3:16 … You’ve probably seen this number printed on the bottom of “In-N-Out” burger cups, or on the bags from the popular store Forever 21. It’s even showed up in NFL end zone signs. And at one time, it was the largest Google search in U.S. history after Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow’s “316 game” back in 2012.
As Christians, we know it as the scripture from the book of John in the Bible. It’s actually probably one of the most quoted and well-known Bible verses in all of Scripture.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
But what does John 3:16 mean to each one us individually? And what does it mean to believe so that we have eternal life?
To find out, we must look at John chapter 3:
Being a good and moral person does not merit or earn eternal life. (John 3:1-2)
Many of us get locked into the idea that we need to read the Bible more, and we should be a better, moral people. But Jesus cuts through all of that. He has saved us by His grace.
And because we have His grace, we don’t have to do good things to get God’s favor. We already have His favor if His Son lives inside us by the Spirit of God. And we do good things because that is the life of Christ in us.
Besides, if being good could ever get us right with God, then we’d be constantly wondering, “How good is good enough?”
Spiritual life demands a spiritual birth. (John 3:3)
Babies don’t come into the world until they come out of the womb. Just as a physical birth demands life, we have to have an encounter with God that is a spiritual birth from the inside out. That’s what Nicodemus didn’t have. As a spiritual leader, he was more moral and religious than most people. But he didn’t possess eternal life.
God loves you and wants to give you eternal life as a free gift. (John 3:16)
We get involved in religion because down deep, we don’t believe God loves us! We think He is hard to please, we think He is down on us, and we think that if anything is fun or good or exciting, He is probably against that.
But none of those things are true. Actually, the all-knowing, all-powerful, omniscient, eternal, holy being who created everything wants to give us better relationships, He wants to give us direction for our life, and He wants to meet our needs. Simply because He loves us!
Eternal life begins the moment you receive Christ as your savior and Lord. (John 3:36)
It’s not something that is going to happen after you die. It’s not just a quantity of time. It’s a quality of life. You can have the encounter that Jesus wanted for Nicodemus. You can be washed in the water, have eternal life and admit that you’re not perfect and you need Him.
So what about you? Where are you at today? If you’re not completely certain that you have eternal life, you can ask Jesus right now to come into your life. Tell Him, “Jesus I want You. I turn from my sin, I ask you to come into my life, I accept your forgiveness.”
To know God better, and to access more resources on this topic, check out Chip’s audio series Jesus Unfiltered – Believe, as well as the group study and book The Real God.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip