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Weekly Bible Study
“John's Summary Statement”
by Hugh Davidson   
December 2nd, 2007

John 3:13-21 “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal 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.For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

Based on Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemas, John summarizes the gospel message that he’s given so far. And in verse 16 he explains the basis or the foundation of our salvation and that’s simply that God the Father gave His Son as a substitute for each and every one of us and that means that anyone who believes in Jesus has eternal life and the word ‘have’ simply means that we already have it. So, salvation is not something that begins the day we die but it’s ours the day we accept the Lord. And this not only refers to a quantity of life in that we’ll live forever but a quality as we partake of the very nature of God Himself.

I’ve often heard it said that verse 16 is the most famous verse in the Bible. “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.” I remember handing out gospel tracts on Yonge Street in Toronto and one night a couple of young men approached me who were quite drunk and very obnoxious. When they realized I was handing out gospel literature one of them said, “You don’t have to tell me about God or Jesus, I know more of the Bible than you do. And then he began quoting John three sixteen and several other verses. And what he said was true, he did know the Bible, in his head, it just hadn’t sunk into his heart.

“It was said of George Whitfield that he preached on John 3:16 again and again and when one of his friends asked him, “Why do you preach so often on the text, ‘You must be born again.’ he replied, ‘Because you must be born again.’

You see, this one verse is more than a summary statement, it actually tells us three things about God. First of all, the initiative in our salvation lies with God. Just as He went looking for Adam in the Garden of Eden after he sinned He comes looking for each and everyone of us. Second, this tells us that God reached out to each of us because He loved us. After all, He could have just said, forget about the whole human race and He’d be completely justified but He loved us enough to give His Son in order to redeem us. And then third, we see something of the width of His love when it says He loved the world. And that means He loved both the loveable and the unlovely. As Augustine summed up the love of God he said, “God loves each of us as if there was only one to love.”

And then verses 17-19 tells us the reason Jesus came was for salvation and not for judgment and while the believers have already escaped condemnation the unbelievers who have chosen to live in sin will suffer it’s consequences. And then verses 20 and 21 show us that mankind is divided into two categories of the saved and the lost and here we see the words ‘doeth truth’ and ‘doeth evil’ and these indicate that each of them are committed to what they are doing. Those who are in darkness are continually doing the works of darkness and those who are in the light are committed to Jesus Christ once and for all. The lost not only hate the light but stay away from it for fear of its affect which is to convict them of sin and on the other hand, those who are of the light want their deeds exposed because not only do they have nothing to be ashamed of but they also realize their works are empowered by the Holy Spirit. And that’s not to say the believer is perfect by any stretch of the imagination; but when he sins, he confesses, forsakes it and moves on.

For John, the faith that produces eternal life is more than just believing the truth it also meant doing the truth. In other words, what’s in your heart will be lived out in your life. As we began this chapter we focused on Nicodemas and I think Nicodemas was a really nice guy. He was probably someone you would be glad to have as a neighbor but he was just as lost in sin as the worst person on the planet. His religion might have made him acceptable in the eyes of men but religion does nothing to save us. His education made him admired at the temple but it did nothing to help his spiritual condition. His position on the Sanhedrin might have made him popular with men but God still saw him as a sinner who needed to repent. As I think about Nicodemas the words of Luke 9:25 come to mind where Jesus said, “For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?” Think about it, what does it matter, if you’re the most respected person on the planet but you end up dying and going to hell for all eternity hell. You see, we can spend all of our time on earth looking for the approval of others when the approval of God is all that really means anything. I read a Christmas card that says it well: “The Word did not become a philosophy, a theory, or a concept to be discussed, debated or pondered. Instead, the Word became FLESH...the Word became a PERSON to be followed, enjoyed, and loved.”

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