No one verse of scripture can ever mean less than what it says. Yet, every verse of scripture can be expanded on, clarified or explained by other verses of scripture. When one is studying a scriptural concept one must consider all the verses that apply.
John 3:16 is most used when people are encouraging others to "get saved." This verse is often used to encourage people to "make Christ your personal Savior." Those who use this verse to encourage people to accept Christ say that all you have to do is "Believe on Christ and ask him to come into your heart wherever you are, at any time, and you will (shall) be "saved" (have everlasting life).
You see "John 3:16" on hats, shirts, automobiles, business advertisements and pretty much anything, any where. You see it held up on signs at sporting and other events.
John 3:16 is held out as the answer to the world's ills.
John 3:16 says "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."
Okay... But what is the significance to us? What does the verse mean other than God loved the world so much He sent His Son?
Almost every time I hear John 3:16 quoted I hear, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Many times I actually hear it read this way as well.
In case you are having a hard time finding the difference, the Bible, translated from the original Greek text, says "should not" or "may not," not "shall not." The word should or "may" has a totally different meaning than shall. When one uses the word should one is saying that something is likely. When one uses the word shall one is saying that something is certain.
Many people have put their trust in that understanding of John 3:16.
What John 3:16 says is belief in Christ is necessary for everlasting life. The verse is also saying that there is evidently more to everlasting life than just belief because it says "should not perish." The Bible wording is leaving the door to perishing open even with belief.
The Bible says mere belief is not enough.
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! (James 2:19)
So we conclude from that there is more involved in obtaining everlasting life than simply believing Christ is God's only begotten son. Does one have to believe that in order to have everlasting life? Absolutely, the verse plainly says that. But there is more involved than believing Christ is the only begotten son of God.
To find the full meaning of the passage we need to look at other related passages as well...
In Luke 13:2-5 it says...
"And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Do sinners have to repent, to turn away from their sins? If they don't, what happens? Jesus, the only begotten son of God, says they perish.
In order to keep from perishing sinners must believe AND repent. It is not enough to simply believe according to John 3:16, Luke 3:2-5 says one must also turn away from sin.
Now let's look at Romans 10:10-11...
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Now we have yet another condition of salvation or saving from perishing: confession. In addition to belief and repentance we now have confession as a required salvation component.
When we read Mark 16:16 it says...
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
This is another condition attached to John 3:16's belief and not perishing (saved). So far, in just three passages we have repentance, confession, and baptism directly and plainly added to belief as conditions for salvation.
Let us also look at another passage referring to everlasting life, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9...
"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;"
This passage says if you do not obey the Gospel of Christ you will be punished with everlasting destruction. Nothing is mentioned about obeying the gospel in John 3:16. In John 3:16 the only necessity is belief yet 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 says we must obey the gospel. It is not enough to believe, we must also obey the gospel.
In order to see how to obey the gospel we have know what the gospel is. We can find that in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4...
"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"
The gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ according to the scriptures. The underlined section of the quote says the gospel is what saves.
This is clearly spelled out in Romans 1:16...
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
God saves with the gospel. The "good news" about the death burial and resurrection of Christ according to the scriptures. (I Corinthians 15:1-4)
The question arises: if God saves with the gospel and those who obey not the gospel will not receive everlasting life, how does one obey the death, burial and resurrection of Christ?
Let's come back to that question with a answer in a moment.
In Romans 8:1 we find...
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
No condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit! No condemnation! No vengeance! No perishing!
Are you in Christ? If so, how did you get there?
When I ask those who rest solely in John 3:16 how they got into Christ I'm usually told, "I asked Jesus to come into into my heart and I was saved in Christ."
Notice that the answer to "how did you get into Christ?" is usually answered with how Christ got into them - "I asked Jesus to come into my heart..."
Romans 6:3-6 answers both the question of how do we obey the gospel and the question of how we get into Christ...
"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."
We obey the gospel and get into Christ through baptism. That is where we obey the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It is also where we contact Christ's sin remitting blood. His blood was shed on the cross, his death, and we are baptized into his death.
On this page you have a series of steps to salvation linked together.
Step one, Romans 10:17, is hearing...
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
We hear the word of God from verses found in the Bible, verses such as John 3:16, Mark 16:16 and others.
Step two, John 8:24, is believing what we hear...
I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. "
Step three and step four, Acts 2:38, is turning from your sins AND being baptized for the remission of sins.
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (washing away) of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
That was Peter's answer to the question posed to the Apostles in Acts 2:37 by those who were convicted of crucifying Christ...
"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
Step five, Romans 8:1, is walking after the Spirit (seeking God's will)...
" There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. "
John 3:16 is a powerful core verse of the Bible and is no less significant than any other. It is not a stand alone verse. It is an anchor holding God's plan of salvation; the gospel of Christ.
My friend, our little study has shown it is not enough simply believe in Christ for everlasting life. One must believe in Christ, repent of one's sins, confess him, be buried with him in baptism for the remission of sins and walk after the Spirit.
Are you in Christ?
Romans 6:3"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Have you put on Christ?
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27)
Are your sins washed away? Here's what Ananias said to Saul the former persecutor of the Christ's church...
"And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16)
Here are the plain words of Jesus...
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. "(John 3:5)
I have had people tell me that the water mentioned in John 3:5 is not regular water but the water that makes up our bodies. The word translated water in John 3:5 from the original New Testament Greek is the same word translated water in every other place where water is mentioned in the New Testament.
My friend, if you have not put on Christ according to the New Testament pattern please do so, I fear for your eternity.
If we can assist you in this matter please call on me if we can be of service or if you have any questions or comments or you would like to discuss this further.
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