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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « "Imagine All the People Living Life in Peace" | Main | A New Song »

    John 3:16 - Sermon Notes

    Yesterday, for the first time ever in any of my sermons, I focused exclusively on the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16. Here are my sermon notes:

    John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

    GOD SO LOVED - The word “so” often denotes intensity. For instance, a man may say to his wife, “I love you sooooo much,” as he wishes to express the measure and depth of his love. Though this is a popular understanding of this verse, that is NOT how the word “so” is being used in John 3:16.

    There is another way of using the word “so” in English, which describes the way in which something occurs. When a mother is seeking to train her children how to place cutlery on the dining room table, she might well place the knife and fork in position and say, "now when you put the knife and fork down on the table, place them just so" (or in this way).

    In John 3:16 it is this “just so” concept that is in view. We could rightly read the text as “God’s love for the world is seen in this way…” A note in the margin of the ESV states this concerning “For God so loved the world” as it reads, "Or For this is how God loved the world."

    THE WORLD – There are at least ten different uses of the word “world” (Greek kosmos) in John’s gospel. Context is a most vital component in determining the meaning of words. Here, the word kosmos is being used in a general way to speak of humanity, of Jews and Gentiles.

    GOD GAVE HIS SON - God’s love for the world is seen in tangible terms - the giving of His Son…

    PURPOSE - God gave His Son with a particular goal in mind.

    Notice there is a strong element of particularity (rather than universality) here. The purpose was not to save everybody on the planet (past, present and future) but to save those who believe in Christ.

    WHOEVER BELIEVES - Literally, the text reads “in order that every the one believing in Him…” It says “every” or “all the ones believing…” That’s hard to express in English but in essence, it is saying “all the believing ones.” That’s what is being communicated. It is saying that there is no such thing as a believing one who does not receive eternal life, but who perishes. Though our English translation says “whoever believes,” the literal rendering is accurately translated as “every believing one” and the emphasis is NOT AT ALL on the “whosoever,” but on the belief.

    The ones BELIEVING will not have one consequence, but will have another. They will not perish but will have everlasting life.

    Why?

    Because of the main verb – God GAVE His Son. God gave His Son for the purpose (Greek: hina) that every believing one should not perish, but that every believing one should have everlasting life.

    As mentioned earlier, John 3:16 actually speaks of a limitation -- of a particular, rather than a universal, redemption. Clearly, not everyone will be saved. Only those who believe in Christ will be saved. The Father loved the world in this way: He gave His Son for the purpose of saving those who believe. The Son is given so that the believing ones will not perish, but by contrast, have eternal life. That is the purpose of the giving.

    So, what John 3:16 teaches is:

    ALL who do A (believe in Him) will not B (perish) but will have C (everlasting life)


    PERISH - The word does not mean merely the end of physical existence or annihilation. We know this from the context. Verse 17 indicates that the perishing involves divine condemnation, complete and everlasting so that a person is banished from the presence of the God of love and dwells forever under His wrath.

    Here's a lengthy quote from John Piper:

    “The misery of hell will be so great that no one will want to be there. They will be weeping and gnashing their teeth (Matthew 8:12). Between their sobs, they will not speak the words, “I want this.” They will not be able to say amid the flames of the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14), “I want this.” “The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night” (Revelation 14:11). No one wants this.

    When there are only two choices, and you choose against one, it does not mean that you want the other, if you are ignorant of the outcome of both. Unbelieving people know neither God nor hell. This ignorance is not innocent. Apart from regenerating grace, all people “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18).

    The person who rejects God does not know the real horrors of hell. This may be because he does not believe hell exists, or it may be because he convinces himself that it would be tolerably preferable to heaven.

    But whatever he believes or does not believe, when he chooses against God, he is wrong about God and about hell. He is not, at that point, preferring the real hell over the real God. He is blind to both. He does not perceive the true glories of God, and he does not perceive the true horrors of hell.

    So when a person chooses against God and, therefore, de facto chooses hell—or when he jokes about preferring hell with his friends over heaven with boring religious people—he does not know what he is doing. What he rejects is not the real heaven (nobody will be boring in heaven), and what he “wants” is not the real hell, but the tolerable hell of his imagination.

    When he dies, he will be shocked beyond words. The miseries are so great he would do anything in his power to escape. That it is not in his power to repent does not mean he wants to be there. Esau wept bitterly that he could not repent (Hebrew 12:17). The hell he was entering into he found to be totally miserable, and he wanted out. The meaning of hell is the scream: “I hate this, and I want out.”

    What sinners want is not hell but sin. That hell is the inevitable consequence of unforgiven sin does not make the consequence desirable. It is not what people want—certainly not what they “most want.” Wanting sin is no more equal to wanting hell than wanting chocolate is equal to wanting obesity. Or wanting cigarettes is equal to wanting cancer.

    Beneath this misleading emphasis on hell being what people “most want” is the notion that God does not “send” people to hell. But this is simply unbiblical. God certainly does send people to hell. He does pass sentence, and he executes it. Indeed, worse than that. God does not just “send,” he “throws.” “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown (Greek eblethe) into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15; cf. Mark 9:47; Matthew 13:42; 25:30).

    The reason the Bible speaks of people being “thrown” into hell is that no one will willingly go there, once they see what it really is. No one standing on the shore of the lake of fire jumps in. They do not choose it, and they will not want it. They have chosen sin. They have wanted sin. They do not want the punishment. When they come to the shore of this fiery lake, they must be thrown in.

    When someone says that no one is in hell who doesn’t want to be there, they give the false impression that hell is within the limits of what humans can tolerate. It inevitably gives the impression that hell is less horrible than Jesus says it is.

    We should ask: How did Jesus expect his audience to think and feel about the way he spoke of hell? The words he chose were not chosen to soften the horror by being accommodating to cultural sensibilities. He spoke of a “fiery furnace” (Matthew 13:42), and “weeping and gnashing teeth” (Luke 13:28), and “outer darkness” (Matthew 25:30), and “their worm [that] does not die” (Mark 9:48), and “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46), and “unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43), and being “cut in pieces” (Matthew 24:51).

    These words are chosen to portray hell as an eternal, conscious experience that no one would or could ever “want” if they knew what they were choosing. Therefore, if someone is going to emphasize that people freely “choose” hell, or that no one is there who doesn’t “want” to be there, surely he should make every effort to clarify that, when they get there, they will not want this.

    Surely the pattern of Jesus—who used blazing words to blast the hell-bent blindness out of everyone— should be followed. Surely, we will grope for words that show no one, no one, no one will want to be in hell when they experience what it really is. Surely everyone who desires to save people from hell will not mainly stress that it is “wantable” or “chooseable,” but that it is horrible beyond description—weeping, gnashing teeth, darkness, worm-eaten, fiery, furnace-like, dismembering, eternal, punishment, “an abhorrence to all flesh” (Isaiah 66:24).

    I thank God, as a hell-deserving sinner, for Jesus Christ my Savior, who became a curse for me and suffered hellish pain that he might deliver me from the wrath to come. While there is time, he will do that for anyone who turns from sin and treasures him and his work above all.”


    We should all tremble before such realities.

    “It is not the purpose of the shining of the sun to cast shadow. But… shadows are inevitable. The shadows are, so to speak, the other side of the sunshine. So it is with condemnation and the coming of the Son of God. He did not come in order that people be condemned. But there are great moral issues involved, and those who refuse salvation condemn themselves. The condemnation is as real as the salvation.” Leon Morris

    EVERLASTING LIFE - Quality and Quantity: Different in quality from the life characterized by this present age. Different in quantity – everlasting – never ending life.

    - JS

    Posted by John Samson on July 2, 2012 09:04 AM

    Comments

    Wow John!

    Excellent word.

    I am still trembling at the revelation of "why" one is thrown into the Lake of Fire! Piper has been given a sense of it.

    You also.

    I would coin by pasting the Scriptures that best reflect what we can expect more and more of as less and less happens around the world.

    The less and less points to the apparent apostasy that increasingly precedes the Lord's soon return transforming our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body, the Bride of Christ without spot or wrinkle!

    Dan 12:1 And at that time Michael will take up his place, the great angel, who is the supporter of the children of your people: and there will be a time of trouble, such as there never was from the time there was a nation even till that same time: and at that time your people will be kept safe, everyone who is recorded in the book.
    Dan 12:2 And a number of those who are sleeping in the dust of the earth will come out of their sleep, some to eternal life and some to eternal shame.
    Dan 12:3 And those who are wise will be shining like the light of the outstretched sky; and those by whom numbers have been turned to righteousness will be like the stars for ever and ever.

    Just so, or so that, follows through verses 17 and 18. I would not agree with Morris, then. The verses do not say that Jesus came to no condemn people, but the world. Beside, later in John Jesus states explicitly that his purpose was exactly to judge between men. God loved the world this way, that the believing ones would not perish, that the creation would not be destroyed, and that those who are not the believing ones would perish. Jesus says he had much to judge though he says he came to save, he also says that his judgement if from the Father. Taking that God the Father sent his son, God's judgement was his Son. It is not passive as Morris alludes to, but active judgement on the part of the Father, by the acts of the Son. The word judgement doesn't necessarily mean execution, nor adjudication, nor the findings of the judge. It does however in the case of Christ's coming into the world have significant relationsip to his all three: >


    Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
    John 16 Commentaries: Barnes • Calvin • Clarke • Chrysostom • Darby • Gill • Geneva • Guzik • JFB • KJV Translators' • Henry's Concise • Matthew Henry • People's NT • Scofield • Teed • TSK • Vincent • Wesley
    Barnes' Notes on the Bible
    Of judgment - That God is just, and will execute judgment. This is proved by what he immediately states.

    The prince of this world - Satan. See the notes at John 12:31. The death of Christ was a judgment or a condemnation of Satan. In this struggle Jesus gained the victory and subdued the great enemy of man. This proves that God will execute judgment or justice on all his foes. If he vanquished his great enemy who had so long triumphed in this world, he will subdue all others in due time. All sinners in like manner may expect to be condemned. Of this great truth Jesus says the Holy Spirit will convince men. God showed himself to be just in subduing his great enemy. He showed that he was resolved to vanquish his foes, and that all his enemies in like manner must be subdued. This is deeply felt by the convicted sinner. He knows that he is guilty. He learns that God is just. He fears that he will condemn him, and trembles in the apprehension of approaching condemnation. From this state of alarm there is no refuge but to flee to Him who subdued the great enemy of man, and who is able to deliver him from the vengeance due to his sins. Convinced, then, of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and of his ability and willingness to save him, he flees to his cross, and seeks in him a refuge from the coming storm of wrath.

    In these verses we have a condensed and most striking view of the work of the Holy Spirit. These three things comprise the whole of his agency in the conversion of sinful men; and in the accomplishment of this work he still awakens, convinces, and renews. He attends the preaching of the gospel, and blesses the means of grace, and manifests his power in revivals of religion. He thus imparts to man the blessings purchased by the death of Jesus, carries forward and extends the same plan of mercy, and will yet apply it to all the kingdoms and tribes of men. Have we ever felt his power, and been brought by his influence to mourn over our sins, and seek the mercy of a dying Saviour?


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    Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
    Of judgment - Of the false judgment of the Jews in condemning the Lord Jesus, who, as some think, is intended here by the ruler of this world: see John 14:30. Others think that Satan is meant whose usurped power over the world was now to be greatly restrained, and by and by totally destroyed: see John 12:31; Colossians 2:15; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 12:10, Revelation 12:11. Perhaps our Lord's meaning is, that as a most astonishing judgement, or punishment, was now about to fall upon the Jews, in consequence of their obstinate infidelity, the Holy Ghost, by the ministry of the apostles, should demonstrate that this judgment, severe as it might seem, was amply merited by this worst of all people; and may we not say that their continuance in the same crime sufficiently vindicates the judgment of God, not only in its being poured out upon them at first, but in continuing to pursue them?

    It is necessary to observe that it was one office of the Spirit to convince of a judgment to come; and this he did particularly by the apostles, in declaring that God had appointed a day in which he would judge the world by him whom he had appointed for that purpose: Acts 17:31. And we find that while Peter was asserting this doctrine at Caesarea, Acts 10:42, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Jews and the Gentiles which were present, Acts 10:44, etc., and many were converted unto the Lord.

    One general exposition may be given of these three verses. The Holy Spirit will convince the world of sin committed, and guilt and condemnation thereby incurred. Of righteousness - of the necessity of being pardoned, and made righteous through the blood of the Lamb, who, after being offered up for sin, went to the Father, ever to appear in his presence as our intercessor: and of judgment - of the great day thereof, when none shall be able to stand but those whose sins are pardoned, and whose souls are made righteous. In all that our Lord says here, there seems to be an allusion to the office of an advocate in a cause, in a court of justice; who, by producing witnesses, and pleading upon the proof, convicts the opposite party of sin, demonstrates the righteousness of his client, and shows the necessity of passing judgment upon the accuser.

    The faith of the Gospel discovers unto us three different states of man: it shows him:

    1. Under sin, in which there is nothing but infidelity towards God, because there is no faith in Jesus Christ.

    2. Under grace, in which sin is pardoned, and righteousness acquired by faith in Christ; who is gone to the Father to carry on, by his intercession, the great work of redemption.

    3. In the peace and glory of heaven, where Christ will reign with his members; the devil, with his angels and servants, being banished into hell by the last judgment.

    Thus, in the Christian revelation, we are made acquainted with three grand truths, which contain the sum and substance of all true religion.

    The first is the general corruption of human nature, and the reign of sin till the coming of Christ.

    The second is the reparation of our nature by the Lord Jesus, and the reign of righteousness by his grace: Romans 5:21.

    The third is the condemnation of sinners, and the total destruction of the kingdom of sin, and of all the power of the devil, by the last judgment.


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    Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
    Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. This is to be understood of the judiciary power and authority of Christ, who has "all judgment" committed to him by the Father, as Mediator; has all power in heaven and in earth; and as he is appointed, so he is a very fit person to judge the world at the last day. Now this being disputed and disbelieved by the Jews, the Holy Ghost, in the ministry of Peter, most clearly demonstrated to their full conviction, that he was raised from the dead, set upon his throne, and was made, or declared, Lord and Christ, Acts 2:24; of which the pouring forth of the Holy Ghost was an evidence; and the instance in the text proving it, and which is a very considerable one, is the judgment, or condemnation and destruction of Satan, the prince of the world; for Christ, by his death, has destroyed him and his works; has spoiled his principalities and powers; and by his resurrection from the dead, and ascension to heaven, has carried him and them captive, triumphing over them; and, through the effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, and the power of it attending their ministry, Satan was judged, condemned, and cast out of the Heathen world, their temples, and the souls of men; the prey was taken from the mighty, and the lawful captive delivered: but as this may refer to the ordinary work of the Spirit in conviction and conversion, it may be differently applied; for he convinces of various things, which come under this name: he convinces of the wrong judgment which men in a state of nature form of God, whom they take to be such an one as themselves; of a crucified Christ, whom they esteem foolishness; of the doctrines of Christ, which they judge to be absurd and irrational; of the people of Christ, whom they reckon the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things; of the ways and, ordinances of Christ, which are thought to be grievous, unpleasant, and unprofitable; and of themselves, and their own state and condition, which they fancy to be good, and they in a fair way for heaven: he also convinces them of the excellency, truth, power, and usefulness of the Gospel, which is called "judgment", Isaiah 42:1, so as to understand it truly, believe it cordially, receive it in the love of it, and feel the power of it: he convinces them of a future judgment; of the reality and certainty of it; that it will be universal, reach to all persons and things; that it will be carried on in the most righteous manner, and there will be no escaping it, of which the judgment and condemnation of Satan is a standing proof: and he moreover convinces of judgment or damnation; that men are under a sentence of condemnation in Adam; that they are liable to eternal damnation in themselves; that except they believe in Christ they will be damned, as sure as the prince of this world is.


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    Vincent's Word Studies
    Is judged (κέκριται)

    Perfect tense. Rev., therefore, rightly, hath been judged.


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    Geneva Study Bible
    Of {d} judgment, {e} because the prince of this world is judged.

    (d) Of that authority and power which I have both in heaven and in earth.

    (e) That is, because they will then understand and indeed know that I have overcome the devil, and govern the world, and then all men will see that they set themselves against you in vain, for I will arm you with heavenly power by which you may destroy every high thing which is lifted up against the knowledge of God; 2Co 10:5.


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    People's New Testament
    16:11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. In Joh 14:30, he declared, The prince of this world cometh. It was the prince of this world, the spirit of the world, Satan, as the ruler of the world, who slew him. When Christ rose from the dead, and all power was given into his hands, this was a judgment in the court of the universe against the prince of the world.


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    Wesley's Notes
    16:11 The prince of this world is judged - And in consequence thereof dethroned, deprived of the power he had so long usurped over men. Yet those who reject the deliverance offered them will remain slaves of Satan still.


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    Scofield Reference Notes
    Margin world

    kosmos = world-system. Jn 17:14 7:7. See Scofield Note: "Rev 13:8".


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    Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary-

    11. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged-By supposing that the final judgment is here meant, the point of this clause is, even by good interpreters, quite missed. The statement, "The prince of this world is judged," means, beyond all reasonable doubt, the same as that in Joh 12:31, "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out"; and both mean that his dominion over men, or his power to enslave and so to ruin them, is destroyed. The death of Christ "judged" or judicially overthrew him, and he was thereupon "cast out" or expelled from his usurped dominion (Heb 2:14; 1Jo 3:8; Col 2:15). Thus, then, the Spirit shall bring home to men's conscience: (1) the sense of sin, consummated in the rejection of Him who came to "take away the sin of the world"; (2) the sense of perfect relief in the righteousness of the Father's Servant, now fetched from the earth that spurned Him to that bosom where from everlasting He had dwelt; and (3) the sense of emancipation from the fetters of Satan, whose judgment brings to men liberty to be holy, and transformation out of servants of the devil into sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. To one class of men, however, all this will carry conviction only; they "will not come to Christ"-revealed though He be to them as the life-giving One-that they may have life. Such, abiding voluntarily under the dominion of the prince of this world, are judged in his judgment, the visible consummation of which will be at the great day. To another class, however, this blessed teaching will have another issue-translating them out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son."

    Then the construction God sent... so that... better fits the context of all of John and of 3:16-18 only if some kind of judgement which eventuates in condemnation takes place. Christ coming into the world didn't just cast shadows, it brought men out of them and sealed others in them and so John says, that is is what God has wrought in sending his Son,"And this is the judgement: 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 3:19-21 ESV)

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