The Gospel of John: One Judgment, Condemnation and Truth, Part Two.

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21).

Why do people continually refuse the offer of salvation and reject Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? We could accurately say that it is because they are dead in their trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). We could also accurately say that it is because God the Father has not yet given them to the God the Son as a gracious gift (John 6:35-66).

However, today’s passage from John’s Gospel gives us another biblical reason for persistent unbelief. It is because the sinner would rather live in sin than live in a covenant relationship with God through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

This begs the obvious follow-up question: Why would a sinner willingly choose to rather live in sin than be in a covenant relationship with God through the person and work of Jesus Christ? The answer is that the sinner loves their sin and would rather live in darkness or evil because their works or behavior is evil.

However, there are people who no longer love their sin but rather seek to live for Jesus Christ. Why? It is because they have been born again (John 3:1-15) and understand that Jesus Christ is not only their Savior but also their Lord.

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “We must be careful here not to read John as teaching works-righteousness. John 3:21 does not describe how a person goes from darkness to light. That has already been presented in verses 1–15, where we see that the only way we can come into the kingdom is to be reborn spiritually from above through God’s sovereign work of regeneration. Upon regeneration, we believe and are saved (v. 16). Our good deeds do not avail for redemption; faith alone saves us (see also Eph. 2:8–9). John 3:21 simply presents a contrast with the wicked person of verse 20 in order to arouse people from their complacency and encourage them to come to Christ for salvation. It is easy for us to think we love the truth and are doing what is right when in fact we are lost in sin, but lest we fool ourselves, John tells us that those who love the light and truth are only those who trust in Jesus. They believe in Him and long for Him to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

John Calvin comments, “Those who act sincerely desire nothing more earnestly than light, that their works may be tried; because, when such a trial has been made, it becomes more evident that, in the sight of God, they speak the truth and are free from all deceit.”

May our good works be a testimony of our faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10), rather than our feeble attempt to become acceptable before Jesus Christ. There is only one work which is good enough to save the sinner from their sin. That work is the work of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-4).

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: One Judgment, Condemnation and Truth, Part One.

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21).

Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon wrote, “The way of salvation is stated in Scripture in the very plainest terms, and yet, perhaps, there is no truth about which more errors have been uttered, than concerning the faith which saves the soul. Well has it been proved by experience, that all doctrines of Christ are mysteries—mysteries, not so much in themselves, but because they are hid to them that are lost, in whom the God of this world hath blinded their eyes. So plain is Scripture, that one would have said, “He that runs may read”; but so dim is man’s eye, and so marred is his understanding, that the very simplest truth of Scripture he distorts and misrepresents.

Why do people continually refuse the offer of salvation and reject Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? We could accurately say that it is because they are dead in their trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). We could also accurately say that it is because God the Father has not yet given them to God the Son as a gracious gift (John 6:35-66).

However, today’s passage from John’s Gospel gives us another biblical reason for persistent unbelief. It is because the sinner would rather live in sin than live in a covenant relationship with God through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

This begs the obvious follow-up question: Why would a sinner willingly choose to live in sin than be in a covenant relationship with God through the person and work of Jesus Christ? The answer is that the sinner loves their sin and would rather live in darkness or evil because their works or behavior is evil.

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “If we trust in Christ, however, we will confess these hidden things to Him. Having been exposed to the light of His grace, we confess our sins and wicked thoughts to our Lord because we know that is what loving the light of truth entails. But for us to come to the light takes a special work of God’s sovereign, irresistible grace. Otherwise, we prefer darkness. It is not that we want the light on our own and are kept from it; we choose to love the darkness rather than the light. That is why people are condemned, as we read in today’s passage. Already in darkness because of sin, we stand condemned (John 1:5; Rom. 3:9–20), but then our condemnation increases when the light of Christ shines and we reject Him. Without God’s grace, we want no part of the light. He has to first grant us the new birth before we will believe (John 3:1–15). “It is against the nature of a child of darkness to come to the light because he knows the light represents exposure and humiliation.”

Are you loving the sin in which you are living? Repent and by God-given faith trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and so that you may have life and a life more abundantly (John 10:10). A life truly worth living. A life with purpose and meaning. A life eternal!

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: Do You Stand Condemned before God?

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:17-18).

Most biblical commentators of the Gospel of John agree that John 3:16-21 was the apostle’s commentary about Jesus Christ being the source of salvation, rather than Jesus’ own words directly spoken to Nicodemas (John 3:1-15). As one commentator explains, “Lest we be confused about the fact that looking to Christ in faith alone is necessary for salvation (vv. 14–15), John elaborates on the purpose of Christ’s coming into the world and shows us that it is rooted in God’s desire to save sinners. Of course, that these are the words of John and not Jesus does not make them any less inspired or authoritative. All Scripture is God-breathed and finds its origin in our triune Creator.”

The Apostle John explains that God the Father did not send God the Son into the world to condemn the world. This does not mean that God will not judge the world (Revelation 19:11-5), but rather that Jesus’ purpose in coming to this world the first time was not judgment but to provide the means of eternal salvation. Jesus came into a fallen world already dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-3) and under condemnation (John 1:5; Romans 1:18-32). Jesus did not primarily come to increase the world’s condemnation but rather to provide a way of deliverance for sinners. However, as one commentator explains, “the opportunity for salvation is limited. Jesus is coming again, and God will judge mankind at that time by Christ Jesus, condemning the impenitent (Romans 2).”

We should also note that sinners do not presently stand before God in a neutral position while God awaits their final decision of whether they will receive or reject Christ. The prevailing idea being that only when sinners face God’s Great White Throne Judgment they will be condemned to hell.

Rather, those who do not believe in Christ as Savior and Lord presently stand condemned before God. Why? The answer is given in the latter part of vs. 18 where it says, “Because he (the individual sinner) has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “Full and final condemnation of the impenitent is coming when Christ returns, but that does not mean condemnation is not already here in some sense. If Christ is the only way of salvation, as John’s gospel makes clear in passages such as 3:16 and 14:6, then to reject Him as Savior is to put oneself under condemnation. This is the point of John 3:18. The fullest expression of condemnation will not come until the last day, but rejection of Christ before then means that the sentence of condemnation is already pronounced and all that awaits is final punishment. Those who look to Christ escape condemnation, but those who refuse to trust Him are as good as condemned already.”

Have you rejected Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? If so, please know that all who do presently stand condemned before God. Right now, repent of your unbelief and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ to deliver you from God’s judgment. If you do, then immediately tell a Christian friend about your new faith in Christ and ask them to pray with you and help you begin reading and studying the Bible.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: What Kind of Life?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“For God.” From the outset, Jesus informs Nicodemas (remember the context) that the person who is responsible for regeneration and the salvation of sinners is no one else but God. The word God (θεός; Theos) refers to the One, True God of heaven and earth. This is the God who is the subject of the entire revelation of Scripture.

“So Loved.” This is the Greek word ἀγαπn; agape. This is the highest and noblest love. It is a self-sacrificial love of the will. Therefore, it is a love which seeks other’s needs and not its own. It is a love not based upon one’s feelings but rather a resolute decision and act of one’s will. This is the love found in John 3:16. This is the love God possesses as an attribute of His character and displays as a behavior completely inherent within His being.

The Apostle Paul describes agape love in I Corinthians 13:1-8a. Paul also explained that agape love is the type of love a husband is to have for his wife (Ephesians 5:25). Paul also wrote that this is the kind of love of which God loved sinners in Romans 5:7-8. The Apostle John describes agape love in I John 4:7-11.

“The World.” The most accurate interpretation of this word refers the reader to the fallen, sinful anti-God system of thought and behavior expressing itself in utter moral rebellion against God.

“That He Gave.” We must remember that the subject of John 3:16 is not us, but God. It is God who loves the fallen and sinful world that prompts Him to give the world something. The word “gave” comes from the Greek word δίδωμι; didomi which means to grant, to cause to happen, and even to pay. It is God who gives the world something from His entire being.

“His only Son.” Jesus, speaking of Himself, gives Nicodemas, and us today, the identity of God the Father’s gift of the world based upon His love: His only Son. The Greek words for this phrase are μονογενής, υἱός; monegenes, huios. It means a unique, one and only, or a one of kind Son. The word Son addresses the endearing relationship the Son of God has with God the Father. This title takes us back to the initial statements in John’s Gospel about Jesus, the Eternal Word (See John 1:1-14).

“That whoever believes in Him.” The meaning of “whoever” does not ignore the context of John 3. It recognizes and acknowledges that the “whoever” of John 3:16 are the ones who are sovereignly born again so they can enter into the kingdom of God as Jesus taught Nicodemas in John 3:1-8. This meaning acknowledges that faith in the person and work of Christ is a sovereign gift of God unto salvation (Acts 13:48; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; 2 Peter 1:1-2).

“Should not perish.” This phrase, from the Greek word ἀπόλλυμι; apollymi, refers to a personal destruction which is yet future and possible. The meaning involves a spiritual loss which is irretrievable. However to perish does not mean annihilation but rather a final destiny of “ruin” in hell apart from God who is the source of life, truth.

“But have eternal life.” Eternal life is a new quality of life. Eternal (αἰώνιος; aoinios) means an unlimited duration or immortality. Life (ζωή; zoe) means to not be separated from God, which is the definition of spiritual death.

The word have (ἔχω; echo) is a present, active state of being verb. It refers to the present possession of eternal life that each believer possesses in Jesus Christ alone. It is an eternal relationship with God as Savior and Lord which a believer has as a present possession and will possess forever (cf. 10:28; 17:3).

Pastor William Barcley writes, “Life is a prominent theme in John’s gospel. The Greek words translated by the English terms “life” and “live” occur more than sixty times in John. The most prominent of these are in reference to the life that God gives through Jesus Christ, sometimes called “eternal life.” Human beings long for immortality, and they seek it in a variety of ways. But Jesus says that the one who believes in Him for salvation has eternal life. John tells us that his purpose in writing his gospel is that his readers will believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing they “may have life in his name” (20:31).”

Dr. Barcley continues, “John sets his entire gospel in the context of creation. Why creation? Because at creation, God created all life. John’s opening line echoes Genesis 1: “In the beginning was the Word.” John goes on to reveal to us that the “Word” is Jesus Christ, and that Christ is the creator of all things (vv. 2–3). Then John makes this statement: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John is telling us here that if you want true life, you can find it only in Jesus Christ, who is Himself the Creator of all life. Jesus later says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6). Here’s the first important point: we never truly “live” until we know Jesus Christ. He is the One who gives us life.”

Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Only then will you have eternal life and then begin to know what it truly means to live.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: What Kind of Death?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“For God.” From the outset, Jesus informs Nicodemas (remember the context) that the person who is responsible for regeneration and the salvation of sinners is no one else but God. The word God (θεός; Theos) refers to the One, True God of heaven and earth. This is the God who is the subject of the entire revelation of Scripture.

“So Loved.” This is the Greek word ἀγαπn; agape. This is the highest and noblest love. It is a self-sacrificial love of the will. Therefore, it is a love which seeks other’s needs and not its own. It is a love not based upon one’s feelings but rather a resolute decision and act of one’s will. This is the love found in John 3:16. This is the love God possesses as an attribute of His character and displays as a behavior completely inherent within His being.

The Apostle Paul describes agape love in I Corinthians 13:1-8a. Paul also explained that agape love is the type of love a husband is to have for his wife (Ephesians 5:25). Paul also wrote that this is the kind of love of which God loved sinners in Romans 5:7-8. The Apostle John describes agape love in I John 4:7-11.

“The World.” The most accurate interpretation of this word refers the reader to the fallen, sinful anti-God system of thought and behavior expressing itself in utter moral rebellion against God.

“That He Gave.” We must remember that the subject of John 3:16 is not us, but God. It is God who loves the fallen and sinful world that prompts Him to give the world something. The word “gave” comes from the Greek word δίδωμι; didomi which means to grant, to cause to happen, and even to pay. It is God who gives the world something from His entire being.

“His only Son.” Jesus, speaking of Himself, gives Nicodemas, and us today, the identity of God the Father’s gift of the world based upon His love: His only Son. The Greek words for this phrase are μονογενής, υἱός; monegenes, huios. It means a unique, one and only, or a one of kind Son. The word Son addresses the endearing relationship the Son of God has with God the Father. This title takes us back to the initial statements in John’s Gospel about Jesus, the Eternal Word (See John 1:1-14).

“That whoever believes in Him.” The meaning of “whoever” does not ignore the context of John 3. It recognizes and acknowledges that the “whoever” of John 3:16 are the ones who are sovereignly born again so they can enter into the kingdom of God as Jesus taught Nicodemas in John 3:1-8. This meaning acknowledges that faith in the person and work of Christ is a sovereign gift of God unto salvation (Acts 13:48; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; 2 Peter 1:1-2).

“Should not perish.” This phrase, from the Greek word ἀπόλλυμι; apollymi, refers to a personal destruction which is yet future and possible. The meaning involves a spiritual loss which is irretrievable. However to perish does not mean annihilation but rather a final destiny of “ruin” in hell apart from God who is the source of life, truth.

Theologian Dr. Guy Richard writes, “Although it is true that the word perish is used frequently in the Gospels to refer to physical death or destruction (approximately thirty-six out of the sixty-six occurrences), it means far more than that here in this passage. We know that to be the case because the word “perish” is placed in antithesis to “eternal life” in verse 16, “saved” in verse 17, and “not condemned” in verse 18. The destruction from which believers are spared in John 3:16 is, therefore, not physical death or even some kind of annihilation but the eternal destruction that results from being “condemned” because of sin and rebellion. All who reject Christ and persist in their unbelief will receive not eternal life but eternal destruction. The “wrath of God” will “remain” on them forever (v. 36).”

In fact, Jesus taught more about the existence of hell than He did of heaven. Dr. Richard continues, “In Matthew 25:31–46, for example, Jesus sets the “eternal life” that is reserved for “the righteous” over against the “eternal fire” (v. 41) and the “eternal punishment” (v. 46) that is reserved for everyone else (referred to as both “goats” who do not follow the shepherd and are “cursed”). Those who do not receive eternal life do not simply die or cease to exist. They experience an eternity of “destruction” or “punishment” that manifests itself in “unquenchable fire” (Matthew 18:8; Mark 9:43, 48; Luke 3:17) or in the “fiery furnace” in which “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42, 50). This is what it means to perish. It is an eternity of getting what our sins and our rejection of Jesus Christ deserve.”

John 3:16 exists as a preventative warning that there are only two types of people in the world: those who are perishing and remain under God’s wrath for eternity and those who believe in the Son, are spared from perishing and instead receive eternal life (John 3:36).

Dr. Richard concludes, “Each person’s response to Jesus determines which of the two categories he or she is in. Those who respond to Him in faith and obedience (which is the fruit and, thus, the proof of genuine faith) will not perish but will have eternal life. Those who do not respond in faith and obedience will not be shown mercy. The wrath of God will remain on them for eternity.”

Which category of people do you belong? Your answer is a matter of life or death.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Gospel of John: What Kind of Faith?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“For God.” From the outset, Jesus informs Nicodemas (remember the context) that the person who is responsible for regeneration and the salvation of sinners is no one else but God. The word God (θεός; Theos) refers to the One, True God of heaven and earth. This is the God who is the subject of the entire revelation of Scripture.

“So Loved.” This is the Greek word ἀγαπn; agape. This is the highest and noblest love. It is a self-sacrificial love of the will. Therefore, it is a love which seeks other’s needs and not its own. It is a love not based upon one’s feelings but rather a resolute decision and act of one’s will. This is the love found in John 3:16. This is the love God possesses as an attribute of His character and displays as a behavior completely inherent within His being.

The Apostle Paul describes agape love in I Corinthians 13:1-8a. Paul also explained that agape love is the type of love a husband is to have for his wife (Ephesians 5:25). Paul also wrote that this is the kind of love of which God loved sinners in Romans 5:7-8. The Apostle John describes agape love in I John 4:7-11.

“The World.” The most accurate interpretation of this word refers the reader to the fallen, sinful anti-God system of thought and behavior expressing itself in utter moral rebellion against God.

“That He Gave.” We must remember that the subject of John 3:16 is not us, but God. It is God who loves the fallen and sinful world that prompts Him to give the world something. The word “gave” comes from the Greek word δίδωμι; didomi which means to grant, to cause to happen, and even to pay. It is God who gives the world something from His entire being.

“His only Son.” Jesus, speaking of Himself, gives Nicodemas, and us today, the identity of God the Father’s gift of the world based upon His love: His only Son. The Greek words for this phrase are μονογενής, υἱός; monegenes, huios. It means a unique, one and only, or a one of kind Son. The word Son addresses the endearing relationship the Son of God has with God the Father. This title takes us back to the initial statements in John’s Gospel about Jesus, the Eternal Word (See John 1:1-14).

“That whoever believes in Him.” Let me begin today by asking three questions which originate from this brief preceding statement. (1) The identity of the whoever? (2) The nature of believing or faith? (3) The meaning of “in Him?”

First, there are three possible meanings to the phrase “that whoever.” It could refer to the doctrine of Universalism. Universalism teaches that everyone who has ever lived on this planet will be saved and go to heaven when they die. The whoever then is everyone. However, even a superficial reading of Scripture indicates that there are multitudes of people who will experience the wrath of God as punishment for their sins (Revelation 20:11-15; John 3:18-21).

Second, the “whoever” may refer to all those who believe in the person and work of Jesus in and of their own free will. This is the most popular meaning which is used to refute the sovereignty of God in salvation. I came to Christ. I believed in Christ. My eternal destiny is ultimately up to me. Yet even this meaning ignores the immediate context of when, and to whom, Jesus made this statement.

The third meaning of “whoever” does not ignore the context of John 3. It recognizes and acknowledges that the “whoever” of John 3:16 are the ones who are sovereignly “born again” so they can enter into the kingdom of God as Jesus taught Nicodemas in John 3:1-8. This meaning acknowledges that faith in the person and work of Christ is a sovereign gift of God unto salvation (Acts 13:48; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; 2 Peter 1:1-2). This is the identity of the “whoever.”

What then does it mean to believe or to have faith? The Greek word for believe, as a verb, is πιστεύω; pisteuo. The Greek noun, faith, is the Greek word pistis. Both forms define believing, or to have faith, as trusting in, depending upon, committing to and worshipping a particular object. What then is the object of saving faith?

John 3:16 says that whoever is born again by the Holy Spirit, is therefore enabled to believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. The phrase “in Him” refers to Jesus: the unique and eternal Son of God.

Dr. Cornelis Venema writes, “In the history of the church, some believers have hesitated to affirm the propriety of this well-meant offer of the gospel indiscriminately extended to all sinners. Some are hindered by questions such as: How can I know that God has chosen to save this particular sinner to whom I am speaking? How can I be sure that Christ died for this person’s sins?”

Dr. Venema continues by explaining, “But why should I have to know the answer to these questions before graciously extending the gospel’s invitation to any sinner? Surely, John 3:16 provides us with a sure footing for a free and well-meant offer of the gospel to all sinners. This passage tells us everything that we need to know in order to invite sinners to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. It speaks of a love so great that it prompted God to give nothing less than His Son. And it reminds us that the world God loved, and for which He gave His own Son, was a lost, undeserving world. With unmistakable clarity, it declares that “whoever believes” will be saved. What more must I know in order to say sincerely to any sinner, “Believe in Christ and you shall be saved”? After all, we have God’s Word for it.”

Share the good news of God’s love for sinners today to someone who needs to hear.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Gospel of John: What Kind of Son?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“For God.” From the outset, Jesus informs Nicodemas (remember the context) that the person who is responsible for regeneration and the salvation of sinners is no one else but God. The word God (θεός; Theos) refers to the One, True God of heaven and earth. This is the God who is the subject of the entire revelation of Scripture.

“So Loved.” This is the Greek word ἀγαπn; agape. This is the highest and noblest love. It is a self-sacrificial love of the will. Therefore, it is a love which seeks other’s needs and not its own. It is a love not based upon one’s feelings but rather a resolute decision and act of one’s will. This is the love found in John 3:16. This is the love God possesses as an attribute of His character and displays as a behavior completely inherent within His being.

The Apostle Paul describes agape love in I Corinthians 13:1-8a. Paul also explained that agape love is the type of love a husband is to have for his wife (Ephesians 5:25). Paul also wrote that this is the kind of love of which God loved sinners in Romans 5:7-8. The Apostle John describes agape love in I John 4:7-11.

“The World.” The most accurate interpretation of this word refers the reader to the fallen, sinful anti-God system of thought and behavior expressing itself in utter moral rebellion against God.

“That He Gave.” We must remember that the subject of John 3:16 is not us, but God. It is God who loves the fallen and sinful world that prompts Him to give the world something. The word “gave” comes from the Greek word δίδωμι; didomi which means to grant, to cause to happen, and even to pay. It is God who gives the world something from His entire being.

“His only Son.” Jesus, speaking of Himself, gives Nicodemas, and us today, the identity of God the Father’s gift of the world based upon His love: His only Son. The Greek words for this phrase are μονογενής, υἱός; monegenes, huios. It means a unique, one and only, or a one of kind Son. The word Son addresses the endearing relationship the Son of God has with God the Father. This title takes us back to the initial statements in John’s Gospel about Jesus, the Eternal Word (See John 1:1-14).

Professor of Theology Dr. Scott Swain explains, “Only Son” describes Jesus’ filial relationship to the Father as the second person of the Trinity. What is the nature of this relationship? The only Son’s relationship to the Father is eternal: “In the beginning,” before the incarnation, before creation, He “was with God” (John 1:1). The only Son’s relationship to the Father is a relationship of equality: the Son who eternally existed with God “was God” (v. 1). The only Son’s relationship to the Father is unique: though God wills to draw many “children” into His family through adoption (v. 12), the only Son does not belong in a class with God’s creaturely sons and daughters. He, unlike us, is God’s Son by nature. He dwells eternally at the Father’s side (v. 18; cf. 13:23), set apart from all the rest, as the unique object of the Father’s love and affection, His most precious treasure (17:24).

Dr. Swain continues, “The identification of Jesus as God’s “only Son” identifies Him as the supreme object of the Father’s affection: “the Father loves the Son” (John 3:35). Though God created the world very good, the world through sin made itself subject to God’s eternal wrath and condemnation (3:18–19, 36). In the midst of this perilous situation, John 3:16 proclaims the astounding nature of God’s love for unworthy sinners: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” As Abraham demonstrated his supreme reverence for God through his willingness to sacrifice his “only son” Isaac (Gen. 22:2, 12, 16), so God demonstrates His amazing love for us by giving His only Son to be “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36; 3:17–18; Rom. 5:6–10; 8:32).”

We must observe that the gift of God is His only Son. The recipients of this gift is the fallen, sinful world which hates God and is His enemy (Romans 5:6-10). How ironic. How gracious. How amazing.

Have you received the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ? If not, do so by repenting of your sin and trusting in the person and work and Jesus Christ alone for your redemption and righteous standing before God the Father.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

The Gospel of John: What Kind of Gift?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“For God.” From the outset, Jesus informs Nicodemas (remember the context) that the person who is responsible for regeneration and the salvation of sinners is no one else but God. The word God (θεός; Theos) refers to the One, True God of heaven and earth. This is the God who is the subject of the entire revelation of Scripture.

“So Loved.” This is the Greek word ἀγαπn; agape. This is the highest and noblest love. It is a self-sacrificial love of the will. Therefore, it is a love which seeks other’s needs and not its own. It is a love not based upon one’s feelings but rather a resolute decision and act of one’s will. This is the love found in John 3:16. This is the love God possesses as an attribute of His character and displays as a behavior completely inherent within His being.

The Apostle Paul describes agape love in I Corinthians 13:1-8a. Paul also explained that agape love is the type of love a husband is to have for his wife (Ephesians 5:25). Paul also wrote that this is the kind of love of which God loved sinners in Romans 5:7-8. The Apostle John describes agape love in I John 4:7-11.

“The World.” The most accurate interpretation of this word refers the reader to the fallen, sinful anti-God system of thought and behavior expressing itself in utter moral rebellion against God.

“That He Gave.” We must remember that the subject of John 3:16 is not us, but God. It is God who loves the fallen and sinful world that prompts Him to give the world something. The word “gave” comes from the Greek word δίδωμι; (didomi) which means to grant, to cause to happen, and even to pay. It is God who gives the world something from His entire being.

One commentator writes, “One of the most surprising twists of John 3:16 is that we are told God loves the world. We might be tempted to think that there is much about the world for God to love. After all, what’s not to admire about cityscapes and farmlands, fine cuisine and backyard barbecues, classical symphonies and folk ballads, Renaissance paintings and kindergarten squiggles? The world we know is filled with texture, intrigue, opportunity, and cheer. The problem is that for all that is good and interesting and beautiful about the world, it is overrun with sinners. Ever since Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the garden, the world has become a wasteland. No matter how wonderful the world may appear, it is not worthy of God’s redeeming love. Understanding how undeserving the world is of God’s love is the key to John 3:16. Only then will we appreciate the unexpected gift that God gives.”

What is the gift which God gave? The gift is symbolized by the cross of Jesus Christ. God gave His Only, Begotten Son. While we will certainly explore this further in our next installment, it is fitting to examine this gift in its nature, plan, giving, and purpose.

The nature of God’s gift is that He gave the fallen, sinful world His Son. Dr. Iain D. Campbell writes, “That fact alone ought to set the cross in the clearest relief. At Calvary, the world stood before God and said, “We hate you this much!” And at Calvary, God stood before the world and said, “I love you this much!”

The plan of God’s gift was that it was not an afterthought in the sovereign plan of God. In Genesis 3:15 and Ephesians 1:3-5 for example, we see the sovereign plan of God instituted before the foundation of the world.

Dr. Campbell explains, “The first proclamation of the promise in Genesis 3:15 sets the cross in a threefold context: first, the gift of a Savior was necessary because of the violation of the covenant of works between God and man; second, the gift was prepared in an intra-Trinitarian covenant of redemption; and third, the gift would be given through a covenant of grace administered in history.”

The giving of God’s gift was in the fullness of God’s timetable. Galatians 4:4-5 says, But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

Dr. Campbell continues, We had been expelled from Paradise; so God sent His Son out of Paradise and into the far country. When Isaiah declared that “to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Isa. 9:6), the final fulfillment of his words arrived when the Son of God became incarnate as one of us.

And ultimately, that Son was given in death, the Father not sparing Him but giving Him up for us all (Rom. 8:32). It was the most costly of all gifts: God “became poor, so that [we] by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). God, in the weakness of human flesh, achieved for us what we could not do in our own strength (1 Cor. 1:25). The cross was the ultimate gift of love.”

Romans 3:21-26 says, But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

The purpose of God’s gift was that sinners would be redeemed through the substitutionary gift provided by the Son: Jesus Christ. When next we meet, we will further examine the identity of the gift from God.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: What Kind of World?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“For God.” From the outset, Jesus informs Nicodemas (remember the context) that the person who is responsible for regeneration and the salvation of sinners is no one else but God. The word God (θεός; Theos) refers to the One, True God of heaven and earth. This is the God who is the subject of the entire revelation of Scripture.

“So Loved.” This is the Greek word ἀγαπn; agape. This is the highest and noblest love. It is a self-sacrificial love of the will. Therefore, it is a love which seeks other’s needs and not its own. It is a love not based upon one’s feelings but rather it is a resolute decision and act of one’s will. This is the love found in John 3:16. This is the love God possesses as an attribute of His character and displays as a behavior completely inherent within His being.

The Apostle Paul describes agape love in I Corinthians 13:1-8a. Paul also explained that agape love is the type of love a husband is to have for his wife (Ephesians 5:25). Paul also wrote that this is the kind of love of which God loved sinners in Romans 5:7-8. The Apostle John describes agape love in I John 4:7-11.

“The World.” What does the word “world” mean in John 3:16? The word “world” comes from the Greek word κόσμος; kosmos and it has three predominant meanings. It may refer to the universe and the specific planet known as Earth, or the people and population of the Earth, or finally to the anti-God world system of thought and behavior by the Earth’s inhabitants which expresses itself in thoughtful and behavioral rebellion against God. While it be accurate to say that John 3:16 may have all three meanings in mind, the most accurate would be the third meaning: the fallen, sinful anti-God system of though and behavior expressing itself in utter moral rebellion against God.

Dr. John MacArthur explains, “The Son’s mission is bound up in the supreme love of God for the evil, sinful “world” of humanity (cf. 6:32, 51; 12:47; see also John 1:9Matthew 5:44–45) that is in rebellion against him. The word “so” emphasizes the intensity or greatness of his love. The Father gave his unique and beloved Son to die on behalf of sinful men (see note on 2 Cor. 5:21).”

A solid case can be made for believing that “world” refers to the quality of God’s love. Dr. B.B. Warfield explains: “[World] is not here a term of extension so much as a term of intensity. Its primary connotation is ethical, and the point of its employment is not to suggest that the world is so big that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it all, but that the world is so bad that it takes a great kind of love to love it at all, and much more to love it as God has loved it when he gave his Son for it.”

Dr. John W. Tweeddale writes, The world represents sinful humanity and is not worthy of God’s saving love. Apart from the love of God, the world stands under God’s condemnation. But in Christ, believers experience God’s surprising, redeeming, and never-ending love. John 3:16 is not about the greatness of the world but about the greatness of God.”

Dr. R.C. Sproul concludes, “Our culture tends to think that it is a given that God loves the world. However, we know that nothing compels God to love creation. In fact, it would be right for the Lord to have nothing but hatred for the world given the reality of sin. The love of God is not a given, so we should be grateful for it and be careful never to speak of His love as something that we are owed or that He must show.” 

Take time today to thank God for loving you.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: What Kind of Love?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“For God.” From the outset, Jesus informs Nicodemas (remember the context) that the person who is responsible for regeneration and the salvation of sinners is no one else but God; specifically God the Holy Spirit. The word God (θεός; Theos) refers to the One, True God of heaven and earth. This is the God who is the subject of the entire revelation of Scripture.

“So Loved.” I love the Greek language. It is so precise and consistent in its grammar and spelling. This is so unlike the English language which tends to be inconsistent at best and frustrating at worst.

One of the ways Greek is precise and consistent is, for example, in its meaning of the word “love.” In the English language, the word “love” can refer to and mean a whole host of things. We love our pets, our children, spaghetti and meat balls, our favorite sports team, our favorite actress or actor, etc. With this one word we can express our love for God and country, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet: as depicted in an advertising slogan several decades ago. Personally, I drive a Buick.

The Greek word for love is different. It is important for us to understand what the precise meaning for love is as found in John 3:16. In fact, there are several words in the Greek language which are translated into our one English word “love.” What are they and what is kind of love to which Jesus is referring?

First, there is the word eρως; eros. It is from this word we derive our English word erotic. Eros refers to sexual desire and attraction. This is the kind of love which God approves solely in the confines of heterosexual marriage. I’m sure we can see at a glance how much our culture is saturated by the notion of erotic love and how perverted it has become in its definition and expression. However, this is not the Greek word for love used in John 3:16.

Another Greek word for love is στοργή; storge. This is liking someone through the fondness of familiarity, family members or people of whom you are related. An example is the natural love and affection a parent has for their child. However, we can also see that this love is being perverted within our culture and even being rejected as parents are abusing and killing their children. But again, this is not the Greek word for love used in John 3:16.

A third Greek word for love is φιλία; philia or phileo. This is the love between friends as close as brothers and sisters in strength and duration. The friendship is the strong bond existing between people who share common values, interests or activities. We all have people in our lives of whom we call them our “best or close friends.” The English word Philadelphia comes from this Greek word. In fact, the City of Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love. Yet, this is not the Greek word for love used in John 3:16.

Finally, there is the Greek word ἀγαπn; agape. This is the highest and noblest love. It is a self-sacrificial love of the will. Therefore, it is a love which seeks other’s needs and not its own. It is a love not based upon one’s feelings but rather a resolute decision and act of one’s will. This is the love found in John 3:16. This is the love God possesses as an attribute of His character and displays as a behavior completely inherent within His being.

The Apostle Paul describes agape love in I Corinthians 13:1-8a. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

Paul also explained that agape love is the type of love a husband is to have for his wife (Ephesians 5:25). Paul also wrote that this is the kind of love of which God loved sinners in Romans 5:7-8. “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The Apostle John describes agape love in I John 4:7-11. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Echoing the words of I John 4:7-11, Jesus will continue to teach in John 3:16 exactly who are the objects of the Father’s love. We will examine this when next we meet. In the meantime, meditate upon the words of the following hymn by Stuart Townsend.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;

Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there

Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,

His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –

His wounds have paid my ransom.

Soli deo Gloria!