Biblegateway Verse of the Day

Salvation: Belief or Condemnation

By Benjamin H. Liles

           In these uncertain times John 3:16 is a stark reminder of a singular truth: belief in the One Son God has given will not perish, having eternal life. The verse, we all know, reads thus, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." 

          What's interesting is a couple verses later we read, "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God...For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:18-20).

          Knowing this then tells us a couple of things. Those who believe that Jesus is truly the Son of God can be saved. Notice those two words I add, "can be." The text of John 3 is very clear: those who are condemned do not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God, Jesus the Messiah. Rather they practice evil.

          And that's the biggest indication there. Those who do evil simply give lip-service saying they profess Jesus is the Son of God, but they could care less about the importance of cleanliness and purity of their hearts. We're told expressly in verse 19, "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

          True, authentic believers, in reading these verses shake with the inevitability of God's just judgment. On all men, meaning women too, God's judgment will pass. It's not simply judgment for whether or not you believe God's Son died in our place, but on all men.

          Believers will be judged on the works their faith produces: "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). A false faith is a dead faith. Most of us, by and large, agree God exists, but simply saying God exists doesn't save us.

          When we realize we have angered a just God, in our evilness --our wicked hearts and desires, we start to turn away from those childish forms. Repentance is more than simply turning away from, it's a mindset where the person doing it says, "I can't live this way any longer. I can't do any better, but I can return to Him who gave me life." That's the point of the Prodigal Son. He realized his state, his position without the father he once loved and cherished.

           In his desire to return to the father, He chose to clean himself up as best as possible, the father did the rest. What did the father do for that Prodigal? "But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate" (Luke 15:22-24).

          Salvation is a gift, not for a minute being deserved for the one receiving it. If we deserve anything from the Father on high it is His stern judgment of our wicked hearts and minds. However, for those who believe He provided His Son to take His wrath in our place, we have done exactly what the Prodigal has done: "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son" (Luke 15:21).

          Surely, it is by that action of faith that God sent His Son in our place, that not only do we have life everlasting and eternal, but that we are restored and given honor by Him who sent the Son.

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