Saturday, December 1, 2018

Advent Words: B is for Believe

B is for Believe

"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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16-17

"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God." John 1:12-13

As I was reading these passages for our word today, I noticed a pattern. 
In the first passage we see:
God loved.
God gave. 
God sent.
God saved.
In the second passage we see this:
We receive.
We believe.
We become.

Our word today is an important word in the Bible, and no more so than in the Gospel of John. John uses the word believe 98 times in his gospel, that is more times that in the other gospels combined and more than double its use in any other New Testament book. At the end of the book John stated his purpose for writing it this way:
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:31

John's whole message in his book is about showing us the proof that Jesus is the Son of God, that He was sent to the world by the Father, and that salvation comes through Him to those who believe in Him. But why is belief in Jesus so important to John? Let's dig into the answer to this questions using our passages for today and the pattern I mentioned above.

Let's first look at what these passages tell us about God. First we see God's heart, "For God so loved the world...". Love is both God's motivation for His plan of salvation and His demonstration of it. He loved, so He gave. He gave, and in giving He showed His love. What did He give? A gift that was a great sacrifice for Him. He gave us His Son, His one and only Son. He sent His Son into the world so that we would no longer be condemned to perish, but would instead be saved by His sacrifice. When we think of gifts this Christmas, we need to remember the greatest gift ever given. The gift God so graciously and lovingly provided through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:9-10

The pattern above also shows that  we play a part in this. God gives us salvation freely by grace, but He doesn't force it on us. God is interested in covenant relationships. We enter into that covenant by receiving the gift of salvation He offers us through His Son. We receive that gift by believing in Jesus' name. Why is this so important? Because, as John will point out throughout his gospel, the name the Father has given Jesus is Son. God freely gives us the gift of His Son, but He calls on us to respond and receive that gift by believing that Jesus is who He says He is, the One who saves. In receiving and believing we then  become children of God. We are adopted into His family. The added gift is we also become sisters and brothers with those who also receive and believe!

Share your creative response to the Advent Words challenge in our private Facebook group  Join here:

If you belong to the Everyday Journal group that I co-lead with Valerie Sjodin and Bernice Hopper, Advent Words will be our theme for December.

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1 comment:

  1. As always, lovely art and meaningful devotional, Mary. Thank you.