Many know John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”) . . .   

  . . . that’s not the verse that Got Me In.  

Verse 17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” . . .   

 . . . Nor did that verse Get Me In. 

And verse 18 adds, “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” . . .   

   . . .  But that verse did not Get Me In either.

As a young man hearing that Jesus died for me made me think, “I don’t need that. I am not that bad.”  It was offensive to me to think someone had to die in my place.  “He did not ask me first.  I don’t want that.”  I believed God should be impressed with my moral life, my church attendance, my doing the best I could.

I was moving along in life as a junior in college when God opened my mental / spiritual sight to what was happening.  Here’s the scoop.  

Growing up in southern California, I was in church every time the door was unlocked. But my attitude was, “I am not sure there is a God . . . but if I get in a jam then He can come and take care of me. That’s cool.  If He really does exist, and He wants to rescue me, that’s fine.” 

But one thing was for sure–while I would politely tip God a nickel on Sundays by going to church–I was in charge of my life. I was the god of my own life.  Captain of my own ship.  Da boss.  

But the True and Living God was not content that I not discover Him; not content to be less in my life than He is in reality—the moment-by-moment, breath-by-breath sustainer of everything in the universe. I was in competition with the Almighty. 

As a proof that He loved me, discontent dominated my life.  Life seemed hard. I wondered why airplanes crashed, babies died and I had to work for a living.  I did not know who I was or what I was supposed to be doing.  I had no flag to follow.  

This was God loving me enough to let me get miserable. Being the god of my own life left me empty and meaningless. My arms were too short to box with God.   While motoring along as a happy camper on the outside, on the inside, I was incomplete and purposeless. 

While raised in church, I knew little about the Bible.  This may sound strange to the reader, but all churches are not the same.  My church was focused on race relationships while ignoring salvation; good works while only minoring on the reality of the sinful, god complex we are all born with;  being morally responsible while following a comfortable interpretation of the Almighty’s directions. 

So I grew up knowing little about Jesus Christ or the Bible which is able to make one wise, resulting in salvation (II Timothy 3:15).  

In February, 1965, while on a college campus in northern California, a significant realization seized me one day:  If living a good life–as people would measure it–was enough, Jesus Christ, the God-Man, would never have needed to die. 

Gradually I came to see that God was angry at human sin, including even the sin of a good kid like me.  We are all terrible sinners.  Our sin natures make us down grade the seriousness of sin.  Sin has to be punished; atoned for. Jesus Christ took the bullet I deserve. The bullet of God’s judgment that you deserve. He became sin for us (II Corinthians 5:21).  He wore our sin. It is as though I did not get impatient and sin, Jesus got impatient. As though I did not get angry and shout, Jesus lost His cool and got angry and shouted.  He became sin for us.  We do not want to commit the blasphemy of ignoring the atonement made for us by the living God. 

The verse that Got Me Into the family of God–the verse that God used to bring me to repentance–was John 3:19. “And this is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.”  In other words, “This is the reason God would be just to condemn Keith Kaynor, Light – meaning Jesus Christ–has come into the world and Keith loves darkness (meaning, life apart from the Lordship of Jesus Christ) rather than light because being the god of his own life is evil.”

Please go back to the first two paragraphs of this article and notice the underlined phrases.  Side-by-side with assurances of God’s love (bold, dark type) are several references to condemnation.  

Our standing before God is white or black: 

  • believing and redeemed or walking dead
  • sensing God’s love or pretending we do not need it
  • acting tough, strong and right or gratefully receiving what we hunger for
  • being independent or dependent on Almighty God.  

Oh, what sweet relief swept into my life when I genuinely agreed with God that I was / am a sinful, incomplete, needy person and believed in Jesus Christ as my Completer, my Redeemer, my Savior!  John 3:19 Got Me In.  Are you In? 

  Look at the wonderful family God has given to me. This is us,  Christmas, 2021.