Re-framing John 3:16

Communicating the truth of God's Word can come in many different forms—conversation, tracts, Bible studies, preaching, biblical storying, blogs, and more. As mentioned last week, holding up a placard or sign with a Scripture reference isn't very useful.

The important thing is choosing a way that fits the person we're talking to and the situation at hand. Only using one approach or method forces people to fit into our grid, as if one-size-fits-all.

Beyond John 3:16


When we hear something over and over, we tune it out at some level. It becomes too familiar, or we tune it out because we don't want to hear it.

This is what children do with their parents. "Are you listening to what I'm telling you?" Um, that would be no! When we hear an ad or announcement repeated ad nauseam, we tune it out as a means of self-preservation.

Perhaps this is why people are indifferent to the good news of God's redemption. They either tune it out because it's redundant and repetitive, or they just don't want to hear it. Then again, it could be something quite different.

Signs of the times

Christian believers and non-believers alike, tend to tune out redundant, repetitive Scripture quotes. This is especially true for quoting Scripture references. The ubiquitous signs at sporting events are more of an irritant than inspiration.

People tend to tune out redundant, repetitive Scripture quotes

Do people with Scripture reference signs really think they communicate the gospel? They don't. Only those familiar with these references know what they mean. Are sports fans suppose to have their Bibles handy to look up these references?

For me, this is spiritual laziness. It is a useless effort. It doesn't communicate the truth of Scripture. It may make the person holding the sign feel like they're making a difference or witnessing (sharing the gospel).

But it's just a Bible reference, not a presentation of the gospel—the redemption story.

Do signs with Scripture references really communicate the gospel?

Tuning in

If a believer is genuinely concerned that lost souls hear the truth of the gospel, then they need to communicate it well. How can a person share the truth of God's Word so others will hear it and understand it?

I believe reading and hearing God's Word (the Bible) in different versions is valuable. It helps me see and hear the truth in a fresh way and in different wording. It keeps me from tuning out what I think I already know.

How can a person share the truth of God's Word so others hear it and understand it?

I found this helpful while teaching in the Philippines where English is a second language. Language is often a barrier to understanding, especially going from one distinct language to another. But obstacles exist within the language that's most familiar to us.

Often, certain words or terms are misunderstood or not understood at all. Here is where we need to learn to communicate the truth of God in a simple and clear way.

Certain Bible words or terms are misunderstood or not understood at all by many people

Making it simple and clear

How can we communicate the truth so others hear it and understand it well? Here are some suggestions I've found helpful while teaching in the US and in cross-cultural settings.

How can we communicate the truth so others hear it and understand it well?

Read (or listen to) the Scriptures in different versions

Many online resources are available, along with many plans for reading through the Bible in a year—here are a few places you can look online–

Identify keywords in a verse and their context

How are keywords interrelated within the larger context of a Scripture verse? 

Look at the context—the surrounding words and verses of the verse you're reading and studying. Consider how each word is necessary to understand the whole thought. This helps you see how the author intended the verse to be understood.

Use a dictionary and thesaurus

As I use to say to my kids, "look it up yourself!" Looking up words and terms helps you process things in a fresh way.

Here are a few places you can look online—

Reframe words and phrases to explain them

Describe concepts in concrete and familiar ways. Expand explanations to make them more seeable. As they say—a picture is worth a thousand words.

Don't expect people to know what you know. Think how you'd explain abstract or conceptual truths to a young child who thinks in concrete (physical) terms.

Biblical and theological terms need to be explained in plain and simple words, especially figurative language (picture language).

Understand the Scriptures in your own words (IYOW)

This requires some thought but is well worth the investment of time and thought. See the link above or click on this one for more insight how to do this— IYOW—a Useful Acronym

Give it a try yourself! I'll give you an example in my next post, so stay tuned!

I'll begin a new Bible Study series on Fridays in the book of John following this and the next post.