The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

...obation in section 3 of chapter 3). This verse does not deny Limited Atonement, rather it supports it.

An objection may be raised that says how we are to evangelize if we do not tell people that Christ died for them or God loves them? Well, maybe we should review the way we do evangelism with what the Bible says. I have not yet found a place where the apostles tell unbelievers that God loves them or Christ died for them. The call is always to repent and believe (e.g., Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). They did not come up to people and tell them: “God Loves You, Jesus died on the cross for you and has a plan for your life.” Rather their call was always to repent and believe the gospel. They did indeed speak of the Lord’s atoning death, but not in such a direct way as stated above or as is most commonly done today. The call of the gospel is that God demonstrated His infinite love for all who repent and believe (which are gifts from Him), in giving His Son to die on their behalf for their sins, so that they would receive eternal life and forgiveness. Everyone who goes to Christ as Savior will not find Him anything less than a perfect Savior (John 6:37-40).

John’s Commentary On John 3:16

1 John 4:7-10 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins

After writing the above about John 3:16, I came across an article written by Dr. James White wherein he made a connection between John 3:16 and 1 John 4:7-10, which seems to be John’s commentary on the words of John 3:16. That there is a connection between the two may be demonstrated thus:

1 John 4:9-10 John 3:16
In this the love of God was made manifest among us For God so loved the world
that God sent his only Son into the world that he gave his only Son
  that whoever believes in him
  should not perish
so that we might live through him. but have eternal life.
sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins that he gave his only Son

John encourages his believing audience to love each other and he bases that in the fact that God is love and love is from Him. The fact that we love as the Lord Jesus has loved us (John 13:34; 15:12), demonstrates that we have been born of God because true and godly love is from God. The way that we experienced God’s love is by the fact that God sent His Son so that we might live through the Son. In John 3:16, the same idea is conveyed. God loved us and sent His Son so that we might have eternal life and not perish. God’s love is first, not our love. It is His amazing and redemptive love that was given to those who do not deserve it. God loved us and sent His Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins. There is obviously a connection between 1 John 4:10 and John 3:16. In both is the idea present of the Son being sent, of God’s love and of salvation. But 1 John 4:10 helps us understand and moreover strengthens what we have tried to argue above concerning John 3:16. John is speaking of the believing community he is writing to. He is not speaking to all humans in the world. In fact, in the previ...

John 3:16, 'God so loved the world'

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)

(For a better and more recent defense see here.)

“The Gospel in a single verse,” that is what many have called John 3:16. Surely it is one of the most known verses from Scripture, if not the most known. But the contextual meaning of it now has been lost. Nowadays Jn 3:16 is used to imply that God loves everyone so very much and gives everyone a choice to believe in Him. I, for one thought that Jn 3:16 was something that John wrote, not something Jesus said in a conversation with Nicodemus! Although that is still debated and not 100% clear. So let us examine Jn 3:16 within its context.

First thing to remember is that this is a conversation between the Lord Jesus and Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. Nicodemus liked Jesus’ teachings and came to Him in the night to talk to him and ask Him questions. Jesus in verse 3 gives Him the famous “You must be born again” answer.

Now we need to examine the meaning of the word “world” in this context. The Lord tells Nicodemus that God has a special love for the “world,” it seems to me that it’s talking about redemptive love, not just general love that God has for every human being. What does this mean? The Greek word for “world” is kosmos (κόσμος, G2888). This is a very interesting word. Let’s see what the Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew and Greek Definitions[1] says about this word:

  • - Original: κόσμος
  • - Transliteration: Kosmos
  • - Phonetic: kos'-mos
  • - Definition:  
  • 1.  an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government
  • 2.  ornament, decoration, adornment, i.e. the arrangement of the stars, 'the heavenly hosts', as the ornament of the heavens. 1 Pet. 3:
  • 3.  the world, the universe
  • 4.  the circle of the earth, the earth
  • 5.  the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family
  • 6.  the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ
  • 7.  world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly  
  • a.  the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ 
  • 8.  any aggregate or general collection of particulars of any sort  
    • a.  the Gentiles as contrasted to the Jews (Rom. 11:12 etc) 
    • b.  of believers only, John 1:29; 3:16; 3:17; 6:33; 12:47 1 Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19 
  • - Origin: probably from the base of G2865
  • - TDNT entry: 17:28,5
  • - Part(s) of speech: Noun Masculine

Does it really say that God loves every single person in the world equally or in the same way? I doubt it, seeing passages for example in the Psalms which speak about God having a hatred (5:5; 11:5), of course this is not the same sinful hatred that we humans have. Now I believe that God loves everyone, but doesn’t love everyone in a redemptive love sense. Nicodemus, being a “ruler of the Jews” knew that God loves Israel, or at least those Jews who serve God and do His commandments. They should know that because it is written that God redeemed them from Egypt because He loved them (Duet 7:7-8). What was a new revelation for him is that God had a love for the “world.” Mostly the word ‘world’ is use...