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John 3:16-21 - How can Christians know they have eternal life?


Posted 08 Nov 2013

There are many verses in the Bible that help us to realise that we can have complete confidence in our eternal life. Probably the most famous is John 3:16, where Jesus himself says:

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

I’ve long found the very next verse (John 3:17) equally interesting & encouraging, it reads:
“God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
So there Jesus is telling us why he came into the world, to SAVE the world, i.e. the people of the world.

How does that work?
If we believe in Jesus the Christ (Messiah) then we will be saved from the sure & certain eternal punishment for our wrong-doings (sin), which comes on the Day of God’s Judgement – an unavoidable day that is to come for us all.
“God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” This is actually a very hopeful message, because it shows JUST HOW committed God the Father is, through the actions of God the Son (on the cross) to save the world. The way TO BE saved is completely open. Nothing is stopping you from being saved right now – wow!

But the Good News gets even better! In the first part of John 3:18 Jesus says:
Matthew 07 - Parable of wise and foolish builders - Scene 06 - Standing on the rock PB 140x144px col
“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.” So if you’re worried about the coming, completely unavoidable judgement of God, where ALL OUR SECRET SINS & WRONG-DOINGS will be laid bare for all to see… YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE! Because accepting Jesus as your own Lord & Saviour (becoming a Christian) means that John 3:18 comes into play FOR YOU: “There is NO JUDGMENT AGAINST ANYONE who believes in him.” Christians will not face judgement, because the blood of Jesus on the cross wipes away all our sins – & God makes a promise never to keep a record of our wrong-doings [1] & [2] – how FANTASTIC is that!

Why don’t people want to become Christians?
If we do not accept Jesus as the Saviour of our lives, then obviously the judgement of God remains upon us, as John 3:18 goes on to prove:
“But anyone who does not believe in him [Jesus] has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this FACT: God’s light came into the world [that is Jesus came], but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.”

You have the reason why people will not accept Jesus as Saviour of their lives right there: “All who do evil hate the light [that is, Jesus] and REFUSE to go near it FOR FEAR THEIR SINS WILL BE EXPOSED.” But guess what guys? Your sins WILL be exposed, for all to see, UNLESS you take option A & become a Christian! That’s just the way it is.

As we just read: “20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.” All people have been given a conscience, a moral compass, & that is one way that God helps us to know for ourselves what is right & what is wrong. We KNOW, inside our own minds, if our actions & intentions are right or wrong. So we have no excuse for choosing to do wrong. God didn’t want us to be in doubt about that.

Walking into the light.Mark 15 - Burial of Jesus - Scene 05 - Tomb stone PB 84x141px col
It is interesting to note that in contrast to people who CHOOSE to remain in darkness & continually choose to run their own life into the eternal fiery pits of hell…

“21 But those who DO WHAT IS RIGHT [become Christians] come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

I hadn’t noticed that last bit before, “… so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” Jesus points out here that it is FANTASTIC to come to the light for our own sake; to be saved from our own sins; to come to close friendship with God (who lives in the light). But Jesus is also pointing out in the verse that there is purpose & a by-product of “coming into the light”, & it is that OTHER PEOPLE can see that we are “doing what God wants.” In other words, people can have an example to follow. They can see people being saved (becoming Christians) & going on in a positive, encouraging, life-affirming way. This “step towards the light” is called obedience elsewhere in the Bible. People who are obedient walk into the light, & get all the benefits of the light – and there are MANY!


Bible References
John 3:16-21 (NLT)

16 [Jesus said] “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”

[1]
Hebrews 8:12 (NLT)
[God says] “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

[2]
Psalms 103:10-13 (NLT)
“10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him*
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 HE HAS REMOVED OUR SINS AS FAR FROM US
AS THE EAST IS FROM THE WEST.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him*.”

“* Fear” refers to reverence; worshipful acknowledgement of the awesomeness of God. Not as in fearful running away from God!



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