The Truth About John 3:16
The Truth About John 3:16
John 3:16 “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.”
John 3:16 is considered by many to be the “golden text” of the Bible. Although this text is golden, it is unfortunately the most abused text in the Bible. Individuals often insert the word “alone” as if it were in the text and accuse us of not believing John 3:16 because we disagree with their conclusion based upon this misreading of the text. Many say, “All I need is John 3:16!” They will say, “Don’t talk to me about water baptism. John 3:16 doesn’t say anything about being baptized in order to be saved.” Well, neither does John 3:16 say anything about repentance of sin or confession of faith in Jesus Christ, yet this does not mean that repentance and confession are not necessary. We must understand every word in John 3:16 is true, but not all of the truth on being saved is found in John 3:16. Every word in the Bible is true. If we must set aside part of God’s word because of what we believe a certain passage teaches, something is wrong with what we believe. One can never do less than what any one passage requires, but one may have to do more than what any one passage requires. One must accept all the Bible teaches on the subject under consideration, not just what is taught in any one passage on the subject. This is true of John 3:16 where the subject of faith in Christ and salvation on the ground of that faith is the subject. When we learn all the Bible teaches on the matter of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, we are then in a position to understand and accept what John 3:16 teaches, and to know what it means to believe in Jesus Christ unto salvation from past sins.
Salvation Is Through Faith
By faith, we have everlasting life (John 3:14-17). We are also justified by faith (Romans 5:1). Salvation is by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). By faith, we are born again (1 John 5:1-4). By faith, remission of sins is obtained (Acts 10:42-43). All of these passages teach salvation by faith, but do they teach salvation by faith only? The answer is NO! There is a difference. Again, all the words in John 3:16 are true, but not all the truth is found in John 3:16. So it is with these passages and the subject of salvation; we must accept ALL the Bible teaches on this subject.
Salvation Is Through Obedience
Salvation is through obedience (Hebrews 5:9). Righteousness is through obedience (Romans 6:16-18). A pure heart is produced and being born again is the result through obedience (1 Peter 1:22-23). The Bible plainly teaches that faith is essential to salvation, but faith only cannot save. Faith is a noun that describes the action of believing and that action is obedience to the truth. By the way, the only time we see the phrase “faith only” in the Bible, it tells us we are not saved by faith only (James 2:24).
Whosoever believes on Jesus Christ unto eternal life, as John 3:16 teaches, is the one whose faith moves him to obey his Lord in baptism for the remission of his sins and to faithfully serve him as a Christian. “But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth]” (James 1:22).