SHERWOOD – Bill Tolar, retired distinguished professor of biblical backgrounds at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke on what he deems the greatest sentence he has ever read – John 3:16 – during the afternoon session of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention 2013 State Conference on Evangelism and Church Growth held Jan. 21 at First Baptist Church, Sherwood.
Tolar explained that while he was teaching at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, he would ask students what they would consider to be the greatest sentence they had ever read. He received answers ranging from sentences in the Gettysburg Address to sentences from Shakespeare’s plays.
However, Tolar shared that to him, the greatest sentence he has ever read is John 3:16.
Not being raised in a Christian household, it was a teacher who challenged him and fellow students to read through the Bible as young teenagers.
“I had no idea that I would read a sentence that would totally change my life,” he said.
But then he read John 3:16.
Tolar shared three aspects of this verse. First, he pointed to its theology – the study of God. He said “the hook” was not that the verse told him there was a God, but rather what it told him about God – that the Creator God loved sinners enough to let His only Son die a terrible death in order to save those sinners from hell and allow them to go to heaven.
Secondly, the verse tells readers about anthropology – the study of the human race. Tolar explained it shows that mankind is dying, but that they don’t have to die. He said people need to know they are dying in order to seek help to live. And, indeed, there is hope through the Great Physician.
Finally, the verse deals with eschatology, which has to do with the end times. The verse shares that those who believe in Christ do not have to die; they will have eternal life.
“I am 84 years old,” said Tolar. “I am not afraid to die because I know I will be with my Savior in glory forever and ever. And that’s what evangelism’s about. It’s not ramming our religion down other people’s throats – it is sharing with them the living bread and the living water.”