Does John 3:16 Prove Jesus Died For All?

One of the most controversial subjects in all of theology is the subject of the atonement. For whom did Christ die? Did Jesus die for every person who ever lived or did He only die for those who would place their trust in Him?

One verse that those against the doctrine of limited atonement point to is John 3:16.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 3:16.

The argument is that because of the use of the word world we see that Christ died for every individual who ever lived.

But there is a problem with this assertion. John 3:16 does not say that Jesus died for the entire world. What does the verse actually say? It says God loved the world. But what does world mean?

The Greek word, κόσμον (kosmos) does mean world. And in the context of John 3:16 it is referring to creation. The argument can be made, legitimately, that it is also referring specifically to people of the world. I agree with this assessment. However, that still does not say that Jesus died for every individual.

The next part of the verse says that God gave His only Son. God loved the world and, as a result, He gave his Son up. But for what purpose did He give Christ? It was not to pay for the sins of every individual. At the end of the day, if you argue for Christ dying for all individuals that is your logical conclusion, that He paid for the sins of everyone. No, it says that whoever believes.

Now, I will say that I do not believe that this verse actually deals with the question people try to make it answer. I do not believe it deals with who Christ died for. But we know from other passages, which will not be dealt with in this article, that He laid His life down for the sheep (John 10:15). The only thing John 3:16 tells us is that Christ, at minimum, died for those who would believe in Him.

Merry Christmas 2019!

Christmas nativity scene.

It is hard to believe that we have arrived at another Christmas Eve. There is much going on in the world. The U.S. President is under impeachment. War still rages in the Middle East. There is still the atrocities of terrorism. There is disease and famine. It is not a peaceful time by man’s standards.

However, today we look back 2,000 years to remember a night of great joy. A night when the angels appeared to the shepherds to say, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill, toward men.”

What if we, the church, recapture that spirit, that moment? Can you imagine the shepherds in that field that night? They were terrified according to Luke 2. Who wouldn’t be? But at the same time, they were awestruck by what they saw. Again, who wouldn’t be?

But what did the shepherds do? They listened. They followed the instructions of the Lord’s message and went to see this amazing baby. They went to see the Savior.

Christmas reminds us that God came in the flesh (John 1:14) to live here among us. He came to live as we did, to experience what we experience, to know what we know and feel what we feel. And, most importantly, He came to take our place on the cross. He was the perfect sacrifice. He was the substitute for our condemnation. He died in our place.

That is what Christmas is truly about. It was the start of a 33-year story. A story that is the greatest story ever told. A story that shows how God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but he will have eternal life.

Merry Christmas and, in the words of that famous character, Tiny Tim, May God bless us, everyone.

What Are We Celebrating?

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is past us and we are already full-swing into another Christmas season. Christmas movies are on, presents are being purchased, trees and lights adorn the country. All of these things are fun, exciting, and part of the celebration of Christmas. But what exactly are we celebrating? John’s Gospel gives us the answer:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,

John 1:14a (English Standard Version)

We are celebrating the fact that the God of the universe thought enough of His elect that He took on flesh to walk on this earth as one of us. He faced the same trials and temptations yet he remained sinless. He took our place on the cross and took our penalty for our sins in his death. He brought us salvation and redemption that we might have eternal life. There is no greater love.

We often hear that Jesus is the “Reason for the Season.” But do we really take this to heart? Do we really understand the magnitude of what happened on that first Christmas? Do we really think about Immanuel, God with us? Do we consider what Christ did for us on the cross? Does it make a change in our lives?

These are the things that we need to dwell on this Christmas season. And not just Christmas, we need to think about these things every day of the year. So let’s remember what we are celebrating. We are celebrating the Word becoming flesh to dwell among us.

Soli Deo Gloria!