John 3:16 Means What It Says!
Since I was a small child I have known this beautiful verse; first spoken by the Son of God Himself and later penned by inspiration for our learning and edification. The sad thing is that for many years the denominational world has twisted and corrupted this beautiful scripture to propagate their false doctrine and extend to countless souls a false hope. So just what does this verse say?
First of all it says that “The God,” that is the one and only true deity who created all things, and who has in His power the salvation and condemnation of His creation, “so loved the ‘kosmos,’” every man. Thayer says that this word in its context means “the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human race.” Since mankind, in its totality, had sinned and separated himself from God and life (Isaiah 59.1-2; Romans 3.10, 23; 512), God in His infinite love, chose to do something to redeem man and offer him a second chance.
What was that? “…he gave his only begotten Son.” The second person of the godhead agree to take on the role of son and savior; and was “made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2.9). God the Father therefore sent His son, the only son begotten of God, to die for our sins, the only sacrifice worthy of our propitiation and sanctification. Now if the verse stopped right there then just maybe the “faith only” crowd or the non-religious, who want to live any old life they choose and claim God’s Son as a universal, unconditional sacrifice, may just have a weak, atrophied leg to stand on.
However, Jesus spoke on, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish.” There are three important things for us to notice in this section of our text. 1) There is a burden placed upon every man (whosoever) who has ever lived since the death of Jesus. The word believeth here is the Greek word “pisteuo” and means to “place your faith and trust in.” It is more than just a mental affirmation that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for the sins of all men. It means that we have to listen, heed, obey, and be faithful to His teachings. 2) The English phrase “should not” is rendered from the single Greek word “me” which means that this is the way (and yes the ONLY way, see John 14.6) to keep from perishing eternally. This word should not be translated or understood as an absolute (such as “shall not”). 3) The word “perish” indicates a foundational biblical principle. As long as we are joined to God in a spiritual relationship we have spiritual life. But since sin separates us from God, that sin brings forth spiritual death, if we die physically, separated from God, we have eternal death (separation). The only hope we have is Christ.
So the natural, logical, and honest question would be the same as it was on the day of
Pentecost (Acts 2.28), Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9.6), or that of the Philippian Jailor (Acts 16.30), “What must we do in order to be saved?” Obviously God’s love shown to us in the sacrifice of His Son demands a reciprocal love from us. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14.15). He asks us even today, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6.46).
Repent of your sins (Acts 17.30), Confess Jesus with your words and with your life (Luke 9.26), and do what those men on Pentecost, Saul of Tarsus, and the Philippian Jailor all did. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2.41). “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22.16). “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway” (Acts 16.33).
But then remember, this is only the beginning, not the end! One must “…observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28.20), and “be thou faithful unto death” (Revelation 2.10).