Summary: The basis of all our hope is God’s unchanging and prosperous love for His people.
John 3:16 is everywhere. Tim Tebow has it painted under his eyes, it’s on giant billboards along the highway, fans hold it up on placards at sporting events, and it’s on the cover of several books. Some ministries and preachers use it as their central philosophy of ministry. It’s likely that we all had it memorized before we were 10 years old: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
And this verse is the bane of the Crazy-Calvinists. Ephesians 1 and Romans 9 must be balanced by this truth that God has loved every man, every woman, and every child equally from the beginning of time until now “for God so loved the world.” And even more than that, God has so loved them all that for each and every one “He gave His only begotten Son” as a payment for their sins which, if they’ll only accept it, will settle their accounts with the Father and satiate His wrath so that each and every can be called His friends and family and spend eternity in heaven with Him.
It does not matter that “the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel” at Passover (Ex. 11:7).
It does not matter that the LORD commanded Israel to “slay” every Amalekite “man and woman, infant and suckling.” (I Sam. 15:3).
It does not matter that God says He hates the workers who do iniquity (Ps. 5:5) or that He hates with passion those who do violence (Ps. 11:5) or that He Himself sets the wicked in slippery places to cast them down into destruction (Ps. 73:18).
It does not matter that God has rejected Ishmael as an heir or loved Jacob and hated Esau or set up Pharaoh for the sole purpose of tearing Him down; no! These must all be balanced by John 3:16.
If God ever “hated” anyone it merely means that He only loved them slightly less than He loved someone else. John 3:16 is the answer, the ONLY answer, to predestination, election, and reprobation. We don’t have to listen to any argument anyone makes contrary to this belief; all we have to do is stick our fingers in our ears and shout “John 3:16” repeatedly until the Ridiculous-Reformed realize their error and give up and join us.
And we, as the Crazy and Ridiculous, don’t often know how to respond to this, do we? We read John 3:16 and we say, “Well, it seems to say what they’re saying, and I guess there’s just no way out of it.” And so we end up with this schizophrenic God who is sovereign over all things and controls the hearts of all men and who is the granter of repentance and author of faith, but who is also somehow mystically bound to the wills of the men He created and so loves. He is on control of everything and in control of nothing. And we just don’t know what else to do with it so we call it a “great mystery” and go on with it.
But might I suggest that this wretched interpretation of this marvelous verse is nothing more than Satan’s monkey wrench meant to confuse and draw us away from the revealed glory and majesty of our eternal Lord and Savior?
Might I suggest that with a more careful reading and with more special attention to the context that we who believe in the absolute sovereignty of our God have no reason whatsoever to fear it? As I’ve said before, it all begins in 2:23:
2:23Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
So, all these people saw Him working wonders at the Passover feast and they believed in His name because of what they saw, but He did not return faith because He knew what was really in them. They were nothing more than fallen sons of Adam and their Jewishness bought them no special favor.
Now, I want you to just mark it in your mind that the Passover is a part of the context. All these Jewish references come into play in verse sixteen.
3:1There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
Now, this is a man to be trusted, right? The people loved and respected the Pharisees; naturally so would the Messiah.
2The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.