For God so Loved the World

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Excerpt from ‘Expository Notes: Gospel of John’ chapter 3 verse 16.

John 3:16

This, perhaps, is the best known and best loved verse in the Bible.

(16a) “For God so loved the world…” 18 (ESV; bold emphasis added, here and below)

The word ‘so’ emphasises the extent and degree of God’s love. It is immeasurable, imperishable,
inextinguishable, inexhaustible.

He so loved the world… Thus, or In this manner, God loved the world…

(16a) “For God so loved the world…”

This is the demonstration of the height, depth and breadth of God’s love for the world. God so loved the world. God’s love is so great that it is beyond human comprehension. Nevertheless, it is the true expression of God’s intense, unfathomable and divine love for fallen, sinful men and women.

(16a) “For God so loved the world…”

Here we see that God’s love is not limited to one nation, race, colour, class or creed. God’s eternal and immeasurable love for fallen mankind extends to all nations and all classes of people on earth. No nation and no class or condition of people is excluded. God’s love is truly universal. Every single person who calls upon the name of the Lord will experience the fullness of God’s love in their hearts through the forgiveness of their sins.

The Spirit of God does not limit himself to any one nation, race, colour, class, or condition of people. The Holy Spirit works sovereignly—wherever he will—upon the hearts and minds of men, women and children throughout the entire world. He convicts them of their sin, convinces them of their need, and converts them to Christ.

(16a,b) “For God so loved, the world that he gave his only Son…”

God so loved the world that he gave. He gave all that love could give. God gave that which was closest to his heart—that which he loved most dearly. He so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (or his Only Begotten Son). So intense was the love of God for the world—even for a sinful world—that he yielded up his one and only Son that sinners might be saved. (Rom. 5:6-11; 1 John 4:9-10)

(16c) “…that whoever believes in him…”

This relates to anyone without exception who believes: That is, anyone whom the Spirit of God effectually calls. It relates to anyone whom God’s Holy Spirit enables to understand the truths of the Gospel and whom he makes able and willing to believe.

An unregenerate person remains spiritually dead. It requires the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate him and to bring him to true repentance and genuine saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Isa. 55:1,6-7; John 6:37,40; 7:37-39)

(16c) “…that whoever believes in him

Anyone who believes wholeheartedly on the Son of God and on what he has accomplished on the sinner’s behalf… Anyone who accepts Christ as their Saviour and Lord…

Anyone who commits themselves without reserve to the Lord Jesus Christ, and who follows him and his ways with all their heart and soul…

Like every other element of salvation, saving faith is a gift of God. The Holy Spirit enables a person to see and understand the truth, and to repent and believe on Christ. However, although faith is God’s gift, all those who come to faith in Christ do so freely and willingly. Once the Spirit of God has enlightened their minds to the truth, they gladly and willingly embrace the One who is the Way the Truth and the Life. (Acts 16:29-31; Rom. 10:9-13; see also Matt. 11:25-30)

(16c,d) “…whoever believes in him should not perish…”

This is the solemn assurance and promise of God. No one who believes in God’s Son shall ever perish. God will never condemn him or consign him to a lost eternity. Through faith in Christ, the abiding wrath of God and the sentence of condemnation have been removed forever from the repentant sinner. He will never perish. He can never be lost. (John 3:36; 5:24; Rom. 8:1)

(16c,d) “…whoever believes in him should not perish but have…”

Believers have—i.e. they now hold or possess… Here, the verb (to) have is used in the sense of ‘to have and to hold’… as in the marriage covenant.

(16c,d) “…whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV)

This is the gift of God. All those whom God’s Spirit calls to repentance and faith in his Son, receives the gift of eternal life.

Eternal life means much more than living for ever— although this is certainly included. In giving us eternal life, God is guaranteeing to us a heavenly inheritance. This inheritance includes a place in our Father’s house. It includes everlasting fellowship with our Father in heaven and with his Son. It includes the fullness of love, joy, peace and every other spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. It includes the absence of all sin, sorrow, suffering, pain, death and everything else that disturbs our communion with God in this present life. Such is but a foretaste of the joys laid up for the believer in his Father’s house above. (John 14:1-3; Rom. 8:16-17; Rev. 21:4)

(Read or download the full version of these Notes on John’s Gospel from the Expository Notes section of this website.)

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