. Fear began its work of warping my imagination. It seemed like an hour, but it was probably about a ten minute trek.

I walked into the house in tears. My Dad said if I had just waited, he was coming to pick me up.

A derisive term of “homophobic” has been minted to describe those of us who hold a biblical standard for marriage of one man and one woman committed in a godly relationship called holy matrimony.

It is a term designed to cause me to shrink back in fear of being called “a fearful person.”

I believe the Bible is God’s word and it says:

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

The Spirit of God who indwells believers in the Lord Jesus Christ produces not a “phobia” but power, love, and self-control. We who hold the now unpopular view of biblical Christianity are not to shrink back into a hole of fear, dread, or timidity. Rather, we are to stand confidently in God’s redeeming “agape” love, God’s “dynamite” power, and with God’s ability for self-control through wise discernment.

I do have a healthy “fear” and respect for the loving Creator of the universe. Why?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Proverbs 9:10

Hell is a real place of total darkness, pure evil, and eternal loneliness. It is a place to feared. Jesus said,

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28 ESV

Regardless of the derision or labels placed upon me, I choose to live by the love of God, the power of His Spirit, and the wise-discretion which results. I choose to live in this messy world between conviction of the truth and compassion for people, between the wisdom of God’s word and the winsomeness of God’s grace.