by Peter Wade
The whole outlook changes! What a vivid word picture of the true meaning of Easter. This treasure from Phillip’s translation brings home the truth that things are different because of Easter. “The whole outlook changes — sin used to be the master of men and in the end handed them over to death: now grace is the ruling factor, with righteousness as its purpose and its end the bringing of men to the eternal life of God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21 Phillips).
Because the Lord Jesus Christ broke the bands of death, the grave could not hold Him, and He arose triumphant over death and hell — the whole outlook changes. The world of a person’s life was certainly dark, but now a brilliant ray of light appears — “because I live, ye shall live also.”
There is no better example than the disciples of Christ and their fellow-believers of how the whole outlook changes because of Easter. Peter went into the high priest’s palace, and sat with the servants, to see the end (Matthew 26:58). When Christ was led to the cross, “there followed Him a great company of women, which also bewailed and lamented Him” (Luke 23:27). When Christ was hanging on the cross, “all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned” (Luke 23:48). This dismal outlook remained right up to the morning of Easter, for the first words of Christ to Mary were, “Woman, why weepest thou?” Of course, this is exactly what Jesus foretold in John 16:20, “Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.”
The whole outlook changes! When the woman approached the empty tomb, and heard the angels message, “they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring His disciples word” (Matthew 28:8). The two disciples after their Emmaus experience said, “Did not our heart burn [glow] within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures” (Luke 24:32). And immediately following the ascension of Christ, the disciples “returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God” (Luke 24:52-53). Yes, because of Easter, the whole outlook changes! You only have to read the book of Acts to discover that the disciples could never be the same again.
Yes — Jesus died to make this possible for all who will believe. Romans 5:21 observes that “sin used to be the master of men and in the end handed them over to death” (Phillips). Sin still holds millions in its iron grip, determined to keep them separated from God. You can probably remember this situation in your life: “The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Romans 7:19).
What has happened to make a changed outlook possible? “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved!” (Romans 10:9). Here the changed outlook is said to come out of an experience of salvation, obtained through belief in the death and resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Now we can understand Paul when he said, “…now grace is the ruling factor, with righteousness as its purpose and its end the bringing of men to the eternal life of God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21b Phillips). The grace of God must be the ruling factor in your life for the maintenance of a changed outlook.
The provision is there, and now the question must be answered, “Now what is our response to be? Shall we sin to our heart’s content and see how far we can exploit the grace of God? What a ghastly thought! … Just as He was raised from the dead by the Father’s power, so we too might rise to life on a new plane altogether” (Romans 6:1-4 Phillips). The whole outlook changes because of Easter. Life can be lived on a new level by the grace of God.
This, then, is how we describe Easter — an event of tremendous importance when the whole outlook changed for mankind, if men will only believe! Easter can be real for you this year, and your whole outlook can change by accepting Christ as your own personal Saviour and receiving His resurrection life. “Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).
A bonus message from Peter Wade
A young US sailor had come to the end of himself, after squandering all his money on drink and gambling. Now he was determined to finish his life and, with revolver in hand, he made his final preparations. To prevent others from hearing the shot, he switched on the radio full blast, without thought of any particular station. With the revolver at his temple, and within a second or two of suicide, he heard the saving words “For God so loved the world.” His hand was arrested and he stood stunned and amazed. Down went his hand as he listened to the text and to the gospel message from the Moody Bible Institute. He changed his mind, sought Christ, and within a short time sent a letter to them to say that he had found the answer to life’s problems through John 3:16.
Constantly we hear of incidents such as this about the text which Martin Luther called “The Little Bible.” Others have titled it “The Gospel in a Nutshell.” Paul said that he was praying “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19). I want to examine John 3:16 using the four dimensional picture that Paul gave, in order that you might know the love of Christ.
“For God so loved the world…” When God loves, He loves the world. God is no respecter of persons. “Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight.” God — the almighty, all powerful, all-knowing One — loves the world… and that includes you!
“God so loved…” Adam Clarke has written: “God has put an eternity of meaning into the word ‘so’, and left a subject for everlasting contemplation, wonder and praise.”
How much did God love? God so loved the world. No wonder the hymn writer pictured the love of God as a deep unfathomable lake when he wrote…
O Lake of God, so wide and boundless,
O Love of God, so rich and free;
I bathe my life in its abounding,
And I am satisfied in Thee.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” When God gives, He gives His Son.
This makes the love that prompted the gift even more unfathomable. This is real giving, giving that hurts. “It’s beyond my comprehension, all my Saviour’s love for me, How He left His throne in glory, and to die on Calvary.”
The apostle Paul said in Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He came to die, that we might live! His death and resurrection procured our release from the captivity of sin and sickness. Here then is the length to which God’s love has gone, so that you can have fellowship once again with Him who created you, and has now bought you back from the dominion of Satan.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish…”
Notice that word “whosoever”. It is all-inclusive, from the highest heights of society to the lowest levels of loose living! Everybody is included, no-one is left out.
One gentleman who was asked what the word “whosoever” meant, said, “It just means anybody that likes.” “Whosoever believeth…” does not mean that you just mentally accept the fact of what God has done for you. The word used here means to cleave to, to trust, to have faith in, to rely on. It means nothing less than an absolute personal reliance upon the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.
“Should not perish.” Here is the depth of the love of God. There is no need to perish — accept the pardon offered you by believing in the atoning work of Christ. Following the pardon of a convicted criminal in the US who refused to accept it, the Supreme Court made this ruling: “A pardon is a paper, the value of which depends upon its acceptance by the person implicated.” The man was hanged, because he refused to accept the pardon.
This is what Paul teaches in Romans 3:22, where he says “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ is unto all (in its offer) and upon all that believe (in its benefit).” It has no effect unless you believe it. Put your trust in Him now!
“Should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If we have believed, we have everlasting life. Joy, peace and love, here on this earth, and everlasting life with the One we love in Heaven throughout all eternity. What is everlasting or eternal life? It is the life of God in you, the nature of God directing every aspect of your life. Peter said that there “are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4). This great verse we are considering, John 3:16, is one of God’s great and precious promises.
Yes, we may know the love of Christ, Its breadth, length, depth and height. And knowing this great truth must bring us to the point of action, the place of decision.
Let us divide the verse into two parts. Here is God’s part: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” And here is your part: “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God’s part is loving and giving. Your part is believing and having! So many people go around trying to be loving and trying to give, expecting God to do all their believing for them! You cannot change sides with God! God has done His part, it is useless for you to try to do it again. Your part is to believe, and through believing to have all that God has provided for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Copyright © 1997 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/
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