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.
Nicodemus then is given the shocking thing from the lips of our Lord, that salvation is by faith alone. A faith that commits itself to the Son of Man, and the Son of Man lifted up and crucified, makes that full commitment, and anybody, whoever he is, who makes that commitment will have eternal life—Jew or Gentile.
This is just devastating. Nicodemus was a racist, very much so, as the Jews were. Their hatred of the idolatrous blasphemous nations was settled long before he came long. And now the shock is “whoever.” And it’s while Nicodemus is trying to process that that Jesus gives us the most familiar verse in the Bible, John 3:16. And this is an explanation of verse 15, ’cause Nicodemus is going to be saying to himself, “Why in the world would God do this? Why would God give eternal life to anybody who just believed in Him? Why would God not reserve eternal life for the people who kept the rules, right? For the people who followed the Law, for the people who kept the Sabbath, for the people who were traditionalists, for the people who were zealous for holy things, did the ceremonies, offered the sacrifices?”
Wait a minute. Why does eternal life get to be given to whoever believes, and not just Jews that believe but whoever believes? How can this possibly be?
And the answer is this, here’s why, verse 16, “For God so”…What?…“loved the world.” What’s behind this whole thing? What’s behind it all? God’s…What?…God’s love, God’s love. Now this is a heavenly thing; this is a heavenly thing. Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life, because God who so loves the world gave His only begotten Son to make that possible. I think our very familiarity with this verse sometimes locks its truths in and we don’t understand. I mean, we all say that, we knew it from, you know, elementary school or Sunday school. Do you know Reformed theologians have just worked this verse to death through the centuries? Here would be a classic Reformed theological explanation of John 3:16.
First of all we have the remote efficient cause. Then we have the approximate efficient cause. Then we have the instrumental cause. And then we would add the material cause. Does that move your heart? Is that gripping you? That’s the theological way to explain John 3:16. The remote efficient cause—God’s love. The approximate efficient cause—God’s grace. The instrumental cause—belief. And then they would add the material cause—the cross. And the result, eternal life.
But let’s not get technical. So let me give you a simpler outline. How about the motive for salvation? The motive? God so loved; God so loved. This is way beyond their confined racism. This is way beyond their hatred of Gentiles and the nations around them and the Romans living among them. God loves the world; God loves the world. How long had they justified their hatred for the world and defended it on the basis that this is how God felt? Right? They were the people of God. They were the representatives of God. This is the teacher. He hated the world ’cause God hated the world.
Not true. The reason that God makes salvation available to anyone who believes and the reason that anybody can believe is because God actually loves the world. Shocking, absolutely shocking. That’s the motive.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done – God loves you.
Click Here to Chat About Jesus