Language doesn’t always make sense. If you were to ask a new-to-English-speaker, “What’s up?” the logical answer is, “the sky.” That answer does not actually answer the question that was intended.

America’s favorite Bible verse is kind of like that. We see it on posters, grain silos, and even country music lyrics, but what does John 3:16 mean? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (ASV)

God’s love is all-encompassing for humanity. God, Himself came down from Heaven to be insulted, rejected, and killed for our sin. The result of that sacrifice, those who believe should not perish but live even after they die to this life.

But what does “believe” mean? Is it mere mental acknowledgment? Let’s look in the context to find out what John meant by the word “believe.” Look at John 3:36 and notice that the word “believe” is also used there. Here in v. 36, we see belief contrasted with disobedience. In John’s gospel, belief is the opposite of disobedience. The meaning of Biblical belief does include mental acknowledgment, but it goes far beyond just that. It means the opposite of disobedience. Belief cannot be separated from obedience to God in response to His great love demonstrated by the giving of Jesus.

Do you want God’s love for yourself? Are you ready to obey what God asks of you? Do you want to know what the Bible says must be obeyed? Let’s sit down over an open Bible and study these things together to make sure nothing is lost in translation

Photo by Edurne Chopeitia on Unsplash


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