Summary: This is the 11th sermon in our series on John's Gospel. In this sermon I discuss how God's sovereignty and our faith work in unison to accomplish salvation.
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.