Today: [John 3:17-36] The Salvation of the Cosmos: In part 2 of John 3 the purpose of God in sending Jesus is declared. Jesus didn’t just come to save the individual, He came to save the world. The world spoken of here is a reference to the entire human family. Is this possible? Through Jesus Christ our lord. Through a commitment to and acceptance of the exclusivity of relationship God requires with the only begotten Son who has come to deliver us from death, and darkness and our own flawed, hopelessly despicable human nature.
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[Jhn 3:17-36 KJV] 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. 22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. 23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. 24 For John was not yet cast into prison. 25 Then there arose a question between [some] of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all [men] come to him. 27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I [must] decrease. 31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. 33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. 34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure [unto him]. 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
In verse 17 Jesus declares that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Let us consider this verse a little deeper. That word “condemn” means to avenge, judge, damn or sentence. This has nothing to do with God’s purpose in sending Jesus. Men will be judged, damned and sentenced, but this is in spite of everything the Father has done in sending His Son Jesus to avoid this happening. His plan is that the world might be saved.
What is it that it is His purpose to save? The world. The word here is “cosmos” and it is defined most basically as “an aggregate of harmonious systems” making up society as a whole wherein the human family exists and carries out its daily lives. In 1975, Loren Cunningham, the founder of YWAM and Bill Bright, leader of Campus Crusade for Christ, almost simultaneously and independently had visions of what has come to be known as the Seven Mountains Strategy for Christian influence in society. These seven mountains of influence make up the social cosmos or the “world” that Jesus speaks of, including:
Government and politics
Arts, entertainment, and sports
Commerce, science, and technology
These social institutions and the human family inherent to their existence need a savior, hence the Father sent Jesus to save the “world”. Not just individuals but that the WORLD as a whole might be saved. Jesus’ missiology always focuses not just on individuals, but cities, nations, people groups and of course individuals, who make up these systems who coming to Christ by the New Birth experience and take the world systems by the influence, or leavening effect of the kingdom of God as Jesus taught about the woman who hid three measures of meal in a lump of dough until the whole of it was leavened (Matt. 13:33).
The requisite for salvation is not altruism or an egalitarian philosophy of acceptance and benevolence toward your fellow man.
It is much more than this. God sends His son that the world THROUGH HIM (through Jesus) might be saved. So, we need to get “saved”. How do we get “saved”? Through Jesus. How does this happen. Verse 18 tells us that we get saved “through Jesus” by believing in the name (the authority) of the only begotten Son of God. That wording “only begotten” implies exclusivity of belief in Jesus only. You cannot believe in any other system or faith as a means of reconciling you to your creator or assuring you of sublimity in the after-life. Believing, or belief then is of inherent importance. What does it mean to believe? We need to know because if we aren’t doing it then were are not in a state of grace. Not being in a state of grace puts us in jeopardy of unnecessary temporal suffering under the threat of eternal, unending torment in a burning hell forever and ever.
The word faith is pisteiuo which means to entrust or rely on. The Amplified bible renders this verse as follows:
John 3:18 (AMPC) He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation—he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ’s name.]
Salvation is affected then by coming into a trust relationship with Jesus, utterly yielded and submitted to Him and His teachings, precepts and imparted Spirit on a daily basis from the very core of our being. It is far, far more than just mental assent or agreement that Jesus was and that He was sent from God to pay for the sins of the world. You must have far more than a nodding acquaintance with these things you must have an intimate and personal knowledge of Jesus independent of any outward anchoring influence. You must, in effect be born again and this happens initially when you come to faith saying “Lord I believe” and then as Zachaeus and many others make a vital, pivotal turning in your character, life and purpose to cause everything about you to proceed from that moment on from a Christo-centric perspective.
What about condemnation? Jesus says in verse 19 that men are unnecessarily condemned because (in spite of the light sent into the world through Christ) men loved darkness because their deeds were evil. Salvation then, or love for the light, love for Christ must be reflected in your deeds. It must be as verse 20 states coming to the light that your deeds might by reproved and reformed to come into alignment with the revealed character of Christ. Men loving evil means men were “fond of” and “contented with” in the original language definition, the darkness. This implies then that we are doing more than salting religious faith into our life like a religious condiment. We are turning from fondness and contentment with darkness and its deeds to fondness of and contentment with the things of God.
Remember now that this entire discussion is with Nicodemus the Pharisee who came to Jesus by night. We have no record or indication in the text how Nicodemus responded other than in total confusion and objection to the rationale, or lack thereof of Jesus’ statements. His is a sign seeker. The Jews, the religious crowd seeks a sign before they will believe, the Greeks – the rationalistic thinking seeks wisdom. If the word doesn’t titillate the mind or stroke the intellect, it is rejected. Both the sign seeker and the intellectual are excluded as Jesus makes no attempt to appeal to their base nature to overcome their unbelief. We must abandon our Thomas mentality (requiring that we see before we believe) and we must abandon the rationalistic demand for understanding something about God before we will yield to Him. We must come with empty hands and open hearts and minds, falling helpless at the foot of the cross crying out that we need a savior. From that point of humility and contrition we make ourselves eligible for the New Birth experience forthcoming upon our profession of faith, commitment and abandonment of our life to Jesus Christ.
After this the narrative shifts to John the Baptist. John disciples are questioning the fact that Jesus disciples are now outnumbering the disciples of John. Even when Jesus walked the earth in human form, they were into the numbers game. How many people go to your church? How many people go to the church across the way? Do numbers indicate spiritual character? You get 10 preachers together and the pecking order will not be established until you find out how many congregants each pastor has and then the one with the most sheep in their sheep shed becomes the defacto leader who everyone else is expected to defer to.
John refuses to enter into the controversy, stating that a man can receive nothing except it be given to him from heaven. Notice the all encompassing statement: a man (or woman) can be given nothing (or no status or accomplishment or position) unless it be given him from heaven. What about your favorite politician? If he is elected, it was given to him from heaven (so agrees Daniel 2:21). What if your candidates opponent is elected? Oh, that is the devil! Not if you believe the words of Daniel in the Old Testament and the words of John the Baptist in the New. There is much disputing and wrangling among believers about such things but it is all fighting against God and kicking against the goad of His sovereignty over the affairs of men. John concludes simply (v. 30) “He must increase, I must decrease…”
What is increasing? Christ is increasing. I thought that the world was going to get darker and darker until only a few Christians are left, cowering in a mountain hiding place and then Jesus would come back. Not according to John. He must increase. Jesus is all about increase. Of the increase of His government there shall be no end, Isaiah declares. If He must increase and He is on the inside of you then you can expect to be making room for His increase in your life. Day by day, moment by moment increasing His territory IN YOU and through you and around you.
John concludes in agreement with the words of Jesus to Nicodemus that “he that believes on the Son (leaning with his whole personality, trust and confidence in a fidelity based relationship to Jesus), will have everlasting life. He that believes not, or believes less than this all encompassing standard of belief will not see life but the wrath of God abides on this person both now in their temporal existence and for eternity in everlasting judgement.
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