NOTE: I know that I was going to write on why someone would willfully remain condemned but the Lord impressed upon my heart to write more on this wonderful verse John 3:18.
Early Christians were tortured and sentenced to terrible deaths particularly during the reign of Emperor Diocletian; some taking place in the Colosseum. They were already condemned simply for being Christians and if they were found assembling, owning a Bible, or worse yet, were part of the clergy, they would face the emperor. If these Christians refused to renounce their Christian faith, they were sentenced to be tortured and then killed. Even some who did renounce their Christianity were killed anyway.
What could possibly make someone believe so strongly in the Lord Jesus Christ that they would face death in such a way? It was there faith; and not just a momentary belief or mental agreement, but a change in attitude and lifestyle. These Christians were not like today’s Church Trout who swim from church to church until they find just the right church to “minister to our needs.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ left us with the Great Commission because those who do not hear the Gospel are condemned to spend eternity in hell; their souls forever tormented. Those without Jesus are condemned because they have sinned and refuse redemption. Note Jesus’ words:
“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.” (John 3:18)
I admit that there are many verses in the Bible that are confusing and difficult to discover the meaning, but John 3:18 is not one of them. What part of being condemned for not believing in Jesus is hard to understand? While some may try to feign confusion or a lack of understanding, what they are really doing is refusing to believe…to accept Jesus’ words as truth. Look again at the last part of Jesus’ words in our verse…
“….because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
If you refuse to believe in Jesus for salvation, it is not He who is condemning you to hell, as some atheists like to accuse God of doing. No, it is your sins that have condemned you to hell. You did this, not Jesus, not God…you. And it is not head belief that Jesus speaks of either. Satan and his minions believe in Jesus:
“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19)
Well Dave I understand all this belief stuff but I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve; my faith is a private matter. There’s only one problem with that; it is not saving faith:
“… that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)
John 3:18 could be misconstrued as bad news; it is if you are a “half-empty cup” kind of person. But beloved this is such wonderful news and Jesus starts the verse with it…
“He who believes in Him is not condemned…”
Did you see that? If you believe in Jesus for salvation you are not condemned. Warren Wiersbe describes the good news this way:
“The difference between perishing and living, and between condemnation and salvation, is faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus could have come to this world as a Judge and destroyed every rebellious sinner; but in love, He came in this world as our Savior, and He died for us on the cross! He became the ‘uplifted serpent.’ The serpent in Moses’ day brought physical life to dying Jews; but Jesus Christ gives eternal life to anyone who trusts Him. He has salvation for a whole world!”
My dear friends we must help the whole world understand that this gospel is for them and that without Jesus they are already condemned. They will not appear before Jesus when He does return as Judge to hear a verdict; Jesus gave the verdict in today’s verse. No, instead of it being Judgment Day as many describe it, that terrible day will be more accurately described as Sentencing Day.
I know how hard it is to accept this. It is hard because it is not easy to accept that I’m not good enough. And although the gospel is not easy to embrace, it is simple to understand. If you are intellectually honest and a true seeker of the truth then you can only come to one conclusion.
And when you do you still have a choice to make…will you believe in Him or not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
I am praying you believe; and if you are a believer I am praying that you spread the good news of not just John 3:16, but also John 3:18.
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Copyright © 2010 David Jeffers