[I’ve been particularly lazy of late, and I thought that I’d stop being lazy and write something on John 3:16. After reviewing my old posts, I found that I’d already written what I wanted to say. So here it is! (So, I’m still lazy.)]
In the Greek language there is a way to distinguish between ‘natural’ and ‘actual’ consequences.
Houto … hoste + infinitive form of the verb indicates a statement of natural consequences. For example, ‘He is such a generous person that he would give me the shirt off his back’ – this is true whether he actually does or does not give you his shirt. It is a statement about the nature of the person.
Houto … hoste + indicative form of the verb indicates a statement of actual consequences: ‘He is such a generous person that he actually did give me the shirt off his back’. This is not just what the person would do, but what he really did do.
John 3:16 indicates a statement of actual consequences. God really sent his son, Jesus, and Jesus really did save.
‘In this way God loved the world.’ I’ve found that people often think the ‘so’ in translations of 3:16 means ‘so much’. The force of the word ‘so’ is about manner, not amount. It says, ‘This is how God’s love is shown. In this way particular way.’
God the Father gave the Son, who in his humanity became the only acceptable sacrifice for our sin. This how God demonstrates his loved the world. Our social, political or economic circumstances are not good guides to help us figure out if God loves us. The message of the Gospel is that only sure way to know.
For whom did Jesus die? For all and any who will trust Him — those to whom the Holy Spirit brings new birth. What is the effect? Everlasting life rather than the death penalty. ‘We judge in this way: that if one died for all, then all died; and he died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again.’ 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.
To ignore Christ’s death for sinners is to ignore God’s love for sinful humanity. To reject Christ’s life, death, and return to life as the necessary condition for our peace with God is to reject God’s love.
The message of the Bible is NOT primarily one of condemnation. It is first and foremost a message of hope, of rescue, of life. It is Good News. If God intended simply to condemn, the Bible would have been unnecessary. The Lord Jesus came to seek and save that which is lost. To give his life a ransom for many.
Trusting Christ is the way a person receives God’s gift of eternal life. Not to trust Christ simply leaves a person under the judgment that is due to our sin. What makes the difference between a Christian and someone who is not a Christian? Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ has come as the light of the World. Our natural reaction as sinners is to run away from the light (like cockroaches do, I suppose). The light is hated because it shows up our sin; our rebellion against God. Jesus came to save his people from their sin.
So, if we come to Christ on His terms and in His way, that is a demonstration of the power of God at work. What is the work of God? That we trust in the one whom God has sent. We must trust Jesus Christ. If we trust him, we ought to tell the good news of Jesus to others.