John 3:16-18 Assurance of salvation comes naturally to one who entrusts his life to Jesus
John 3:16-18 Assurance of salvation comes naturally to one who entrusts his life to Jesus
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
In a conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus explains His mission by drawing on an Old Testament incident. Moses’s generation of Israelites had continually tested God by committing heinous sins that led to a divine discipline. The snakes that came out of the ground threatened to wipe out the people unless they repent by looking at the bronze serpent. Jesus comes for this very same purpose; unless the people look to Him in repentance, they will likewise perish. Today’s devotion teaches: Assurance of salvation comes naturally to one who entrusts his life to Jesus.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…
For God so loved the “world”, kosmos in Greek denotes the universe and its inhabitants. The entire kosmos is heading towards irreparable destruction and it is only through the giving of God’s only begotten Son can the kosmos be saved. The word “gave” connotes God’s resolve to save the world by sacrificing His only begotten Son. Begotten (monogene in Greek) connotes the first and unique One in the eyes of God. In a fuller sense, the only begotten Son is the image through which the entire universe is fashioned. And it is only through the only begotten Son that the kosmos is saved from destruction.
…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Within the kosmos lies humanity; the crown jewel, the very image of God. Humanity’s rebellion has sent the kosmos sliding down the slippery slope of eternal destruction. For this reason, the salvation of the kosmos necessitates humanity’s commitment to believe in the only begotten Son for God has appointed Him as the Saviour of the world. The word believe (pisteuo in Greek) means to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust. In other words, to believe in Him is to entrust one’s life unreservedly to the Son’s will, trusting that He is ever faithful to save. That said, it is important to recognise that the vision is first to believe in Him, and the fruit of believing is eternal life. Without first entrusting one’s life unreservedly to Him in faith, there is no eternal life; eternal life is never the vision, only the result.
The word “eternal” (Olam in Hebrew) means forever, perpetual, and ancient. The term “eternal” is attributed to God as existing in the infinite future and past. It is also used to describe the attributes of God. The prophet Isaiah said,
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting (eternal) God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
29 He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
30 Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31 Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:28-31
Eternal life, in essence is the God-kind of life. The crowd in Jesus’s days were impressed with His straight talk and display of power and authority. Now, the manifestations of eternal life are dignity, divine wisdom, peaceability and power. Eternal death, being the opposite of eternal life is slavery, falsehood, fear and timidity. Those who believe in Him will inherit “eternal life” and exhibit the divine traits of dignity, wisdom, peaceability and power. As we can observe, many people though alive are living a deathly existence (see Colossians 2:13).
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world.
Herein describes the disposition of God that led to the giving of His Son. Indeed, God does not look forward to the world’s destruction and has every intent on saving it. Therefore, it is important to know that God is not angry but is actively reaching out to reconcile humanity to Himself. Through Jesus, man’s destruction is no longer inexorable and salvation of the world is within reach. The Son is incarnated to save, not to judge or to penalise. This explains Jesus’s infinite capacity to endure evil brought on by His opposers, accusers and murderers. While at the cross, Jesus’s plea to the Father to forgive His oppressors explains all,
But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. Luke 23:34
He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already.
Here, Jesus establishes the condition of eternal life: He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already. Jesus purports that the fate of every person lies entirely in the decisions he makes. To believe in Him is to repent from evil, and commit to the ways of Jesus. While God endeavours to give eternal life to all, it remains for each person to believe in Him; to continually live by the truth that Jesus taught despite challenges and temptations. That said, the ones who suppose they can obtain eternal life without making a conscientious shift in life direction and lifestyle will continue on their path of destruction: he who does not believe has been judged already. Jesus spoke about the day of judgment in Matthew 25:31-6 where the Son will separate those who believe in Him (the sheep) from those who do not (the goats). Those who do not believe, who are self-centred, who practise falsehood will go into eternal punishment. But those who believe in Him; who live a life of truth and kindness will enter into eternal life.
Assurance of salvation comes naturally to one who entrusts his life to Jesus
Assurance of salvation is keenly felt in one who walks in tandem with Jesus. By virtue of the fact that Jesus is the source of salvation, no one can obtain this blessed assurance if he does not possess the same convictions as Jesus’s. Concerning assurance of God’s mercy and favour, the apostle John taught,
But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him. 1 John 3:17-19
And one who loves in deed and in truth will be assured of their prayers being answer in times of need.
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:21-22
Even so, many seek to obtain this assurance by being singularly focused on the cleansing power of Jesus’s sacrifice. They are led by some misguided teachings that one’s sins can be forgiven by simply reciting the sinner’s prayer, by memorising scripture or by water baptism. To them, Jesus is much like the dean of a school, who has a penchant for exalting lazy and irresponsible students to a place of honour. Only an unsound mind, steep in deception can conjure an image of a fictitious god who is infinitely forgiving and yet devoid of justice and righteousness. Regrettably, many in today’s churches harbour a false sense of peace and assurance. They erroneously suppose this assurance can be obtain through an intellectual presentation of the gospel. The apostle Paul warned of impending disaster for those who are foolish and naive,
While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:3
That said, righteousness and purity in the eyes of God is first and foremost a matter of the heart. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8). But, how can a man tell what is hidden in his heart? By paying close attention to what he says and does. Jesus said, “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.” (Matthew 12:35).
1. Do you lack the blessed assurance of God’s mercy and forgiveness? Are you assured of God’s favour to answer your prayers at the time of need? We experience divine assurance of God’s forgiveness and favour when we acknowledge our sinfulness and commit our ways to Him. The apostle John said,
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9
If we humble ourselves in repentance, God promises to sanctify us of our sinfulness and to reconcile us to Himself. Self-reflection is necessary in that it reveals our true character. It also allows the Spirit to heal us and to sanctify our hearts towards righteousness. Thereafter, we must reject all notions of guilt being fully aware of the devil’s devices to hinder us from moving on.
2. How do we live the eternal life?
- We must learn to live in divine dignity. When people despise us, we must carry ourselves with humility, gentleness, and patience. In so doing, God counts us worthy of our calling as sons of God (see Ephesians 4:1-2).
- We must be slow to speak and quick to listen, slow to making promises and quick to deliver. In so doing, we are able to employ divine wisdom through the Spirit and succeed in all our endeavours.
- We must be at peace with God by leaving no sins unconfessed. And be at peace with others as far as it depends on us. And do not be vindictive but rather be gracious and tolerant towards others. Be at peace with our circumstances being fully assured that God is in control of our situations.
- We must be bold in divine power when facing challenges bigger than ourselves. Start by casting out the spirit of fear and anxiety. Determine the boundaries of your responsibility and do your best. Leave the uncontrollable to God by sending out the angels to do your bidding.
Dear Lord, I thank you for giving me an opportunity to attain eternal life. Empower me with your Spirit and sanctify me from all unrighteousness. Cause me to live in divine dignity, wisdom, peace and power. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.