John 3:16 Out Of Context

You can’t be a Christian without knowing John 3:16 – it’s on roadsides, on t-shirts, and used to be a sign held behind the goalposts of football games. But we easily take John 3:16 out of context when we don’t read the next verse of John 3:17.

Let’s read them together. 

First, John 3:16 . . . 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (ESV).

Next, John 3:17 . . .  

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (ESV).

We don’t need to condemn the world – as it is already condemned. John 3:16 explains it is already perishing. God so loved this perishing world (3:16) that He sent Jesus to save it (3:17).

This “lost-to-Jesus-to-salvation-through-love” formula profoundly changes the way we deal with the condemned people of this world.

Too often, I hear anger in the voices of believers when they discuss the ungodly philosophies bandied about as truth today. We should have righteous anger, and we can debate heatedly the proliferation of policies that reflect paganism rather than the ideals of the Bible.

But let’s remember the world is lost. It is already condemned. All those who don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior face an eternity separated from God.

I have compassion for those who are lost. I seldom find the need to beat them up further with condemnation. God believes the same, which is why He sent Jesus.

When I was lost as an errant hippie, I experienced judgment from what hippies called “the straight church” as we didn’t look, talk, or smell like the saved at the Baptist church and especially at the more high-brow Lutheran church.  

I was saved when another hippie that looked but didn’t quite smell as bad as I did talked to me about Jesus.

I listened to him because I could relate to this Jesus Freak (hippie turned believer).

When someone loved me instead of condemning me for my outward appearance or my philosophies, this love of Jesus brought me to conviction. 

Today, I react (in my soul) strongly against the woke and progressive ideas taught today, especially when they influence children. I consider what Jesus said, “It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin” (Luke 17:2).

I imagine a lot of millstones are prepared in eternity for those enticing children on gender issues.

But even with this righteous anger, I recognize that I don’t want anyone to suffer the millstone judgment for eternity. Those not knowing Jesus are already condemned and acting from ideas reflecting the lostness of their souls.

My job, which is tricky to do, is to figure out a way to love the sinner and hate the sin.

This phrase “love the sinner but hate the sin” originated from St. Augustine, who lived in the fifth century.  

Not a bad slogan. I believe Brother Augustine summarizes what Jesus was teaching in John 3:16-17.  

Let’s remember this phrase, “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” 

The “lost-to-Jesus-to-salvation-through-love” formula! 

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