Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pre-existing Condemnation

"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.  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men
loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds
were evil."  John 3:18-19

   "He that believeth on Him is not condemned...."  To the one who turns to Christ in faith, condemnation has been lifted and they need have no more fear of death; but what is the state of those who turn away from Christ?  "...he that believeth not is condemned already...."  Apart from faith in Christ, condemnation is certain.  The verb tense for condemned in this verse is very powerful.  It carries with it the meaning of an action having taken place in the past and the effects of that action always being relevant in the present and carrying on into the future.  All of us are born sinners because of the sins of one man and our own choice to sin (Romans 5:12).  The choice to disbelieve in Christ does not mean that a person is at that moment condemned.  Those without Christ are walking around in a continuous state of condemnation because of sin.  The man who lives in the remotest corner of the globe and has never heard of Jesus is just as condemned to hell as the man who hears the gospel everyday.  All sin must be punished.  Christ is pointing out to us that we live in a pre-existing state of condemnation.  Men without Christ fail to realize the seriousness of their soul's situation.  At any moment their lives could be terminated and they could awake in the torments of hell fire.  "...because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."  Without faith, it is impossible to please God.  Faith in God's Sacrifice is the only way this pre-existing state of condemnation can be dealt with to the good of the sinner.  The one who turns to Jesus need never worry about condemnation in hell because his choice to believe appropriates by grace the free gift of salvation that will never be taken away. 
   "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."  Our own natural disgust for the things of God condemns us because it clearly shows the true bent of our sin nature.  We love sin!  Men are not naturally drawn to the truth of God's word; they are repelled.  The light here is not just any light, it is THE LIGHT.  It is the Light of Christ.  Christ has come into the world and things will never be the same because of this glorious event and yet men loved darkness over The Light.  The word for love here is agape.  It is the strongest word for love in the Greek.  Men don't like sin.  They are not simply swayed toward it.  They love it!  The flesh is desperately wicked, and when dealing with someone concerning their salvation, sin must be thoroughly dealt with.  People must be admonished about the fact that God hates their sin, but they love it.  A gospel tract that does not thoroughly deal with sin and repentance is not worth handing out.
   Belief in Christ, the Son of God is the only way to escape this pre-existing state of condemnation which has come upon us because of sin.  The sinner is hanging by a thread over hell and is kept back from its flames by nothing but God's grace.  Let us be diligent to give the truth to lost sinners, so that they might escape this condemnation through humble faith in the only begotten Son of God.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Result of True Love

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but
have everlasting life.  For God sent not His Son into the
world to condemn the world; but that the world through
Him might be saved."  John 3:16-17

   God has always loved souls.  One does not arrive at the New Testament and suddenly find that God has changed from a God of judgment to a God of grace.  Throughout the Old Testament, God demonstrates over and over again His love for all mankind.  He gave Israel as a light to the heathen nations in an attempt to draw them from their paganism.  He clearly spoke in the Aramaic tongue in Daniel 2:4 through 7:28 in an effort to show a lost world that He rules over all kingdoms and will someday set up His everlasting kingdom which will be ruled by His dear Son.  He sent Jonah to the Ninevites in an effort to turn them from their sin.  He promised the eunuch and the stranger that desire to seek Him a place in His house better than the place of sons and daughters (Isaiah 56), and now the zenith of His love is reached in the giving of His only begotten Son.  This phrase does not mean that Christ is a created being, but rather, that He is the only One just like the Father.  Each and every saved person is a spiritual son of God, but no one except the Son is like the Father in every way, because the Son is the only Son who is God in the flesh.
   Christ once again states the simple and humble means by which salvation is obtained, believe in the Son as the Savior. 
   "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world...."  This does not mean that sin will not be judged, or that Christ is unconcerned with the way we live.  That is evident by the verses that follow.  "...but that the world through Him might be saved."  He is emphasizing the fact that He came the first time to suffer as our Savior.  His second coming, however, will be quite different.  It will be a mighty and fearful day of judgment for the unsaved, and a bright and hopeful day for those who know Him as Savior.
   These verses will always stand as a hallmark of God's intense love for souls.  The result of that love was the sacrifice of His Son for sinners.  God's love always leads to an action.  Too many Christian's say they love God and yet are completely unwilling to sacrifice even the slightest comfort for His service.  Does not such love on the part of the Savior deserve surrender on the part of the saved?  A professing Christian who cannot demonstrate love for God through sacrifice for God needs to step back and prayerfully reflect upon their heart's condition.  God's true love toward us resulted in a sacrifice for us.  In like manner, our true love for God should result in a life of sacrifice for God.  "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1)."  This is the result of true love.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sin, Blood, and Biblical Belief

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever
believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." 
John 3:14-15

   Now that Christ has firmly established His qualifications to save (through the declaration of His humanity and His deity), He turns to expounding upon the means by which salvation is obtained.  He says, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness even so must the Son of man be lifted up."  He is referring to the incident recorded in Numbers 21:5-9.  As one begins to examine the events of this Old Testament passage, many comparisons can be made between the physical salvation of the serpent-bitten Israelites and the spiritual salvation of sin-bitten mankind.  Moses was told by God to make a serpent of brass and to place it upon a pole.  This serpent was a picture of the sin of the Israelites since the serpent would not have been sent if they had not rebelled.  Likewise, Jesus was made sin for us on the cross and represented the sins of all mankind (II Corinthians 5:21, I Peter 2:24).  The need for Christ to be made sin for us openly declares that each and everyone of us has a sin problem.  Christ died in our place and for our sin!  Any explanation which minimizes or diminishes Christ's substitutionary death is unbiblical. 
   Christ has declared man's sin problem and the need for a blood sacrifice to take away that sin.  But how can the benefits of this blood sacrifice be appropriated by the sinner?  Let us read on, "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."  The word that is used with the sense of in order that.  Christ gave Himself for sin and became sin in the flesh in order that whosoever is willing to believe might not perish (be lost eternally in hell fire) but have eternal life.  The Critical Text has removed the phrase might not perish.  Going back to the serpent-bitten Israelites of Numbers.  The only ones who would live were those willing to walk to, be carried to, or crawl to the pole in order to look upon it so that they might live.  God could have healed all those bitten without any response on their part, but He chose to challenge their will and see who was willing to follow His requirements.  Those unwilling to humble themselves and, in simple faith, go and look upon the serpent would not be healed.  However, those willing to acknowledge their need and follow God's simple command of "look and live" would not die.  So it is today.  All have been bitten by sin.  There is none righteous (Romans 3).  Christ has died for the sins of all but only those willing to humble themselves and, in simple faith, go and "look" upon the Son of God will live. 
   The world is filled with thousands of professing Christians who have never been redeemed because they know that Christ was lifted up, they know they are infested with serpents but they are unwilling to turn around from their sin and march to the "pole (cross)" for healing.  God's plan for salvation is extremely simple.  All He asks is that we acknowledge that we are bitten and dying, and that we change our direction and march to Jesus in faith and ask Him for healing.  The Bible clearly says that whosoever does this shall not perish but have eternal life.  The fires of hell are real.  Sin must be punished ultimately, but God has provided, through His love, a simple plan by which man can find redemption.  Let each acknowledge his sin and in humble faith run to the One Who has been made sin for us that we might find eternal life!