Let’s Talk About John 3:16

John 3:16 is one of the most quoted and most beloved verses in all of Scripture. It is a defining verse that gives hope for humanity. Whoever believes in Christ will not perish. This is an amazing verse of strength, glory, and victory. But this verse is also misused regularly.

It is often stated that John 3:16 is definitive proof that God loves everyone equally and wants to save every individual. Further, it is argued that it means Christ died for the sins of every individual. However, none of these assertions are reality.

First, John 3:16 does not actually address who Christ died for directly. It only says that Christ came because of God’s love for the world and that those who believe in him will not perish. It states nothing about the extent of the atonement other than that those who believe will receive it.

But does John 3:16 say that God loves all with a “saving” love? I do not see how one can argue that from this text. Verses 17 and 18 negate this idea. They state that those who do not believe have been condemned already. They already stand condemned. They will not be saved. God has not chosen them to be saved. If God had a “saving” love for every individual, every individual would be saved. To believe otherwise would say that God cannot accomplish His will.

The idea that there is no predestination, that there is no election, is to say that God leaves everything to chance. We do not find that anywhere in Scripture. No, God chose and will save those who he has chosen. There are others that He has chosen not to save. That is what Scripture teaches.

Is this a hard pill to swallow? In some ways, yes. But in other ways it should be extremely comforting to know that God is saving anyone at all when we all deserve Hell fire.

Who Seeks God?

One of the classic arguments against election and predestination is the argument that we have free will and we all have the opportunity to come to God. But is that really true? This depends. It depends on what you mean by free will. Let’s look at what the Bible says about who will seek God.

First, let’s talk about free will. What is it? If by free will you mean every man is free to choose what he desires then, yes, I agree, there is free will. But if you mean that we have an equal choice with no influence or determiners then no, we do not have free will.

Does this align with Scripture? Yes. The proponents of free will, the humanistic definition of free will, suggest that people come to Christ on their own free will. They make this choice all by themselves. The problem is, Scripture says otherwise. Romans 3 clearly tells us that nobody seeks God.

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.

Romans 3:10-11 English Standard Version

Nobody comes to Christ on their own. They, that is we humans, in our natural state do not want God. We want to be left in our sin in our own ways. That is the reality of the human condition.

Jesus told us that nobody comes to him without the Father (John 6:65). The Father has to grant someone to come to the Son. It is the Father who has decided who will be saved, not us. We don’t want it. Jesus also said that the Father must draw the individual to him (John 6:44). The word for draw, literally means to haul or drag. It’s not a simple, “come to me” and we follow suit. It is something God has to change within us.

So is there free will? Again, that depends on how you define free will, but nobody comes to God without God.

Book Review: Reprobation and God’s Sovereignty

Reprobation is a term often misunderstood and misused. It is a term that is full of emotions being the other side of predestination. The damnation of real people who are not of the elect of God. It is a tough doctrine but one that must be carefully studied and understood. When properly understood, it gives glory to God as we see his majesty in his holiness and justice. But what about the human objections? What about the hardness of this doctrine? Peter Sammons has the answers in his new book Reprobation and God’s Sovereignty: Rediscovering a Biblical Doctrine.

Sammons does an excellent job of explaining the doctrine of reprobation in great detail. He goes to great lengths to not only provide scriptural support, but also, painstakingly demonstrates through the history of the church exactly what this doctrine means and how it is to be used and understood. But he does not stop there.

The doctrine of Reprobation has many emotions bundled with it that lead to objections of fatalism, or an unloving God, or a God who is actually the author of evil. Sammons takes these objections one by one and meticulously details the proper responses to these objections that are largely unfounded and purely emotional pleas.

The book is full of excellent footnotes that provide readers many sources to further explore the doctrine and objections. Sammons also includes appendixes that show the detail of what is contained within the covers of the book with scriptural support and arguments. Also included are topics and areas for further study as you go deeper into this doctrine and the doctrines that connect to Reprobation.

The book is an easy read and enjoyable, not overly technical. I give this book five out of five stars for excellent research, great sources, wonderful exposition, and easy readability. This book is a must have for anyone studying the topic of salvation.

I was given a copy of this book free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Idea of Free Will

Do we really have free will? What is free will? Can we choose to accept Christ in our natural condition? These are all questions that have raged for centuries. Of course, there is an answer to this debate that is not hard to discover.

What exactly is free will? Well, that depends on what you are talking about. We do have free will in the sense that we can choose to do what we desire. But that does not mean that we can choose to accept Christ on our own. Why? Because that is not the desire of the natural man. Romans 3:10-12 confirms this.

We also know that salvation does not come from the will of man. John confirms this in his Gospel.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-13 ESV

It is not the will of man or the flesh. It is the will of God, his sovereign election, that chooses us. It is not the other way around.

Later in John’s Gospel Jesus says:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:44 ESV

We cannot come to God unless He draws us. This is not a denial of free will. This is actually an affirmation of free will. However, the will of natural man will never desire God.