Everyone has seen or heard John 3:16 on football face paint, billboards, bumper stickers, t-shirts, everywhere. It has seem to become a mindless slogan in evangelical christian culture. When digging into the meaning and the message, we find something so grand, so majestic, so powerful, that John 3:16 has the ultimate implications for all humanity; contained in these 25 words (NASB). For some, rediscovering John 3:16 can mean new eternal life!
We see the object, expression, recipient, intention, and duration of ultimate divine truth. The seven wonders and maximal elements of reality all contained in this one statement.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Much like Gen. 1:1, God exists, is present, and acts first before anything. Here, God, out of his very nature, not compelled by anyone or anything besides himself, takes action out of his own nature of LOVE. Coming from the Almighty Authority of the creator of the universe where there is no greater.
Not just a moderate love; like how we love our pets or hobbies, but the ultimate selfless sacrificial love; the absolute greatest form of love, divine love, from God himself. He SO loved! The absolute mightiest motive – divine love from a divine nature.
This is not condoning the behavior or the desires of the object being loved. It is separate, unconditionally uninfluenced benevolence apart for anyone or anything for no selfish intent. Before the existence of anything, God SO LOVED.
Jesus was speaking with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin who came to Jesus at night so that no one else would see him with Jesus. He, and the rest of the Pharisees believed that salvation is only for the Jews and the rest of the world (all other nations that are not Jews) were not chosen for salvation (see Rom. 11:12; Isaiah 43:9; Zec. 9:1). When Jesus tells him “THE WORD” Jesus is refering to the nations who were not Jewish. He was telling Nicodemus that God’s divine love was for Israel AND all the world too (1 Tim. 2:4).
Thus, God’s love extended to THE WHOLE WORLD. All the people of the world. The ultimate maximal being shows the greatest and maximal form of love to the maximal amount of people. This love is even for those whom God knew were going to perish anyway. Since God knows all things, knows the hearts of all people, and has seen all of time from before creation; yet, he still loves. God is perfectly JUST and therefore his LOVE must extend to all people.
In his absolute sovereignty, unassisted, and uninfluenced act, he selfishly and freely gave something of maximal value- eternal value. Why give anything? He knew the world was perishing. How so? The sin and disobedience had already been judged (see John 3:17) which by necessity required an equal consequence- eternal separation at judgement. Because God is perfectly holy, righteous, and Just; he must deliver the equally just consequence for the offense. BUT GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD HE GAVE! He gave a solution for redemption that satisfied not only his love but also his divine justice. But it was God who had to give. The world did not deserve it, they were unholy, sinful, and perishing. Notice that HE GAVE and not HE SENT. This again shows his greatest form of love in offering and sacrifice for an undeserving unmerited world. All while the world is perishing; Paul (The Holy Spirit) expresses this perfectly when he stated “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON
He gave God The Son, the eternal heir to all glory and power for all eternity who was the perfect reflection and radiance and glory of God himself (John 8:58; Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:9,2:9). He and the Son were one and the same (John 1:1,14, 10:30,33,36-38). ONLY is because there, for all eternity, will and forever has been only one. BEGOTTEN because he is FROM GOD himself. The person, God The Son, is of ultimate and supreme eternal value to God. Thus, he alone could satisfy God’s perfect justice and love simultaneously.
Now we see John (The Holy Spirit) change the scope that this solution accounts for. It is not THE WORLD he is talking about now. It is conditional reference, WHOEVER. Though the Son was offered to the world with a value that can satisfy God for the whole world, not everyone will receive this redeeming atoning gift. Because God is perfectly loving and perfectly Just, it was offered still, knowing not everyone would receive it. It is God’s love that also allows for those who are offered the gift, to freely reject it out of their own will and desire. None the less, the gift was still offered the THE WORLD- the absolute maximally widest welcome. Though it is the absolute widest welcome, not all will be covered by the sacrifice of Jesus (Matt. 25:32-33, 26:28; John 10:11,15, 17:9; Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25-27; Isaiah 53:12). That is a very hard truth to accept but it is clear, the WHOEVER are only his sheep of the church who is the body of Christ. Some will blast this as exclusionary and intolerant but one fact they can not escape is that this gift is offered to THE WORLD. And due to God’s love, the grants them their ultimate desire- to justify themselves instead of being justified by God The Son. Due to God’s perfect Justice, he must then allow them to perish and pay for the eternal consequence themselves without Christ. None the less, it was still offered to all mankind.
BELIEVES IN HIM
This is the absolute easiest escape and relief from the pending perishing and final consequence. Those few who receive this maximally eternally valuable gift from God, who believe in God The Son get to open this gift of faith in God The Son. But this opportunity is hard to receive; that God himself would sacrifice for mankind. The Jews felt crucifixion was shameful and embarrassing. The Iliad wrote “Juno says to Vulcan: ‘Dear son, refrain: it is not well that thus A God should suffer for the sake of men” (Iliad, xxi., 379,380). Muhammad refused to accept a great prophet from God would die in such a way. Many Gnostic beliefs refused to accept this. Sounds to low for a god to do and sounds to easy without the assistance of effort and works. But that is EXACTLY THE POINT. God’s free gift to the world is simply faith in God The Son that is not earned or merited through ANY kind of effort or works. Seems too low for such a great God BUT the act of Jesus on the cross was perfect beauty planned from before the beginning of time! It was selfless and voluntary for the absolute greatest possible good. God ALONE is the author and giver of unconditional unmerited eternal salvation. The Holy Spirit declares, through Paul, that we are “made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (Romans 3:22)
SHALL NOT PERISH
This is the maximally perfected divine deliverance from a perishing state that only leads to an eternal consequence. The consequence is due to the perfect justice of God. This gift redeems whoever believes in God The Son and takes them out of the state of perishing and restores them to a state that is NOT perishing. But not only satisfies the justice and removes their state of perishing but brings them into the most perfect state of all. The Holy Spirit declares, through Paul, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1).
BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE
This is the priceless divine possession. The free gift of eternal life. Whoever believes in God The Son WILL HAVE eternal life. This is an absolute statement. Eternal life is something obtained and can not be lost. It is impossible to have eternity and then later not have it, because then it was not eternal. The eternal state of something is never ending. And anyone who believes will HAVE it, eternally. This is of eternal maximal divine value offered to the world from God himself. Something that can not be bought or earned. Of which is ONLY found in Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
The Seven Wonders of John 3:16
- The Almighty Authority – God
- The Mightiest Motive – Love
- The Greatest Gift – Begotten Son
- The Widest Welcome – Whoever
- The Easiest Escape – Believe
- Divine Deliverance – Not perish
- The Priceless Possession – Eternal life
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