Faith That Grabs Ahold
9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “how can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and you do not know these things? 11 Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our Witness. 12 If I have told you earthy things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” 13 No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so much the son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but 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 everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 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 Son of God.
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
God never desired that man should perish, for he created mankind, so He could be with mankind. God desired companionship and that the companionship with each of us would last for an eternity. But when sin entered this world through Adam, this face to face companionship between creator and His creation came to an abrupted end. Therefore, God sent Christ Jesus, to this world to redeem mankind. Sin causes death. As is says in Romans 6:23; “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” This death which sin causes is permanent separation from God. But God created us so He could be with us, therefore He devised another plan, this plan is that Christ Jesus would come, live the perfect sinless life that Adam, or you and I cannot do. Christ would then suffer, by dying the death of total separation from God the father. We see this separation in the words of Christ as he hung upon the cross, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”’” (Matthew 27:44).
Jesus was trying to explain to this learned teacher of the law, why he had come to this earth and just exactly who he was. In as plain a way possible Jesus spelled out the whole plan of salvation.
But, Jesus also wanted Nicodemus and all those that read this story as found in the book of John to understand that one must actively believe in the atoning sacrifice of Christ upon the cross for any salvation and Christ righteousness to be applied to their life.
So as he completes the illustration of the serpent hanging from the pole in the wilderness, Jesus adds verse 15 by saying “That whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” How is that eternal life obtained? Verse sixteen answers this question. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
The English word we use for “love” is altogether inadequate to express the depth of caring interest expressed by the Greek words “agape” love and “Agapao” “to love.” Love is the pre-eminent attribute of the Creator with respect to His creatures. It is the controlling force of His divine government. “God is love” (I John 4:8).
John 15:13 states: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his Friends.” John in his first letter to the Christian church says, “We should be called the children of God” (I John 3:1). By Christ becoming one like us and fulfilling the obligation of the law, which Adam and all mankind could not keep, we are now called the sons and daughters of God.
But it takes an active faith in Christ atoning sacrifice. For starting in verse 15 thru the end of verse 18 the word “believe” is used four times, and in each case, it denotes an active faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ and His saving power through his spilt blood. The Greek word used is Pisteuo which has the root meaning of Pistoli which means to Grab ahold of, to cleave unto and never let go. It also means that we entrust our life unto Him who created us from the very beginning and because He became one in the likeness of fallen man and lived the same life as you and I do, He above any others fully understands the plight and condition we are in. Therefore, by entrusting ourselves to His care, He in turn has promised his dependability, and His loyalty to us.
God never sent his Son to this earth to do away with His law, but that through Jesus, the law might be fulfilled. God never intended that Jesus would condemn the world, but that through Christ, the whole world would be restored to the paradise it was before sin entered the world.
Love is only genuine when it is active and Christ displayed an active love when he gave. Love does not take, but freely gives of itself to others. God’s love for sinners led Him to give all that He had for their salvation. It is the essence of love to sacrifice self for others, because selfishness is the opposite of love.
What was the purpose of this sacrifice? To sometime soon reunite sinful man with His creator.
The Greek literally reads, “might keep on having everlasting life.” “Everlasting life” is life that lasts forever, life that has no end. It becomes possible only through an unbroken connection with the Source of all life. God only can give us everlasting life and the gift of everlasting life was made when God gave the unspeakable gift of His only Son. It is the privilege of the sincere Christian to rejoice that he has “everlasting life” now and forever when we cleave unto Christ and His atoning sacrifice on our behalf.
But we need to be careful, for some have thought this means that God the Father is superior to Christ, but this is not true. The sending of Jesus implies neither superiority of the Sender nor inferiority of the One sent. Throughout eternity past Christ was equal with God (see John 1:1). But it is through Christ that we attain salvation and eternal life.
God willed that all men should be saved, and by the great gift of His Son provided to all for their salvation. But the will of God must be confirmed by the will of each individual man in order that it may become effective for him. Salvation is only for those who believe and receive Christ (See John 1:12; and John 3:16).
In our next post, we will finish the story of Nicodemus who came to Christ, in the darkness and out of the darkness of His heart.