“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.”
It seems everyone has heard of John 3:16. That famous passage that is for some reason waved on placards at sports events contains a message of hope that is the foundational truth of the entire message found within the Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Two thousand years ago, God – out of His great love for us all – gave His only begotten Son. He gave Jesus to be lifted up on that cross just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so that whoever believes in Jesus will be saved and have eternal life just as the Israelites who looked upon that serpent were saved from death by snake bite (John 3:14-16; cf. Numbers 21:1-9).
Are you as familiar with the verses which follow John 3:16? Take verse 17, the focus of this weekend’s column. I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful to God for the truth found in verse 17! God sent Christ into the world two thousand years ago for the purpose of saving us rather than condemning us as we deserve because of our sins (Romans 6:23).
Sadly, however, the majority of the world will reject that gift. Jesus Himself knew this to be true. As He went on to say to Nicodemus, “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. 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” (John 3:18-21). He also said during His Sermon on the Mount: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14). In other words, the majority will not be saved.
Most people will not believe in Jesus because believing in Jesus means to actively obey Him and the ones who obey Him are the ones He will save (James 2:14-26; Hebrews 5:9). What’s even more tragic is that many of the ones who will be condemned at judgment will be people who thought that they had believed in Jesus…yet in reality did not because they didn’t obey Him in all things. Jesus spoke of them also in the Sermon on the Mount: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Paul warned us long ago: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). That’s why we must listen only to the Word of God rather than the teachings of men. Otherwise, we won’t be ready when Jesus comes again…and this time He won’t come to save us. Instead, He will come to judge us (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
Are you ready for that day?