John 3:16, the Gospel in a nutshell

BJ Bear

Well-known member
Background: While reading a hardcopy of the JPS TANAKH it came to my attention that there was a prayer repeated at the close of some books. According to the preface, at the close of each of the twenty four books there is a prayer, "Hereby completed--praise to God, creator of the cosmos!"

"For God in this manner loved the world [cosmos], that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

In a plain reading of that passage world means world or cosmos means cosmos. This is made absolutely certain by the context, the witness of Moses.

Unlike the rest of the things found in the creation account, man was not spoken into existence. He was made from the dust of the earth, the creation, and God breathed life into him.

The incarnation is definite proof that God gave his Son for all men. People who deny that world means world, or mentally insert an adjective so that it is not inclusive of God's creation, which necessarily includes all men, are reading an alien context into the passage.

The connection: Like the sacrifice of the seventy plus one bulls, the prayer which closes the books is an additional clear indicator that the person and work of Christ is for and to all men.
 
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Bonnie

Super Member
Correct. Limited Atonement is one of the worst doctrines ever conceived.
Believing or not believing in limited atonement isn't a salvific issue, but I do think it is error. The Bible says that "God would have that ALL men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." Paraphrasing a little.

WHO isn't included in "cosmos", that God so loved?
 

BJ Bear

Well-known member
Believing or not believing in limited atonement isn't a salvific issue, but I do think it is error.
That is above my pay grade, but out of context is out of context. Does it really make a difference whether a person says Jesus is a roast beef sandwich or if a person says Jesus is a myth?

John was proclaiming Christ through the law and the prophets to those familiar with the law and the prophets.
 

BMS

Well-known member
Great topic. I think there are three key things here.
One needs John 3:15 to understand John 3:16. God didnt love the world, God so loved the world to save it.
God's love is unconditional in that whilst we WERE sinners Christ DIED for us. Past tense.
God has made the way to salvation and life everlasting, for ALL, BUT through faith in Christ.
 

BJ Bear

Well-known member
Great topic. I think there are three key things here.
One needs John 3:15 to understand John 3:16. God didnt love the world, God so loved the world to save it.
That is an unusual expression. If you were to rephrase it what would it be? I don't see a way to read the passage without "the world" being the object of the transitive verb "loved." Also, the word translated as, "so," or, "in this manner," indicates an expression of God's love rather than a limit to God's love.

At any rate, everybody should agree that Jesus did not come to judge or condemn the world but to save it.

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (Joh 3:17, KJVA)
God's love is unconditional in that whilst we WERE sinners Christ DIED for us. Past tense.
True enough, but Nicodemus should have already understood this from Moses and the Prophets, for example, Genesis 3.
God has made the way to salvation and life everlasting, for ALL, BUT through faith in Christ.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is by definition objective true good news to and for all men. It is not the proclamation of a good possibility, so Jesus continued to Nicodemus:

“¶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.” (Joh 3:18, KJVA)

Faith only receives the now already accomplished good news of Jesus Christ to and for all men. Unbelief denies the now already accomplished good news of Jesus Christ to and for all men, denies the already accomplished good news of Jesus Christ to and for them.
 

BMS

Well-known member
That is an unusual expression. If you were to rephrase it what would it be? I don't see a way to read the passage without "the world" being the object of the transitive verb "loved." Also, the word translated as, "so," or, "in this manner," indicates an expression of God's love rather than a limit to God's love.

At any rate, everybody should agree that Jesus did not come to judge or condemn the world but to save it.

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (Joh 3:17, KJVA)

True enough, but Nicodemus should have already understood this from Moses and the Prophets, for example, Genesis 3.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is by definition objective true good news to and for all men. It is not the proclamation of a good possibility, so Jesus continued to Nicodemus:

“¶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.” (Joh 3:18, KJVA)

Faith only receives the now already accomplished good news of Jesus Christ to and for all men. Unbelief denies the now already accomplished good news of Jesus Christ to and for all men, denies the already accomplished good news of Jesus Christ to and for them.
I think this is a case of me not making myself clear. I agree with you, but I think the danger with John 3:16 is to think God loves the world so we can all carry on as we please.
 

dberrie2020

Well-known member
I think this is a case of me not making myself clear. I agree with you, but I think the danger with John 3:16 is to think God loves the world so we can all carry on as we please.

And I think this is where we need to stop and think over the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ was for all men--as the OP maintains--which means it was for those who would believe in Him--as well as those who never would. Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world--unconditionally. His Blood already has been shed--there is no amount of belief or unbelief which will alter that one bit. It was Christ alone, as a "free gift" to all men--nailed to the cross:

Romans 5:18---King James Version
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.


Free. Christ alone. Not Christ plus my faith or anyone else--but Him alone.

And the testimony--"came upon"--past tense. IOW--Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, and was resurrected to overcome death and hell--as an automatic consequence which befell all men due to the Fall--as Romans5:18 indicates.

All men are Redeemed from the automatic condemnation which befell all men due to the Fall, and the doors of eternal life was offered to all men--as an OPPORTUNITY. No faith or belief necessary. Unconditional. Free gift to all men. "came upon"--past tense.

Which releases us from the choice Adam made in the Fall--and charges all with answering for their own personal choices.

I believe the Lutherans confuse the free gift with the personal reception of eternal life--which comes through God's grace--which is given to them which walk in His light:

1 John 1:7---King James Version
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

That's not a free gift---it's a conditional gift. God grants His grace unto them which walk in His light.

There is a difference between the free gift of God conquering death and hell for all of mankind--as a result of the Fall--and forgiving personal sins. That God died for all sins does not mean all sins are forgiven. That's a given.

Jesus has the right to determine whether one receives His grace unto life or not, as a personal reception, as He bought all men with a price in His Atonement. All men will be judged according to their works, and those who are found empty--suffer the SECOND death:

Revelation 20:13-14---King James Version
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

The first death occurred in the fall--and all were absolved of that death through Christ's free gift in His Atonement. Then--a judgment according to works determines whether one escapes the second death--and is a conditional judgment.

Again--I believe the Lutherans confuse the free gift of Romans5:18-- with the grace which God gives to them which obey Him:

Matthew 19:16-19---King James Version
16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
 

Bonnie

Super Member
I think this is a case of me not making myself clear. I agree with you, but I think the danger with John 3:16 is to think God loves the world so we can all carry on as we please.
Well, Paul puts the kibosh on that, in Romans 6. But then, those truly indwelt by the HS will no longer want to "carry on as we please" but carry on as their Lord and Savior wants us to "carry on." We are made a new creation that wants to do God's will.
 

dberrie2020

Well-known member
Well, Paul puts the kibosh on that, in Romans 6.

He certainly did:

Romans 6:16---King James Version
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

So--could you explain how one fits that into Lutheran theology--seeing they preach one obtains eternal life independent of all acts of obedience to Jesus Christ?

1 John 3:7---King James Version
7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
 

BJ Bear

Well-known member
Believing or not believing in limited atonement isn't a salvific issue, but I do think it is error.
Just posting this conclusion for the record from the Formula Of Concord regarding election. All forms of limited atonement are categorically rejected as blasphemous and erroneous doctrines. Article XI can be read in full at the link below the quote

"21 All these are blasphemous and dreadful erroneous doctrines, whereby all the comfort which they have in the holy Gospel and the use of the holy Sacraments is taken from Christians, and therefore should not be tolerated in the Church of God."
 
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