In a service yesterday, I began to quote John 3:16. "For God so loved the world..." Immediately, a dear lady in the congregation chimed in to join me, "that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
I was so moved by the response that I stopped speaking in order to listen. This has actually happened many times over the years, to the degree I've almost come to expect that I will not utter the blessed passage alone. It thrills me every time, and I've come to believe that John 3:16 must be the most memorized collection of words in all human literature and communication. The possibility thrills me even more.
"Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart."
Unto a race of beings that disbelieved and disobeyed His word at the outset of our existence, the Lord nevertheless continues to speak to us by the Word of God, as inspired, illuminated, and applied by the Spirit of God. "I will pour out My Spirit unto you, I will make known My words unto you" (Proverbs 1:23). Rather than turning away from us in peeved offense, our Heavenly Father approaches and pursues us in loving desire to redeem and reconcile. "Where art thou?" He called to Adam after the first man sinned (Genesis 3:9). The same Voice resounds along the pathways of flight from God traveled by Adam's progeny. "Unto you, O men, I call; and My voice is to the sons of man... All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Proverbs 8:4; Isaiah 53:6).
For those who will hear and respond, the words of God become so precious as to consume them in joy and rejoicing. Or, like the dear lady mentioned, Divine utterances such as John 3:16 find an honored place to hang on the walls of remembrance. Indeed, God has spoken to us by His Word. He speaks to us thereby, through His Spirit. Thereby are we redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and thereby we experience living and personal relationship with the God who did not turn away when we turned away. He rather spoke to us. May we therefore listen - and remember.
"Thy Word have I hid in mine heart."