One of the most familiar passages of Scripture is John 3:16. almost everyone knows this verse from a young age.
John 3:16 – “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.”
Traditionally, this scripture has been used to teach that Jesus came and died for our sins so that we wouldn’t perish. That is true, but the real purpose of Jesus coming to earth and dying in our place was so that we could have everlasting life. The real message of the Gospel is that God wants to give us everlasting life with Him throughout all eternity.
The night before His crucifixion, Jesus was praying, and He said, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:3).
This verse says that everlasting life is knowing the Father, the only true God, and knowing Jesus Christ, whom He sent. That’s what everlasting life is. Every person does live forever and it’s a misconception to think that when a person dies they cease to exist. The spirit and soul go back to God and the body decays in the grave. The truth is, every person who has ever lived on this earth will continue to live in spirit form either with Christ or not. This verse makes it very clear that eternal life with God is not automatically given to everyone.
The word “know” is used throughout Scripture to describe the most intimate, personal relationship that a person could have.
The real purpose of salvation is not living forever in heaven, as wonderful as that will be, but is to have intimacy – a personal relationship with the Lord God. There are multitudes of people who have asked God for forgiveness of their sins but have never had intimacy with God as a goal!
When people, including pastors, don’t explain the true purpose of salvation, they do a disservice to the Gospel. By making salvation something that only deals with our sin, it makes people want to put it off, because they think there is always tomorrow.
The truth is that not only did Jesus come to affect our eternal destinies so that we could live forever in heaven in blessing, instead of punishment and the curse of hell, but Jesus also came to deliver us from this present world. Galatians 1:4 says, “Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Jesus wants to give us all a quality of life that is greater than anything we could obtain through any other source. Through an intimate, personal relationship with the Savior, we can discover how deep and how wide His love is for us.
If you don’t know the Lord, you need to know Him for that purpose. If you have been born again, we all need to go beyond just getting our sins forgiven and enter into everlasting life with the Father.