Saving the World

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The Deeper Truths of Jesus: The Gospel According to John (1-4:42)



John 3:16-21

Cody John Simpson


    • Rather than be guided by our cultural presuppositions we need to be anchored in scriptural truth, which we will find contradicts this view head on. 
  • John 3:16-21
  • Background – comes after Jesus meeting with Nicodemus (who was trying to understand salvation). This section isn’t Jesus speaking, but rather John the author offering a comment after the story.
  • John’s central focus is on how God loves the world.
    • 3:16 is perhaps the most famous verse. Our translation focuses on how God loves the world, other translations stress the quality/quantity of God’s love – “so much”
      • Best to see this as how God saves – meaning this is the only way of salvation (further making the point of the Nicodemus passage)
  • Why does God send His son? There is a need here. God needed to do something because of His love for the world, because the world has a problem. That problem is that it stands condemned. Ultimately the world needs saving
  • We all need saving.
    • John doubles down on this point in verse 18. Those who believe in Jesus are saved, but those who don’t are essentially “still condemned.”
      • What this means is that there are no good people, no neutral people just waiting to make the right choice, get the right beliefs. Everyone is already under condemnation. Why else would that be if we were not already rejecting God. The truth John is making clear is that all people are by nature rebellious against God and His design for our lives, and therefore in need of saving. 
  • John reframes this another way. Jesus comes into the world as the light. And some people immediately flee the light, because they want to hide from the truth of who they are. The verb carries with it the sense of shame. People don’t want to face the consequences (shame) of their sin. We see pride and relishing of sin. 
    • Others don’t flee. But notice this isn’t just a pair of opposites (good & bad people). These others come forward into the light, not to reveal their goodness but to reveal God. They aren’t coming into the light because they are righteous or better, but they are filled with God’s presence. They want to show that God is the source of good in their lives. This only makes sense when we realize there are no good people – but some people are saved by God and He works in their lives to produce good and righteousness.
  • How incredible is God’s love that He loves the unlovable!
  • Do we see how there is no room for the belief in the basic goodness of humanity? It’s one or the other and scripture shows us a reality about humanity that isn’t flattering, but is actually life giving. 
    • Its life giving because we are not stuck in our evil or condemnation, but we are given a way of forgiveness and blessing through Jesus. We just first need to realize our need before we can take the cure. 
    • Jesus coming into the world is God’s work & gift. We do not have to strive and work hard to attain salvation.
      • God is the one who saves: Eugene Peterson informs us that in the OT, “save” & “salvation” occur 146 times as a noun, 354 times as a verb and it is almost exclusively as God as the subject. God is a saving God. Outside Israel in the ANE context we only find one inscription of a deity “saving”
    • If today you’re discovering who God is, and His importance in your life, but haven’t yet committed yourself to Him and accepted the sacrifice of Jesus as your own then don’t wait – don’t think you have to attain some status or worthiness. That misses the gospel. We all are unworthy, and that shines the light more brightly on God’s grace and love. *Gospel Pres*
  • We need to recognize that it’s all God. It’s all about Jesus. It was God who came up with the plan to save us from the penalty of our sin and brokenness, and the work to do that saving also came entirely from Him. From Jesus’ suffering on the cross. 
    • We need to guard against our religious pride that makes us think our obedience is meritorious, or granting us God’s favour. We need it to guard against our moral pride that makes us think we’re better than others.
    • We need to be outspoken that the only way of salvation is through Jesus!
    • We need it to keep a proper devotion to God. Recognizing our helplessness and need we should always be brought before God with an outpour of thankfulness and praise.


This week, take time to consider the need we all have for God’s saving work in our lives and cultivate a spirit of thankfulness. Cultivate a burden for the brokenness of the world and commit in your heart to join God in His saving work by sharing the good news of salvation through Jesus.