by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
“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.”
Do you believe it?
With all your heart?
Do you believe that God gave His Son because He loved the whole world?
Do you believe that whosoever believes in Him receives everlasting life?
Gentiles as well as Jews?
Do you believe that John 3:16 applies to this age?
SO DO WE!–WITH ALL OUR HEARTS!
We emphasize this because we have been charged of late with putting a dispensational question mark opposite John 3:16.
We not only believe that John 3:16 applies to this age, but that it is more pertinent today than when our Lord first spoke it to Nicodemus.
But first let us turn to two other Scriptures, just as plain, though less frequently quoted.
In Matthew 15:24 we have the plain words of our Lord, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
In Matthew 10:5-6 we read “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
How can we reconcile these Scriptures with John 3:16?
John 3:16, — “The world…whosoever.”
Matthew 10:5,6; 15:24, — None but “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
The key to this question is found in Acts 3:25-26 where Peter says to the house of Israel, “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, AND IN THY SEED SHALL ALL THE KINDREDS OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED. Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”
The Old Testament abounds with prophecies that salvation would go to the ends of the earth through Israel. This is why our Lord confined His earthly ministry exclusively to the house of Israel. This is why Peter said to the people of Israel, “Unto you first…”
It was no secret that salvation would go to all the world, but remember that it was to go through the covenant people.
We must not forget that John 3:16 was spoken to “A RULER OF THE JEWS.” This makes the words of our Lord doubly significant. It would not be at all amiss to paraphrase them thus: “For God so loved the world, Nicodemus — not only Israel, but the world— that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Sad to say, the rulers of the Jews rejected Christ. The glorious message of John 3:16 would never have reached the Gentiles if God had waited for Israel to proclaim it.
As a nation they themselves rejected God’s Son. They even persecuted those who preached Christ and Saul of Tarsus became the leader of the opposition.
It was in this crisis that God arrested Saul and saved him so that He might unfold His secret purpose of grace to him and through him.
We quote a few Scriptures from Paul’s letters:
“Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but…the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant…that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (ITim.1:13-16).
“Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned…so might grace reign” (Romans 5:20-21).
“FOR GOD HATH CONCLUDED THEM ALL IN UNBELIEF, THAT HE MIGHT HAVE MERCY UPON ALL. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:32-33).
“For He is our peace, who hath made both one and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us…for to make in Himself of twain one new man…and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body BY THE CROSS” (Ephesians 2:14-16).
This message of grace abounding, of grace reigning was revealed from heaven by the Lord Jesus Christ to the apostle Paul. He says in Ephesians 3:2,3: “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward, HOW THAT BY REVELATION HE MADE KNOWN UNTO ME THE MYSTERY.” This was God’s eternal purpose, “kept secret since the world began” (Rom.16:25), “hid in God” (Eph.3:9), “in other ages not made known,” (Eph.3:5), “hid from ages and from generations” (Col.1:26), “THE MYSTERY” (Rom.16:25; Eph.1:9; 3:3,4,9; 6:19; Col. 1:26,27; 2:2; 4:3).
And now, thank God, though Israel, through whom the nations should have been blessed, gropes in darkness and staggers in unbelief, any poor sinner, Jew or Gentile, may rejoice that “GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.”