In one of the most oft quoted verses in scripture we have a great dichotomy, a juxtaposition if you will. John 3:16 says,
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.
God’s love should not surprise us if we read the scriptures. God’s gift, because of His love, should not surprise us if we read our Bible. When we look at the word “perish” and “life” we have a challenge. This is especially true when we find “perish” is not a translation of a word meaning death physically or spiritually. The word we find is “apollumi.” Apollumi means abolish, eliminate, render useless, to make unusable, vain, pointless, to eliminate the livelihood or viability.
Jesus is talking to a ruler of the Jews, a Pharisee, Nicodemus (John 3:1). Nicodemus considers himself a servant of God, a producer for Yahweh’s kingdom. Nicodemus believes he fulfills the law in his life and through his ministry. The Pharisee sees his life as viable, productive and purposeful. If a child of Israel confronted Nicodemus he would site his time in study, fasting, prayer, service and his position serving the chosen people of God. Nicodemus is a proud man who believes he has value. Jesus, just as He did in verse 15 is telling Nicodemus that no works are sufficient as payment to enter Heaven. In fact, without faith in the Son you will never get to Heaven let alone produce works for the King of Kings.
Apollumi means to be pointless or without purpose. Can you imagine everything in your life being worthless, never accomplishing anything in life? All Nicodemus’ work, study and dedication to God is worthless? Many live a life like Nicodemus empty of accomplishment.
Those without a sense of purpose are normally miserable, have no sense of service and no sense of ability. They are normally weak and without character. They are empty. Can you imagine living an eternity of uselessness? Those who perish are useless to God, unable to produce for God’s kingdom, ruined and lost. Jesus told Nicodemus that anyone who does not believe in God’s Son would live and be eternally unproductive for God. Believing in God’s Son provides for a life of fulfillment. Those who do not believe suffer an eternity of pointlessness and vanity in torment.
Alternatively, those who believe in Christ are provided life everlasting, life with purpose, life with meaning, a life of daily fulfillment for God’s glory! To believe in Christ is to live! Through faith we have a vibrant, ever challenging, ever changing and ever fulfilling existence for God’s glory! That’s the difference. Live or perish, meaning or meaningless, fulfillment or futility those are the choices.
I choose Christ who gives me power, strength and wisdom to accomplish His will, add to His kingdom, honor His Father through my faith-filled service. We at Grace Bible Church pray you choose faith and service.