Thursday, December 01, 2011

John 3:9-21

John 3:9-21

9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?
10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 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.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 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.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Key Observation:
The light is come into the world, but the world knows it not, because they prefer to walk in darkness.

I did not take the time yesterday to tell how much I appreciate this chapter. John is my favorite book, and early in my Christian life, the Spirit had me memorizing much of it. My Lord, in all his functions as Savior and Lord, as King and Ruler over men, as a man obedient unto death on the cross, is strongly presented in this book. But the best presentation of our Lord is given here in this chapter. It is a favorite portion of scripture for me. John 3:16 has been called the miniature gospel, with good reason, but the verses immediately following it are most precious to building a doctrine of who Jesus is and why He came.

Yesterday I learned the Spirit is likened to the wayward wind, which comes and goes where it will, and so is the Spirit in coming to men to bring them to Christ. Now I learn that even though the Spirit goes where He will and causes some to be reborn, a part of that rebirth process is the individual believing God. Many arguments are made about these verses, but I think they are fairly and simply presented. I think they need to be read as written.

The Spirit chooses whom He will, so verse 8 tells me. That is God’s election and sovereignty. That is the part that He does, but it is by no means the whole of the story. “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” The verse is referencing Numbers 21, where it says: “The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” (verse 8) The passage clearly makes life and healing available to anyone, if they will but look. What work are they doing? None at all, I would respond, since the work was done by Moses and the Lord. Not one jot or tiddle of credit would the person get who looked at the serpent on the cross. But they would get life and health.

I can imagine, though the Bible does not tell us, that there were a few hard-heads who refused to look, not believing and refusing to do the one condition laid down for their salvation. I do think such a person might have wrongly reasoned that such a thing could never help, and instead hid in his tent in his bed until the poison had done its work. What a beautiful picture God gives us of his grace here; just as those in Numbers got grace from looking to the cross, so we also must look to the cross for the only grace possible. Without looking we shall surely die!

The empty cross is what I notice as I look. The empty tomb. The resurrected Lord reigns, victorious over the power of sin to poison me. Nothing in this universe, or outside of it for that matter, will separate me from the Love of God. McGee well asks us to note in John 3:16 that God did not save the world by love, rather because He loved us He GAVE. That is grace, unmerited favor. Who is it available to? In spite of many of my friends’ answer, who would to limit His grace to just those who would receive it, it is totally and completely unlimited. It is offered to every man, every woman, every child in this world.

The problem is that not everyone will look to the cross and be saved. John tells us that the Father sent in the world his Son, not to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved. But men refuse the Light because they prefer the darkness and their evil deeds. What can be done for such people? The answer—nothing. God has already done everything, and those who reject the Son “shall not see life” but the wrath of God abides on them. God will be entirely righteous in His judgment of such people, for He has given them the cross, He has paid the price, and there is nothing more to be done.

I do not know where the Spirit goes; if I did, I would try my best to be there. But I do have the command of Jesus, who bade me, “Say not ye, there are four months and then comes harvest. Behold I say unto you, lift up your eyes upon the fields, for they are white already to harvest.” So my job as a Christian is to proclaim faithfully, even to those I might despise, the Pharisees of my day, the infidels, the worst of sinners, and even the one who lives next door to me. Who knows but that God will use my lips to bring His Gospel to cause someone to be gloriously reborn? I thank God that someone once thought enough of me to proclaim Christ to me. I was forever changed—and that is grace.

Wonderful grace of Jesus

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.
Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Wonderful grace, all sufficient for me, for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!
Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned,
Saved to the uttermost,
Chains have been torn asunder,
Giving me liberty;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.
Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power,
Making him God’s dear child,
Purchasing peace and heaven,
For all eternity;
And the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me

Words & Music: Haldor Lillenas, 1918

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