Bible - John One of the most well-known statements in the Bible is recorded in the Gospel of John, chapter 3 and verse 16. It goes like this …

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. NIV

You may have heard this before OR maybe it’s the first time you’ve ever heard those life giving words.

Christian author Max Lucado describes it like this:

“Here is a 26-word sentence of hope, beginning with God, ending with life, and urging us to do the same. It’s brief enough to write on a small piece of paper or memorise in a moment, yet solid enough to weather 2000 years of storms and questions. If you know nothing of the Bible, start here. If you know everything, return here. We all need the reminder. The heart of the human problem is the heart of the human. And here is God’s treatment …”

  • God loves.
  • God gives.
  • We believe.
  • We live.

God has done his part. The choice is now yours. Will you believe? Will you live the life the He desires for you? It’s your move.

John 3:16 … think about it.

17 thoughts on “John 3:16

  1. “God has done his part. The choice is now yours. Will you believe?”
    Is ite really that easy? Is the choice really ours to make?
    Or is it God’s Spirit that gives us the gift of faith and therefore really our choice to believe is really God’s choice that we believe.

  2. Hi Richard, Yes, it is our choice. Because God loves us, He gives us a choice. He is in control but He is not controlling. First we need to take a step to believe and ask God, so that we may receive the gift of faith. God does not give it to us automatically, if we do not ask or seek His face. We all have this need for God built into our spirit, it just needs to be brought back out to be reminded because people have forgotten. Only God can fill that hole in our hearts… that searching and longing feelings. God is pleased with faith, but loves mankind unconditionally and waits for all to choose Him because He desires none to perish. His love is a called grace. Enjoy your week 🙂

  3. Hi Richard … just a reminder, once again, that on this blog people are asked to use their real name. Thanks for not using ‘Lionfish’ – unless you also include ‘Richard.’
    As far as your comment – depends whether you beleive in ‘free will’ or not. If you don’t, then basically God has wound up everything in the world like a machine and we are therefore non-responsible entities. After all, you can’t hold people accountable for something they have no power over.
    Yes, faith is a gift of God but it involves our response to the work of his Spirit. Note John’s words in John 1:12 … “… to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

  4. Hi Mark,
    You are right, In John 1:12 the scriptures state “… to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
    But the scriptures go on to teach that it is the work of the Spirit that prepares the hearts that enable the gift of faith to be recieved –
    “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me”
    Later, Jesus went on to clarify this truth “Jesus sensed that his disciples were having a hard time with this and said, “Does this throw you completely? … Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen. Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making. But some of you are resisting, refusing to have any part in this.” (Jesus knew from the start that some weren’t going to risk themselves with him. He knew also who would betray him.) He went on to say, “This is why I told you earlier that no one is capable of coming to me on his own. You get to me only as a gift from the Father.”
    ..Saved by Faith alone is a key reformation truth, accordingly Luther also wrote of faith as being entirely to the credit of God:

    “The very name, Free-will, was odious to all the Fathers …Ah, Lord God! why should be boast of our free-will, as if it were able to do anything ever so small, in divine and spiritual matters? … Some few divines allege, that the Holy Ghost works not in those that resist him, but only in such as are willing and give consent thereto, whence it would appear that free-will is only a cause and helper of faith, and that consequently faith alone justifies not, and that the Holy Ghost does not alone work through the Word, but that our will does something therein.But I say it is not so; the will of mankind works nothing at all in his conversion and justification; Non est efficiens causa justificationis sed marerialis tantum. It is the matter on which the Holy Ghost works (as a potter makes a pot out of clay), equally in those that resist and are averse, as in St Paul. But after the Holy Ghost has wrought in the wills of such resistants, then he also manages that the will be consenting thereunto.

    It humbles me that even the very fact that I believe in God, is entriley His doing.
    Because belief is entirely the work of God – does that mean that we just machines…?
    We do have free-will, but (in spiritual matters) our (fallen) natural state it is a freewill to resist God, rather than surrender to the workings of the Spirit. this is why God must first do His work and impart His gift of faith -so that we can recieve it.
    In the word’s of Luther, “I confess that mankind has a free-will, but it is to milk kine, to build houses, etc., and no further”.
    Kind regards,

  5. According to Faith in Christianity: Hebrews 11:6 describes the meaning and the practical role of faith: “Without faith it is impossible to please [God], for he who comes to God must *believe* that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
    The New Testament concept of faith, is reliance upon God’s self-revelation, especially in the sense of confidence in the promises and fear of the threats that are written in Scripture. In addition, the New Testament writers equate faith in God with belief in Jesus Christ. When Jesus was asked by His disciples, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered them, “The work of God is this: to believe (pi’stis in Greek) in the one He has sent” (John 6:28–29). There is an action needed before faith is given as a gift from God… it comes through God’s revelation of Himself by His Spirit, where one must take a step to believe God that He did what He says He did. One needs to “Ask and you shall receive.” Faith is a critical aspect to the relationship between man and our God, this relationship or process is called ‘Theosis’ in Greek. God does not give His gift to someone who willingly does not want it.
    Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.”
    But to say faith is a gift would be “Without the Gift of God” it is impossible to please God and to receive this gift through seeking Him with the gift He would give you.
    The word “faith”, translated from the Greek πιστις (pi’stis), in the New Testament context is a *physical action,* based upon a mental belief and sustained with confidence.
    *Salvation is the free Gift of God.* Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
    So he who comes to God must first *believe* God before God bestows upon him “the Gift of Faith.”
    According to you Lutherans, Richard, saving faith is the knowledge of acceptance of and trust in the promise of the Gospel. That takes action on your behalf. Enjoy your day 🙂
    You can check it out for yourself in your Bible.
    Scripture Ref. John 17:3, Luke 1:77,Galatians 4:9, Philippians 3:8, and 1 Timothy 2:4 refer to faith in terms of knowledge.
    John 5:46 refers to acceptance of the truth of Christ’s teaching, while John 3:36 notes the rejection of his teaching.
    John 3:16,36, Galatians 2:16, Romans 4:20-25, 2 Timothy 1:12 speak of trust, confidence, and belief in Christ. John 3:18 notes belief in the name of Christ, and Mark 1:15 notes belief in the gospel.

  6. Hi Marija,
    You quote “Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.”
    That sums up exactly what I said.
    Thought fore the day…
    Therefore did we choose [to believe in] Jesus, or rather, did He choose us…?

  7. Hi Richard, good to hear from you. How is Perth doing? Yes, God has chosen us, but we have a free will to reject what God has given us. That is how much God loves us. He has given us His Son Jesus so that we can freely receive Him by faith, but it is our choice. Isn’t it? God does not force us to receive His gift of faith. An action needs to be taken on our part in order to accept His ‘gift of Faith,’ as Mark has so eloquently explained. We need to take a step to receive, when God does His part to impart to us this gift by His Spirit. He only imparts it to those who are willing. That is called a choice, where God gives us the free will to choose Him. Some reject God, even though they have the evidence of what Jesus did on the cross. MMMmm… So, out of His great love for us God gives us a free will, a choice to choose Him. Have a nice day 🙂

  8. Hi Marija,
    Of course our default fallen and sinful nature is always at enmity with the working of saving faith – therefore, man will choose to reject the working of God before (and even after) recieving the Grace of saving faith. It is our default nature to resist and reject it – people can lose saving faith (eg parable of the soer and the seed)!
    Furthermore – it may be possible for person to recieve saving faith even though he did not ‘cooperate’ with the Holy Spirit in the first instance.
    It is God who intervenes – His Sprit chooses us! 🙂

  9. Hi Richard,
    How do we know if we are among the few that have ears to hear, those who God calls? By responding to His Holy Spirit call. Assurance of this certain call, this chosen call is from the Holy Spirit. Consider Philippians 1:6, which says: “…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13.)If we listen with our spiritual ears and *respond to the invitation, there will be fear and trembling in our souls as we recognize that it was God’s work in us that caused our salvation. God knows who will be sons of disobedience, those who reject His gift of saving grace through faith… He does not force the Gift of Faith nor salvation upon anyone. It is a choice. I have the gift of faith, but God did not ram it down my throat. I had to accept it and be willing to receive it. God *creates life, *grants repentance and *gives faith and eternal life through receiving, accepting and *having faith in Jesus. What is given needs to be received and accepted otherwise it’s useless.
    As many as *received Him, to them *gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that *believe on His Name: which were born… of God… (John 1:12-13).
    “Many are called but few are chosen…” Matthew 22:14
    “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me [Jesus], that I shall lose none of all that He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day… No one can come to Me [Jesus] unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone *who listens* to the Father and *learns from Him comes to Me [Jesus].” – John 6:44-45

  10. Richard, the bottom line is that what Mark has written here is scriptually sound and true.
    > God has done His part. The choice is now yours. Will you believe? Will you live the life that He desires for you? It’s your move. John 3:16 … think about it. < Unpack John 3:16 and meditate on the awesome provision of God's love and amazing grace. John 14:26-28 (New International Version) 26 But the Counselor, the *Holy Spirit,* whom the Father will send in My name, will *teach you* all things and will *remind you* of everything I [Jesus] have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; My peace [Shalom] I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 28 "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved Me [Jesus], you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

  11. Hi Marija,
    Let’s be prgmatic.
    When Jesus describes to Nicodemus the concept of man’s need to be ‘born again’ in John Chapter 3, he talks about natural carnal man needing to be born, first of the flesh and then for a second time through the Holy Spirit.
    In life, what choice does any person have with regard to their conception and their birth…?
    Clearly, one does not choose to be conceived, nor choose to be born!
    Jesus also paints a wonderful picture that this Spirit which imparts spirit life through the second birth seems to flow freely – like the wind. Jesus asks who knows where it will blow – meaning whom it will choose!
    How does this work, practically in the scriptures…?
    Let’s look at the conversion of Lydia in the Book of Acts
    the Lord opened her [Lydia’s] heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul,” (Acts 16:14).
    Regdless of how ‘good’ Lydia was prior to hearing St Paul preach – it was God who opened Lydia’s heart to enable her to believe .
    Lydia first needed God in order to be able to respond.
    Have a great night,

  12. Good discussion Richard and Marija! The classic Calvinism vs Arminianism debate … no doubt there are strengths and weaknesses in each view and lots of Bible verses you can swing either way.
    Years ago I read A.W. Pink’s book ‘The Sovereignty of God.’ He is a strong Calvinist and I must admit, I found the arguments quite weak and the whole thing just didn’t sit well with me. I am a strong believer in the sovereignty and providence of God but I also believe in free will and human responsibility. Holding those two ideas in appropriate tension is the key, while heresy tends to be in the extremes.

  13. Hi Mark,
    I would agre to adhere to a Calvinsit perspective is heresy! 🙂
    (Lutherans adhere to a perspective of divine monergism and disdain Calvinism!).
    In many respects, it is wise to be able to tolerate ambiguity on many theological issues, perhaps even this one.
    And through discussion and healthy debate, holding tightly and pegging down one view when challended with another is what (rightly) maintains the tension.
    Personally, I don’t have all the answers on the Soverignty of God, and can accept that others will hold different views (on this matter).
    However, my own study, thinking and personal revelation sit with the views held by Luther, Augustine and others. In some ways this is because I find this way of thinking a much stronger theological argument. In other ways I look at my own faith ‘History’ – being the only Christian (apart from my mother) in the family. I often ask ‘Why Me’. What was placed upon my own heart from Childhood – yet my own brothers and sisters still don’t get it! … And I was the naughty one!
    I don’t believe that I chose to believe, it’s as if I was tapped on the shoulder at a very young age – God revealed himself to me. A ‘miracle’ or a rebirth happened – moving me from kowing about God, to knowing God.
    I now believe that faith is like shining a light at a blind man. No matter how bright the light shines, the man because is blind will not see, until God, through the quickening of the Holy Spirit gives the man a new set of eyes to see…
    Have a great day.

  14. Thanks Mark. I totally agree with you. Good to have this discussion with you Richard. Enjoy your day. Sorry having visitors… catch you again soon 🙂

  15. One last thought:
    This is a verse I handwrote in my old Bible fater making a recommittment to God in my 20’s.
    I think the words are worth thinking about:
    “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart”. Ezekial 36:26

  16. In Romans 9:17
    It refers to Pharaoh being raised up for the purpose of God as an instrument of wrath, Correct me if I am wrong Richard but you would say that Pharaoh did not have a choice in the matter.
    17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
    18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
    9:18 Therefore he hath mercy. Ro 9:15 has shown that he hath mercy according to his own sense of right, not according to any human code. The case of Pharaoh shows, in addition, that
    whom he will he hardeneth. Godet says:
    What must not be forgotten, and what appears distinctly, from the whole narrative in Exodus, is that Pharaoh’s hardening was at first his own act. Five times it is said of him that he himself hardened, or made heavy his heart (Ex 7:13 7:22 8:15 8:32 9:7), before the time when it is at last said that “God himself hardened him in response.”(Ex 9:12), and even after that it is said that he hardened himself (Ex 9:34). Thus he at first closed his own heart to God’s appeals; grew harder by stubborn resistance under God’s judgments, until at last God, as a punishment for his obstinate rejection of right, gave him over to his mad folly and took away his judgment.”
    In the same line of thinking, free will choice in relation to faith, the appeal, the response of the heart, God responding to the individual with impartation of holy spirit.
    For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. 2 Corinthians 8:12

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