While I have worked on this project for two years, about halfway through, I told my pastor that I felt like I was taking on the whole John 3:16 Christian culture. While I have never believed that at the moment of belief or surrender, we receive the keys to the kingdom, I have come to the understanding that Jesus is telling Nicodemus who He is and what He is going to do at His second coming. He takes care of the sin problem and shows that He has the power over the death in His first coming, initiates the age of true righteousness and sets the stage for His second coming. It is at this time that He lifts the curse and completes the promise made to Abraham, reveals who the children of God are and establishes His kingdom here on this earth. On that Day, the dead in Christ will come out of the grave and meet Him in the air.
We have a choice of whether to believe that Jesus completes the work of salvation at His first coming or His second coming. There are so many scriptures that place the complete work of salvation at His second coming, that I find it difficult to believe that He completes this work at His first coming. It comes down to mankind’s desire for instant gratification.
In Luke 9, there is a passage where Jesus, before He picks up His cross, once and for all time, talks specifically about who He is and what He has come to do at his first coming. In that passage, he tells His disciples that they, too, along with all those who choose to follow Him, must pick up their cross daily. This does not appeal to the instant gratification crowd, but it is where faith begins. Where our faith journey begins determines where our journey will end.