Selected to Life or Condemned Already? (Gospel of John Part 11)
Text: John 3:16 – 21
It’s hard to believe, but this is our 11th week in John’s Gospel already, and we’re just cruising right along… We made it to chapter three a couple of weeks ago, but since this is such a well-known chapter, and such an important chapter, we’ve been spending some time on it. And it’s where we are today – John Chapter Three… and we’re going to be reading verses 16 – 21. So please open your Bibles up to John 3 and follow along as I begin in verse 16 (READ TEXT).
Now last Sunday we talked about verses 15 & 16 and we talked about how belief brings salvation… but not just believing in anything… but believing that Jesus is the Son of God, born of a virgin, who lived a sinless life, and died on the cross for our sins… and how His sinless life met God’s demands for righteousness, and how His death met God’s demands for justices. So we have to believe that in order to receive eternal life. And if you remember from last week I said to you all… We like to put the emphasis on the word “whosoever”, but that’s not where the emphasis goes… the emphasis goes on the word “believes”. It’s not anyone and everyone gets eternal life… it’s only those who believe. Who have trusted fully in Christ, and in His finished work.
Now let me point out to you a couple of other things about verse 16 that most people never even think about. First of all… the reason we put the emphasis on the word “whosoever” is because that means it could be anyone. We even have a song in our hymnal that says, “Whosoever, surely meaneth me…” But to Nicodemus that word “whosoever” was shocking and scandalous.
Remember – Nicodemus was Jewish… he was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. Typically those guys didn’t like anyone other than their fellow Jews. To them, the Samaritans were their wayward cousins who were in serious error… the Greeks were paganistic idol worshipers, the people of other countries were horrible, godless, heathens. They were God’s chosen and special people, and they were the only ones who had a relationship with the one, true God. But when Jesus says “Whosoever Believes” that means, Samaritans who believe… and that means Greeks who believe… and that means Romans who believe… and that means Egyptians, and Syrians, and people from every tribe and every nation.
So that’s the first thing… the second thing is that John 3:16 DOES NOT SAY “Anyone will believe.” It says, “Whoever DOES believe”. And it says nothing about how a person comes to believe… it just says, “Whosoever believes.” In other words, Jesus is saying, “Those who have faith will not perish, but instead will have eternal life.”
Let me read it to you in the original Greek: “For God loved the world in this way. That He gave His one and only begotten and unique Son, so that everyone who is believing in Him, would not perish but have eternal life.” So again… it’s “whoever it is that has believed,” or “those who have faith”. Jesus actually tells us who the “whosoever” are a little later in John’s Gospel. In chapter six He tells us who the “whosoever” are…
John chapter six… and we’ll get into this more when we get to that chapter… but we’ll look ahead real quickly… John 6:37 – this is the whosoever believes – “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.” Now go down to verse 44: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” And then verse 65: “And He said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
Luke says the same thing in Acts 13:48; he says, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord, and as many as were APPOINTED TO ETERNAL LIFE - - - BELIEVED.” And again in Acts 18:27, “And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived he greatly helped those who THROUGH GRACE, had believed.”
Then Paul says the same thing in Ephesians 2:8 (READ). So faith is a gift from God…
And then the writer of the Book of Hebrews again tells us the same thing… In Hebrews 12:2 he says that Jesus is the Founder (or Author) and Perfector (or Finisher) of our faith. By the way… some people think that Nicodemus might have even been the writer of the Book of Hebrews.
So Church, in essence, what Jesus is saying to Nicodemus is that God, through His sovereign grace and mercy, and wisdom is going to bring salvation to people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. That God’s Messiah is a Messiah… a Savior for the world, not just for the nation of Israel. It’s saying that God is going to work, through the hearing of His Word, on the hearts of people from all kinds of backgrounds, and from different places. Men, women, boys, girls, rich, poor, young, old, Jew and Gentile.
And that’s why Jesus goes right into saying what He says in verse 17 – “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” That’s why Jesus came. To bring salvation to people all over the world. The purpose of Jesus’ coming wasn’t to bring judgment… He was coming to bring salvation. Now it’s true, the next time He comes… and I believe it’s very soon… but the next time He comes He will be coming as Judge. He will be coming to execute God’s righteous judgment and wrath upon the nations. But the first time He came, He came as a Savior. He came bringing a message of peace and good will toward man. He came to reconcile sinners back to God.
Now look at verse 18, “Whoever believes in Him IS NOT condemned, but whoever does not believe IS CONDEMNED ALREADY, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.” So Jesus didn’t come to condemn anyone… because everyone was already under the just and righteous condemnation of God. Jesus came to rescue us from that. He came to save us from the condemnation, and wrath, and judgment of a righteous and holy God. That’s why the Bible says “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” But what verse 18 is saying to you and me… is that if you’re NOT in Christ, you’ve already been judged and found guilty. But… when you are saved by the Grace of God, through faith in Christ, Jesus changes the verdict. When you come to Christ… that means that the punishment for your sin has been paid for by Jesus… and His righteousness is credited to your account. And you stand before God, not only as a forgiven sinner… but as righteous and justified. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that somehow when it’s your time to stand before God that God’s going to weigh your good deeds against your bad deeds… You were condemned the instant you were born. You came into this world a guilty sinner – just like I did – and just like every other human being who has ever lived did. And when I say “guilty” I’m not talking about a feeling of guilt. I’m talking about a declaration of guilt. And the only way to get that declaration changed to “Not Guilty” is to be found in Christ, having put on His righteousness through faith.
Now let’s look at verses 19 & 20 because Jesus is still continuing on with His statement to Nicodemus. He says, “And this is the judgment: The Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the Light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the Light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”
So now we’re getting to it right? Jesus has come, but why don’t people come running to Jesus? Why isn’t this church full of people? Why isn’t every church that preaches and teaches the true Gospel, without compromise full? Why don’t people believe in Jesus and be made right with God? He tells us – because they love their sin. They don’t want to come near Christ because He shines a light on their sin. He exposes it and lays it all out in front of us. People don’t want to be confronted with their sin, and they sure don’t want their sin exposed to anyone else. We want to ignore it and pretend it’s not there, and hope it just goes away. We want to put on a mask and say, “Look how wonderful I am, and how spiritual I am, and how perfect I am.” We don’t want Jesus showing us that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked above all else. We don’t want our lust and pride, and hate, and selfishness exposed to the world, and we don’t want to see it in ourselves. People think we’re holy, we’re good… that we’ve got it all figured out. Or at least we think that’s what they think. So… Jesus you can’t show everyone how messed up we really are… It will ruin our image. It will ruin this facade that we’ve built for ourselves.
That’s what Jesus is confronting Nicodemus with here. He’s saying, “Listen Nicodemus. You were born into sin, and because of that, you’re condemned already. You need to be born again. You need to believe that I am not just a good teacher SENT from God, but that I AM God, come in the flesh. You need to believe so that you can come to the light, and really see how desperately wicked and sinful you really are. Because your status as a Jew or as a Pharisee isn’t going to save you. Your good works are not going to save you. They are not going to give you eternal life. So Nicodemus, you need to come to the light… And in doing that, yes – I’m going to show you the wickedness of your heart. I’m going to show you how far you fall short. And I’m going to do that so that you can see just how wonderful, and amazing, and how awesome the grace of God really is!”
Church, one thing that the Bible makes very, very clear to us; over and over again. Is that the reason sinners don’t want to come to Christ is because they love their sin, more than they love Him. People love darkness rather than the Light. That’s why Jesus say, “Go into all the world… and as you’re going… make disciples.” Because they’re not going to come to Jesus to get Jesus…
Just like Nicodemus. He came to Jesus in order to find out how he was doing the signs and wonders. Later one people are going to come to Jesus in order to get physically healed. And people are going to come to them because He can miraculously create food. But the “Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” It’s not a matter of physical healing… sometimes God does that, but more importantly it’s a matter of healing our soul and spirit. It’s not about the signs and wonders, “You must be born again.”
And I understand church… I get it… when we shine that light here in our congregation, people who love darkness are going to run for the shadows… They’ll find a place where the light isn’t turned up so bright… but by golly they got great music there.
Church; this is the message that Jesus is giving to Nicodemus… even though it’s not what Nicodemus was asking about – it’s what he got. And you know what? Eventually at some point, Nicodemus got saved. Later on in the 7th chapter of John’s Gospel, we’ll see him defend Jesus, and then in chapter 19, Nicodemus is one of the men who carries the body of Jesus to the tomb after He had been crucified.
Now I’ll close with this question – WHAT ABOUT US? Have you come to Christ to get the gifts, or the Giver of those gifts? Has the light of Christ shone into your heart and exposed the sin that lies there? And do you see your desperate need for a Savior?