John 3:16 is the most dangerous verse in the Bible……..there, I said it. Yes I realize that the title alone would spark curiosity- that’s kind of the idea. Don’t worry, I have not lost all of my biblical sense and I’m not proclaiming that God inspired a verse that is dangerous to His people. And I am not saying that John had evil intentions when he wrote it. What I am saying is that we have taken one of the most beloved verses, a verse that speaks of eternal hope, and we have turned it into one of, if not the, most dangerous verse in the Bible.
John 3:16 is the most recognized & memorized verse in the Bible. It is the first verse we learn to quote as a child growing up in church. It is the most quoted verse to the lost. However, because we forget what our call is from God, we have turned it into the most dangerous verse in Bible. We were never called to save the lost- we were called to make disciples. This is a point we must understand and grasp. Christ is the one who brings the lost to the cross. We may be the vessel to help this happen, but we must realize that we save no one. It was Charles Spurgeon who once said, “Our converts are worth nothing. If they are converted by man, they can be unconverted by man.”
So how does this make John 3:16 so dangerous? It is because we fail to make disciples after the lost are saved. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVES in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” There is the danger- that word BELIEVE. What does that mean? Well, if we aren’t making disciples, if we aren’t teaching our spiritual infants what that looks like, we are leaving them to the chance of incorrect interpretation. Most people, left on their own to figure it out, will interpret this as simple belief in the existence of Christ. THIS IS NOT SALVATION. Let me put this into perspective. Satan and his demons believe in the existence of Christ. We know this by reading the scriptures. Satan came to test Christ in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). The demons begged Jesus to cast them into pigs (Matthew 8:31). Simple belief is not salvation, in fact it merely puts us with the demons and the devil himself. We must disciple our new believers and teach them what the word “BELIEVES” means in this passage. Otherwise, we produce people who say some “magic words” and think they are saved. It is why we have the same children who come down the aisle every year at VBS because we don’t tell them what that verse means. Why am I so sure of this; because this is what happened to me. I have been asked about my story, so here it is.
I was brought into the living room with my sisters when I was 6 or 7. In the living room was the preacher from our church. My immediate thought was, “what did I do?” As I sat and listened, he began explaining the Gospel to all 3 of us. During this explanation, he quoted John 3:16. As he finished, he asked us if that is what we believed and if we wanted to be saved. Here begins my confusion. You see, I had heard that all the time from mom and my grandmother and so absolutely I believed that Jesus was real and that He did all of that. I call it a “no duh” moment. My sisters both agreed and we set our baptisms. My middle sister, Vikki, and I were baptized the next Sunday by sprinkling (sorry I wasn’t Baptist yet). My oldest sister, Angie, was dunked that afternoon. After we were baptized, that was it. No one in my church took me and showed me what that belief looked like. No one told me that daily prayer and daily bible reading were a big part of spiritual growth. We attended a very small church with one Pastor and only a few adult volunteers in the youth and children’s area. But, small or not, I didn’t have a pastor come along side of me and disciple me. This led to teenage years full of issues for me.
When I was 9, we moved churches. This was a bigger church with far more resources, but when I arrived, they asked if I was saved- well to me that meant did I believe in Christ. I told them that I was; but, here is where the doubt began and the true danger of not discipling new Christians. As my teachers started talking about what it meant to be a Christian, I began thinking, was that what I did?
As I grew into a teenager, I was a “good kid.” I never drank, didn’t go to parties, was never thrown in jail, never smoked, and never even thought about doing drugs. I was at church every Wednesday and Sunday and was very active. However, God was only on my mind Wednesdays and Sundays. You see, it turned out that I had an addiction that I was unaware of- after all that’s what makes it a problem right? I was addicted to girls. I was very insecure during my teens and had to have a girlfriend to feel normal. I was willing to do anything with my girlfriend, and to spare details, we will leave it with I lost my virginity before marriage.
This struggle with my life & this addiction, which lasted halfway through college, stemmed from a lack of being discipled when I was introduced to the Gospel. I was that kid who prayed the sinners prayer 2500 times between the ages of 7 and 22. So, I really can’t pinpoint, which one was the time that I actually got it right. I had a very hard time with this. I would encounter people with their stories of how they came to Christ and it would depress me. Satan would use this against me and create more doubt. I felt that my story was useless- until I heard Mark Hall’s story. The lead singer of Casting Crowns, Mark has a similar story to mine. He describes his story as “I was saved when I was 9, but didn’t start walking with Christ until I was 21.” That statement forever changed my view of my story. I now realize that there are more people out there who were not discipled after their conversion. I now realize that my story is going to help others. I can’t tell you the exact date I was saved. Salvation is more than simple belief- it’s a heart condition. Maybe it was when I was 7, or maybe one of the other 2500 times I asked Christ to save me, but I can tell you that I began walking with Christ when I was 22, thanks to a beautiful woman I now call my wife.
Today, as the Mindful Minute has become the mindful several minutes, I want to encourage you to look at your life. Do you go through the motions, doing the church thing twice a week and nothing else? Do you have a simple belief in Christ? That word “BELIEVE” is more than simple belief. It’s an active faith that requires us to surrender our lives and become a new creation in Christ Jesus- going out and doing His works and showing His love to as many as possible. Does your life and faith actively follow and seek Christ? Do you deny yourself (put yourself second to Him), take up your cross daily, and follow Him? That’s what it means to believe and have a relationship with Christ. If you are a follower of Christ, let’s end the misuse of John 3:16 and get back to the task set before us- to make disciples. I was fortunate. Someone came along and set me straight, but there are others out there who are fooled into thinking they are saved, when they are not.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach