The Most Important 25 Words…
Janet and I were honored to be invited to a wedding that happened last week-end. We have known the couple for at least three or four years and they finally decided to tie the proverbial knot. Both Larry and Annette are great people and their adult children all participated in the ceremony. I have to say, certainly from my pastor’s point of view, that the weddings between people who have some life experience are much more fulfilling for me than the very young folks who just haven’t had the trials and tribulations that life can throw at each of us.
It has been a while since I have been able to sit in a church and just enjoy the ceremony. Most of the time, I am the one officiating and it is up to me to make sure that everything goes well – but not this time, and it was awesome. I really enjoyed the pastor’s involvement and personal, first hand knowledge of Larry and Annette – especially their faith journey and how devoted to Jesus they are.
Toward this end, Annette wanted the pastor to deliver a short message on salvation – accepting the free gift of eternal life offered by Jesus. These days, in particular, it is rare to see someone want to add that into their wedding ceremony – but sure enough, here it was.
The pastor went on to mention that John 3:16, the most important verse in the entire Scripture, contained exactly 25 words. There are twelve words before the word “Son” and twelve words after it. In other words, the “Son” is at the center of the most important verse in the Bible. Furthermore, if you wonder what the verse is really about, you can figure it out from combining the first letters of some of the words of the verse. He went on to explain that if you look, you will find, in order, the letters G-O-S-P-E-L. The words used are: God, Only, Son, Perish, Everlasting and Life. In all my years of seminary, I have never heard this particular presentation of the verse. I admit that I was mesmerized!
After the explanation, there was an invitation to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior if a person hadn’t already done that – the whole thing was great… And since Baptists do this with everyone’s eyes closed and heads bowed, I don’t know if anyone accepted the invitation or not – but I was sure impressed that Larry and Annette thought this was important enough to dedicate the message on their wedding day to eternal life.
Of course, the verse for this evening is John 3:16, from the King James Version. Just in case you haven’t ever really studied it, here it is – John 3:16, “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.” I invite you to look for the G-O-S-P-E-L message. I never noticed it before.
My encouragement this evening is that God has placed His Son at the center of everything and that is the way to eternal life – accepting the free gift each of us is offered. My prayer is that you will take a moment and dwell on the importance of the Gospel message. It’s the most important message you will ever hear – that by God’s grace we can be saved and spend eternity with Him. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…