John 3:16 Not an Invitation–An Assurance

 

John 3:16

An Invitation to Be Born?  

No!  An Assurance of a Prior Birth

 

 Elder Jeff Winfrey, Pastor

Dawson Springs Primitive Baptist Church

101 East Walnut Street

Dawson Springs, KY 42408

Introduction 

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 AV) 

We live in strange times.  If our Bible-believing fathers could know today’s mainstream interpretations of scriptures, I feel that they would be amazed by what is proclaimed in this generation.  If you are interested in Christian history you can study such documents as the London Confession of Faith and discover that salvation was not considered to be so man-centered in 1689.  Bible believers at that time proclaimed a God, mighty to save.  They seemed to truly believe in a Christ who shall save His people and did save His people.  They declared a God who came down to His people and saved them, and not a people able to rise up to God of their own initiative and strength.

But regardless of what Baptists believed in 1689, and much more important than the historical view of salvation, is the view of salvation presented in God’s inspired word.  If you objectively and honestly study the Bible, you will find that God’s truth concerning salvation is not man-centered.  Christianity today has predominantly left the teachings of the Bible about our God, about His salvation, about His Son, about His Spirit, about His love, and about His power.  Today it seems that error is whole-heartedly accepted, while feebly presented truth is totally rejected.  But truth remains truth, even if no one preaches it or accepts it.  And Bible truth about salvation is centered solely on Jesus Christ the Savior.  He has always been and shall forever remain the Savior.  Salvation is totally of the Lord.  And He alone shall save His people from their sins.

Along these lines I find it amazing that today’s most recognizable verse in all of scripture is perhaps the most misunderstood verse in all of scripture.  Most people consider John 3:16 to be the best-known verse and it probably is.  But few seem to understand the true meaning of the words.  And it seems strange that a misapplication of the verse has led to its widespread fame.  In the modern view the words of John 3:16 are presented as an invitation or a proposition to man.  It may surprise you that there are serious problems with that explanation of the verse.  And it may shock you that someone would question the modern view of the verse.  Regretfully, an alternate view of this very familiar verse may seem so foreign to your thinking that you will reject it without any consideration. But please take the time to ponder the possibility that John 3:16 may have an application much different to your present understanding.  And as you think about the idea of a different interpretation, please consider which idea is more agreeable to common sense, more in line with the context of the passage and more in tune with the Bible’s entire teaching on salvation.

First of all, the generally accepted idea that the verse gives an invitation to be born again is disagreeable with logic.  The concept that you can cause your own birth certainly stretches common sense and reasonableness to the extreme. Surely the words cannot be an invitation for every natural, unborn again person, to do something to cause his spiritual birth.  How can people be the cause of their own births?  Did you cause your natural birth?  If the comparison of being born is a true comparison, can you cause your spiritual birth?  It is absurd to think that anyone can be given the responsibility of bringing himself into existence at any realm.  It seems utterly impossible for one to be asked to be the initiator of his own birth.  Some places in scripture describe this phenomenal new birth event as a new creation where the person becomes a new creature.  Yet other places describe it as a resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual life.  In all three comparisons, whether a birth, or a creation, or a resurrection, the point drawn by reasonable thinking is that it is beyond the individual to bring to pass his own birth, his own creation, or his own resurrection from the dead.   The prophet Isaiah said, “Come let us reason together.”  Does it stand the test of reason that the words of John 3:16 invite us to accomplish that which is logically absurd?  Surely by the test of simple reasoning John 3:16 cannot be an invitation to be born again.

Secondly, a proposition for man to come and be born again certainly does not fit into the context of Jesus’ teachings in the passage.  The most obvious problem with the context comes in comparing the words of John 3:16 with the words of John 3:8.  We will examine these verses and others in some detail later in this study, but for now let it be said that Jesus taught in John 3:8 that the sovereign moving of the Holy Spirit is the sole and only means to the new birth.  He taught that the wind, even the Spirit of God, moves upon an individual according to the will of God and so it is with every one that is born of the Spirit.  Now if the sole and only means of the new birth is the moving of God upon the individual as God pleases, why would Jesus in John 3:16 invite individuals to be born again of their own will, initiative and decision?  It certainly seems to strain the context of the entire passage to consider the words of John 3:16 to be an invitation for a new birth.  It is a reversal of Jesus’ teachings for Him to declare that every one who is born again is born again by the same means and that means is the sovereign moving of the Holy Ghost and then to offer an invitation to be born again by the means of belief.  Surely by the test of the context John 3:16 cannot be an invitation to be born again.

Thirdly, this idea of a self-instigated new birth does not fit into the general scheme of salvation as taught throughout the Bible.  The Bible consistently presents the unregenerate, unborn again individual as a person who has no interest in God and no desire for God.  Prior to the change that occurs at the new birth, the Bible says that there is none that understands or seeks after God. Man in his natural state of existence is described as having a hatred for God and an enmity toward God.  The things of God are said to be foolishness to this person. The Bible says that the natural man cannot know the things of the spiritual realm.  Is it not a ridiculous proposition to expect a person of this mindset and this nature to believe in that which he considers to be foolishness?  Can a person see and know that which the Bible says he cannot see and know?  Will an individual come and accept that which he by nature hates?  Can the carnal mind that the Bible says is enmity against God love that God?  According to an abundance of Bible teaching (some of which will be presented later in this study), it is incorrect to think that a person of this description will believe in Jesus.  The Bible declares that the only way this natural, carnal person will ever come to Jesus is not by an invitation, but by a compelling drawing of the individual by God to God.  The sovereign movement of the Holy Spirit upon the unregenerate individual is that gracious, yet irresistible drawing.   And no man can come except he is first drawn to God by God.  Surely by the test of the general teachings and principles proclaimed throughout the entire Bible John 3:16 cannot be an invitation to be born again.

The words of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” were spoken by Jesus Christ.  They were left for us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for a purpose and for a reason—a very important purpose and reason.  And it is extremely important that we find that intended purpose and reason so that we might know what Jesus and the Holy Spirit are telling us.  It is so urgent that we listen to what God had to say to us in the Bible and not take what He said and turn it into something He did not say.  Oh, if we would just take what He said, and find what He meant for us to know in what He said, we would be so much better off in the end.  For only with a proper understanding of Him and His word can we praise Him, as we ought.

 

 

A Study of the Contextual Passage 

The third chapter of John records a conversation between Jesus and a man named Nicodemus.  If you go back and consider the teachings of Jesus prior to the sixteenth verse you will surely see that the first thing taught by Jesus in the conversation is the impossibility of a person being the cause of his own birth.  In His opening statement Jesus declared to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 AV)  These are truly very simple words to understand.  Yet most often these words seem to be very misunderstood.  Jesus plainly said that except something first happen, something else could never happen.  He declared, first the new birth, then the ability to see His kingdom.  But most so-called Bible teachers will declare that you must hear of Jesus and His kingdom, see something of Jesus and His kingdom, believe on Jesus, express your desire to Him, and then you will get the new birth.  It is very enlightening that Jesus said just the opposite.  He said that first you get the new birth and then you can see the kingdom.  He later said in John 3:5 that the new birth is a requirement before you enter the kingdom.  “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5 AV)  So you must be born again before you can enter the King’s kingdom.  And furthermore, prior to entering, you must be born again before you can see and understand that such a concept as a King’s kingdom even exists.

So a much-overlooked order of things is presented in Jesus’ words.  First the new birth occurs; then the ability to see the kingdom of God.  Before the new birth there is no awareness of a spiritual kingdom, a kingdom of God with a King—even a King named Jesus.  The unborn again person might recognize the name Jesus.  They might know the history and the story of Jesus.  But the reality of the concept of Jesus as the Son of God, as the Lord, and as the Savior is foolishness to that natural, unborn again person.  The words of the Apostle Paul echo the same thing that Jesus here declares.  “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 AV)  Except a man first have spiritual life by the new birth, he cannot see and understand the things of Christ or the things of Christ’s kingdom.  And if he cannot see and understand the things of the kingdom, how could he cherish and desire what he cannot even see?  And furthermore, why would a man seek that which is ‘foolishness’ to him?

But so many people teach that the order is something like the following:  First you must see and understand about a King and His kingdom, and then accept the King as your Savior, and by taking that first step you can be born again.  I might agree with that approach if it were not just the opposite of what Jesus said.  And be assured that Jesus, words are consistent with the entirety of scriptures.  Consider these further words of Paul.   “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one:  there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:10-11 AV)  Again speaking of the natural, unborn again individual it is declared that none in that state of spiritual deadness can understand the things of the kingdom.  We do not first understand it and then come and get it.  We do not first see it and then seek it.  A natural, carnal individual will never seek for such things, except he first be born again.  Jesus said that we first get the eternal life and then we can see the things pertaining to that life.

Oh, how confused Nicodemus seems to be, but truly he is no worse off than most regarding these teachings.  In John 3:4 Nicodemus responds to the words of Jesus with these words, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4 AV)  A most incredible thing occurs as Jesus leads Nicodemus’ thoughts in a particular way.  The man asked two questions, but there is profound truth and wisdom to be learned in the questions.  Nicodemus’ questioning words truly express the concept that Jesus is teaching, but it is very doubtful that Nicodemus understood the depth of truth that he had expressed in his questions. It is likewise doubtful that many today understand the truth found in his words.  If Nicodemus had only listened to himself, he would have understood what Jesus was teaching.  In so many words Nicodemus stated, ‘I cannot do what you have just said must occur in order for me to see this kingdom about which you speak.  Jesus, what you have said is impossible for me to accomplish.’  And that is just exactly the point Jesus is making when He describes a new birth.  By using the concept of a birth, He shows Nicodemus that this is something that man cannot accomplish for himself.  And Jesus means for you to understand that you cannot have any control or power concerning your own birth, also.  Instead of man coming up with a ‘how to do it’ scheme, he should come to the logical question that Nicodemus came to, ‘How can a man?’

Jesus might have said to Nicodemus at this point in the conversation, ‘Aha, you understand my point.  You did not cause your natural birth and you have sense enough to know that you cannot go back now and do it again.  And if you are so helpless in the lesser natural birth, surely you must see that you certainly cannot do anything to bring the greater spiritual birth to pass.  Yes, Nicodemus from the standpoint of man’s strength and abilities a new birth is absolutely impossible.’  But Jesus did not yet give an explanation.  Instead Jesus seems to bring further distress with the later words, “Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7 AV)  Do you see the dilemma that Nicodemus was in?  My friend, do you see the impossibility of your own case?  Jesus has stated two truths.  Nicodemus has given us a third truth in his questions.  First of all, you cannot now see and be aware of, nor will you ever see the concept of Jesus’ kingdom, unless you are first born again. Secondly, it is impossible for you to bring this second birth to pass.  And finally, the haunting words, “Ye must be born again.”   How can you do that which you cannot do?  How can Jesus tell me that I must do something that He has just taught me that I cannot do?  With man it is impossible.  And at this point in the conversation that is just exactly the idea Jesus has led Nicodemus and you and me to understand.  The impossibility of the whole scenario is the lesson thus far.  (But never fail to remember that what is impossible for man can be certain and sure in the hands of an Almighty God.  And truly I hope to soon show you that Jesus really did not ask us to do that which He fully knew was impossible for us to do.)

Jesus next words are by far the most wonderful words of the whole conversation.  He now tells Nicodemus and you and me, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8 AV)  In these words we find a sovereign God doing for man that which man could never do for himself.  We find the wind blowing where the wind is pleased to blow.  Do we have here a description of weather controlling itself?  Not at all, we have a description of the Holy Spirit in His sovereignty moving as He pleases and giving the new birth to men as He pleases.  In this verse the word wind is translated from the Greek word, pneuma.  In many places in the New Testament this word, pneuma, is translated as Spirit.  There is no doubt that the verse refers to the work of the Holy Spirit, even the breath of God, as He breathes upon a man and the man becomes a born again, spiritually living soul.  The verse declares the solution to the dilemma and it declares the only solution to the dilemma.  There is only one way of being born again.  It is by the will of the wind—even by the will and the power of the Spirit of God.  So it is with everyone who is born again. It makes no difference whether young or old, whether infant of ancient, whether idiot or intellectual, whether BC or AD, whether Jew or Gentile, whether modern American with all the opportunities to hear the gospel or extinct Mayan with never a chance to hear.  There is only one way to enter the kingdom—the new birth.  There is only one way to see the kingdom—the new birth.  There is only one power sufficient for the new birth—The Holy Spirit.

But you might still be puzzled by the words, “Ye must be born again.”  Oh, do not be confused and before you twist these words into something Jesus never meant, please consider the exact way He said the words.  He did not say in the active voice, ‘You must born yourself again.’  He did not tell you that you had to actively do something to be born again.  He stated the requirement in the passive voice.  He said, “Ye must be born again.”  There is much difference in the idea of borning yourself and the idea of being born.  In order for you to born yourself you would have to be active as the agent causing the birth.  The very thought is absurd, but you may rest easy, for Jesus never said you could born yourself.  He said, “Ye must be born again.”  In the idea of being born you are passive as the beneficiary receiving the birth.  This is very plausible and it is what Jesus said.

But you still might emphasize the word, must, and question why Jesus said you must be born again.  You may say, “If we cannot actively cause ourselves to be born again, why did Jesus say ‘ye must be born again’?”  I believe the simple answer lies in the following explanation.  Jesus said it not indicating that we must actively do it ourselves, but indicating that it must occur according to God’s sovereign will and purpose.  What God has purposed to occur must occur.  And He is capable of actively causing His purposes to come to pass.  The new birth must occur to each of His children when God chooses to cause it to occur.  And He, His Spirit, the Wind is the active cause.  This identical concept is presented in Paul’s great teachings about a final resurrection of the bodies.  “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:53 AV)  It is stated that an earthly body must become a heavenly body.  The teaching is that a carnal, natural body must become a spiritual body at the final resurrection.  Can you bring that to pass?  Can you actively cause yourself to have that new body?  Of course you cannot.  You cannot resurrect yourself, nor can you cause an earthly body to become heavenly, but it must happen.  You cannot change your mortal body into an immortal body, but according to God’s word it must happen.  It must happen in order to fulfill all things according to God’s unchangeable plan.  But you have nothing to do with it other than to receive it when it is given to you.  According to God’s purpose the corruptible body must be changed at the resurrection.  And Jesus must do it because He is the only one capable of doing it.  In the same way you cannot born yourself into a Spiritual existence, but it must happen.  It must happen in order to fulfill all things according to God’s unchangeable plan.  But you have nothing to do with it other than to receive it when it is given to you.  And even this reception of it is out of your control.  You do not choose to receive it, nor can you reject it.  As you did not cause your natural birth, you cannot cause your spiritual birth.  As you cannot cause your final resurrection, you cannot cause your new birth.  According to God’s purpose all His children will at some time in their natural life be breathed upon by the Holy Spirit and be given the new birth—even eternal life.  And the Holy Spirit must do it.  He is the only capable one.  And so it is with every one who is born again.

So if you are a child of God the new birth must happen to you according to God’s unalterable purpose, but it is not something that you actively do.  Is this not consistent with your natural birth?  Did you actively do anything to bring that to pass?  No, you were very much a part of it, but you were only a passive recipient.  Someone before you took an action that caused you to be born.  A power that was greater than you and that existed before you caused the event to occur.  You could not have caused it, nor could you have prevented it.  Jesus did not choose His words carelessly.  His name is the Word.  Surely the Word knows how to communicate a concept efficiently.  He chose the analogy of a birth because our understanding of the natural process should give us a clear understanding of the Spiritual process.  We do not actively born ourselves the first time.  Nor can we born ourselves the second.  We are in no way the cause of our receiving the new birth.  Someone before us and greater than us, even the Spirit/Wind/God, brought upon us something we could neither cause nor prevent.  We were a part of it, but only in the capacity of being a passive recipient.  The Spirit moves upon a person as He pleases and so it is with every one that is born again.

At this point if you understand what Jesus has taught, there is an obvious question that comes into your mind.  It does not appear that Nicodemus understood what Jesus had explained to him.  As a matter of fact, Jesus later affirmed that Nicodemus did not understand these things.  It seems that Nicodemus is not alone, in that most do not understand what Jesus is teaching.  But if you do understand that first of all you must be born again before you can ever see or enter the kingdom, and secondly if you fully understood the impossibility of your accomplishing such a phenomenal event by your own power or initiative, and thirdly if you further understood that only the Holy Spirit moving as He pleases can accomplish this miraculous thing with such eternal ramifications; then a very pertinent and personal question might be, ‘Has the Holy Spirit done it for me?’  If you understand Jesus’ teachings in John 3:3-8, you might say, ‘Jesus, I cannot do it.  Jesus, you said it is a necessity.  Jesus, you said the Holy Spirit does it for some.  Jesus, am I one of the ones?  Do I have the eternal life?  Have I been born again?  How can I know?’  Do you have to doubt and wonder in your weak and feeble mind for the rest of your days whether you are born again or not?  Or is there some kind of a proclamation of assurance whereby you might be able to know whether or not God has performed this great and eternal work on you?

My dear friends, the words of John 3:16 are that great proclamation of assurance whereby you can know whether you are born again or not.  The answer to your doubts lies in the words, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 AV)  John 3:16 is not an invitation for the natural man to do something he cannot do, to see something he cannot see, to desire something that is foolishness to him, to enter into something that he has no interest in, or to take hold of something he has no strength to attain.  John 3:16 is not a plan for you to get eternal life.  John 3:16 is not the means for you to accomplish what Jesus has just taught you that you cannot do.  John 3:16 is not directing you to do that which can only be done by the Holy Ghost.  John 3:16 is not changing the previous teaching of Jesus.  John 3:16 is not contradicting the teaching that the Spirit moves as He pleases and gives the new birth to whom He chooses.  Instead, John 3:16 gives to the questioning child of God the strongest of assurances, and the utmost confidence, and the greatest evidence available on the face of the earth as to whether he has been born again.  My friend, the bottom line is:  if you believe in Jesus as the Son of God, you are already born again.  If you believe in Jesus, you already have eternal life.  For without the new birth and the resulting spiritual life, you would not be able to see and believe in Him, His kingdom, or any other spiritual things.

Most declare that the words in the verse are an invitation to be born again.  If this verse stood alone it very well could be, but the context demands otherwise.  How can Jesus invite you to do that which He has just shown you that you cannot do?  Unless God has already worked in your heart, you cannot see the things of God.  Unless you have already been born again, you cannot see or enter.  The context undoubtedly declares that the new birth is the means to belief, not that belief is the means to the new birth.  My dear questioning child of God, spiritual life is a prerequisite to belief.  If you believe, you already have the eternal life.  The teaching is not ‘if you believe, you will get eternal life.’  The teaching is ‘if you believe, you must already now have eternal life.’  The Holy Spirit of God is the sole and only means to the new birth.  Belief is not the cause of the new birth. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that gives the new birth.  Belief is not what gives life.  It is the evidence of the life.  Before you can believe, you must be alive.  Spiritual life must be within the child of God before belief in spiritual things can occur.  So first comes eternal life by the breath of the Holy Spirit and then comes the belief in Jesus.  Thus, if you believe, you must already be alive.  And if you are already alive in order to believe, then you already have eternal life.  And if you already have eternal life by the moving of the Holy Spirit, then give God the praise for it!

So now please contemplate the possibility that the verse is not an invitation to be born again, but a great assurance to the already born again.  It should be obvious from the context and from common sense that the unborn cannot cause his own birth.  And if this is the case, why would Jesus lay out a proposition for mankind that cannot be followed by mankind?  Is it reasonable that the verse is an impossible to obtain proposition?  Is Jesus suggesting that those without spiritual life should cause themselves to have spiritual life?  Is He asking a man to do that which He had previously shown man to be incapable of doing?  Or is the verse a proclamation of reassurance to the individual who may wonder about his spiritual life?  The context seems to scream for an assurance for the reborn, instead of an invitation to the unborn.  Instead of an offer of the new birth to one who has no ability to cause his own birth, the words are given so as to offer to the already born again individual an evidence of his prior new birth.  They are words of reassurance to a child of God, in order that the born again child of God may have the certainty that he has already been born again.  Oh, what comfort and consolation are in the teachings of Jesus!  He does not ask the impossible of the unborn.  Instead, He reassures the born again who may be a doubter.  Which idea fits into the teachings of the passage better?

 

 

A Study of the Word—World 

As we begin a detailed study of the words of John 3:16, it seems important to first examine the word, world.  Doubtless, it is the most confusing word in the verse and much misunderstanding regarding the verse comes from a misunderstanding of this word.  But truly, it is not a difficult word to understand if you will simply let the scriptures interpret the scriptures.  With a little study it becomes obvious that in different places the word refers to different concepts.  When the word, world, is used in God’s word, it is not necessarily talking about every individual in all of humanity.  Very seldom, if ever, does the word refer to the history of the race of human beings and every individual in that history.  For the sake of simplicity in our study we will stay with the writer John and see how he uses the word.  When John uses world, I find that he uses it in different ways at different times.  For instance, in the very last verse in the book of John he seems to refer to the globe or perhaps the whole created universe with the word, world.  “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25 AV)  In this verse John seems to be saying that the globe, or perhaps even the created universe, could not hold all the books that could be written about Jesus.  So here world seems to be the volume of all the space in all creation, or at least the volume of space on the earth.  Is this the world of John 3:16?  No, this is another world. So, world can mean different things in the writings of John.

Kosmos is the Greek word John used in the original language.  Kosmos is the Greek word translated into our English word, worldKosmos simply means ‘an orderly arrangement’ and can be used to describe any such concept.  Now the universe seems to be the ‘orderly arrangement’ John is describing when he speaks of a space unable to hold all the books that could be written about Jesus.  And surely God’s universe, His creation, is a marvelously arranged order.  All the planets, and stars, and revolutions, and rotations, and consistencies, and perfections, and balance surely make up an orderly arranged kosmos.  But again this kosmos is not the kosmos of John 3:16.

Other places where John uses the word, world, surely talk about an orderly arrangement that is against God.  John speaks of a world that hates God in the following passage:  “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth…” (John 7:7 AV)  In the following words Jesus talks of a world that rejoices at the His death.  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice…” (John 16:20 AV)  Jesus further describes the leader of that world, even Satan, with the statement that follows:  “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” (John 14:30 AV)  Yes, John speaks of an orderly arrangement—led by Satan, hating God and laughing at the death of Jesus.  Is this Satan ordered kosmos the world that God so loves?  Surely it cannot be!  Did God give His Son for this world and its prince?  Certainly not!  This is a world different to the world of John 3:16.  This is a world under the realm of Satan, a kingdom ruled by its prince.  It is an orderly arranged and masterminded kosmos that is against God and is anti-Christ.  It includes a mass of people who willingly followed their leader and his philosophy, a people who naturally hated God and did rejoice at the death of His beloved Son.  Regretfully, this world still exists in the world in which we now dwell.  And it is still led by the same Satan.  And it still feels the same hatred for God.  And it still acts in this same way as it did in Jesus’ day.

Let us look at some further words of Jesus again in the writings of John.  “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me…” (John 17:6 AV)  Furthermore, in this same prayer Jesus said,  “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” (John 17:9 AV)  In this prayer to His Father Jesus said ‘I pray for them’ signifying a particular group which had been given to Him.  These that He prayed for were a particular people given to Him ‘out of the world.’  But before praying for this particular group Jesus said to the Father, ‘I pray not for the world.’  Now if you take the world of John 3:16 to be the entirety of humanity, then it becomes a strange thing that Jesus will not pray for the world that God so loved.  If we find God loving a world that Jesus refuses to pray for, then we surely have disunity in the oneness of the Godhead.  Are Jesus and the Father one or are they at odds?  They are not at all at odds!  What we find in the words of Jesus is a distinction between two groups and this distinction is seen throughout scriptures.  There is a world out there that Jesus is not praying for and there is a group that was given to Jesus out of that world that Jesus is praying for.  Jesus is not wooing, and begging, and pleading with the world that He refuses to even pray for.  Jesus is not wishing that this un-prayed-for world would come to Him and get salvation.  (And by the way, the Father does not love this un-prayed-for kosmos.)  At one time men turned from the words of Jesus saying that they were hard sayings.  You may think that these are hard sayings, but the Bible is clear that Jesus did not pray for the whole world.  He only prayed for the ones given to Him.

And it should begin to be seen in these sayings that God does not love the whole world.  In these so-called hard sayings we should begin to see a choice.  We should see God’s choice.  We see the Bible taught concept of election.  We see God choosing a people out of this world and giving the chosen people to Jesus.  We see Jesus praying for the ones taken out and not for this world from which they were taken.  Some may again say that these are hard sayings.  But if we are willing to listen to these sayings, we should now begin to see the idea that Jesus is praying for a world that was taken out of a world and given to Him.  There are two distinct and different worlds.  There is an unloved, un-prayed-for world.  And there is at the same time a prayed for and so-loved world of people.  It is uncertain how many are in the un-prayed-for world.  But the scriptures declare that the ones taken out of the world and given to Jesus are a vast host no man can number from every nation, family, tribe and tongue of people in the world.

By this point you should begin to see that there is little doubt that John speaks of more than one concept when he uses the word, world.  There is a world of space and volume in which we could store books.  It is the ‘orderly arrangement’ that Jesus created and still maintains in its perfect balance.  There is another world led by Satan.  It is an ‘orderly arrangement’ that Jesus is not for, that He does not pray for, that He is not after, and that He does not want.  But there is yet another world chosen out of this worldly world, a group ‘orderly arranged’ by the will, the election and the predestination of God.  They are a group given to Jesus.  They are taken out of one world and placed into another world.  For this taken-out-of-the-world world Jesus fervently prays. For the world from which they were taken, He refuses to pray.  Can you see the teachings of God’s word?  Do you see a ‘world of this world’ and a ‘world of the Father’?

If you need further evidence, in the same book of John we can find many more convincing words from Jesus such as, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:19 AV)  Look at His teachings.  You are not of the world.  You are chosen out of the world.  The world hates you.  Do you not see two groups—you and the world?  We are not twisting the scriptures.  We are taking the same writer, John, and we are taking the same teacher, Jesus, and we are defining world.  There is a world not prayed for and not chosen.  And then there is the ‘you’ of this verse.  These people making up the ‘you’ group are a whole other world.  The scriptures declare a group, yes even another world, that is prayed for and much loved.  This world is a world so loved by God that He would give His Son for it.

Oh, but there are still other teachings by Jesus in the book of John.  Look at these words from the Master.  “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:17 AV)  Here Jesus speaks of a Spirit that the world cannot receive.  Why can this world not receive the Spirit?  Jesus says that this world cannot see the Spirit.  Jesus describes here a world that cannot receive what it cannot see.  Do you remember Jesus’ teachings in John 3:3 about the order of things concerning the new birth and seeing?  Do you remember that a person must first be born again before he can see the kingdom?  Do you remember that a man has no desire to have the Spirit unless he has been born again and if he has been born again, he already has the Spirit?  Do you remember that even if man had the desire to have the Spirit he would not have the power to receive the Spirit?  Do you remember that before man is born again he has no ability to see spiritual things?  Do you remember that a man can do nothing to bring about his own birth?  And do you remember that the only way a man can have the new birth is if the Spirit in His sovereignty gives it to the man?  Now in the words of John 3:3, except you exist in a born again state, you cannot see it.  And similarly in these words of John 14:17, except the Spirit dwell in you, you cannot see it.  But if He exists in you and dwells in you, then you can see it and you can believe it.  So again we have two distinct groups.  The world cannot receive because they have not the new birth.  In the new birth the wind bloweth where it listeth or the Spirit moves where He pleases.  And unless the Spirit is pleased to move upon a person in this world’s world, then this person will never receive, or see, or know Him.  But there are some that do see Him and know Him.  And the reason they can see and know God is because He dwells with them and in them.  Oh, there is a world that cannot see, and cannot receive, and cannot know.  And then there is the other world, the ‘you that know Him, and see Him, and believe in Him because by His grace He dwells in you.

In even further study of the word, world, we find a profound question was asked by one of Jesus followers.  “Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” (John 14:22 AV)  It certainly seems that the apostles understood the concept of a difference between the two groups.  The question pits the ones that could see Jesus against the world.  Jesus manifested or showed Himself to some, but not to the world.  And the ones that He showed Himself to could see Him.  But Jesus did not show Himself to the world.  Is this the world of John 3:16 that Jesus will not show Himself to?  Does God so love the same world that Jesus refuses to reveal Himself to?  Is there a much-loved world that cannot see Jesus because Jesus will not manifest Himself to it?  There is a world that Jesus does not manifest Himself to.  There is a world that cannot see Jesus.  But it is not the so-loved world of John 3:16.  And the answer to Judas’ question of how Jesus shows Himself to the world of John 3:16 and not to the world of John 14:22 is that the wind bloweth where it listeth.  And after the blowing of that life giving wind, a born again child of God can see Jesus.  He can now see because Jesus through the work of the Spirit has manifested Himself to the child.

So who is it that can see and can believe?  It is the Father’s world—the Father’s ‘orderly arrangement.’  It is an ordered, arranged, predetermined, ordained, numbered, known, chosen, and so-loved world.  This is the Father’s kosmos.  Why is it that you can see and believe and the world’s world cannot?  It is because of the ‘orderly arrangement’ of your Father over His world.  According to His orders the wind blows life on you and once alive you can see and believe.  The Father orders it.  The Father arranges it.  “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48 AV)  For whom does He order and arrange such things?  For those in the Father’s orderly arrangement—for those in the Father’s world—for those in the world of John 3:16.  The world’s world cannot see.  The world’s world does not wish to see.  The world’s world hates Jesus.  But praise the Father for ordering His world in such a way as to allow it to see Jesus, to believe in Jesus and to love Jesus!

Surely a final and fatal blow is given to the idea of a single meaning for the word world in the Holy Spirit inspired writings of John by the following:  “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15 AV)  These are directions to God’s people.  We are told to not love the world.  Does God Almighty have a universal love for the world of this verse?  Does God so love the world and then command His children to not love the same world?  Can God love the world and then tell us not to love the world and keep His consistency?  Yes, He keeps His consistency if there is more than one world in the writings of John.  But He cannot be consistent if there is just one world.   How can He keep His consistency if He so loves a world enough to give His Son for it and then He instructs us not to love that same world?  The consistent God of the Bible loves the world that He has chosen, the world that He has moved upon with His Spirit, that world that originates in His ‘orderly arrangement.’  Salvation is an ‘orderly arrangement.’  It is ordered by God, ordained by God and arranged by God for a chosen and set number of recipients.  Now it is a large number, a number no man can number, a number as the sands of the seashore and the stars of the heavens.  But even though it is a number beyond man to number, it is not beyond God.  It is an ordered number and all things ordered by God for that ordered number will be given to that ordered number.  What a kosmos is the Father’s world!

So there is a world of people taken out of the world.  And this taken-out-of-the-world world is told not to love the world of the world.  God loved the world, but Jesus prayed not for the world, and the Holy Spirit told us to love not the world.  The world of John 3:16 is the Father’s world.  It is that ‘orderly arrangement,’ that kosmos in the hands of God Almighty.  God so loved that world, His world, that He gave His only begotten Son.  The writer John does speak of this same world of John 3:16 in other places such as the following:  “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29 AV)  These sins are the sins of the number included in God’s kosmos that was ordered and arranged before the foundation of the world.  These are the sins of the individuals in that ‘ordered arrangement’ of people known by God from forever before; and they without their sins will be loved by God to forever beyond.  This is that ordered world arranged and chosen by God.  Oh, there is a world that we are not to love.  And Jesus did not pray for the world, but for those given to Him out of the world.  And those chosen by God and given to Jesus out of the world are the ones who make up the world of John 3:16.  It is a world God loves and we are to love.  It is the Father’s world.  It is the world the Lamb of God came to save.  It is the world that God gave to His Son.  It is the world that Jesus died for.  And according to God’s ‘orderly arrangement’ the Holy Spirit according to His pleasure will find and blow His breath upon each individual in that world.  And after that ordered event, even the giving of the new birth, the born again child of God is able to see and believe in His Savior.  To God belongs all the Praise!

Oh, that the Spirit of God would grant you the revelation to understand that there is more than one world spoken of in God’s word.  There is a world judged by Jesus and not prayed for.  There is a world under the leadership of Satan.  There is a world that cannot see and believe in Jesus.  There is a world that we are not to love.  But there is a God-loved world in the hands of the Father Almighty.  It is a world given to Jesus Christ, the Son of the Almighty.  It is a world born again by the Holy Spirit, the power of the Almighty.  It is a world saved forever by the grace of the Almighty.  This is the world of John 3:16.

If Nicodemus had understood these things, he might have asked, “Is this world of the Father my world or am I in the world led by Satan?  You might ask the same question.  In our detailed study of the words of John 3:16 we are yet to come to the proclamation of assurance for you.  Nevertheless, let it be said at this point that if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you can rest assured that you are already in and shall ever remain in the Father’s world.

 

 

So Loved

Now let us consider the idea of God’s love for His world.  What about this love?  What about the magnitude of His love?  That little word, so, found in the words, “God so loved the world,” magnifies the love God has for His world.  He did not just love; He so loved.  And the words that follow make this one of the grandest statements in the entire Bible concerning the depth of God’s love.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”  The magnitude of God’s love for His world, His people, can be measured by the value of the gift given for this world, these people.  “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”  Remember the incredible words of the Father at the baptism of this Son.  God has not often in the history of the world spoken aloud to the world.  But at the baptism of His Son there was joy in heaven.  I believe that there is joy in heaven at the baptism of any of God’s children, but at the baptism of His beloved Son Jesus Christ, it was as if the joy could not be held to heaven.  For at the baptism of Jesus, God shouted from heaven, “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”  This is the Son that I love.  And in John 3:16 we are told that God so loved the world that He gave this very much beloved Son for that so-loved world.  God so loved the world that He even gave Jesus Christ.  The value of the gift is a measure of the degree of the love that God has for the world, His world, even the Father’s world.

Remember that this is not the world that Jesus refused to pray for.  Nor is it the world that we are told to love not.  This is the world that God loved so much that He gave His Son for it.  Oh, the extent of the love that God has for this world of His is immeasurable!  How much does God love this world of John 3:16?  He loves it enough to give His Son.  How much does God love anyone in this world of John 3:16?  He loves anyone in that world enough to give His Son.  Does God love you?  Does God love me?  Does God love me enough that He gave His Son for me?   Your answer and my answer are in the verse.  If you believe in Jesus as the Son of God, then you are already in the world that God has forever loved.   Now we are getting ahead of ourselves again in our study.  But I feel that I have to tell you again at this time that if you believe in Jesus as the Son of God, then you are already in the so-loved world of the Father.  And let it be said that He does not love you because you believe in Him.  You believe in Him because He loved you enough to give you His Spirit that enables you to believe in Him.  You believe in Him and love Him because He first loved you.  Your love and your belief are the result of His work in you and His power on you.  Now we are yet to get to the part of the verse that declares that the belief in Him is the evidence that He does love you and not the cause of His love for you.  But for now let this bit of assurance comfort you and may you be reassured that if you believe in Him, then you have been forever so-loved by Him and you shall be forever so-loved by Him.  You are so-loved to the extent that He gave His Son for you.

Further evidence of the great love that God has for His world can be found in the incredible words of the prayer of Jesus.  In His prayer Jesus said, “that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:23 AV)  Listen to those last words, “loved them, as thou hast loved me.”  What a comparison!  The thought that God has loved his children even as He has loved Jesus is an overwhelming concept.  Imagine that God loves His other children in the same measure, as He has loved Jesus.  Imagine that you are loved just like He loves Jesus.  That is absolutely amazing.  What a love God has for His world.  Now Jesus has already said in this same prayer that He is not praying for the world, but for those given to Him.  Jesus is praying for a much-loved people who were given to Him out of the world.   He is not praying for Satan’s world, but for the Father’s world.  And for this particular group, the Father’s world given to Jesus out of the whole world, Jesus prays that they may know just how much that they are loved.  In this beautiful prayer Jesus gives us a measure of God’s love for us.  It is a love equal to the love that God has for His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.  “As thou hast loved me” gives us a measure of how much the Father loves all His children.  Who does the Father love with this measure of love?  Is it the ones Jesus refuses to pray for?  Is it the world we are told to love not?  No, it is the ones the Father has given to Jesus.  It is the ones taken out of the world.  It is the ones in the Father’s world.  It is the ones in the world of John 3:16.  God so loved His world (that kosmos of His, that orderly arrangement of people taken out of the world, the ones He has ordered and placed in His arrangement) that He gave to His Son.  In John 3:16 God so-loved us enough to give His Son for us.  In John 17:23 God loved us even with the same level of love that He has for His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased.

So if He loves you, how much does He love you?  If He loves you, does He just love you a little bit?  God does not do things in little ways or in a little fashion.  No, He does things big time.  He gives big gifts, like His Son.  And the measure of His love for you is found in the value of the gift given for you.  Furthermore, He even loves all His children with a love equal to His love that He has for that Son that was given.  Moreover, an understanding of the extent of this love leads us to the next point.  Surely the magnitude of this kind of love must demand a completion of the salvation for those who are loved.  I submit to you the proposition that it would be a fickle and failing love if an Almighty God with all power finally fails to deliver those that He loved.  Surely the extent of love expressed by the words of Jesus in the prayer and by the action of God in giving His Son demands a completion of the salvation for those so-loved children in that world.  Surely nothing could now stop or ever stop an almighty God from giving salvation to those who are so loved.

In the words of Paul, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?   He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32 AV)  The God spoken of in this passage is the God of the Bible, the Almighty God, the God who does His pleasure, the God who is unstoppable by any other power.  If that God is for the ones He loves who can be against them?  What could stop Him from completing the salvation that He has in mind for them?  What can stop Him from doing that which He wishes to do?  A central theme of the scriptures is the thought that He does His will and none can stay His hand or stop Him from doing that which He is pleased to do.  He does have all power and does what He pleases.  Well I say again, if He is for us what can be against us?  So then, is He for us?  Oh the next words in the passage prove that He is for us.  He spared not His Son.  God delivered up His Son for us.  Is God for us?  Certainly, He must be for us.  If He went so far as to give His Son, surely He is very much for us.  And the passage continues with the next logical assumption.  If God is for us that much, will anything stop Him from continuing the process of freely giving us all things—even salvation and eternal life.  If God so loved His world that he gave His Son can anything now stop Him from giving eternal life to those He so loved?  The power of God is not a failing and weak power.  The love of God is not a weak and feeble love.  No, the magnitude of His love and the greatness of His power demand that He complete what He has begun.  And Paul’s arguments conclude with the words, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 AV)  Nothing has the power to stop God from freely giving His loved ones all things.  And nothing can separate us from the love of God, that love that is so great that God gave His Son for the ones that He loved.

The reality of an Almighty God with perfect love demands the successful completion of the salvation for those so loved.  Otherwise, you have one of two possibilities.  Either God has been dethroned and some power has stopped Him from doing that which He wished to do, or he has ceased to care for those He loved.  If God ceases to care for those He loved, then that is not a “so-loved” love.  A love like that is a small, weak, frail love.  Surely the God who so loved His children that He gave His Son must still care for them.  The prophet describes the endless nature of God’s love with these words.  “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3 AV)  And just as certain as He will never lose His love, God will never lose His throne.  So the salvation of the ones who are loved must some day come to pass.

The Bible declares that God has all power.  The Bible describes God as perfect.  Surely one of God’s perfections must be His love.  Certainly God does have perfect love.  What would perfect love be?  What would a God with perfect love do?  If God is God and He has all power and He has perfect love, what would that encompass?  At first thought you might say that a perfect God with perfect love backed up with perfect power would love everybody and save everybody.  And it does at first seem feasible that a perfect God with perfect power and perfect love would prove that love and power by saving every individual that has ever lived in this world.  But the problem with this thinking is that the Bible teaches that God does not love everybody and that God will not save everybody.  For in the Bible you will find that every individual that has ever lived in this world is not saved.  And as a matter of fact, you will find that His power will be shown through those He does not save.  It is not that His power is too small to save everybody.  He has the power to do whatever He chooses to do.  But the truth is that God does not choose to save every individual that has ever lived upon this earth.  Consider these words from the Apostle Paul, “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.  And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:22-24 AV)  It is clear that there is a destruction coming.  And God will demonstrate the extent of His power by destroying some in that destruction.  When the world of Satan is destroyed it will be destroyed by the Almighty perfect power of God.  So the scriptures are clear that salvation is not waiting for every individual. But look at the two groups of people in the passage.  You might even say look at the two worlds.  There is one waiting to be destroyed and there is one yet to receive the riches of His glory.  There is a world that will be destroyed and by that destruction God will prove His power.  There is another world that will be saved and by that salvation God will prove that He so loved them.  He so loved them to the extent that He gave His Son for them.  And He will prove the extent of His love for that world by completing the salvation that He has begun.  There is an orderly arrangement in both cases.  And the order of things is that everybody will not be saved.

But even with the understanding that all are not saved, human thinking may yet demand that a perfect God with perfect love would love everybody.  In an attempt to proclaim the love of God and how much love He has many will still say that He loves everyone.  They will say that God is love and He loves everybody.  They declare that God loves everybody that has ever lived.  They think that this is a description of what God’s perfect love must be.  They think that it is to the praise of His love to proclaim that He loves everybody.  But the sad thing about what they further proclaim is that He will lose most of those He loves.  Is a love that loses those that are loved really a great love?  They think that the perfect love of God must fit into the concept that Jesus loved everybody and died for everybody.  But then they admit that it is so sad that Jesus will lose most of those He died for.  It is easy to clarify this error in human thinking if one simply goes to God’s word for the answers.  For the same chapter that declares that God will not save everybody, also declares that God does not love everybody. Please notice the straightforward statement:  “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” (Romans 9:13 AV)  So not only is everybody not saved.  The scriptures are clear that everybody is not loved.

Now reason with me.  Which is a greater love?  A love for all that loses most?  Or a love for some that never fails?  Remember the love of God that is measured by the giving of His Son.  Remember the God that is for us and none can be against us.  Remember the God that spared not His Son but delivered Him up.  Remember the God who will freely give us all things.  There is something slipping with a God who loved so much that He gave His Son, but most will not be loved enough to bring them home to be with Him in glory.  Is the problem that God has a weak love that fails in the end?  Or perhaps the problem is a weak Savior who cannot save in the end.  Either way this scheme is not very God magnifying.  To think that God loved everybody but loses most of the ones He loved makes for a rather small God.  Is this love that loses the ones that are loved equal to the “so-loved” love that would give the Son?  Could a love that gives a Son stand to lose one that He had the power to save?  Suppose you have a loved one teetering on the brink, so to speak, on the edge of a bridge and teetering over the fire below.  And suppose that this is your loved one and you have a strong arm that you could reach to them.  Is it real love that does not reach out?  Would real love allow one to teeter and fall into the fire?  Can God’s love allow most to teeter and fall?  Does God so love a world that He will not reach out to?  Can the ones He loves really end up in the fire below?  How can God’s love refuse to reach out and save?  To refuse the arm of help is not love in man’s realm, much less in God’s realm of love.  A picture of a love that will not reach is not the love of God described by the words, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”  A love that forever loses the ones who are loved is beneath an Almighty love.  It is beneath God’s love.  It is weak and failing, feeble love.

Or the only other alternative is a weak and failing, feeble Savior.  Either the love was too weak to care or the Savior was too weak to save.  Is this a description of the Jesus of the New Testament?  Is this a picture of the powerful God/man Jesus Christ?  Is this the Jesus Christ that dwells in your heart and speaks to you the things concerning Himself?  Is this the Jesus Christ that your enlivened heart testifies to you about?  Is this what you really think that He is like?  Is Jesus really wishing that He could be a Savior?  By many people Jesus is presented as if He wants to save but is unable.  Some declare a poor little Jesus whose hands are tied.  His so-called love for everybody is presented as if that is a depiction of the greatest of loves.  But to love all and not reach out and save all is surely a weak love.  Again the only alternative to a love too weak to care is a Savior too weak to save those that He loves.  My friend, you do not praise God by proclaiming Him to have a weak and feeble love or to be weak and failing in power.  You praise God by listening to and submitting to the description that God has left of His love and His power in His word.  The Bible proclaims a God who does not love everybody and will not save everybody.  But the ones that God does love, He loves with a never-ending love.  And the ones that God does save, He saves with a never-failing power.

Let us now go back to the first thought about God and His love and His power.  And let us attempt to tie God and His perfect love and power to the words of John 3:16.  We at first said that it would seem logical that perfect love and perfect power would love everybody and save everybody.  But we have seen from the scriptures that God does not love everybody and will not save everybody.  So is God’s love not a perfect love?  And is God’s power not perfect power?  God forbid that such be said.  For the words of John 3:16 give us a picture of perfect love and perfect power.  The combination of perfect love and perfect power does not love all and save some.  Perfect love and perfect power saves all that are loved.  It must be that way.  Perfect love with almighty power loves a world and saves that entire loved world.  But the world that is loved and saved is the world previously described as the world of John 3:16.  It is the Father’s world that is loved and everyone in the Father’s world will be saved.  And there is truth in the statement that a perfect God with perfect power and perfect love would love everybody in the world and save everybody in the world if the proper definition of the word world is considered.  And what is the world that is under consideration?  The world considered is the world taken from the world’s world.  The world’s world, Satan’s world was never loved.  But for the Father’s world the Father has a perfect love, a never failing love, a never-ending love, a love without measure, a love that can be measured by the gift given.  It is an endless love from an Almighty, all-powerful God.  And every individual in this world, the Father’s world, will be saved by the perfect, almighty power of Jesus Christ.  And it will be according to the perfect, unfailing, never ending love of God.  The words of John 3:16 give us a grand statement of God successfully and gloriously saving His people from their sins.  And it is to the praise of His love and His power, that He does save His people.

The Father’s world, that orderly arranged number of people given to Jesus Christ, will be accounted for.  Every one of them will be accounted for.   Jesus said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.   And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” (John 6:38-39 AV)  Listen to Jesus’ words.  He said “all which He hath given me.”  He is talking about the ones chosen out of the world and given to Him from the Father.  He is talking about the Father’s world.  He is describing the Father’s orderly arranged kosmos.  He is speaking of those that became the Father’s world in election before the beginning of time.  Jesus claims to have perfect power to save and deliver this world to the Father.  Jesus says that He is a perfectly powerful Savior with perfect love, and He promises that all that the Father has given Him will be saved.  None of the loved ones in this orderly arranged kosmos will ever be lost.  All that were ever in the world of the Father will be delivered one day to the Father.  This is a picture of perfect love.  Perfect love does not allow a loved one to fall.  This is a picture of perfect power.  Perfect power accomplishes the will of the one who possesses it.  This is a picture of a perfect Savior.  Call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins.  Yes, He shall save His Father’s world.

So in a sense our first thought is the true thought.  God does love everybody in the world and will save everybody in the world.  But the thought is not the thought of those who would claim the doctrine of universalism in that God loved every individual and will save every individual.  No, the world God loved is not the world encompassing every individual in history.  But the world loved by God is the Father’s world.  It is composed of the individuals taken from the world’s world by the Father and given to the Son.  It comprises every individual given to Jesus.  It is His people that He shall save. It is the chosen elect of God.  It is the group from which none will be lost.  Yes, that perfect love from a perfect all-powerful God will deliver everyone of these in this world chosen by the Father to the world of glory one day.

At this point you might ask, “How can a perfect God not love everybody?”  Does the thought that God does not love every individual shock you?  Is it surprising to you that God does not love Satan?  Does it stun you that God might not love the world over which Satan is the prince?  Is it unfair that God does not love a world that rejoices at the death of His Son?  My friend, if you question God’s right to not love humanity, you think too highly of yourself.  Upon considering the vile nature of man, the question ‘How can a perfect God not love every individual?’ becomes easy to answer.  The real question with no answer is, ‘How can a perfect God love any individual?’  To think that God could love any individual from this fallen world, from this world under Satan’s influence, this world of hatred and strife, this world that we are even told to love not, is most amazing.  Oh, that God could love any individual is the most profound theological thought in all of history.  Again, the question is not, ‘how God could not love everybody?’  The unanswerable question is, ‘how could God love anybody?’  How could God love any sinful person enough to desire to take that person out of Satan’s realm and place him into God’s kosmos?  And how could God so love that vile, sinful person to the extent that He would give His Son for him?  And how could God love a vast host, even a world of people, with that much love?  The thought that God would take many from this world and place them into His world is mind-boggling.  Oh dear friends, do not question God’s lack of love for all.  But be amazed that He loved any.  Never cease to wonder at the mercy and grace and love of God.

What wondrous love is this, Oh my soul, Oh my soul,

What wondrous love is this, Oh my soul.

What wondrous love is this, that caused the Lord of bliss

To bear the dreadful curse, for my soul, for my soul,

To bear the dreadful curse, for my soul.

                                                                    Unknown

 

 

The Assurance of John 3:16 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting live.”  If Nicodemus had had understanding he might have wondered if he had everlasting life.  He might have questioned whether he had been born again.  If you understand these words of Jesus in the conversation with Nicodemus, you might likewise wonder if the Spirit has moved on you and given you the new birth.  You may be unsure whether you are in the Father’s world or whether you will perish.  The words of John 3:16 give you your answer.  Truly, the answer given in the verse is simple and the assurance is certain.  For the simple truth is that if you now believe, then the Spirit must have already moved on you and given you the everlasting life.  If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, then you have already been born again.  For your belief must occur way down the list in a long chain of divine events.  The Bible consistently describes a chain of events in salvation and in that chain belief occurs after the life is given at the new birth.  And on the other hand the Bible in many places says that belief is impossible before the new birth.  So if you now believe in Jesus as your Savior, then you can be absolutely certain that you have already been born again.  For the new birth always occurs before the belief in God’s chain of events for your salvation.

Let me give you a brief list of some of the events in the chain of salvation.  If you now believe, then God elected you a long time ago even before the beginning of the world.  If you now believe, then you are and have ever been foreknown by God in that intimate relationship of love, even loved with God’s immeasurable love.  If you now believe, then you were by grace given to Jesus before time.  If you now believe, then God gave His Son for you on the cross at the appointed time.  If you now believe, then Jesus has already paid for your sins at that cross.  If you now believe, then the Spirit of God has already breathed upon you and into you His presence.  If you now believe, then you have already been born again.  For it is impossible to see and believe except you first are born again.  And as far as your future goes, if you now believe, then you will never perish.  If you now believe you can be assured that you are in possession of eternal, everlasting life.

So remember that the belief comes way down the list in the chain of events.  Belief is not the cause of the new birth.  Belief is not the beginning of the eternal, spiritual life.  Belief does not precede the new birth in the chain.  It follows the new birth.  The ability to believe spiritual things comes as a result of the eternal life given at the new birth.  First there is spiritual life, then comes spiritual abilities such as belief.  So since belief is impossible before the new birth, your assurance is that if you now believe, then you must have already received the new birth.  If you now believe, then you can be confident that you already have begun to exist in the realm of the everlasting, spiritual life.  If you now believe, then the Wind of God has already blown upon you as He pleased and you have by grace been born of the Spirit.

To God be all the praise for salvation—He planned it before time; He paid for it at the cross; He applies it at the new birth; He completes it at the resurrection.  From start to finish salvation is of the Lord.  Now He knew all the way along that you were His child, but you may wonder whether you are or not.  My friend, if you believe, then you are.  Your belief is your assurance that He planned salvation for you.  Your belief is your assurance that He paid for your salvation.  Your belief is your assurance that He has already moved into you at your new birth and applied the salvation.  Your belief is your assurance that you now have begun to possess the everlasting life.  All that is left for the completion of your salvation is the resurrection and you can be sure that it awaits you with certainty.

In support of the idea that belief must always follow the new birth, let us examine a few Bible passages.  There are many places in the Bible that teach the unresponsiveness of the natural man to spiritual concepts.  More scriptures than you may even imagine can be used to support the idea that the person without the Spirit of God in them is unable to believe in Jesus as the Son of God.  Jesus often spoke of the inability of the unbelievers to believe without the intervention of God on their behalf such as in the following passage:

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?   When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?   What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?   It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.   But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.   And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. (John 6:60-65 AV)

In the above passage many said that Jesus had spoken a hard saying.  They ask a profound question when they said, “Who can hear it?”  I suppose that is the question we are asking.  Who can hear the teachings of Jesus?  Who can understand spiritual things?  The multitudes walked away from Jesus.  They refused to accept that which seemed to them to be nonsense and foolishness.  Jesus said in the passage that the Spirit quickens.  In other words, the Spirit gives life at the new birth.  Jesus said that the words He spoke were spirit and life.  In other words, the teachings were concerning spiritual things and things of eternal life.  Then Jesus acknowledged that there were some that did not believe His words.  Now some believed and some believed not.  That always seems to be the case when spiritual things are taught.  But the passage goes on to say that Jesus knew from the beginning who would believe not and who would betray Him.  Did Jesus just know this by His perfect ability to know all things past, present and future?  Though He would have known these things simply due to His having all knowledge, there is more than foresight involved in Jesus knowing who would or would not believe.  There is a sovereign act of God involved before any can believe.  There is a new birth from God that must occur before belief can occur.  Jesus, being God, would have known from the beginning which ones would receive the new birth and which would not, who would believe and who would not.  Listen to Jesus’ conclusion to the matter, “Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.”  In other words, no man can come until the Father gives the man the ability to come.  No man can believe until he is born again.  No man can hear spiritual words until he has spiritual life.  You cannot come to Jesus unless it is given to you to come.  And in the lesson of John 3:3-8 you cannot go back and be born again.  But you must be born again.  Man cries, ‘How can I?’  Jesus says, ‘No man can except it be given unto him of my Father.’  No man can be born again of his own strength or decision.  And no man can hear or see or believe until he is born again.  Spiritual teachings will always be hard sayings and foolishness unless something is first given from the Father.  So truly no man has a desire to come to that which he considers foolishness until something is given to him of the Father.  The thing given is something that Jesus knew would be given from the beginning.  Actually, the thing given is not a thing.  It is a Person of the Trinity.  What is given is the Spirit of God at the new birth.  The Wind, even the Spirit of God, blows as He pleases.  According to God’s sovereign will and His amazing grace, the Wind moves into the heart of a child of God and gives the child everlasting life.  And so it is with every one that is born of the Spirit of God.  And no man can come except this Spirit be given to him of the Father.

Jesus teaches these same things in many places.  Look at the following passage:

Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.   Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.   And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.   Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?   He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. (John 8:43-47 AV)

The teachings in the above passage are very straightforward and simple.  There is a group in this passage that cannot hear and understand.  There is a group that can hear.  Oh they both can hear the words of Jesus with natural hearing.  But only the one group can hear with spiritual understanding.  Words of spiritual things spoken to natural ears will never be understood.  But spiritual words spoken to spiritual ears cause rejoicing to occur in the spiritual heart.  The group that is of God can hear and the group that is not of God cannot hear.  Why did the one group not understand?  They could not hear.  They could not come.  They could not believe.  They were not of God.  The Spirit with the resultant faith had not been given to them.

Jesus teaches the same things repeatedly.  Again look at the following passage:

Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.   Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.   But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.  My sheep hear my voice. (John 10:24-27 AV)

The Jews said ‘tell us plainly.’  But He had been telling them plainly.  How much plainer could His words have been?  How much greater could His deeds have been?  He had raised the dead.  Why did they not believe on Him?  It seems impossible that they would not have believed on Him.  But Jesus explains why they did not believe.  He declares that they did not believe because they were not of His sheep.  There was one group, even the sheep, who could believe and follow and come and hear.  And there was another group who could not.  Except they are the Father’s sheep, the Father will never draw them.  Except the Father draw them, they cannot come.  Except they be born again they cannot see, they cannot believe, they cannot follow, they cannot understand.  You must be born again before you can see the kingdom.  But if you can see the kingdom, then you have been born again.  If you can hear with understanding the words of Jesus, then you have been born again.  If you believe in Jesus, then you are in the group that He calls His sheep.  If you have come to Jesus, then you were previously drawn before you came.

And do not forget the words of Jesus to Peter after Peter’s declaration that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.   And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 16:16-17 AV)

Oh, if you believe and understand that Jesus is the Son of God, then you can be sure that God must have revealed these things to you.  For without God’s revelation these things are inevitably foolishness and never will be believed.  Flesh and blood does not show you these things.  Man cannot teach man these things.  You do not know these things by your natural intellect.  God must draw you in order for you to know these wonderful things.

Jesus further said:

I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.   Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.   All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (Matthew 11:25-27 AV)

You can see over and over from the scriptures that it is God’s will and God’s choice that makes you to be in a position where you can see and can know God.  It is God’s will and God’s choice that made you where you could believe by giving you life and allowing you to believe after you have the life that the Spirit breathed upon you.

Look at these further teachings:

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 AV)

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:23-24 AV)

And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48 AV)

In the above it is easily seen that the natural man cannot discern or understand the things of the Spirit of God.  He cannot know them.  To him these things are a stumbling block and foolishness.  But to them who are called, to them that have been spoken to by the Spirit, to them who have heard the life giving voice of God, to them who have been ordained to eternal life, to them who have been born again, the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a proclamation of the power and the wisdom of God to save.  The ones who have been ordained to life, called by the Spirit and born again can believe and rejoice in the things concerning Christ.  The natural man cannot.

And again look still further at these words:

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44 AV)

And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:40 AV)

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37 AV)

From the above words it is obvious that no man has the ability to come to Jesus until the Father draws that man to Jesus.  This inability to come is consistent with man’s lack of power to rise above his earthly fallen nature.  This drawing by the Father is the same event as the new birth and it is consistent with the teachings concerning the new birth that no man has the power to birth himself.  It is further stated that you will not come to Jesus that you might have life.  This unwillingness to come is consistent with the thinking of a natural man.  To the natural man the things of Jesus are foolishness.  Why would a man be motivated to desire that which he considers to be foolishness?  In Romans 8:7 the carnal mind is said to be enmity to God.  The will of the natural man is not turned toward God, but against Him.  So that natural will and that natural man possessing that carnal nature will not come to God and cannot come to God.  It is not that the man wishes to and cannot.  It is not that he can and will not.  He neither can nor will.  He cannot come and he will not come until the power of the Father draws him to Jesus.  But look at the certainty in the last verse in the above list.  All that were given to Jesus shall come to Jesus.  Now no man will come of his own will.  And no man can come of his own power.  But all that are given to Jesus shall come.  The solution to the salvation of the unwilling and unable man does not lie in the man.  It is not man’s will that draws man to God.  It is God’s will.  It is not man’s power that draws man to God.  It is God’s power.  It is not man’s faith that makes the difference.  It is the Father’s faithfulness to draw all that have been given to Jesus.  And all that were given to Jesus shall come, because the Father will draw each of them to Jesus.  And none that are drawn will ever be cast out.  None that are drawn will ever perish.  All that are drawn will have everlasting life.  All that are drawn will be raised up the last day.  So he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord!

Some believe and some do not.  In Acts 28 Paul preached and some believed and some believed not.  Throughout the gospels Jesus preached and some believed and some believed not.  Throughout the centuries Jesus has been preached and some have believed and some have believed not.  Today Jesus is proclaimed and some believe and some believe not.  What makes the difference?  Who believes?  The ones who have been drawn believe.  The ones to whom the Spirit has been given believe.  The ones who have been born again believe.  The ones who are ordained to eternal life believe.  The ones that God has first done a work in their hearts are able to believe.  In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Who hath believed our report?”  And truly the answer comes in his next question.  “To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”  The ones who believe the report are always the ones to whom the arm of the Lord has been revealed through the revelation of the Lord upon their hearts.

Dear child of God, your comfort comes not in knowing that there are some who cannot and will not believe.  But your comfort comes in knowing that only the ones who have previously been born again and drawn to God by the power of His Spirit are able to believe.  Along these lines if you know two facts, you can have certain assurance about your eternal status.  The first fact you need to know is that no man can believe unless he is born again.  The second thing you need to know is the fact that you do believe in Jesus.  Putting these two facts together gives you your certain assurance.  For if it is a fact that you do believe in Jesus, and if it is a fact that you could not believe in Jesus unless you were born again, then your certainty is as follows:  The fact of your belief proves the fact of your new birth.

In other words, if you know that you cannot believe and come to Jesus until you have been born again and drawn to Him, then you also know that if you have come to Jesus and believed in Him, then you must have already been born again and drawn to Him by the power of God.  So you can rest assured that if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then there has already been something wonderful that has happened to you.  If you believe, then you already have been born again.  And you can be further assured with all confidence that He that has begun a good work in you will complete it at the coming of Jesus Christ in the last day.  You as a believer can be sure that no man can pluck you away from your God.  You in the group able to believe in Jesus can be sure that you will never perish.  You that now believe can be sure that you are already in possession of your everlasting life.

If you have been born again, then you can see the kingdom and rejoice in her King.  And on the other side of the same coin, if you do see the kingdom and rejoice in her King, then that is your evidence that something must have already happened to you to enable you to see these things.  Because no natural man can come, no man will come, no man can follow, no man can make that first step, no man can understand, no man can see, no man can hear, no man can know except the Father draw him.  Unless you have first been born again, you can never see and know these things concerning Christ.  But if you have come, if you have had the will to come, if you have followed, if you have made that step (though not truly the first step since God made the first step), if you do understand, if you can see, if you can hear, if you can know these things of Christ, then you have already been born again.

John 3:16 is a great verse.  It gives you a proclamation of assurance beyond any doubt.  It is not an invitation, but it is an assurance.  It is not a proposition.  Instead, it is a proclamation.  Oh, you are not invited to do that which you cannot do.  You are not invited to do what God does for you.  You do not know how to be born again.  You were not responsible for your first birth and you are not responsible for your new birth.  You are not held responsible to see the kingdom and then come into it.  You did not see the earthly kingdom until you were born into it.  And you cannot see the spiritual kingdom until you are born into it.  To be born is a passive thing for you.  The active part was beyond your strength and before your time.  The comparison of the giving of eternal life to a birth is a good comparison.  The analogy is a correct analogy.  Jesus did not get confused in the use of the metaphor.  He taught us with the illustration of a birth and it is a perfect illustration of what He was teaching.  Your new birth is something that you were not responsible for.  It is something that happened to you.  But then after it happened to you, you had life.  And a result of that life is the ability to see.  “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 AV)

Is it man’s choice to be born again?  It was not by man’s choice that he was born naturally.  It is not his choice to be born from above.  The new birth for man is God’s choice.  Is it man’s will or God’s will that causes the new birth?  “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” (Psalms 110:3 AV)  Before the new birth Jesus said, “you will not come.”  After the work of God’s power His people’s wills are changed.  The unwilling will becomes a willing will.  The will now can and will say, ‘Lord, what will thou have me to do?’  Did man see the kingdom and become willing to enter into it?  Or does God work a work on the will of man?  “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13 AV)  It is God that works in you to allow you to see, to will, and to do of His good pleasure.  But all this work comes through and after the giving of eternal life at the new birth.  It is God that works “in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:21 AV)  You need to understand that “the preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:1 AV)  You need to remember that the Lord opened Lydia’s heart so that she could attend to the things of God.  “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” (Acts 16:14 AV)  My friend, if you now have a willing heart, a prepared heart, a desire to come to God and call Him your Lord, then it is the power of His Spirit within you leading you in these ways.

The Wind blows where it pleases and so it is with everyone that is born of the Spirit.  You may cry, ‘Have I been born again?’  I ask you, ‘Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?  Do you believe that Jesus is your Savior?  Is Jesus your Lord?’  And if you are able to sincerely answer, ‘I do believe!’  Then I can proclaim to you, ‘You have been born again.’

For it is not impossible for a man to know whether he has been born.  In the natural realm a person can know he has already been born if he is now alive.  And he can be certain he is now naturally alive if he has the natural abilities associated with life.  For instance, if a person through the abilities afforded by natural eyes and a natural mind can see and know natural things, then he can be certain that he currently possesses natural life.  For without life he could not see the natural world and know the reality of its existence.  This seems too simple to even mention, but it is noted because the same principle applies to the less obvious spiritual realm.

The principles of the natural can be applied to the spiritual and will help to uncover the mysteries of the spiritual realm.  Just like in the natural, in the spiritual realm a person can know he has already been born again if he is now alive.  And he can be certain he is now spiritually alive if he has the spiritual abilities associated with spiritual life.  For instance, if a person through the abilities afforded by spiritual eyes and a spiritual mind can see and know spiritual things, then he can be certain that he currently possesses spiritual life.  For without being spiritually alive he could not see the spiritual world and know the reality of its existence.

Common sense confirms the truth of these things in the natural realm.  Life must always precede action.  It is without contradiction that being alive is a necessary requirement before any physical or mental capacities can exist.  If you can walk, you can be sure that you have already been born and are now alive.  If you can ascertain natural concepts and know of the realities of a natural world, then you can be sure that you exist in the realm of the alive.  Moreover, many scriptures prove that these same things hold true in the spiritual realm.  If you can ascertain and know the realities of a spiritual world, then you can be sure that you exist in the realm of the spiritually alive.  For the scriptures are clear that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 AV)

Now though the principles of life are the same with natural and spiritual, it is readily admitted that natural life is more easily recognizable than spiritual life.  So a person might still wonder whether or not he possesses spiritual life, whether or not he has been born again.  If properly understood, John 3:16 gives the uncertain individual the certain evidence of his having been born again.  If a person in this world believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, then he has an ability that the natural person does not have.  The natural mind thinks these things are foolishness, but the spiritual mind rejoices in the whole idea.  If a person believes in Jesus, then a work of grace has already occurred in the heart and soul of that person.  For before belief in spiritual things can occur, there must be spiritual life.  And before spiritual life can exist, there must be a new, spiritual birth.  The Bible is clear when it declares that faith is a fruit of the Spirit.  Belief is a result of the Spirit of God giving a new life, even a new birth, to the individual.  Belief in Jesus is certain evidence and a strong assurance that the person who believes already has spiritual life.  The reason he already has spiritual life is that he has already been born again by the power of a sovereign, gracious God.

Now your new birth is not a result of your belief, but it is your evidence that something has happened to you already.  Your faith is “a gift of God.” (Eph 2:8 AV)  Jesus is the “author of your faith.” (Heb 12:2 AV)  Faith is a fruit of the Spirit. (Gal 5:23 AV)  It is given unto you to believe. (Phi 1:29 AV)  And the same power was required for you to believe as was required to raise Jesus from the dead. (Eph 1:17-20)  If you have faith, it is because God has given it to you.  If you have faith, it is because Jesus has authored it or caused it to begin in you.  If you believe, it is because it has been given to you to believe.  If you believe, it is because you have had a life giving, resurrecting work performed on you.  If you have faith, that faith is not what causes the Spirit to come into you.  Instead, that faith is the result of the Spirit already having come into you.  If you have faith, God has already given you the everlasting life that has resulted in that faith.  And if God has done this then He has begun the good work in you.  And He that has begun the good work will see it through to the end.  If you believe, then you have already been born again and that is your evidence that the everlasting life is in already in you.  And you can be certain that the fullness of that everlasting life surely awaits you when you leave this world.  So if you believe, then that is your evidence that you have been born again.  Your belief is not the cause of your new birth; it is the evidence of your new birth.

 

 

Concluding Thoughts 

So Jesus never intended the words of John 3:16 to be a means to the new birth for the spiritually dead.  Instead the words were meant to be a comfort and an assurance to the born again, spiritually alive, yet doubting child of God.  And the greatest comfort of all is that those who believe not only already have spiritual life, not only have already experienced the new birth, but the greatest comfort is that what is already begun in them will never end.  They will never perish, but forever have that God-given, eternal, everlasting life.

The words of John 3:16 are not a proposition.  The verse is a proclamation of what God has done.  It is a proclamation of a Savior.  It is not a statement about a Savior who begs, and wishes, and wants to be your Savior but His hands are tied.  It is a proclamation similar to what was proclaimed by the angel.  “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 AV)  The consistent Biblical message about this Jesus is that He has the power to save.  He has the almighty power to do His will and to save His people, even all those in His Father’s world.  And all that are in that will and in that Father’s world shall be saved.  None can be lost.  None will be lost.

The words of John 3:16 do not proclaim a weak, feeble, failing, futile love.  The verse does not speak of a love that loses those that are loved.  The love of John 3:16 is a “so” love that is mighty to save.  The words of John 3:16 give a proclamation of the greatest love in existence.  It is a love that gave a beloved Son.

The words of John 3:16 are a proclamation about a world.  The world of John 3:16 is God’s world, God’s orderly arrangement, God’s kosmos.  The verse does not proclaim anything about the world that Jesus did not pray for.  It speaks not about the world that we are told not to love.  There is no love in John 3:16 for the prince of this world and his underlings.  But in John 3:16 there is a great proclamation of love for the world that Jesus died for.  The world of John 3:16 is the orderly arrangement, the kosmos, who were taken out of the world’s world and by grace given to Jesus.  And all that were given to Him shall by His power come to Him.  And the orderly arrangement of the Father’s kosmos will eventually be arranged to completion as ordered.  And it is all to God’s glory.

The words of John 3:16 are a proclamation about a Savior, about a love, and about a world.  But above all the verse is a proclamation about assurance.  If you believe, then that is the greatest evidence that you can have that you are in the Father’s world and that you are a work in His hands.  If you believe, then you can know that a work has been started in you and you can further know that God will complete what He has begun.  If you believe, then you already have been born again.

Oh remember that the words are not an invitation to believe on Him and get the new birth.  But if you believe on Jesus you are born again and you will never perish.  Do you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?  Do you believe in a risen Savior?  If you do, then you have a proclamation of assurance that you will one day be in glory with that Savior.  John 3:16 is that proclamation.  John 3:16 is the doubter’s answer.  John 3:16 is your answer.  John 3:16 is not a begging, failing, powerless Jesus Christ.  John 3:16 is the proclamation of the perfect Savior.  John 3:16 is not a weak, failing, faltering love.  John 3:16 is the proclamation of the perfect love of the Father which saves a complete and entire world, even His orderly arrangement that He ever loved and always intended to save.  John 3:16 is not an invitation to be unborn to be born again.  It is an assurance to the already reborn of the certainty of his new birth.  Remember, the fact of your belief proves the fact of your new birth.  And if you believe, then you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are in the Father’s world.  And if you are in the Father’s world, then you will never perish.  If you believe, then you already have everlasting life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

(John 3:16 AV)

2 thoughts on “John 3:16 Not an Invitation–An Assurance”

  1. jeffrey winfrey:do you have your comments about john 3:16 in a booklet form? if so, please send me the details.

    1. Hello Robert,
      I am encouraged that you desire a copy of the booklet. I would be glad to send you a copy at no charge. Please let me know what address I should send it to. Thanks again for your interest.
      Grace and peace,
      Jeff Winfrey

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