INTRO: Few people who have any knowledge of the Bible do not know Jno 3:16. It is no doubt one of the most often quoted passages in Holy Writ. So well known is this verse in many religious circles that it has become only text many people know or quote in the matter of ones salvation. In fact, it is not uncommon to find that people, sincere and honest people, simple will not entertain any other scriptural information relative to the how of salvation. In my own experience I have sat with people for hours on end and discussed the role of penitence and baptism in ones salvation ... only to have them say, Yes, but what about John 3:16? So much one hears these days say simply, All you have to do is believe.
I SO, LETS LOOK AT JOHN 3:16
A. What a wonderful passage!
1. it speaks of Gods interest and concern about the human condition
2. it speaks of the very nature of God - for God is love - 1 Jno 4:8
3. it speaks of the heinousness of sin - requiring such an offering
4. it speaks of the justice and holiness of God - law had to be satisfied
5. and, yes, it does tell us that eternal life without belief in Jesus as the Son of God is just not possible!
B. But look at Jno 3:14,15 and the context of v. 16
1. John called attention to an O.T. event recorded at Num 21:4-9
2. now notice Num 21:8 with Jno 3:14,15 - John associates belief with the event fiery serpent event
3. the brass serpent was erected in the camp, and people had to look at it in order to be spared from death
4. believing required looking! but believing alone was never contemplated
5. Johns use of this event here helps us understand that believing in Jesus is much more than quietly coming to the conclusion that Jesus is the Son of God
II AN UNWARRANTED REWRITE OF ROMANS 5:1?
A. Rom 5:1 says, Therefore being justified by faith...
1. it is not uncommon, however, to find speakers and writers adding alone
2. so, they rewrite the text by adding a word absolutely not found in it!
3. it is vital for us to understand what Paul meant by faith
B. Rom 1:5 and 16:26 - obedience is joined with faith
1. did Rom 5:1 exclude more than ones I believe?
2. no, and the two verses which bracket the entire book of Romans so note
3. Rom 6:17 gives us a broader understanding of the obedience of faith
C. We must never take away from the necessity of faith, of belief
1. if there is no faith, there will be no obedience!
2. oh, there may be formality ... or, some going through the motions - but in the absence of faith it cannot be called obedience
3. still, we must not let faith, belief, become narrow and exclusive of the rest of the story
III THE SIGNIFICANCE OF ABRAHAM TO THIS DISCUSSION?
A. In Rom 4 the faith of Abraham is discussed ... leading to Rom 5:1
1. so, understanding the nature of Abrahams faith is critical
2. what can we learn of his faith?
B. Heb 11:8 and 11:17-19 - Two illustrations of Abrahams faith
1. notice v. 8 - By faith ... Abraham ... obeyed...
2. then, v. 17 - By faith Abraham ... offered up Isaac...
C. Jas 2:20-24 - Two more references to Abraham - and to Isaac
1. v. 23 refers to Gen 15:4-6
2. vv. 21,22 refer to Gen 22:15-18
3. now, notice Gen 22:16 - for because thou had done this thing...
4. here was obedient faith - exactly the faith Paul noted in Romans
IV SO, HOW DOES ALL OF THIS APPLY TO JOHN 3:16?
A. The answer? scripture simply does not teach us a faith only salvation
1. we are justified by faith - we are saved by faith
2. and the faith which saves is obedient faith
B. So, Mk 16:16 - Baptism is the obedience of faith!
1. we must not see Jno 3:16 in isolation from the whole picture of salvation
2. I urge that you think through the wonderful subject of faith, belief, to the Biblical conclusion of obedience
CLOSE: I know that our upbringing, our environment contribute so much to our beliefs. And there are times when it is very difficult to get past those influences. It is at those times we must study and think carefully ... to reach accurate conclusions. Baptism is the time and place your faith and Gods grace meet to secure your justification, your forgiveness.
Cecil A. Hutson
18 July 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)