Tuesday, August 7, 2012
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
This is a very radical set of statements. I would like to examine them individually.
v16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
God loved the world before Jesus came and paid for our sins. He loved the world while our sins were in full view. He wanted to have fellowship with us. He wanted us to be with Him through eternity.
Because of this love, Jesus came on a mission. God initiated the action, sending His Son to rescue the very people that were sinning against Him. He paid for our salvation by taking our death sentence on Himself, dying in our place. The price has been paid once for all time (Hebrews 10:10) for the whole world (1 John 2:2).
And now, everlasting life is given to anyone that believes in Jesus..."whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
v17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Many people have a picture of God that is something like this: God is up in heaven somewhere with His arms crossed, looking down on humanity with anger because of our sin. And, if we beg and plead, and promise to act better, then He may consider letting us go to heaven, but He's still mad at us.
This verse paints a very different picture. God loved us before we were saved, before our sins were paid for, before we were even looking His way. He sent His Son on a rescue mission, to save us. He wants all of us to be with him (1 Tim 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9). This was His idea, not ours. He is coming for us, rather than us begging and crawling to come to Him. He took care of everything, and now all we have to do is exercise our free will and choose to believe.
v18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
If the other two passages were not enough to amaze you, this one should make everyone examine his thinking.
If you believe in Jesus, you are not condemned.
If you don't believe in Jesus, then you are condemned.
Notice that your ability to avoid sin is not a part of the equation. You do not escape condemnation though good morals and ethics. You only avoid condemnation by believing in Jesus. We are saved by grace through faith, not by works.
If you don't believe in Jesus, then you are condemned, period. It makes no difference what else you do.
But, on the other hand, of you do believe in Jesus, then you are not condemned, no matter what else you do. Sin and bad choices can totally ruin your life, and put you in situations that you will not enjoy. There are reasons that sin is called sin. We should avoid sin. But sin is not what condemns you. Unbelief...rejection of Jesus...that is how a person is condemned.
We often think that condemnation comes from God as a result of our behavior. This is not true. Romans 8:1 says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (see also Romans 8:31-34). Condemnation only comes if you don't believe in Jesus. It is not what you do that saves you or condemns you. It is faith in Jesus. You must believe that He paid it all for you. Then you can stop approaching God based on how you feel about your performance, and come to Him based Jesus' performance (Romans 5:19).
God wants fellowship with you. He has made peace from His side. We have nothing to offer in return except to believe it. We should take Him at His word, believe in Jesus, and receive eternal life.