Radically Good News!

Sometimes, when you read something so many times, there can be a risk of becoming so familiar with it that you start to forget what it is really saying to you.  John 3:16 is one of those.  It is a radical set of statements that, when you really think about what they are saying, will change your life and your view of God forever.  So I invite you to look at this passage with a fresh set of eyes.  I believe you will be blessed as you do so.

John 3:16-18

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.

These three sentences are so profound, and so radical.  These are rare gems, and they are very worthy of close examination.  I want to take the rest of this post and look at each one 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.

Ever since the fall of Adam, it seems like a larger portion of the world’s population is in rebellion against God.  We see this throughout the Old Testament, into the New Testament, and all throughout history up to the present day.  The world, as a whole, is not seeking the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  This is the case now, and it was the case 2000 years ago as well.

When you really think about it, Jesus was not sent into a world that was crying out to God for a savior.  The people of the day were not repenting and fasting and praying.  Jesus was sent into a world that had largely rejected God.

But God sent His Son because He loved the world.  God loved the world before Jesus came and paid for our sins.  He loved the world that was continually rejecting Him.  This is absolutely revolutionary.  God wants to rescue people that reject Him.  God wants to have fellowship with people that are steeped in sin and rebellion.  He loves us, and His love is not in response to anything we are doing, good or bad.  He loved us first.  He started it.  It is His idea.  He wants us to be with Him through eternity.  That’s why He made us in the first place.

And so, 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).  He paid the price for the entire human population for all time, just to be able rescue those that would respond and accept the offer of eternal life with Him.

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.

However, 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.

Jesus came on a rescue mission.  He did not come on a finger-pointing mission.  His goal was to save people, not condemn them.  I only wish that we would all understand this to the point where we would have this same attitude towards others.  Regardless of what you are doing, what you have done, or what you have to offer in return, Jesus wants to rescue you and give you an eternal inheritance.

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 (Ephesians 2:8-9)

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.

And now, with all that being said, let us read these three sentences again in a new light:

John 3:16-18

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 radically good news.  This is the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.

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