Most religions in the world teach that you must work for your salvation by overcoming sin on your own. We are to do this by following a system of laws alone (Quran, Dharma, Talmud, etc) to qualify as a “good person”. Christianity is different in that we are rescued from slavery to sin (John 8:34, Rom 6:6-20) because we cannot escape it on our own. It’s the holy spirit that was promised to circumcise our hearts (Deut 30:6, Jer 4:4, Ez 36:25-27, Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:16-21, Rom 2:29, and Col 2:11) so that we could accomplish the task of keeping God’s commands. Lastly, the Holy Spirit is only available to those who received Jesus as Lord (John 14:15-17, Rom 8:5-11).
John 3:16 says a God gave his son for us to have access to eternal life. The question is why would God have to sacrifice his son if there were multiple ways to heaven? If being a good person is enough and it doesn’t matter what you believe, then we would be expected to overcome sin perfectly, all on our own without any help because it wouldn’t be necessary. However, since God went through the trouble of sacrifice in order to save us it must have been necessary. This must be because he had no other choice and we could not save ourselves. It’s hard to empathize with God’s sacrifice since he can raise his son from the dead as if it didn’t matter.
Let’s imagine this from a creator’s perspective. Imagine you are working on a project on a laptop This project is your life’s work and it’s taking up a lot of storage space on the computer. You are close to the deadline, but you are running out of space, the electricity is out (from a storm) and the battery is running low. Plus you can’t back up online, because the internet is down and you need the last smidge of limited mobile data to send the project. Then on top of that, the only way to save everything is to delete the one folder that is not associated with your project. This folder contains a series of images and videos of someone you love that has passed away.
So the folder is full of precious memories that you don’t want to get rid of, and the circumstance doesn’t permit you to back them up at this moment (all external drives are full). However you need to save these things now so you can finish, or else you won’t meet the deadline. Do you save your life’s work and lose your precious files, or do you save precious memories and miss the deadline of a lifetime? You can only choose one. In Matt 18:12-14 and Luke 15:3-7, Jesus teaches the parable of the 99 sheep and describes how the shepherd would leave the 99 to go and find the one.
Therefore, in a sense, God values his lifetime project so much that he’s willing to sacrifice the precious files that can’t be remade. Of course, we know Jesus did rise from the dead and God did get him back. However, in order to empathize with God’s sacrifice, we must understand the cost itself. If it weren’t necessary, then why God would have done it? If you were in God’s position would you be willing to do it? What about if you were in Jesus’ position? It must have been necessary and it was worth the cost to save us, even though none of us deserve it. If there were other ways to heaven that didn’t involve him sacrificing his son, would he still do it? Would you sacrifice unnecessarily if you had other options? Do you think he took this lightly? Jesus even asked God to take this cup away (Luke 22:42) knowing that it needed to be done, but Jesus would not encroach on God’s will, which means he submitted to deletion for the cause of finishing the lifetime project. This shows how much God values us, this is the Gospel, and this is the good news.
John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”