John 3: He Who Comes from Heaven is Above All Things, Part 2
Previously, we discussed the first half of John 3, a very well-known section of Scripture for most of us because of John 3:16. If you have not read our first article, please click on the link in the first sentence to access it because this article continues where we left off.
We noted that Jesus had an in-depth discussion with Nicodemus that, for the most, Nicodemus was unable to understand at that time. He likely eventually saw and understood what Jesus was referring to (about being born again or born from above) in time, but this was where he first learned it. Like so many spiritual truths, it takes time for our human, finite minds to comprehend them. In truth, I have to wonder if we ever truly and fully comprehend them in this life.
For instance, I fully believe in the doctrine of the Trinity (even though that word “trinity” is never used in Scripture), yet at the same time, I find it very difficult to wrap my brain around it. How can God exist in three Persons, yet be one God? People constantly mistake the Trinity for a belief in polytheism and that, in and of itself, is proof that we cannot absorb deep truths of God easily. The fact that we cannot fully understand it does not mean it is not true. The final verdict rests with Scripture.
I can imagine the look on Nicodemus’ face because I’ve been there and I’m sure I’ll be there again when it comes to grasping spiritual truths. As I pointed out yesterday, both Paul and the writer of Hebrews point out groups of people who were surviving on the “milk” of God’s Word (the basic fundamentals) and should be yearning for the deeper truths of God, but weren’t.
In Nicodemus’ case, it wasn’t because he didn’t want to understand. He simply couldn’t. He had head knowledge and he loved God, but he could not see the truth regarding salvation…yet. God would have to open his eyes and I believe that eventually occurred.
After quoting what is likely the most well-known verse in all of Scripture – John 3:16 – Jesus emphasizes His point by noting that “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him,” (John 3:17).
Jesus is saying without equivocation that the meaning of His life here on earth was to call people to Himself. God is so filled with love that He yearns for people to know Him through salvation (and we cannot know Him any other way, cf. John 14:6). Often, people stop there at love, thinking that God is essentially one big lump of love. Yes, He is love, but He is also just, holy, righteous, perfect, all-knowing, omniscient, and many other things besides.
God’s love has caused Him to open a way for humanity to claim what was lost in Eden through salvation made possible by God the Son. God’s holiness, on the other hand, must also reject those who reject Him and that salvation.
His justice is the only true judgment in all the universe and that justice is meted out to each person eventually, but Jesus said to Nicodemus that God’s judgment was not then. Those who trust Christ for salvation are seen as righteous, but it is God’s righteousness because that righteousness is imputed to that person’s account once they come to believe in Christ’s propitiation for our sin. Those who reject Christ and His salvation are judged based on their “righteousness” and will unfortunately, be in for a terribly rude awakening. That is very tragic.
Jesus assures Nicodemus that Jesus’ life does not mean that God is ready to judge the earth or people. In fact, through Christ, God has provided a way to not be judged because Christ would experience the wrath of the Father being poured out on Him while He died a terribly painful death on the cross. Those who reject this salvation will also experience God’s wrath poured out on them for all eternity. I’m sure the implications of Jesus’ words floored Nicodemus. Jesus essentially was the way of escape for God’s judgment, yet those who truly trust Him also experience a growing desire to serve Him.
A person who marries someone and is truly in love with that person wants them to be happy. The spouse finds ways to make that person happy. Each person becomes a helpmeet to the other and that is what causes two people to grow together. Those who enter marriage thinking it’s all about them eventually wind up divorcing. A person who believes they have gained salvation by trusting in Christ, yet never have a desire to serve Him should think twice about the validity of their salvation. In fact, this is one of the lessons of the final part of John 3.
Jesus clarifies His words in verse 18 for Nicodemus. “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.”
Please notice that Jesus is saying that those individuals who believe on God’s saving grace made available through Jesus Christ are NOT judged and never will be. As a Christian – one who believes that Jesus is God and that His death was an atonement for me personally – I will never be judged because all of my sins – past, present, and future – were judged at the cross when the Father poured out His wrath on God the Son.
Conversely, those who do not believe in the efficacy of Christ’s sinless life, His death, and His resurrection are already under judgment now. They will be officially judged after they die at what the Bible refers to it as the Great White Throne Judgment (cf. Revelation 20). The people that appear before God in that judgment will be told why they are being sent to the Lake of Fire, the place incidentally, that was created originally for the devil and his angels (cf. Matthew 25:41). Those beings rejected God and those humans who do the same receive the same fate.
The next few verses of John point out truth between darkness and light. Those living in darkness reject the light and are afraid that their deeds will be seen for what they are – darkness. Our federal government is a perfect example. We can go back to whatever presidency we want and most of them had scandals associated with them. In the current administration, it is very clear that in spite of one scandal after another, they are doing everything they can to keep the truth under lock and key. This is the way it is with people who hate the light because the light illuminates the truth. All darkness will be fully seen for what it is at the Great White Throne. There are people like this in churches as well. They are unsaved, yet may believe they are, but they have terribly ugly personalities. They are gossips and live to create problems. It’s all about them. We shouldn’t be surprised at that because Jesus told us about the wheat and the tares (cf. Matthew 13).
From verses 22 to the end of chapter three, we really need to deal with that separately. That’s what we’ll do next time and then – Lord willing – we will pick up where we left off with the biblical facts surrounding the Tribulation. Thanks for your patience!