Wake-Up Call: Why the Rest of the Gospel Is the Best of the Gospel

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1 John 3:16 (NIV)

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

CONSIDER THIS

The most popular verse in the Bible without a doubt is John 3:16. In case you need reminding, here it is: “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” (KJ21).

This verse is clearly the banner and battle cry for what I call the first half of the gospel. By that I mean the initial decision to trust Jesus by confession, repentance, and baptism.

I am on a campaign to make 1 John 3:16 the banner verse and battle cry of the second half of the gospel, or the rest of the gospel, as I like to say it. By that I mean the ongoing process of abandoning one’s life to Jesus Christ in love for the sake of others coming to know him. It is the movement from believing the love of God in Jesus Christ to becoming the love of God in Jesus Christ. It’s why I also like to say, “The rest of the gospel is the best of the gospel.”

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

So why this text as the banner for the second half of the gospel? Because it clearly and simply and profoundly defines what God means by love. Why do we need that? Here’s an example of how the dictionary might define love:

love: (1) a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person. (2) attraction that includes sexual desire: the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship. (3) the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration.

The world’s translation of today’s text would look like this:

This is how we know what love is: a feeling of strong or constant affection, attraction, or sexual desire for a person.

Now compare again with the Bible’s definition:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

I’m not knocking feelings of strong or constant affection or attraction or romance. I’m just saying for the sake of clarity that we should probably just refer to that as feelings of strong or constant affection or attraction or romance rather than calling it love.

Nothing is more beautiful or winsome or powerful than people laying down their interests and agendas and needs and desires for the best interests of others. In fact, the most descriptive word for this kind of love is holy. It’s why at Seedbed we often pair the words together to distinguish the kind of love for which we want to raise a banner: holy love.

How about it? Will you join the campaign? First John 3:16. I’m loading it into my “rememberizer” today. Let’s raise a banner.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

THE PRAYER

Lord Jesus, you laid down your life for us, and you were gloriously raised from the dead. You call us to follow you in this way of the cross. Why is this so hard for us? Reveal to me what keeps me so stuck in my own self-interest. Break me free to live freely as one who gives without measure or calculation. Take me to a place of death to myself that I might be raised to a life of more aliveness to others. In your name I pray, Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

Are you ready to start moving at a new pace into the second half of the gospel? Are you ready to share this journey with someone else? Remember, we can’t learn to walk this way alone. Reread 1 John 3:16. What holds you back? Will it be worth it later if you don’t make this move in your life?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

4 COMMENTS

  1. We know from reading other Bible passages that we are called to a life of service in the kingdom of God. This verse, 1 John 3:16, tells us the WHY. Yes!, I am ready and willing to travel this journey and yes, I know that this is accomplished only within a community of faith.

  2. 1 John 4:18
    There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
    1 John 4:16
    So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
    2 Timothy
    For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

    Satan-the spirit of fear
    God- the spirit of love (Holy Spirit)
    Love conquers fear.
    Game. Set. Match.

  3. First John 3:16-24 was one of the first verses that I rememborzied. Here’s why: vs. 16-17–John clearly spells out what God’s love is. Vs. 18 love is not tongue or words, but action and truth. Vs. 19-20–we belong to the truth and where our hearts are to rest, not on condemnation but on God, who know us and loves us. Vs. 21-23–and because we don’t live in condemnation, we can receive anything we ask for. Vs. 22-23–refers back to Matthew 22:37-39. Vs. 24–John gives us the reminder that Jesus is in us and that we have the Holy Spirit as our guide.
    When our grandson, Flannery was baptized, (he lives in Brussels, Belgium) we were asked to send a video message for our grandson. First John 3:16-24 was included in my video message, because I thought this passage was a great inspiration for someone baptized into the faith.

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