FOR GOD SO LOVED...WHO? (part 14)
Another very important reason why whosoever believeth cannot mean whoever wills/chooses to believe, is seen in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ “…NO MAN CAN COME unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:65). This shows that in his natural unregenerate state—a product of man’s corruptible seed—man is dead in sins, without God, and, therefore, without any hope in the world (see Eph. 2:12). If a man cannot, if no man can, then he is without hope. There is no hope if one cannot do, much less, if one cannot will to do. 'Where there's a will there's a way', but WHERE THERE IS NO WILL THERE IS NO WAY! No man, by nature, has within him a will to seek the true God: “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11). “A proof of the corruption of the will” (cf. Psa. 14:1-3; 53:1-3). They are without the will to love the true God. Only by God’s will is there a way, and only by God’s will can a man come unto the Savior. No man can do what only the Father can do. “…A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from Heaven” (Jn. 3:27). These words of the Lord Jesus, in John 6, should resonate within the minds of all who hear them, for they provide clear and convincing evidence that there is no way any person who has not been made alive by God, who has not been born of His incorruptible Seed, can ever conceivably, willingly, come to Him. It takes the will and creative, discretionary, power of God to make a man alive unto Him, and not the lifeless will of a spiritually dead man. Again, we see how important the fork-in-the-road doctrine of the Fall of man is, and how essential it is to a right understanding of the Word of God including the Gospel of salvation. Will you believe God’s words to Adam that he would surely die if he ate of the forbidden fruit, or will you believe Satan’s lie that man would not, and, therefore, did not die at all? (see Gen. 2:17; Gen. 3:4). Will you believe God Whose “…word is true from the beginning…” (Psa. 119:160), or will you believe Satan who “…sinneth from the beginning…” (1 Jn. 3:8)? The Lord God said if man was to disregard His warning, and eat of the forbidden fruit, he would then surely die. Satan countered by saying man would not surely die. So, it may well be asked, who do you think is behind the lie that man is not surely dead, and can, therefore, make a free will decision for God at any time? THE LIE THAT MAN IS NOT SPIRITUALLY DEAD IS THE HEART AND SOUL, THE VERY ESSENCE, OF SATANISM. True Satanism does not merely encourage disobedience to the Laws of God, it seeks to replace the truth of God with its own version. Forget pentagrams, and black candles, the killing of chickens etc., true Satanism is far more sophisticated than silly symbols and juvenile hand gestures. True Satanism lies behind the veneer of Hollywood horror and images born of superstition, and is primarily concerned with the eradication of truth, and replacing it with ‘new truths’, which are nothing but old lies. TRUE SATANISM ADVOCATES MAN’S ABILITY TO CHOOSE GOD OF HIS OWN FREE WILL, which is based on the foundational lie that man is not spiritually dead. Satan “…was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (Jn. 8:44). Do you believe that man suffered a crisis of death in the Garden of Eden, becoming spiritually dead to God so much so that he would no longer know God, or even seek the true God, but languish in spiritual darkness all the days of his life, or do you believe Satan’s assertion that man would not die, and therefore, that man is not dead at all, but can, by his own free will, come to God any time he so desires? Think well your answer. Remember, Adam did not come to God after the Fall, but it was God Who came to the man. It was not Adam who searched for God, but God Who called out to the man (see Gen. 3:8,9). Without God’s intervention in a man’s life, that man shall die in his sins (see Lk. 18:18-27). (For a detailed study of the Fall of man please see my book ‘Thou Shalt Surely Die’).
The Greek Interlinear Bible presents part of John 3:15 in the following way: “…that every the one believing into Him’. Where the English has transcribed it whosoever, the original Greek has ‘every the one believing’. In other words, properly paraphrased, the English would read everyone who believes, or everyone believing. So we see that while the English translation, coupled with an improper, but nevertheless ever popular, human interpretation of John 3:15, gives the false impression that eternal life is an offer, the original Greek clearly reveals it to be a simple proclamation. John 3:16 shares the same original Greek translation of John 3:15 “…that every the one believing into Him”. The truth, the reality which people need to deal with, is “THE APOSTLE JOHN DID NOT WRITE, ‘WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH’!! That word construction was NEVER part of his original Letter! What the apostle John did write was, ‘pas ho pisteuoon’. The two little Greek words ‘pas ho’ are literally translated ‘all the’. ‘Pisteuoon’ is a form of the word ‘pisteuo’, the verb form of ‘pistis’, or ‘faith’. The King James translators’ choice of the single word ‘whosoever’ to translate the two-word phrase ‘pas ho’ was not an entirely errant decision. In the King’s English, ‘whosoever’ did not have the connotation of randomness or free choice that it has come to represent in contemporary English. Originally, ‘whosoever’ designated a particular group—as in ‘whosoever possesses these certain qualities’. In this case, the group included only those who believed, as opposed to those who did not. But, more to the point, ‘pas ho’ simply does not mean ‘anyone at all who chooses to exercise their choice’.” This is clearly taught in, and supported by, the Lord Jesus’ words “…no man CAN come unto Me, except it were GIVEN unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:65). TO BELIEVE IN CHRIST IS A GIFT, NOT A CHOICE. To be saved by God is a GIFT, NOT a choice. A man is saved because of God’s will, not man’s will. The choice is made by God, not man. The original Greek has it: “Not yet one is able to be coming toward Me”. The Lord Jesus does not say ‘no man shall ever come to Me’, but that ‘no man can come unto Me without it being given him of My Father’. Obviously then, the choice, the decision, the very act of coming to the Lord is not something which is within the ability, or capability, of a man, but can only come to pass if it is given to the man by the Father. If the Lord makes you alive you will come to Him, if God does not make you alive, you cannot come to Him, nor will you ever desire to, or complain that you cannot, for you will either love another god, or no god at all (see Rom. 3:11). Therefore, the popular rendering of John 3:15,16 is a completely flawed one, for none can come to God, therefore, non can will to come. How can any man come to God when there is no man that even seeks the true God? “‘Whosoever’ specifically means ‘all the’ and it serves to designate a particular group of people who share a DEFINING characteristic—‘faith’ or ‘believing’. So, when we read, ‘whosoever believeth’, we must understand that what John literally wrote was ‘all the believing(ones)’. In other words, the benefits of God’s love are not indiscriminately available to anyone who chooses to possess them. Only the particular group (the chosen, or elect, group)—‘all the believing’—are gifted with eternal life (see Acts 13:48). The English term ‘whosoever’ is meant to communicate ‘all without distinction in a particular group’ (see Rom. 10:11), specifically, ‘those who believe’.” This brief look at the original Greek instantly destroys the apparently obvious Arminian meaning.
Many will, no doubt, respond to all this with Revelation 22:17: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Whenever a single verse of Scripture is tactically employed in an attempt to debunk a Bible doctrine, it is important to remind oneself that no single Scripture can ever silence whole passages and themes in God’s Word which run through the entire Bible. The single verse which seems the odd one out, the one claimed to be the spanner in the works, if you will, should be examined in light of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and not the other way round. The Scriptures never contradict each other, and, therefore, they can never leave one in a state of confusion, of not knowing what the Word of God is saying. It is only the misinterpretation of Scripture which leads to confusion. The original Greek of Revelation 22:17, again, does not include the word whosoever. It simply reads ‘the one thirsting let him be coming, and the one willing let him be taking (or getting) the water of life gratuitously’. The principle behind the argument ‘whosoever will’ has already been addressed in this book. What people need to focus on when confronted with the argument whosoever will, or whosoever believeth, is how can a man believe, how can a man will to come, and who is it that will come and take the water of life freely? This is answered clearly and succinctly by Jesus in John 6:37. In order to find out precisely who it is that will come to Him, and simultaneously how they will come, we turn to the beginning of the verse where the Lord Jesus states: “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me…” It’s all well and good to say ‘whosoever will’, but the question remains ‘HOW WILL THEY?’ The contemporary understanding of the phrase whosoever will—a phrase which does not even appear in the original Greek—blinds a person from the Biblical, and, therefore, inescapable fact that none can come to the Lord Jesus unless they are given to Him by the Father. The only way a man will come, indeed can come to the Lord is by the Father’s will, by the Father’s giving them to Him. “…no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:65 cf. Rom. 3:10-12; 8:7,8; 2 Cor. 4:1-6; 2 Tim. 2:24-26). Notwithstanding the fact that a man can do whatever he likes, can say whatever he likes, and can think whatever he likes, the Scripture remains unabated and undeniable: no man can come unto the true God except by the will of the Father. All men in their spiritually dead, lost, state will not come unto Jesus: “…ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life” (Jn. 5:40). Man’s will to come to the true Saviour is as dead as his spirit is to life. The only way a man can and will come is if God has chosen that man unto salvation from before the foundation of the world, and given him to His Son. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power…” (Psa. 110:3). “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13 cf. Eph. 2:10; Heb. 13:21). “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee…” (Psa. 65:4). It is God Who makes the difference, and not the ‘choice’ of the individual. “…He hath made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6). It is by the will of God that a man comes to Him, and not by a man’s free will decision. Another Scripture from Revelation which is frequently misused is 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me”. What most fail to realise is that the Lord Jesus “…isn’t on an evangelistic campaign in this particular passage. Jesus is not trying to get someone to let Him into their heart.” Christ is addressing the church at Laodicea, not sinners of the world. “Although Jesus was not pleased with the church in Laodicea, no one has any Biblical right to apply Jesus’ words, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock’ as an evangelistic appeal. The verse immediately prior to verse 20 says, ‘As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent’. Jesus loved these people and was providing a stern warning of judgment that comes upon all of God’s children for walking in sin. Hebrews 12:6 says, ‘For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth’. This is a direct quote from Proverbs 3:11-12. The point is clear, Jesus chastens (disciplines) His own children. His Church is made up of the children of God and this particular church was in danger of receiving the chastening hand of the Lord.”
One must never lose sight of the critical fact that salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is God’s property, salvation is God’s to give, and He gives it to whomsoever HE wills. The Lord will be gracious, but only to those whom He wills to be gracious toward. The Lord will show mercy, but only to those whom He wills to be merciful toward (see Ex. 33:19 cf. Rom. 9:15,16). Salvation is not something taken, or chosen, by man, but is given as a gift by the Sovereign God to whomsoever He has willed, chosen, to receive it. “…Salvation is of the Lord”, and “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord…” (Jon. 2:9 & Psa. 3:8). Salvation is never gotten, for it can only be given. Salvation is not something which a man can merit, or even choose, for he is dead in sins, and thus seeks not the true God: “…there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11 cf. Psa. 143:2). Salvation is by grace because it cannot be by any other way. It cannot be by, or according to, man—who he is, or what he does—for man is dead in sins, without Christ, without God and without any hope in this world, not within him, or in others (see Eph. 2:12 cf. Jer. 17:5). Therefore, according to Scriptural reason, salvation can only come by the grace of God—Who HE is, and what HE has done. Salvation is not attainable, it is not achievable or get-able, but only give-able. Salvation is not obtainable by anything which a man does, therefore, it cannot be chooseable, or come as a reaction from God after any act of man’s, for it is not meritable. Salvation is not an offer, but a promise. Salvation is not accessible by any man. It is not something which is within man’s reach, or which he can attain to, or procure by what he does, for salvation is by grace, and by grace alone. Salvation is not something for a man to choose, or accept, but for God to give to whomsoever He pleases/loves. If salvation was up to whosoever chooses, what then of the Lord showing mercy only upon those whom He wills to show mercy toward? (see Rom. 9:15 cf. Ex. 33:19). A man is not shown mercy because he chooses to believe, for the mercy of God is revealed in His making the man alive so that he will believe, so that he will come to the Lord. As with God’s will, grace, purpose and love, mercy comes, indeed must come, before any man comes to Him. A man must be made alive by God, and given the gift of Faith by grace in order for him to believe, and come to Him. Man can do nothing before he is made alive by God unto God, he can perform no good works, therefore, salvation, believing, being born again etc., are all God’s to give, and He gives these things to whomsoever He wills to be merciful to. Salvation as a response from God to an act of man’s would immediately cancel out the need for mercy and turn salvation into a debt owed rather than a gift given.
“John 3:16 states that as a result of His loving the world, God gave His Son, which is usually understood to be a reference to the incarnation and atonement. Then the Greek says ‘in order that every one believing in Him may not perish’. Again, we remind the reader that there is no word for ‘whosoever’ in the original. On the contrary, far from God’s giving his Son to provide a generalized atonement for everyone who exists, the verse states that He gave His Son for the express purpose of saving a special group. Since this group excludes all unbelievers and is less than all existing human beings, John 3:16 states explicitly that the purpose of God in sending His Son to die was limited to atoning for believers only, that they ‘…should not perish, but have everlasting life’. It should always be remembered that there is no specific word for ‘whosoever’ in the Greek text: this comes from the joining of ‘all’ with ‘the one believing’, i.e., ‘every one believing’. The point is that all the ones believing have eternal life. There is no such thing as a believing person who will not receive the promised benefit, hence, ‘whosoever’” (the Jew or the Greek). Whether they be Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, bond or free, all who believe will be saved (see Gal. 3:28). “This is a common form in John’s writings. For example, in his first Epistle he uses it often. Just a few examples: ‘If ye know that He is Righteous, ye know that everyone that doeth (Greek: pas ho poiwn) righteousness is born of Him’ (1 Jn. 2:29). One could translate the above phrase as ‘whoever’ or ‘whosoever practices righteousness’. Likewise, ‘Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth (Greek: pas ho agapwn) is born of God, and knoweth God’ (1 Jn. 4:7). Likewise one could use ‘whosoever’ here as in ‘whoever loves is born of God’, etc. And a final relevant example, ‘Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and everyone that loveth Him that begat loveth Him also that is begotten of Him' (1 Jn. 5:1). Here, because the phrase begins the sentence, it is normally rendered by ‘whoever’, since ‘everyone does not ‘flow’ as well. So this passage could be rendered ‘Everyone who is believing’. In each case we see the point being made: the construction pas + articular present nominative singular participle means ‘all the ones, in particular, doing the action of the participle, i.e., whoever is doing the action of the participle’. What we can determine without question is that the phrase does not in any way introduce some kind of denial of particularity to the action. That is, the action of the participle defines the group that is acting. The ‘whoever’ does not expand the horizon of the action beyond the limitation of the classification introduced by the participle.” The Word of God teaches that whosoever is born of God, believeth. The mind of the lost has it all in reverse. All those who should not perish have eternal life, and so, believe. Believing does not come first. Man’s actions can never precede God’s grace.
“Now, with that bit of exegesis in mind, let’s dig into John’s use of ‘pas ho pisteuo’ in the larger context. ‘…Even so must the Son of man be lifted up’ (Jn. 3:14). This passage comes on the heels of Jesus’ instruction to Nicodemus concerning being ‘born again’." “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (Jn. 3:6-8 cf. Isa. 40:13; 1 Cor. 12:11). The Holy Spirit is completely beyond the control and influence of man. “…the Spirit of God is a free agent in regeneration; He works how, and where, and when He pleases; He acts freely in the first operation of His grace on the heart, and in all after influences of it; as well as in the donation of His gifts to men, for different purposes (see 1 Cor. 12:11); and this grace of the Spirit in regeneration, like the wind, is powerful and irresistible; it carries all before it; there is no withstanding it; it throws down Satan's strong holds, demolishes the fortifications of sin; the whole posse of Hell, and the corruptions of a man's heart, are not a match for it; when the Spirit works, who can forbid?...as the wind, though its sound is heard, and its force felt, it cannot be seen; nor is it known certainly, from whence it comes, and where are the treasures of it; from whence it begins, and where it ends; so is the grace of the Spirit of God in regeneration to a natural man; it is imperceptible, indiscernible, and unaccountable by him, (see 1 Cor. 2:14)…The beauty and propriety of this simile will more appear by observing, that the same Hebrew word, (xwr) , is used both for the wind, and for the Spirit of God; it is used for the ‘wind’, in (Gen. 3:8; 8:11; 1 Kings 19:11; Eccl. 1:6); and in other places, and for the Spirit of God, in (Gen. 1:2; 6:3; Job 33:4), and elsewhere: and so likewise the Greek word (pneuma) , is used for them both, for the wind in this place, and often for the Holy Ghost: and it may be observed, that the Holy Spirit, because of His powerful, comfortable, and quickening influences, is compared to the wind, especially to the south wind, in some passages of the Old Testament, which Christ might have in view, (Song of Sol. 4:16; Zech. 9:14). What our Lord here says, concerning the wind, is confirmed by all experience, and philosophical observations; the rise of winds, from whence they come, and whither they go, cannot be ascertained; the treasures of them are only with God, and known to Him.” “As thou knowest not what is the way of the Spirit…even so thou knowest not the works of God Who maketh all” (Eccl. 11:5).
“Nicodemus, struggling to grasp Jesus’ teaching, asked, ‘…How can these things be?’ (Jn. 3:9). In response, Jesus rebuked him for being a teacher in Israel while failing to understand the fundamentals of God’s relationship with His people. ‘Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?’ (Jn. 3:9-12 cf. Jn. 3:32). Overall, it’s a rather stinging indictment. Jesus insisted that He was speaking the things He knew for certain as a firsthand witness, yet Nicodemus refused to accept His testimony. Jesus concluded that if Nicodemus could not understand the movement and working of the Holy Spirit on earth, he would never believe the things Jesus could tell him about Heavenly activity. So, Jesus began to explain His authority. No one has ever gone into Heaven to scope it out and bring back a report. But, the Son of God was intimately acquainted with details of the Heavenly realm. His is the only true account because He is the only true witness. Then, Jesus reached back into Israel’s history and reminded Nicodemus of a particular event. After their great victory at Hormah, the children of Israel journeyed by the Red Sea, circumventing the land of Edom, and they began to murmur and complain about the lack of water. They had grown to loathe the daily manna and complained about the lack of other food, even longing for their days in Egypt. So God sent poisonous serpents into the camp and many of the people died. So Israel recognized their sin and adjured Moses to intercede for them. Moses prayed for the people and God instructed him to create a brass replicate of the poisonous snake and raise it on a pole above the people. God promised that everyone who had been bitten and looked on the brass serpent would live (see Num. 21:3-9 cf. 1 Cor. 10:9).
“It goes without saying that the serpent was 1) not something the people would have chosen (given that their affliction was being brought on through serpents); 2) only a means of deliverance for a limited population (i.e., the Jews, not for any outside that community); and 3) was limited in its efficaciousness to those who were bitten, knew it and recognized it, and in faith looked upon the means GOD had provided for healing (cf. Mk. 2:17; Isa. 53:5). This historical event in the history of Israel (one that would be well known to Nicodemus) is made the type that points, if only as a shadow, to the greater fulfilment in Jesus Christ. The Son of Man was lifted up (on the cross) as God’s means of redemption. God-given Faith is expressed by looking in obedience on the God-given means of salvation. Jesus drew a parallel between Himself and that brass serpent in John 3. Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, likewise Jesus would be lifted up. And, just as those who looked to the serpent—knowing the instruction and believing God’s promise—were healed of their deadly wound and lived, so everyone who had faith (which can only be given by God) in the atoning work of Christ would receive the healing of their sinful wound and gain eternal life (see Num. 21). The serpent on a pole typified Jesus on the cross. ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life’ (Jn. 3:14-15). Verse 15 literally reads, ‘That all the (pas ho) believing in Him may be having life’” “…in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). “…Jesus stated that the present reality of faith was proof that ‘every the one believing’ had already inherited, and were in possession of, the promise of eternal life…In other words, Jesus was lifted up on the cross and everyone who has faith in His atoning work already possesses the promise of eternal life.” The faith of those referred to in Acts 13:48 who had been ordained to eternal life, and subsequently believed “…did not arise from previous dispositions to eternal life, but was the fruit and effect of Divine ordination unto it; and the word here used, in various places in this book, signifies determination and appointment, and not disposition of mind; (see Acts 15:2; 22:10; 28:23)…it is an ordination, not to an office, nor to the means of grace, but to grace and glory itself; to a life of grace which is eternal, and to a life of glory which is for ever.”
Those who believe are “…a distinct group. Those who did not look at the serpent in the wilderness were not healed.” So too, those whose faith is not in the Saviour, but rests to the end on one whom God has not sent, have not been ordained by God to eternal life. The human interpretation of John 3:16 places the emphasis on the individual’s decision as that which distinguishes the believer from the unbeliever, in other words salvation is primarily dependent upon a man’s will rather than God’s will, on a work of man’s rather than on a supernatural act of God. However, the whole of Scripture points only to God as the One sole agent Who makes a believing man to differ from an unbeliever. “For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive?...” (1 Cor. 4:7). It is the act of Holy grace by the Sovereign God which makes one man differ from another. “…A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from Heaven” (Jn. 3:27). “…By grace are ye saved….not of works…” (Eph. 2:8,9). In other words ‘It is by God that ye are saved…not of yourselves…’ The Scriptures say: “…who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed to him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things…” (Rom. 11:35,36 cf. Job 41:11; 35:7). “No man can give God anything, which He has not first given him (see 1 Jn. 4:19), or which He has not a prior right to, or a claim upon him for; Adam, in innocence, was not able to give God anything, nor are the angels in Heaven, much less sinful men on earth; their bodies and souls, and all their enjoyments, all that is good in them, or done by them, are from the Lord; men by all their good works, best duties and services, give nothing to God, nor lay Him under any manner of obligation to them: hence no man can merit anything at the hands of God, if he could, '…it shall be recompensed to him again'; but it is impossible there should be merit in a creature, who has nothing but what he has from God, and does nothing but what he is obliged to do; and that not by his own strength, but by the grace and strength of God; and therefore there is no retribution made by God as of debt, but of grace: hence it follows, that God is indebted to, and obliged by none, and may do what He will with His own; love Jacob and hate Esau; choose one and not another; reject the Jews, and call the Gentiles; save and justify some, and not others; none can call Him to account, '...none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, what doest thou?' (Dan. 4:35 cf. Isa. 29:16; Eccl. 8:4).” Grace first. God’s love first. Grace is God. Grace is God doing. Grace is God doing first. Anything a man can think of doing so that God can then save him, grace did first. “Who hath prevented Me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole Heaven is Mine” (Job. 41:11 cf. Rom. 11:35). God is saying here, “Who has first given Me something that was not My own, and so laid Me under an obligation to him to make a return”. Grace chose man before the foundation of the world. Grace loved man first, and was the catalyst for man’s love. Grace causes a man to approach God, and believe in Him. Grace saves a man and keeps him saved. Grace has washed away man’s sins and imputed the Righteousness of Christ to him. When it comes to salvation, grace always precedes any act of man. Grace opens the door to salvation, and takes man all the way through it.
God wills, God chooses, and God saves those whom He wills to bestow eternal life upon. “Which were born not…of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:13); “…He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world…” (Eph. 1:4 cf. 1 Thess. 1:4); “…He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Those who are not appointed to eternal life, who are not given eternal life by the Son, simply will not believe. “…ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep…” (Jn. 10:26). “He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (Jn. 8:47). Only those who have been appointed by God to believe, will believe. “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18 cf. Amos 9:11,12). “These are the words of James, and not of Amos; all the things which God does in the Church and in the world, they were all foreknown and predetermined by Him: from the beginning of the world; or from eternity; even all His works of creation, providence and grace: the Alexandrian copy, and Beza's most ancient copy, and the Vulgate Latin version, read in the singular number, ‘His work’; the work of the conversion of the Gentiles; this was fixed and resolved on by God in eternity; He knew it would be, because He had determined it should be; and accordingly He foretold it, and spoke of it in various periods of time before it came to pass; and therefore it should not be looked upon as some new and strange thing, that was never known, spoken or heard of: and this holds true of every other work of God, and agrees with what the Jews sometimes say, that ‘every work which is renewed in the world, the Holy blessed God has commanded (or ordered) it from the day the world was created’."
People the world over see this as completely unfair. They say, ‘If this is true then not everyone who wants to be saved has the chance to be saved’. They picture many frantically pounding on Heaven’s Door pleading to be let in, but God refusing them entrance because He has not elected them. This lost man’s error, this obvious and absurd falsehood shines the light on lost man’s problem: by nature he is dead in his sins, is without Christ, is without God and is without hope in this world. How can any man be pounding on Heaven’s Door when every man, by nature, does not want the true God, and every saved man has the key of grace? The truth that lost men cannot see, and will not accept, is: no one has a chance of being saved without God, for all are dead in sins. Man is, by nature, a spiritual outlaw (see 1 Jn. 3:4). None by nature seek the true God, worship God, or desire Him (see Rom. 3:9-12). None by nature want to be in the true God’s Heaven. In light of this, pray tell, how can a man come to the Lord if not by an act of God. How can any man have hope without God? How can any man love God without God loving the man first? How can any man seek the true God, desire Him, without the love for Him which can only exist if God has loved the man first? How can any change the fact that all are conceived in sin, and are, by nature, children of God’s Wrath? (see Psa. 51:5; 58:3; Eph. 2:3). How can any change the fact that, by nature, man is at enmity with the true God? (see Rom.8:7). How can any change the fact that a saved man is conceived within, and only by, the will of God through the Gospel? (see Jn. 1:13; Jas. 1:18). How can any believe in God who are not of His sheep? (see Jn. 10:26). How can any savingly believe the truth of God if they are not of God? (see Jn. 8:47). How can any have the Father and the Son, if they do not abide in Their doctrine? (see 2 Jn. 9). How can a man see the Kingdom of Heaven who is not born again? (see Jn. 3:3). How can any man change his sinful state when whilst in that state there are none righteous, none who understand and none who seek after God? (see Jer. 13:23 cf. Matt. 19:26; Rom. 3:11). Scripture teaches no man, by nature, has a will toward the true God, for no man seeks after the true God. There are none by nature who desire the true God, so, one may well ask: How is a lost man saved? The answer is as simple as it is succinct: “BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED THROUGH (THE GIFT OF) FAITH…” (Eph. 2:8). Salvation is not of man, it is not something which is left to a man’s discretionary decision, for the Lord Jesus says “…no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father” (Jn. 6:65). NO MAN CAN UNLESS IT IS GIVEN!! In other words, not by works, but only by grace; not by man, but only by God.
The GOOD NEWS is that God has mercifully elected to save some, according to His good pleasure. NO ONE who believes not in the true Saviour has ever complained about what they do believe. No one has ever said, ‘I wish I believed in the truth, and not in the lies I hold to’, for all believe that what they believe is the truth otherwise they would surely not believe it. The whole basis of believing is that a person believes because they believe what they believe to be true. Every lost man loves the god he believes in, and would not have it any other way. They believe the true God is NOT the true God, thus revealing their decrepit, lost and hopelessly helpless state. Man in his natural state is lost in his helplessness, and helpless in his lostness. Every man by nature hates the true God. Whether they are atheist, agnostic, or religious, every man by nature hates the true God, and is deservedly a child of Wrath. The Word of God says there are none that seek God, none that desire the true God, but only the gods of their own making, the gods of this world, who have been made in man’s own image “and for his own comfort”. Left to himself can any man come to the true God of his own ‘free’ will? Absolutely not! How can a man have a free will to choose God, when there are none, by nature, who even choose to seek Him? God is the Saviour, and He saves those whom He wills, for has God not the right “…to make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:23). The sinful, fallen nature of man recoils at this in horror, but my dear friend by what other way can a man who is dead in sins possibly come to the Lord if not by the love of the Father that draws him? The Lord Himself said: “No man can come to Me, EXCEPT the Father which hath sent Me draw him…” (Jn. 6:44; cf. Psa. 65:4; Jn. 6:65; 8:43). Christ said that man alone cannot come to salvation: “…With men, it is impossible, but not with God…” (Mk. 10:27). Being ordained, or appointed, according to the grace of God, not according to the works of man—including his ‘decision’ to believe—is how a man is saved. This is the commandment of God: “…That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ…” (1 Jn. 3:23). “…This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent” (Jn. 6:29). Seeing how it is impossible that a spiritually dead man can do anything, it is God Who bestows the gift of believing to His people. Believing is a gift from God, and never a meritorious work of mans: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ…to believe on Him…” (Phil. 1:29 cf. 2 Tim. 2:25; Col. 1:26). Christ, the Great Shepherd, did not say ‘ye are not of My sheep because ye do not believe’, but rather “…ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep…” (Jn. 10:26). “The glory of the cross is that it was endured for the sake of God’s children scattered abroad, that they might be gathered into one. It was done for the sheep. But as Christ said to some, ‘ye are not of My sheep’, the implication being ‘ye are not within God’s saving purpose'.” “…for all men have not faith” (2 Thess. 3:2). “No man has faith of himself, it is the gift of God, and the operation of His Spirit; and it is only given to the elect of God, who are ordained unto eternal life, and therefore it is called '…the faith of God's elect…' (Titus 1:1 cf. Phil. 1:27); all mankind have it not, none but Christ's sheep; and the reason why others have it not, is because they are not of His sheep.”
The results of our study thus far show there has been much liberty taken in, and perhaps even a sinister element to, the modern English construction of John 3:16. Literally, the verse reads: ‘So for loved the God the world that the His Son of Him the only begotten He gave, that all the believing ones on Him not may perish but may have life eternal’. “It is saying that there is no such thing as a believing one who does not receive eternal life, but who perishes. Though our English translation says ‘whosoever believes’, the literal rendering is accurately translated as ‘every believing one’, and the emphasis is NOT AT ALL on the ‘whosoever’, but on the belief. The ones BELIEVING will not have one consequence, but will have another. They will not perish, but will have everlasting life. Why? Because of the main verb—because GOD GAVE His Son. God gave His Son for the purpose (Greek: hina) that every believing one should not perish, but that every believing one should have everlasting life.” The word believeth in John 3:16 means to trust, to place one’s confidence in. A point that is missed in all the ardent fervour over John 3:16, is salvation is not for those who merely ‘believe’, whatever that may entail, but only for those who specifically believe the Gospel of Christ, thereby, rejecting every false gospel. The false christs of false gospels are not trusted in by the true believer. The central factor of belief is that which is believed in. When it comes to matters spiritual, the act of believing is of no eternal benefit, unless it is by God’s gift of faith given to believe only His Gospel. Believing a false gospel has never saved anyone. A false gospel is made up of partly truth and partly fiction, and is nothing but a worthless contradiction. The truth is what all God’s elect have been chosen to believe. They have been chosen to love the true God, and believe the true God’s Gospel, thus, they love no other god, and they believe no other gospel. They have been given faith to believe God’s Gospel, and no other. People have been distracted by the issue of believing, in terms of who can believe and who cannot believe, and have missed the central issue of all Scripture, which is: believing the truth! “…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). You cannot have sanctification without belief of God’s truth. The Christian has not merely been chosen to believe, but to specifically believe the truth. And what is that truth? The very next verse of 2 Thessalonians 2 reveals all: “Whereunto He called you by our Gospel…” (2 Thess. 2:14). So, really, all the arguing back and forth concerning John 3:16, what it is saying and what it is not saying, important as the truth in all that is, pales into insignificance when compared with the issue of what is to be believed, and Whom it is that is to be believed in. It is not so much the whosoever believeth, which should be permitted to take centre stage, but what is to be believed, and whom it is to be believed about. People just take it for granted that if they call their god jesus, then it automatically means that the jesus they are trusting in is the only true Jesus, the only true Saviour regardless of what they believe about Him! They believe in a historical figure who died on a cross, but pay scant regard to Who exactly the Messiah of the Holy Scriptures is, or to what He has done and for whom He has done it. What you believe will always reveal who it is you are actually believing in. Doctrines define the one you believe in. The most vital factor of belief is that one believes the truth. One cannot believe the true God without believing the truth about Him: Who He is, what He has done, and for whom He has done it. Believing untruths about God describes a different god entirely. You cannot have the true God, if you have a faith which does not believe in the doctrinal truth which defines the true God. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. 9 cf. Jn. 5:38; 15:6; 1 Jn. 2:23). This verse matches perfectly with Christ’s words in John 3: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the Wrath of God abideth on him” (Jn. 3:36). If you do not abide in the Gospel of Christ, the Wrath of God abideth on you.
Who are the ones who will believe, and what will they believe? Who are the ones who will not perish, but have everlasting life? The Lord Jesus answers clearly and succinctly: “All that the Father giveth Me…”, for these are the only ones, Christ says that “…shall come to Me…” (Jn. 6:37). The only ones who believe in the true Jesus are His sheep. Those who come to Jesus do so not by the exercise of their free will, not by anything within them, or that originates within them, but by the Father having given them to His Son. The reader may be assured that all who do come are only those whom the Father has given to the Son, and whom the Son will not cast out, but give eternal life to (see Jn. 17:2). Jesus says, "NO man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him..." (Jn. 6:44). In other words, none can will to come to the Lord before the Father causes them to come. Left to themselves none can will to come because it is the Father Who first chooses and causes a man to come to Him. This is the blessed man, not the man who claims to have chosen God and come to Him via his free will, but the one whom God has chosen and caused to come to Him by His free grace. God’s love is always first. “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee…” (Psa. 65:4). God chooses and God brings His chosen near to Him. A man’s coming to God is an act of grace on the part of God, and not an act of the alleged free will of man. Of course, a man who comes to God is willing to come to God, but his willingness to come, just like his willingness to love, is always preceded by, and is because of God: God’s will and God’s love. “Thy people shall be willing IN THE DAY OF THY POWER…” (Psa. 110:3). A person shall be willing, but only if they are of God, and only in the day of His power. The Christian loves God because God loved him first, and the Christian willingly comes to God because God chose the man and willed him to come to Him, thus causing him to approach Him. If it was not for God no man could come, no man would want to come, to Him. As far as spiritually dead man is concerned, the true God is the unlovable God. The spiritually dead man can, has, does and will love any false god, but He cannot, has not, does not and never will love the true and only God. If God had not elected some to come to Him no man would have ever come to Him. IT IS WHOMSOEVER GOD WILLS TO COME THAT WILL COME, FOR NO OTHER CAN COME. Hebrews 7:25 supports such clear, and unmistakable teaching: “Therefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.”