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Presenting the Gospel – John 3:16

How long has it been since you changed the brakes on a car? For some of us, it has been a while. While we might be able to explain the process from memory, we might not be very helpful if we haven’t done it in a while. We can look at presenting the gospel to people in the same way. We may remember the plan of salvation as it was taught in various ways. But unless we are actively using it, we may feel a little rusty when talking to someone about the Lord. So, let’s look at some familiar Bible verses and consider how we can use them to present the gospel this week.

  1. God’s means of salvation (John 3:14-15)

    What does it say?

    As Jesus spoke with Nicodemus, He used an event from the Old Testament to describe what He was going to do on the cross. He told him that the Son of Man must be lifted up just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. Jesus used what happened back then to show that people would have to believe in Jesus to avoid perishing and to have eternal life.

    What does it mean?

    The brass serpent – For those not familiar with the Old Testament story of Moses and the brass serpent, you can read Numbers 21:4-9. The Israelites complained about God’s provision in the wilderness. In response, God judged their sin by sending poisonous serpents into the camp to bite them. Many people died but God told Moses to make a brass serpent to display on a pole. God promised that anyone who looked at the brass serpent would live.

    The Son lifted up – This means that Jesus had to be lifted up in a similar way. That similar way happened when He was nailed to the cross where he bled and died in our place. There on the cross, God punished Jesus instead of us. He took the judgment we deserved and paid the price for our sins.

    Whoever believes – This is referring to those who believe in Him. Those who place their faith in Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross will not perish in the lake of fire and will have eternal life with God. This is all made possible for those who believe.

    How does it apply?

    Having an object lesson often makes it easier to explain the gospel. I like to use a blank piece of paper to draw pictures and explain what the Bible says. For this verse, you might draw the sinful people and snakes with two options: a gravestone (those who died) and the brass serpent on a pole (those who looked and lived. You might also draw a picture of a person (labeled with sin) and two options: the lake of fire (judgment) and a heavenly cloud (eternal life). In both pictures you could write faith as the means of being saved.

  2. God’s love in salvation (John 3:16)

    What does it say?

    Jesus told Nicodemus that God loved the world. He loved the world in such a way that He gave His only begotten Son for it. God did this so that those who believe would not perish but have everlasting life.

    What does it mean?

    It means that God loved the world. – One of the things that is often forgotten about God is His love for the world. While we must not forget about God’s judgment and holiness, we must also remember His love. Despite the sinfulness and rebellion of the people of the world, God loved them. This is spelled out in Romans.

    Romans 5:6-8 – “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

    Despite our sinfulness and our lack of ability to make things right with Him, God loved us enough to do what we could not.

    It means that God gave His Son. – While we have already seen in verses 14-15 what God did, Jesus mentions it again. But it is God who is in the spotlight. Yes, Jesus died for us, but here He focuses on what God did. God’s love led Him to give His only begotten Son to die for us. We can’t completely understand this. But if you think of giving one of your own children to die for people who didn’t deserve it, it might help you to understand what God did for us.

    It means that God requires faith. – Once again, Jesus points to the proper response—faith. He says that God did this so that the ones who believe in Him (Jesus) would not perish but have everlasting life. This means that all that God did can be received by faith or not. Those who do not believe are not rescued from perishing. And they do not have everlasting life. But those who do believe (place their trust) in Jesus will not perish but instead will have life that last forever with God.

    How does it apply?

    If you were to use drawings again to explain this, you might divide your page into three sections. In the left column you could draw a picture of an angry or sad face to represent sinful people who have no hope without God. In the top of the center column you could draw a heart to represent the love of God and the cross beneath it to show how he expressed His love. In the right column, you could draw a happy face to represent those who have believed and who have received everlasting life.

  3. God’s purpose for salvation (John 3:17)

    What does it say?

    Jesus told Nicodemus that God’s object in sending His Son was not to condemn the world. His object was to provide a way for the world to be saved through Him.

    What does it mean?

    It means that God didn’t send Jesus to condemn the world. – While it is true that people are born sinners and are under God’s condemnation, this was not the reason Jesus was sent into the world. The Law does a good job of showing us our sinfulness. None of us can say that we are not sinners when compared to even the Ten Commandments. But this was not the reason why God sent Jesus into the world. This can be seen in how Jesus responded to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-12). He did not condemn her but told her to go and not do that anymore.

    It means that God sent Jesus to save the world. – God’s purpose for sending Jesus into the world was that through Him they might be saved. Through Jesus the world can be saved. That was God’s purpose. And it goes back to what the previous verses have been saying. What Jesus did on the cross for us is the only thing that can save us from the judgment we already know we deserve. God doesn’t want us to perish. He wants us to be saved. And this is only possible through Jesus. That is why God sent His Son into the world.

    How does it apply?

    For this verses, you can again divide your paper into three sections. In the left column, you can draw a picture of the world. In the middle section, you can draw the cross with a triangle above it. Put the name Jesus on the cross and the name God in the triangle. In the right column write the word “SAVED” in capital letters. But don’t forget to show an arrow coming from God to the cross to show that it was His idea. Then put an arrow from the world to the cross and then another arrow to “SAVED” to show that being saved is only accomplished through Him.


Presenting the gospel starts with understanding what the Bible says and means. Although we have heard these verses mentioned many times, we have to study them closely to give an accurate explanation of God’s truth. So, study these verses and then try to present them to someone this week. If it helps, use the drawings mentioned above. You may not be an artist, but most people will understand even the simplest drawings.

But always remember to pray and ask the Lord to help you as you present the gospel to someone. As you share the Bible verses, do your best to explain what the Bible says. But put your confidence in what the Bible says (Rom 10:17) and the fact that the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts (John 16:8) as you speak.