John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes 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.” KJB
This love that God has for the people of the world is divine love which prefers what God prefers, which has to do with God’s will and purpose for our lives, and with what is holy, pure, moral, godly, upright, and righteous. And he is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
And repentance is like doing a U-turn in the middle of a road. You were going one direction, but now you turned around, and now you are going the opposite direction of what you were before. For, it has to do with us forsaking our lives of sin to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his will.
So, this pure love of God, which gives preference (the choice of his will) to all that is holy and righteous, gave (as a gift) his ONLY begotten Son to us, i.e., his one-of-a-kind Son who was conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of a woman, in order to free us from our bondage to sin and to free us to walk in his righteousness and holiness (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17).
He gave us Jesus on that cross to die for our sins so that everyone believing (present tense, not past tense) in Him should not perish (die in their sins), but should have life eternal, which is new life in Christ Jesus our Lord to be lived to God and to his righteousness, for his praise and glory.
And “believing” is not some words we say or some acknowledgment we make of Jesus and what he did for us. It is not a one-time (past) event in our lives, either. For, we are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Jesus returns, provided we are truly in him by genuine faith with him and we endure with him to the end.
Believing is present tense, and it means to be persuaded, and in this case, by God. For we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to Christ. And this faith is not of ourselves, but it is a gift of God, and Jesus Christ is both the founder and the perfecter of our faith (Jn 6:44; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2).
So, if our faith comes from God, and we can’t even believe in Jesus unless God the Father draws us to him, and if it is a gift of God, and not of ourselves, and if Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith, and if faith means to be persuaded of God, then that faith is going to align with God’s will and purpose for our lives, and it will submit to his will.
So, if we believe in Jesus Christ with this kind of faith, we are going to bow to him as Lord (Master), and we are going to leave our lives of sin behind us to follow him in obedience to his will for our lives. This is what it means to have faith, which must be continuous faith (1 Jn 2:3-6; Col 1:21-23).
So We Might be Saved
John 3:17-18 ESV
“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. 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.”
Okay, right off the bat, this is NOT saying that God will not condemn people or that Jesus never spoke words of condemnation when he lived on this earth. Jesus spoke often of the cost of being one of his disciples, and that if we did not take up our cross daily and follow (obey) him that we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life (Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58, etc.).
So, what this is saying is that Jesus’ purpose in coming the first time to the earth was for the salvation of human lives. But when he returns, he will judge the people of the earth, and he will condemn all those who refused to submit to him as Lord and who denied him as Lord of their lives.
And, again, “believing” is present tense, and it is not some verbal acknowledgment of him or some intellectual assent to who he is and/or to what he did for us in dying on the cross for our sins. This believing in him means we are persuaded of him as to his holiness and of his will and purpose for our lives, and if persuaded, we will submit to that purpose.
Even though the time of judgment has not yet come, still for those who are believing in him with God-persuaded faith, which dies with Christ to sin and lives to Christ and to his righteousness, they are not condemned. But all who are not believing in him (present tense) are condemned already.
But that can change. If you are not believing in Jesus now, and thus you are not living in submission to his will for your life, repent now and obey him.
So We Might be Saved
John 3:19-21 ESV
“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the 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. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
And here we have further evidence of what it means to be believing in Jesus Christ with God-persuaded faith in him. Those who love him, and who are believing in him with genuine faith, have come into the light. And how are we described? As those who “DO” what is true. Faith is doing the will of God.
For, although we are not saved by our own good works, done in our own flesh, of our own will, not the will of God, it doesn’t mean our faith is absent of works, but they are the works of God which he planned in advance that we should walk in them (Eph 2:10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; Jas 2:17).
For, those who love the darkness (sin), and so they continue living in their sin, and thus they will not come into the light, are not in the light. They are not believing in Jesus Christ. For, they will not give up their sins because they love them too much. Their works are evil.
So, this is the verdict. If we continue living in deliberate, habitual, and often premeditated sin against God, we are going to die in our sins no matter what we profess with our lips. For if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. So, sow to please the Spirit, not the flesh.
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:7; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]
The Lord’s My Shepherd
Lyrics by Francis Rous (1579-1659)
Music by Jessie Seymour Irvine (1836-1887)
The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;
He makes me down to lie
In pastures green; He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.
My soul He doth restore again,
And me to walk doth make
Within the paths of righteousness,
E’en for His own name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,
Yet will I fear no ill;
For Thou art with me, and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.
My table Thou hast furnished
In presence of my foes;
My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
And my cup overflows.
Goodness and mercy all my life
Shall surely follow me,
And in God’s house forevermore
My dwelling-place shall be.
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