Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sermon on the Mount – Part 1

Matthew 5

The Beatitudes

 1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
       3 " Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
       4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
       5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
       6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
       7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
       8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
       9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
       10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

[All of these examples of those who are blessed are talking about people of faith, those who trust in the grace of God. Remember last week the discussion of persecution suffered by people of faith. I was listening to a pod-cast this week that used Hebrews 11 and the preacher said Isaiah who "saw the Lord" and wrote more about the Messiah than any other prophet, was the one sawn in two. But each of these examples revealed a conversion that so changed their hearts and minds that the most important thing in their lives was doing the will of God. Doing anything else, even to save their own lives, was more than they could tolerate. Continuing with the last weeks theme of spiritual maturity, living by faith, Jesus shares his purpose for believers on earth.]

Believers Are Salt and Light

13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

[We are salt to the world. Salt is both flavoring and a preservative. But understand that salt does no good while it sits in the container. It has to be applied. We have to get close enough to unbelievers to allow some of God's grace to rub off. When we show love to others while still holding ourselves to a moral code of conduct, that can rub off on those around us.]


14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

[Light represents good, darkness represents evil. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in John 3: 19 he said "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil". The main source of light in the darkness was an oil lamp. Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers, it is the fuel of the lamp. Lamps were placed up high so the shadows were always below and did not hinder your vision. There is no use burning oil if the lamb is hidden. Yet so often in a hostile world, believers keep their faith hidden so as not to offend anyone. Just remember when the light is on, evil has to hide in the shadows. ]

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

[Two things are required for God to be glorified. 1. Is that we have good works. 2. Is that we let the light reveal those works. Our motive should not be draw attention to ourselves. That's hard for me to say because most of what I do at church is done in front of others. But if you look around you can find a lot of people doing good with no audience. Those are the things that glorify God, because they know you are motivated by the love of God.]

43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

[Legalism reigned in the days before Christ. The Pharisees had traditions and rules to "clarify" the commandments of God, but many of their rules went against the intent of the law. To most Jews neighbor did not mean Gentile, Samaritan, or tax-collector no matter nearby they were. The Pharisees went further and only considered other Pharisees is their neighbor. That is why Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan. But here he puts an end to all the nonsense and says we are to "love our enemies". Bless, them do good deeds for them, and pray for them. Because in the end judgment will come to all those who do not believe. Any temporary offense we suffer is a small thing, compared to an eternity lost to those who never experience God's love for themselves.]


45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

[Love is supposed to be the hallmark of our lives as children of God. Plain and simple, if we only love our own, then how will we glorify God? Just about everyone loves their own, because they receive as much as they give. Remember the tax collectors, how everyone hated them because they worked for the oppressive Roman government? Jesus said even the tax collectors love their own. But when we give to those who cannot or will not do something for us then all the glory goes to God.]

48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

[Perfect here means mature, gown-up, or complete. We are not to compare ourselves to unbelievers, or even younger Christians. Our standard is to allow the work of God to be complete in us. To let the Holy Spirit transform us to Christ likeness. I like how the grace of God raises the standard above legalism, to intent and motivation, what you do and what you think. Removing any thought that we can be good, and replacing selfish motivations, with a surrender to the will of God, his purpose, his justice, and his righteousness. Then God's love is perfected in us, and revealed in our Christ-likeness.]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jesus Calms the Storm

[Today we will think about spiritual maturity and what that would look like in the life of a believer.]

Mark 4

35 On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side."

[Jesus had spent the day preaching and was probably looking to get away from the crowds for a little while to rest and be renewed spiritually. The disciples likely thought this was a simple task after all they had 4 experienced fishermen to guide them safely across.]

36 Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him.

[So when they left they were not entirely successful in leaving the crowd behind as some smaller boats attempted to follow. People were truly yearning for the ministry of Jesus. The phrase "as He was" indicates they made no special preparation for the crossing they just got in the boat and left.]

37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling.

[Since mountains run alongside the sea of Galilee, it would be very easy for a squall to drop down quickly without notice. The wind and rain was such that the waves were entering the boat and it was filling with water. No other mention is made of the small boats so I presume that they turned back when the storm came up. But the larger boat navigated by professionals continued on, and was now in danger of sinking.]

38 But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?"

[What an odd situation. The only time in Jesus ministry that the Bible mentions he was sleeping, and it's in the middle of a violent storm. Many times when the disciples slept Jesus would pass the time in prayer, apparently preferring to be restored in his spirit more than in his body. But on this night he slept, until fishermen at the point of panic awoke the carpenter and asked him to save them, even trying to invoke a sense of guilt. Don't you care? How do you sleep in a storm like that? You sleep, with the calm assurance that the Father is watching out for you.]

39 Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

[Now if someone interrupts my nap I do not always awaken calmly. I may get up a little grumpy, even irritated. But the internal peace that belonged to Jesus, became the external calm when he rebuked the storm. "Peace, be still." Many times I've tried to calm raging children, with mixed results. But Jesus calmed the storm, with a simple call for peace, and the storm obeyed.]

40 But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" 41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"

[First he rebukes the storm, then he rebukes his disciples. "Why are you filled with fear?" "How is it that you have no faith?" First they were afraid of the storm, now they are afraid of Jesus because they realized this guy can even control the weather! But is fear really that bad? At least when they were fearful, they reached out to Jesus, right?]

Philippians 4

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

["Why did you fear, where was your peace?" Jesus didn't say "Let's try to cross the sea". He didn't call the fishermen to his side and say "Give it your best shot". He said "Let us cross over to the other side". The problem was not that they were unwilling to cross, but they were unwilling to endure the storm. They allowed circumstances to dictate whether they would obey the command of God by faith, or shrink from their calling when faced with adversity. You see, a bigger storm was coming. After Jesus was resurrected these fearful men would lead the New Testament Church against the forces of evil, a rebellious priesthood, and a hostile government, in an unbelieving world. They would face personal peril again, and again, and most would die for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How can someone endure such a storm, only by faith.]

Hebrews 11 (also known as the roll-call of faith)

32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again. [So far so good, have faith and good things happen. Keep reading]
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

[You've all heard the prosperity preachers tell you that you can have anything you want if you just have enough faith. I wonder who wanted to be sawn in two? Maybe Paul was shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned and killed because he had too little faith. Or perhaps when we care more for the will of God, than our own desires, we will be asked to weather the storm. You see the people you tell about God when the sun is shining are waiting to see how you endure when the storm comes. Sadly too many so-called Christians care more for their personal comfort and safety than the so for the lost souls of the world.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Scripture to Share your Faith

Romans 3:23 – (We have all sinned)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23 – (The result of sin is the penalty of death)

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 14:6 – (Jesus offered himself to be our substitute in death, our way to God)

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Luke 13:3 – (He asks that we reconsider the result of our sinful lives.)

I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

Luke 18:13-14 – (To repent is to give up on the idea that we can be good enough for God)

And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

John 3:16 – (God's gift of love it for those who commit their trust to Jesus)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 10:9-11 – (Those who trust should confess their faith to God)

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."

Matthew 7:21 – (Confession without commitment is worthless)

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.


2 Corinthians 5:15 – (Those who trust in Jesus will follow him in a new life)

And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

Revelation 3:20 – (God makes the first move, we just respond)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Ephesians 2 – (Every true believer is transformed to be spiritually alive)

1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.
He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God's anger, just like everyone else.  4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!)


[All scripture quoted from the New King James Version except Ephesians 2 which is from the New Living Translation]

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Savior of the World – Jesus and the Woman at the Well


[Ephesians 2: 1 You were once dead because of your failures and sins. 2 You followed - peripateo (per-ee-pat-eh'-o) perpetuate or occupy - the ways - aion (ahee-ohn') eternal course -of this present world- kosmos - and its spiritual ruler. This ruler continues to work- energeo energize - in people - huios (hwee-os') children - who refuse to obey - apeitheia (ap-i'-thi-ah) unbelief - God. 3 All of us once lived among these people, and followed the desires -thelema (thel'-ay-mah) pleasure, will - of our corrupt nature. We did what our corrupt desires and thoughts- dianoia (dee-an'-oy-ah) imagination - wanted us to do. So, because of our nature, we deserved God's anger just like everyone else. 4 But God is rich in mercy because of his great love for us. 5 We were dead because of our failures, but he made us alive together with Christ. (It is God's kindness that saved you.) - sozo (sode'-zo) heal, be made whole

Children don't have to do anything to be disobedient, just ignore their parents instructions. Sin is a failure to follow God. If we are not following God, we perpetuate the eternal course of this world and of Satan, who energizes the children of apathy and unbelief to fulfill whatever pleasures they can imagine. But God, through his mercy and grace, because of love, makes us whole. Only then are we capable of reflecting his glory, loving Him and others, doing good works. Many times the greatest sin of Christians is simply idleness.

As we follow the life of Jesus notice that everywhere he goes he is continually: teaching, showing compassion, and seeking people to redeem. ]

John 4

1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), 3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria.
5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

[ Most Jews would avoid Samaria, or at least pass through without stopping. Due some shared history Jews and Samaritans did not associate with each other. But on this day Jesus stopped at mid-day to rest from his journey.]


7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

[ Right away we have two odd things. First of all this woman has gone to draw water at noon, when most women would do this early in the morning in the cool of the day, but this woman has chosen to draw in the heat of the day when she is likely to do it alone. Second we have a Jew speaking to a Samaritan woman as Jesus asks her for a drink.]



9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
[ To understand the barrier between the woman and Jesus you have to look at the "History of Samaria"

  • Founded by Omri king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel
  • Overthrown by the King of Assyria, Shalmaneser who died in the siege
  • Repopulated by Babylonians and Persians primarily from Cuthah
  • New inhabitants Plagued by Lions because they did not fear God
  • Asked for priests to teach them to worship the God of the Land
  • They were taught to worship God using only the 5 Books of Moses
  • Opposed Ezra and Nehmiah in rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem
  • Rejected by the Jews returning from the Babylonian captivity
  • Built their own temple to worship the God of Abraham on Mt. Gerizim
  • Gave in to the Seleucids and rededicated their temple to Zeus
  • Temple on Mt. Gerizim destroyed by John Hyrcanus after the death of Antiochus VII
  • The Hebrew word Cutheans and the Greek word Samaritans refer to the same people

So to the Jews, Samaritans were pretenders, fair weather kin who reject the temple of Jerusalem as the seat of worship, and were therefore worthy to be shunned and disliked. Yet here in Samaria at mid-day Jesus asks this woman for a drink and his approach is unwelcome. But in a great lesson on witnessing Jesus redirects her to the God, and what he can do for her. ]


11 The woman said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?"
[ She does not understand what living water is, and she is still thinking about physical water. So here spiritual readiness is still to low for an effective witness.]


13 Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."
15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."
[ She still does not understand but is more than willing to be free from the chore of daily drawing water and carrying it back home. So she asks Jesus to give her living water.]


16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here."
17 The woman answered and said, "I have no husband."
Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly."
[ Jesus wants her to understand that the cause of her spiritual thirst was sin. So he reveals her marital history which apparently includes several divorces and a current relationship with a man who is not her husband.]


19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."
21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
[ Now Jesus has her attention but just when you think she might be ready to talk about eternal life, she changes the subject to that old dispute about which temple location is the proper place to worship. An effective witness must be aware of diversions or trivial questions that draw people away from God. Jesus gives her a quick answer then draws her back to redemption. The real answer is you must worship God in spirit and in truth. ]


25 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things."
26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."

[ She had knowledge that God's promised Messiah would come one day, but she did not know he was standing talking with her. So he tells her "I am he" or literally "you are speaking with eimi (i-mee')" the Greek word for the "I am" the self-existent eternal God. This has the same meaning as the Hebrew word hayah (haw-yaw) used in Exodus 3 when God has chosen Moses to lead his people tells Moses "you tell them the I am, has sent you" Jesus identified himself clearly as the Messiah and the eternal God.]   

27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why are You talking with her?"
28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"

[ The arrival if the disciples breaks up the conversation that Jesus was having, and the woman leaves. But instead of going about her business she drops the water pot, and goes into the heart of the city. Once there she says "Everyone come and see. This man I just met knew everything about me. I think I just met the Messiah.". ]

39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did." 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.
42 Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ,[a] the Savior of the world."

[ Jesus stayed 2 more days teaching in Samaria because of the interest generated by the witness of the woman at the well. Her living water overflowed to the salvation of many others.]

Born Again – Jesus and Nicodemus

John 3

 1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."
3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

[Nicodemus was a religious man, a teacher of the law, a member of the ruling council. Well known, respected, the like of guy people could look up to. But Jesus had stirred up something within him, and he wanted to meet Jesus personally. So under cover of night Nicodemus makes his way to the place Jesus was and starts a conversation very respectfully, even honoring Jesus calling him Rabbi and expressing a belief that Jesus was sent from God, and just when he is about to start asking questions (everyone who calls Jesus "teacher" would follow with a question), Jesus interrupts. Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again to see the kingdom of God. You see, despite all his religious status he was still spiritually dead; a son of Adam, a child of the fall. ]

4 Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"
5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

[ Understandably, Nicodemus is startled by the idea of the new birth. He is a grown man and mother if she is still living, is likely long past child bearing age. So physically speaking being born again sounds impossible. But Jesus was referring to the spirit not the body. Some take the phrase "born of water" to mean baptism, but Jesus is creating a contrast. The mother's water is the amniotic fluid that protects the child and must be spilled before the baby is delivered. This Nicodemus had already experienced, what he lacked was a spiritual birth. ]

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, "How can these things be?"
10 Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.

[ Child-birth is a traumatic event, So is the new birth. It's a change of heart, soul and spirit that restores man to a right relationship with God. Yet because it is spiritual there is no physical change. Like the wind you cannot see a spiritual change, but you can see it's effect. ]

[ As Jesus followed the preaching of John the Baptist he mostly used the same message "repent" you're not ready for God the way you are.

Mark 1: 14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom[e] of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

Gospel means good news, the Greek word is euaggelizo (yoo-ang-ghel-id'-zo), and it's where we get the word "evangelize" to spread good news. The Greek word for repent is metaneo, it means reconsider or re-evaluate. Think of it as that Dr. Phil moment when someone is making their excuse for why it's not their fault that their life is so messed up, and Dr. Phil says "How's that working out for you", and they realize it's not. The best example of repentance in scripture is in Luke 18 where Jesus told about the prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector, and the Pharisee thanked God he was not like the tax collector.

Luke 18: 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

It's amazing how many people approached Jesus crying "have mercy". The repentant soul asks for mercy realizing they have nothing worthy of God. Repentance less a decision to change, or even feeling regret or sorrow, than it is a surrender of the will. "Lord I give up. I've got nothing left. I surrender." You see why "I surrender All" is such a popular invitation hymn?]

12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.[a]
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but[b] have eternal life.

[ In Exodus many were bitten by venomous snakes called "fiery serpents" God told Moses to put a snake on a staff and hold it up and that those who looked at the staff would recover. Jesus foretold his own death on the cross, the he would be lifted up for the salvation of man. ]

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

[ This is the most well know verse in the Bible. And that's good because people know of God's love, his gift and eternal life. But it's also bad because people see the word "believe" and think they can "decide" to be saved. But they can't. The Greek word for believe is pisteuo (pist-yoo'-o) it means to commit, to trust. James refuted intellectual belief:

James 2: 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

Romans 10:9 says you must "believe in your heart", not your mind. The best analogy I can think of for pisteuo is repelling down a cliff. Surrender to gravity, trust the rope.]

17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, [(but sneaks around in the dark Nicodemus), I know, it's not in the bible but it fits] lest his deeds should be exposed. 21
But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

[Ephesians 2: 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

So when we repent (surrender to God's grace), and believe (commit to faith or trust that only Jesus can save us), then God shows us mercy when we are born again. Our spirit is made alive and we are, only then, capable of good works.

II Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Romans 12: 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Philippians 2: 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,

Romans 14:23 … for whatever is not from faith is sin

I Thessalonians 5: 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

So renewing our mind to think like Jesus, walk by faith, and avoid quenching the spirit is the job of every believer. This is how we keep our first love and obey the two great commandments.]