'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.'
John’s pithy statement in chapter three of his Gospel is probably the most famous summary of the Christian message. In a single brief sentence, the apostle conveys the central confession at the heart of Christianity, which we call the gospel.
If we’re Christians, we know (at least in theory) that the gospel impacts everything.
But what about the things that, if we’re scientists, we spend lots of our waking hours thinking about? What does the gospel have to do with differential equations, or atomic orbitals, or the Krebs cycle? Read John 3:16 again. It’s not immediately obvious, is it
, how God giving his Son to offer eternal life to the world relates to the content of your last lecture.
But if we go digging, we’ll find a couple of clues that will help us tie the two together.
God so loved the world: science points us to the gospel
This famous verse opens: ‘For God so loved the world…’
God loves his creation. John could have said ‘For God so loved his chosen people…’. But he didn’t. He writes that God so loved the world (or ‘kosmos’ in Greek). The stuff he has made matters to him. God loves differential equations, and atomic orbitals, and the Krebs cycle.
Science itself bears witness to this. We look at the beauty and vastness and intricacy of the natural world, and we see evidence that behind all this glorious stuff there is a God who loves. How could a God who created the magical properties of superconductors, or the complex dance of mitosis, or the warm endorphin rush of a hug, be anything other than loving?
And yet, science also bears witness to a world that is not all beautiful. Disease, decay, and death run rampant. And although these are natural processes, we can’t help but feel that there’s something wrong about them. All is not right in our world.
Looking at nature alone can’t explain why we feel this gap between the beauty and the brokenness of the world; why we see evidence of a God who loves but also experience a creation shot through with pain. Science raises questions that are outside of its realm of inquiry.
And so science should send us in search of the gospel, in pursuit of answers about why the world is the way it is
, and what God is doing about it. Science sends us running to Scripture for meaning and for hope.
Shall not perish but have eternal life: the gospel calls us back into science
Wonderfully, the news of the gospel is that the God who loves his world has done something about the brokenness: he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For those of us who have heard this message and found eternal life, what now? How do we respond to this gift of the gospel?
Later in his Gospel, John records Jesus’ words on the theme of eternal life:
‘This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent’. (John 17:3)
If eternal life consists in a relationship with God that goes on forever, why not pursue every opportunity to know him now? We grow in appreciation for an artist by examining their artwork. By studying the creation that speaks of his character, we can know our Creator with ever deeper appreciation. As gospel people, we can find great delight in pondering God’s works through the means of science. And we have every reason to think that this exploration of God’s beauty displayed in nature will continue on into the world to come. 
Because the gospel is a message of restoration and life, until that new world comes, we’re to enact restoration and life in this world. Reflecting the way that God brings healing and restoration to the spiritually poor and sick, we can use the tools of science to pursue healing and restoration for the physically poor and sick. We become a living picture of the message we proclaim.
Taking part in the dance
So, does the gospel have anything to do with science? Absolutely! God’s world leads us to God’s word, where we discover the saving truth of the gospel – and then the gospel sends us back out into God’s world, to explore it alongside its Creator and work for restoration and life wherever we can.
What does this look like for your field of science? This term we’re running a series of articles exploring how this dance between science and the gospel plays out in disciplines from physics to psychology, to help you see how your own studies can lead you and others to the gospel, and how the gospel can motivate your interest in your studies.
Scroll down to read the first articles in the series – and keep your eyes peeled for more being released later in term!
What does the gospel have to do with physics?
What does the gospel have to do with geology?
What does the gospel have to do with psychology?
1. This is a good reason to use science as a way into evangelism!
2. Of course, doing science is far from the only (or the primary!) way we get to know God better now. To us who live in the gap between cross and new creation, God's given the Bible as the clearest revelation of who he is - and so the insight into his character we get by looking into creation is really just a happy bonus!