Friday, May 31, 2013

Mangling John 3:16

Ever see the signs at a football game that say "John 3:16"? There are even John 3:16 churches. It seems so simple. Since God loves everybody, everybody is the "elect".

According to this He wishes to save every man, woman, and child, but He does not manage to do it. Santa Claus goes around the world in a single night and brings gifts to all children, but Almighty God, Creator of the Universe has not been able to get His message to any but a little flock.

Now, I do not believe God loves everyone. Is this shocking to you? I hope not.

As I studied the Bible I became a believer in limited atonement, to many, a horrible doctrine. So I was stopped by two ideas. First, why does God not get His message to everyone. And what about John 3:16? Let me say, good Bible study is not simple. You have to dig out the meaning many times.

I began to look. I found there are seven definitions of "world" in the Bible". Then I found there are three definitions of "love". To those who spend more time looking at the sports page than the Bible, this seems rather complicated. Could there really be more to John 3:16 than the "fast quoters" say?

Here goes again, but if one looks up every reference to the words "world" and "love"--and it is easy with our modern concordances--a different pattern emerges. Imagine the Jews, learning that God loves people of every race and nation. At the first church council, in Acts fifteen we learn that God is gathering His people from everywhere. Not all people, but from each nation. This is the "world of believers". Notice to Israel; God is bringing in people from all over!

A good friend of mine worked for IRS. An order came down to set up pictures that were ethically inclusive. The local office tried and came up with all kinds of people to pose for a big poster. He was amazed at the variety of people in his local office. I am not certain if there were any Australian Bush People, or Eskimos, but it was very diverse.

God has opened up His kingdom to an even more expansive group. No one is excluded because of origin. He has opened the doors to the world. This is the world of John 3:16. It does not include all people, but includes people from the whole world.

If you do not agree with this, I ask of you one question: "How much time have you spent studying this scripture?" If you gave it only a quick look, I will say, "Is this any way to treat the Word of God?"

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