The Gospel Magnified-Whoever Means Whoever

Sermon Summary

This message is the fourth in a series of messages on John 3:16. It deals with the words "that whoever believes in him." "For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life!" God created human beings in His image and as such He gave them the ability to make choices, just as God makes choices. It's called free will. This message has only one point: Whoever means whoever! An exploration of the context of the Bible shows many examples of the choice each individual must make in order to have a personal relationship with God. Over and over Scripture supports John 3:16 that everyone who believes is given the opportunity to know God and experience eternal life.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. When it comes to your human relationships, how important is it to you that those relationships be based on free will?

2. If we are created in the image of God, and if that means we have the ability to make choices in relationships, how important do you think it is to God that we choose to love Him and why?

Deu 30:19  This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
Deu 30:20  and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Josh 24:15  But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

3. Why do you think it is so hard for some people to accept that God loves them and then choose to allow Jesus to become their Savior?

John 1:10  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
John 1:11  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
John 1:12  Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--
John 1:13  children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

4. Why is it so hard for those who have accepted Jesus to be their Savior, to choose to allow Jesus to be their Lord on a daily basis?

Col 3:1  Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Col 3:2  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Col 3:3  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Col 3:4  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Col 3:5  Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Col 3:6  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
Col 3:7  You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.
Col 3:8  But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
Col 3:9  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices
Col 3:10  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Full Sermon Notes

Whoever Means Whoever!

"You are the author of Salvation!" Such a beautiful way to say that when it comes to a relationship between God and man, God took the initiative. He reached out and down to us. He reached down to a people who were drowning in sin and despair. In the process of jumping in to this old world to save us Jesus lost His life, but it was not in vain. Through His death He offered life to whoever would believe, and whoever means whoever! Whoever believes! We're going to talk about that today. But let me just remind you that though Jesus lost His life, he gained it back again and rose from the grave on the third day!! So when Jesus died on the Cross, Satan only thought he had won. I saw a tee shirt the other day that said, "The devil saw me with my head down and got excited, then I said amen!"
When Jesus said "It is finished" He knew He had won the battle. That day was a win win for Jesus and for everyone who believes! Let's pray!!

Let's read our text for today, John 3:16.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

What a verse! A verse that in many ways sums up the message of the entire Bible and a verse that is at the center of why Jesus came to this earth. A few weeks ago, Jay did an amazing job explaining to us how awesome God really is, how powerful, how majestic, how infinitely big He is and how small we are in comparison. In fact, as we've talked about before, if you think about our earth in comparison to the solar system and then to the galaxies and the universe, and then zoom down to to us we are like a speck of dust! However, we must remember this: That big, awesome, infinite, all powerful God left the splendor of heaven and took the time from running the universe to take on human flesh and become a little speck of dust like us so He could show us His love for us, and as Jay so eloquently preached, so He could show us His love for all of us! No one is left out. And as Andrew shared with us last week… For God Soooo loved THE WORLD! Not just part of the world, all of it! And as Jay said, not just certain ones. Not just the good ones, but the bad ones as well. (by the way, we're all sinners, so none of us are really good, but God sooo loved the world that He loved even the really bad ones. He loved not just the chosen ones, Jews, but the gentiles as well.

While we are small in comparison to God, we are not small in God's eyes. In fact we are a really, really, big deal to God. So much so that the Bible tells us we were created in His image! Now that's a big deal! God has the ability to make decisions independently from any other influence, and we were created in His image.
Because He created us in His image we know we have a free will, and like God we make choices. The problem is, we've made bad choices. Really bad choices. We decided we didn't need God, His advice, His guidance, His help, or His friendship so we went our own way. Listen to Isaiah 53:6a...  

Isaiah 53:6a We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way...

And then we read in the Book of Romans these words...

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

So the book of Isaiah and Romans agree that we all have gone astray, we've all turned away from God, we've all sinned, and we all fall short of the Glory of God! But remember, we are small compared to God, but we are a big deal to God so He created us in His image and gave us the ability and the right to choose. But God went a huge step further! What was that step? Andrew preached a whole message, a very powerful message on this last week...

John 3:16a “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son...

What a step! We made bad choices and God the Father, in consultation with God the Son and God The Holy Spirit decide that The Son will leave heaven, take on flesh and make a way to right the wrongs! So let's look at the second part of Isaiah 53:6...

Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Who's Isaiah talking about? Jesus! And this was written some 700 years before Jesus came to this earth. Look at the context of this passage...

Isaiah 53:3-9 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants?  
For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death,  
though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Amazing! This description of what happened when Jesus, the One and Only Begotten, Unique, Son of God died on the cross was written 700 plus years before it happened. Such a powerful description of the step that God took in order to make a way for the free will beings He had made in His image and who had made a terrible choice, to have a second chance to make the right choice! Can you see why John 3:16 is sometimes considered the Bible in a verse? And then look at the context of the verse we looked at in Romans…

Romans 3:20-24 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

What did the writer of Romans just say? "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to ALL WHO BELIEVE!" Is that in John 3:16? Let's see...

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Folks, whoever means whoever! Whoever believes in Him!! There are some folks out there who believe we have no choice in the matter and that God has already decided who will be saved and who will be lost! Look, God is all knowing, but just because He knows all things doesn't mean He wills all things! God knows about and sees abuse, injustice, unfaithfulness, wickedness, hate, murder, and every evil in the world, but that doesn't mean He wills it! The fact is God tells the people of Israel over and over that He desires for people to live righteous lives and not evil, unjust, selfish, destructive lives. Listen to His word to Zechariah...

Zechariah 7:8-11 And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah:
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.
Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’
“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears.

The Bible is full of stories of how the nation of Israel failed to follow God's will and broke His covenant. But He says over and over that He desires to be their God and wants them to be His people. It is known as the covenant formula and goes with an implied word…if! If you will be my people I'll be your God! Here's one example of many in Jeremiah...

Jeremiah 7:22-24 For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them,
I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices,
but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people.
Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.
But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts.
They went backward and not forward.

God knows there will be those who will choose to reject His offer to be their God. He know there will be those who will reject His offer of forgiveness, mercy and cleansing, but that does not mean He wills or wants that. In other words we all have made the choice to sin against God, but we all have the chance to make another choice! God made that possible when He sent His One and Only Son to die on the Cross so whoever believes can be made right with God. Those who believe can once again have a relationship with God like Adam and Eve had before they made that terrible choice. Before the fall, God walked with them daily in the garden and they had this amazing relationship. Those who accept and believe in what Jesus did on the cross can have that kind of relationship with God and walk with Him daily. But it's a choice one has to make. Let me put it to you like this...

In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had a choice to trust God by not eating the fruit from that one tree in the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They could eat from every other tree in the garden. But the old serpent, who we know was Satan, tempted them to not trust God and that they would be better off doing things their own way and they fell for the lie! Listen...

Genesis 3:1-13 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman,  
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? ”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,
but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.
“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day,  
and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? ”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me —she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The old blame game! But here's what you need to know. God wanted so much to have a real relationship with humanity that He began an elaborate plan to give humanity another chance to make the right choice. You see that plan unfolding in the giving of the law, the writings of the prophets, the books of wisdom, the books of poetry and then culminating in the New Testament. It was at just the right time, God sent His One and Only Son to give us another chance to make the right choice. There would be another garden, The Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed before He was arrested. There would be another tree that represented good and evil…The Cross hewn from a tree. The cross was a tool of torture for the criminal, the condemned, the murder. The cross was not a pretty thing to people back then. But on that cross was the perfect lamb of God, the innocent one, the sinless one. In the Garden of Eden, the right choice was to stay away from the tree and refuse the fruit that was hanging from its branches. On the hill called Calvary, not far from the Garden of Gethsemane or the Garden of Olives, the right choice was to come to the tree and allow the precious, pure blood of the lamb to cover our sin and cleanse our sin. But this is still a choice. As our text states...

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Some people believe the sovereignty of God is challenged if someone has the power to go against God's will and so if God wills for a person to be saved then they believe that person has no choice but to be saved. And since they know there are those who will not be saved, they assume that God must have chosen or willed that they would be lost. But that contradicts God's Word in many places.

Listen to 2 Peter 3:3-10

2 Peter 3:3-10 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died,
everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.
By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.
By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire,
being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar;  
the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

There will be a judgement, and God knows when that day comes, those who have made the choice to accept His love, forgiveness and mercy will be saved, but those who have outright rejected it, will be lost. That breaks God's heart and that's why He has chosen to prolong His return to this earth. It's not His will that anyone should perish, so He's giving them more time. Peter goes on to say…

2 Peter 3:15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation,
just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

Since Peter thought it so important to reference the teachings of Paul on this matter, I thought it appropriate to share these words Paul spoke to the Ephesian church. Some people would say, "but the Bible talks about predestination, so what do you say to that? Does that not mean God predetermined who would be saved and who would be lost?" Let me just let Paul address this issue!

Ephesians 1:1-14 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms
with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance
with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment —to bring all things in heaven
and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him
who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed,
you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

God pre-chose, predetermined, predestined that it was His will for all men to be saved, but He also chose to create humankind in His image and with that He breathed into Adam's nostrils the breath of life and he became a living spirit! A spirit created by God and yet given independence by God with the hopes that man would choose a relationship with God and believe that God loves him. To be created in the image of God gives us some very powerful insight into who God is. In human relationships, we don't want people to love us because they have to, but because they want to. Without that choice there is no relationship. God wants to be your Heavenly Father and He desires for you to allow Him to adopt you as His very own children!

I'll close with some verses Andrew alluded to last week. They are the introduction to the Gospel of John...

John 1:1-14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.
He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.
He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God —
children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory,
the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Let's pray!!