Wednesday, February 08, 2006


This is perhaps the most recognizable set of numbers in the world. Everyone seems to know to what they refer--that passage in the New Testament book of John which says, "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." What an awesome message!

But these numbers are not a magic formula. They are a reference point to easily locate and refer to a specific text. Why do I bring this up? Because some people think there is great power in these numbers and this is not correct. Just write them on a piece of cardboard and hold them in front of a TV camera . . .

I overheard a recent conversation in which a young Bible college student was being mentored. They were laying out a strategy in which the student could teach a series. "Hey, why not the 3:16's of the Bible! John 3:16 is such a great text and the numbers can drive students to other great truths in the Bible," the student reasoned to his mentor. So together they started in Genesis and made their way through all the 3:16's of the Bible--rejecting passage after passage after passage because in most cases, there was just "nothing to teach" in the 3:16's.

My heart sank for two reasons: first, they expected something great and saw nothing of value. They were disappointed in the 3:16's of the Bible. They had determined most to be "not teachable"; second, they had no clue they approached and filtered the text from a man- centered perspective.

All the 3:16's are great as are the 5:22's and 12:34's. 2 Tim 3:16 (and 17) attests to that.

I was sad for yet another two more reasons: first, this is the direction Biblical training is headed (?); and second, the student and mentor both abandoned the project in 15 minutes.

Somebody needs to explain all the 3:16's. All of them.

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