Aug 29

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The above words are the greatest words in the Bible! Of course, all Bible readers know where they are found in the New Testament and they are the opening words in what is called, “The golden text of the Bible.” There may be someone who would debate the claim made here, but just what words would be greater?
The full text reads: “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” (John 3:16). We have in these words the greatest being, “God;” we have the greatest positive force, “love;” we have the greatest number of people, “the world;” we have the greatest gift, “his only begotten Son;” we have the greatest opportunity, “he that believeth:” we have the greatest eternal punishment, “perish;” and the greatest eternal reward, “everlasting life.” No wonder this verse has been called the “golden text of the Bible!”
As great as this text is, there are some who abuse and misuse it! Like any other verse, it is generally wrong to take one verse as though it reveals the whole subject. The words, “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” are often preached as if “believing” is all that is necessary to salvation. It must be understood that no one verse gives all that is required of the lost in order to be saved. When reading the New Testament, like when reading other things, the writers use what is a form of speech called synecdoche, where a part of something is used for the whole, or where the whole is used to stand for all the parts. Here are two examples: first, “Their feet are swift to shed blood,” the word “feet” is used for the whole person in Romans 3:15; second, “Hath not my hand made all these things?” where the word “hand” is used for the power of God in Acts 7:50. So it is with the word “believeth” in John 3:16, it is a part for all that is required in order to be saved. “Believeth” does not exclude “repentance,” (Acts 17:30), “confession” (Rom. 10:9-10, Acts 8:37), and baptism (Acts 2:38, 1 Pet. 2:21), but would in fact, include all that is required on the part of the one who is lost to be saved.
Now, let us return to the opening words of the text: “For God so loved the world.” God “so loved” us when we were lost; as Paul wrote: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). But, this does not tell the whole story either, as Paul continued: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). Therefore, God “so loved” us when we were lost and enemies of God! Yet, there is more! We had no hope, no expectation of ever being saved without the love of God! Thus, the greatness of the words, “For God so loved!”
This love which God demonstrated and which is expressed in the words, “For God so loved,” is often called unconditional love. There is a certain truth in this, yet, man has greatly misunderstood and even abuses the subject. It is common to hear these todays, “I love my children unconditionally.” This may be spoken after expressing the idea that God loves us unconditionally; and we should have the same kind of love for our children. Well now, just what is this “unconditional love?” God loved us when we were lost, and when we were his enemies, and certainly this is unconditional love! However, it is not approving love! God never approved our sins! God will never save us in our sins! Thus, “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,” was to save us from our sins; but after we repented of our sins! Therefore, unconditional love is a love which never approves of sin, but love the person who sins!
No, God “so loved” us that he provided the means whereby he could forgive our sins; not that we could continue in our sins! There is the greatness of his love.

— Frank R. Williams

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