John 3:16 is a “good news”, “bad news” verse. It is a verse that we are all familiar with. Of the 31,102 verses in the Bible it is arguably the most popular.
- It is often the first verse that Christian parents teach their children.
- This verse has been translated into 1100 different languages.
- The Gideon’s, who put Bibles in motel rooms, have translated this verse into 27 different languages and put those translations in the front of their Bibles because they want to make sure that when you open their Bible, no matter who you are or where you are from, the first thing you read is “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”
- This verse is said to be “the good news of Jesus in a nutshell” and it is “good news” because it tells us that we cannot, in any way, save ourselves; that God through Jesus has done that for us; so vs. 16 is “good news.”
And yet, this verse contains some “bad news.”
- As popular and famous as this verse is; and as much “good news” as it contains the bad news is, this verse condemns over 2/3 of the world’s population.
- Out of 8 billion people who live on this planet only 2 billion claim Christ at all.
- Therefore, this verse is a very evangelistic verse in that it calls the condemned to turn to Christ.
Many Christians are hesitant to try and teach someone about salvation and they reason they are is because they don’t know where to start; and they don’t think they know enough to teach.
- If you or I are trying to teach someone about salvation and we don’t think we know enough or we don’t know where to start, John 3:16 is a good starting point because this verse covers the basic, essential truth for salvation.
- It is the “gospel in miniature.”
- So, let’s look at vs. 16 again:
16 “For God so loved the world…
- Do you see the word “so?” That word “so” magnifies or intensifies God’s love for the world.
- He didn’t just “love” the world; He “so loved the world”; speaks of a deep affection for.
And when he speaks of the “world” he is talking about the whole human family; the inhabitants of the earth; the whole mass of men and women who are alienated from God because of sin.
- Do you know who all this includes?
- We know from 1 Cor. 6:9-11 that this includes people who are fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, swindlers.
- Romans 1:29 tells us it would include those who are greedy, evil; full of envy, murderers, deceitful, malicious; gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, people without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful;
- That is who John is speaking of when He says “the world.”
And this is still applies today. The love that God had for the world when John wrote this is still in effect today.
- When we see some of the things; some of the immorality, the ungodliness, the wickedness that is in our culture and society, it is hard for us to imagine that God would love those people.
- Well, this verse doesn’t say that He loves what they do. He doesn’t like the sin; but that doesn’t mean the He doesn’t love sinner.
- And what we need to remember is that “while we were yet sinners” God demonstrated this same love for each one us; 5:8.
And notice, God didn’t wait for the world to love Him; He didn’t wait for the world to meet Him half-way.
- John says in 1 John 4:19 that “God loved first. “
- God took the initiative even when the world didn’t love Him.
And look what He did: He gave (speaks of a gift; God was not obligated; He didn’t owe us anything. He did this on His own accord. We do not deserve this. We cannot earn this; it is a “gift”).
He gave His only begotten (Gk. monogenes – mono-one, genes – one of a kind – no other like Him) Son.
- Jesus Christ is uniquely the only Son of God, who shares in the nature of God, and displays the glory of God.
- God gave His only begotten Son: God didn’t just feel the plight or difficulty of the fallen world; He did something about it.
And look why He did it: that whoever believes in Him (trusts in Him, this means much more than just having an intellectual awareness of Jesus. James says in James 2 that even the demons do that; “Believes” speaks of totally relying on Him; obeying Him).
- Some people, even some preachers want to eliminate this or at least minimize it.
- And you have probably herd it: “God is a God of love and a loving God is not going to allow anyone to be lost!”
Those who say that are right; God is a God of love and He loves all of humanity, and He desires that none should perish.
- But the price for sin must be paid (Romans 6:23) and that price was paid by Jesus on the cross and the only way you or I or anyone else can be saved is by trusting in Christ and His perfect atoning sacrifice.
- Listen, God’s love is unconditional. He loves in spite of what people may do.
- But God’s grace and salvation are not unconditional. Grace and salvation are only attained through an ongoing obedient faith in Christ.
And then John says: That whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
- Perish: be lost, be destroyed; this describes the intention of God’s love; His love actually saves man from eternal destruction; if it wasn’t for God’s unrequited love we would have no hope.
- But because of His love and His grace extended through Christ, and because of our faith in Him, we can know that we have eternal life.
Now, I am going to tell you something that we learn from this verse that might come as a shock to some of you. What John says here in vs. 16 is available to everyone and what that means is, no one has to perish.
- If anyone perishes; if anyone is lost; it is not God’s fault.
- He has bent over backwards to afford salvation to everyone and if anyone is lost it is not God’s fault.
- This is “good news!”
But now, we are left with this question: “Why are some people going to be lost?”
- When you look at what John says here; and when you consider God’s unconditional love and the giving of His Son to give us eternal life, why in the world would someone say, “I don’t want that?”
- Why would anyone reject such an offer? Especially when it is given so freely?
Well, look at vs. 17: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge (some versions say “condemn” the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.
- Listen, Jesus could have condemned the world. What does the song say: “He could have called 10,000 angels to destroy the world and set Him free.”
- God could have done that and He would have been justified in doing so.
- But God didn’t do that.
- God didn’t send Jesus to condemn the world; instead He sent Him to save the world by taking the world’s punishment on Himself.
And look at vs. 18: “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe (rejects the idea of trusting in Christ; refuses) has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
So again, why would anyone refuse to believe in Christ? God has bent over backwards and Jesus has done all the heavy lifting and all that is asked of anyone is to trust in Him and obey; and yet they refuse. Why? Look at vs. 19:
Vs. 19 “And this is the judgment (this word means verdict; here is the judgment handed down by the Judge), that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.
- Who does the condemning here? It isn’t God. God is doing all He can to save. Those who are lost can only blame themselves.
- So often we can study with someone and try to teach them and when they reject it we feel like we have failed. We need to remember that all we can do is teach and it is up to them to accept it.
John says here that some “men love the darkness.”
- Some people just don’t want to change.
- They are in a miserable state; their life is a mess; and people out of kindness try to help them (with food, money, clothes, shelter); people try to give them a “leg up” on their situation where they can get out of the hole they are in; and nothing changes for them.
- And they do the same with God. He has bent over backwards to help them, and they refuse because they “love the darkness rather than the light.”
- Still, God loves them and the offer still stands.
Now, notice vs. 20 “For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
- In vs. 19 “men loved the darkness”; here they “hate the light.”
- This is the bottom line!
- You try to talk to people about their spiritual condition, their salvation, and their need to come to Christ and you will hear all kinds of excuses why they won’t:
- “I just don’t agree with what the Bible says.”
- “Those people at that church are not very friendly.”
- “I think I am ok with what I believe and where I am right now.”
- “I don’t believe in God.”
- The ultimate reason they don’t want to come to Christ is because they “love the darkness; and they hate the light because the light convicts them of sin.
21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
- Those who hate the light don’t want their deeds scrutinized. But the one who practices the truth and who comes to the light invite being scrutinized because his deeds will bring honor to God.
We are told in the scriptures that a day of judgment will come; Acts 17:21.
- And when you/I stand before the Lord to be judged for our deeds done in the flesh, if we are in Christ no sins to condemn will be seen; no lies, no gossip; no slander; no wrongs committed; because the blood of Christ will have washed all those sins away.
- But, if we have refused the love of God manifested to us through Christ and His sacrifice on the cross; if we have loved the darkness and hated the light; then when you or I stand before the Lord, the Lord will not list all the lies you told; He will not list all the vulgar words you have spoken; He will not list anything you may have stolen or cheated at; He will not list any of the immoral acts you have done.
- The one indictment and the only indictment that He will present against you or I will be “Why did you reject Christ?”
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023