The Book of John Series (John 3:16-21) – November 11, 2012
The following sermon is part of The Book of John series from November 11, 2012.
The following are the answers to the text questions that came in during the sermon:
1. “What about those who have accepted Jesus as their savior yet believe others can find another way to heaven. Will those who believe such go to heaven?” 11:33 AM
In short, Scripture would lead us to believe that they will not. Jesus said very clearly in John 14:6 that he is the way to God. To believe that there are other ways would indicate that the person has not believed Jesus to be who he said he was. It seems like this person would be much like the people in John 2:23-25 who believed in Jesus, yet Jesus did not entrust himself to them. Their belief was not the belief that led to salvation because they only believed some good things about him, but failed to see him as the “Lamb of God”. To believe that there is any other way to God would be to undercut the very words of Jesus and the purpose for which he was sent. We must believe that Jesus is the only way that we can truly live. This was also the picture of the serpent on the pole from Numbers 21 referenced in John 3:14. The only way those people could live was to look at the serpent. Jesus told this story to Nicodemus just before using John 3:16 to help Nicodemus understand that he was the only way to find eternal life. With all of that said, I am very careful to not make a declaration about whether an individual will go to heaven and not because that is completely God’s call. In Hebrews 11, we find the “faith hall of fame” where people were right with God because of their faith. God can decide whatever he wants with our faith, but it is clear that his plan of salvation is only through Jesus Christ. To presume any other way would be an effort to go around God’s plan and surely He would not honor that.
2. “What is difference between condemnation and punishment. Even tho we aren’t condemned for our evil acts, are we punished?” 11:23 AM
Think of condemnation as a final sentencing. The condemnation mentioned in this passage is referencing our judgment before God as guilty or innocent. Think of specific punishment connected to specific actions. We will certainly experience punishment and discipline in our life, but as a Christian, we are not condemned to eternal death. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1 ESV
3. “So no matter how evil the things we do, we can still go to heaven if we accept Jesus?” 11:30 AM
Yes. Paul himself said “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” There is nothing that we can “do” to be saved and there is nothing that we can “do” to lose our salvation. If a person claims to be a Christian, however, and they do not have any desire to “do” the right thing, I would wonder if they really have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. Salvation is the work of God, not the work of man (Ephesians 2). It is full of God’s grace towards us who are completely underserving. By human standards, we have various degrees of sin, but by God’s standards, we all fall short (Romans 3:23). Be careful not to think of Christianity as a ticket to Heaven, rather it is to gain “eternal life”. According to John 17:3, eternal life is about knowing God and Jesus Christ. It is not some thing that is far off in the future. It is in the here and now. It is pretty clear within whether a person really has eternal life or not. If a person is unsure whether they have it or not, they should read all five chapters of the Book of First John. He wrote the book so that a person would know that they have eternal life. Within it are some great indicators of what should be happening in a person’s heart if they really are a Christian.
4. “Explain, being condemned consequences. This needs to be clear for all rejecting Christ or putting of a decision to later there will be no second chance after your physical death. The spiritual whole lot worse. Glenn” 11:24 AM
“So is “death” a literal term or is it eternal separation from God? We are taught that without Jesus we are separated from God, face death, or spend eternity in Hell.” 11:12 AM
To understand the consequences of condemnation clarifies the significance of salvation. In John 3:16, we can read about “eternal life”, but we also will read the word “perish”. A discussion about eternal life without a discussion about eternal death can leave a person with a sense of complacency or worse entitlement. In John 3:14, Jesus reminded Nicodemus about the story of the serpents from Numbers 21. In that story, the people were dying from snake bites and desperately wanted to live. Jesus reminded Nicodemus of this story that he already knew because he wanted Nicodemus to understand that he was not desperate to live because he was not aware of the fact that he was facing death…a spiritual death that was far worse than physical death. Spiritual death is separation from God. We are all in this state until we look to Jesus Christ to bring us life. There is a great urgency in this because once we experience physical death, our spiritual death is eternal. Mark 9:43 calls eternal death, Hell. He describes it as “unquenchable fire”. We cannot comprehend what this would be like, but we get the idea from Scripture that we will desperately want relief, but there will be none…it is eternal. Matthew 25 reads “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” As much as we want eternal life, we have to be aware of this eternal punishment. In giving reassurance to God’s people who were being persecuted, we find words being spoken that should sober us greatly to this reality… “5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” - 2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 ESV This passage makes it clear that when Jesus comes again, he will reward those who have believed, and “inflict vengeance” on those who do not. The passage says that He is just in doing this. God is holy and cannot tolerate unrighteousness. There is a great sense of urgency. The second coming of Jesus could come at any moment. The time to make an eternal decision is now. Jesus is our righteousness. Through Jesus, God is the just and the justifier. Read Romans 3:21-26.