Monday, March 31, 2008

A Closer Look at John 3

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:16-17, HCSB)

I chose the Holman CSB to quote this familiar passage because it captures the sense better than other versions. It isn't "God sooo loved he world," but rather "this is how God loved the world...". I think Romans 5:8 is a similar idea - pointing to God's specific actions as evidence of how much He loves us.

But it is the next part that really threw me for a loop. Jesus didn't come to condemn the world, but to save it, right? Over the years, I've heard folks use this as justification for all sorts of things, up to even universal salvation.

But it's obvious why Jesus didn't come to condemn...he didn't have to; man was condemned already. After the Fall, man's position became hopeless. That's a hard thing for many people to accept, but the Bible makes it clear from a number of passages that this is the case. For our purposes here, though, we can simply look at the context--the very next verse.

Anyone who believes in Him is not judged, but anyone who does not believe is already judged, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

Already judged! That's why Jesus didn't need to bring a message of judgment. In fact, this amplifies John 3:16, because the only reason the world would need a savior in the first place was if it was in a position where it needed saving.

A final thought. The next time you talk to that unsaved friend or loved one, remember that they are "already judged." That is quite sobering when it comes to evangelism.

Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.


Simon said...

Hey there. Just a quick question - where does our memory/personality reside, the brain or the spirit?

R. D. Bailey said...

This post makes me think of medieval executions as depicted in movies. The condemned is escorted to the gallows as throngs of people watch, cheer, throw tomatoes, and tell themselves how much better they are than the condemned person. Even think of the crowds during Christ's last week. We humans, in our sinfulness, somehow find joy in the condemnation of our fellow humans. Only the heart of God, and His work in the lives of His children, allow any of us seek the reconciliation of the condemned. Only by His grace do we even care about evangelism. I think even those of us who do evangelize need to examine our hearts to see where our old nature still effects how we reach out to others with the ministry of reconciliation.

Gummby said...

Simon: that was a cryptic question, but then I popped 'round to your blog, and it made more sense. I'll bite.

I'd agree with you that memories appear to be stored in the brain. I have two living relatives and one who has already passed away who had Alzheimers (or some form of it), and I'd have no problem with agreeing memories seem to reside in the brain.

Personality is a little more tricky, I think. There is clearly a link between memories and personality, but it's a stretch to say that personality is the sum total of memories. You've got a son, and I bet you're experience is similar to mine - that at least part of the personality is something that is inborn, even as another part of it can be affected by memories, circumstances, etc. Your guess is (literally) as good as mine, or better, when it comes to where personality resides.

The larger issue of how it relates to the afterlife, is interesting. But as humans, we know so little about the brain, that any derivatives assertions about it are pretty weak, in my opinion. It's not like a computer, where we understand how the processor works, and memory, and we can understand and map every little bit of it. Understanding that there are electrons firing and knowing that there are certain areas of the brain that control or regulate certain functions is not the same as understanding it well enough to make the assertion that there is no spirit.

Gummby said...

I think even those of us who do evangelize need to examine our hearts to see where our old nature still effects how we reach out to others with the ministry of reconciliation.

Rob: that's a great reminder. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

back to Simon's comment, that would seem to depend partly on whether you believe that man's makeup (theologically speaking) is 3 parts (tripartite) or 2 parts (bipartite).

this may take Gummby for a bit of a loop, but i don't really know where i'd fall in that discussion.

i have seen modestly persuasive arguments for both 3 and 2. not sure myself what to think on that.

no matter which way you go though, i believe that Christ can make it all work out in the Resurrection.