The Rest of the Story

What would you think if someone told you about a great opportunity but they neglected to tell you about the consequences if you didn’t take it? You wouldn’t be very happy if you decided against taking this chance and then the result was dire. You would blame the person for not telling the whole truth about the matter. And no one could blame you.

Probably almost everyone in the US has heard of John 3:16. They may not know what it says, but they at least know it’s a Bible verse Christians like to quote. And it’s a very good verse; I love it. This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.

That should give a clue about what happens if you don’t accept God’s offer: no one need be destroyed. But most people don’t listen to that and unfortunately, Christians don’t often emphasize it. That’s like telling only the good news and not the terrible consequences if you don’t take up the offer on the greatest choice in the world.

John 3:17-18* goes one to say: God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

These two verses explain the consequences and the reason for them. It’s not that God doesn’t love or care. He does amazingly much; we can’t even imagine. But He is also a just God who can’t stand evil. And if we aren’t God’s child, then we belong to Satan simply as a matter of fact. That doesn’t mean we have to worship him or even think about him. Lots of people don’t even know he exists, but that doesn’t matter. All people belong either to God or to Satan. There’s no other choice.

From now on when we tell people about God’s love, we also need to tell them about His judgment. The two go together but judgment isn’t fun. We don’t want to think about it. Certainly we don’t want to see our family and friends face the torment of eternal judgment, but it’s hard to talk about and people really don’t want to hear about it. They like their lives as they are, running by their own rules – whether or not they feel happy and successful in those lives.

John 3:16 tells a wonderful story of God’s merciful and forgiving love. We simply must finish the story of what happens when that love gets rejected. God isn’t the one rejecting; He has provided the solution. People are the ones who reject Him and so lose out on the most wonderful promise ever made.

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* (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

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