Annoying Gospel Presentations: John 3:16

Easter Sunday I preached a sermon about the Gospel (click here to listen) and how big it is and yet how small most of us keep it. We are far more interested in our Gospel benefits than we are extending the Gospel’s benefits as far as God does.

We’ve made the Gospel small, me-sized rather than eternal-God-sized. The next few days I’d like to demonstrate how we mess up people’s understanding of the Gospel by the methods we use in sharing it. Here’s my first and biggest Gospel sharing pet peeve, it goes something like this:

Personalize the verse by putting your name in the following blanks:
“For God so loved ________ that He gave His one and only Son that (if) _____ believes in Him, _______ will not perish but ______ (will) have eternal life.” 

This tactic allows you to change the words of the Bible to make you feel super-duper special about yourself. This one troubles me for two main reasons:

Taking words out of the Bible and adding others is something the Bible very explicitly warns us not to do. There’s a reason why John 3:16 says what it says and I suggest we keep it that way regardless of what shot our self-esteem may take. Christ was sent for the world, not for Jeff. Yes, Jeff is included in the world, but God’s love is way bigger than me as the object.

2) If it’s true than I am the most important person, not Christ and certainly not you!
If God’s love for me is what caused Him to send Christ then I have more to do with the Gospel than Christ does: I’m the cause of it! Man, are you all lucky! You can get into heaven on my coattails and you should thank God every day He loved me that much to send Christ.

I hate this Gospel presentation. I find it highly blasphemous and disrespectful to the Word of God. Beyond that, it starts people off in the Christian life sincerely believing they are fine just how they are and they really are that special.

Instead, a person should start off in the Gospel seeing their lack and their need that Christ and Christ alone fulfills. The world is bigger than me and this ought to bring us to our knees in humility, repentance, faith and thanks.

2 thoughts on “Annoying Gospel Presentations: John 3:16”

  1. I pretty much agree with your position here, Jeff. Trouble is, this presentation you hate has become pretty much the only one that many Christians know, and the one by which they came to faith. If you challenge it, you can be seen as either being heretical or minimising God’s love for each of us. But challenge it we must.

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