John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” (John 3:16). That God so loved the world that He gave His Son does not mean He so loved the elect. Nor does it mean God so loved all men without exception. There are those who try to make it say that. But that’s not what it says.  That God loved the world here means that He loved an object full of badness. The ‘world’ (kosmos) in John refers to a wicked, rebellious, God-hating order of things, full of moral darkness. Respected Biblical scholar Don Carson is right in saying:

In John 3:16 God’s love in sending the Lord Jesus is to be admired not because it is extended to so big a thing as the world, but to so bad a thing; not to so many people, as to such wicked people” (The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, 17).

Christ Delivers from the Wrath to Come

IMG_0531How does He do this? How does Christ deliver us from the wrath to come? We of course must speak of the cross. Christ delivers by the cross, by his own death. He who knew no sin, became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God. He bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Christ gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age. We preach Christ and Him crucified, to some an offense, to others foolishness, but to the called the power and wisdom of God. It was on the cross that Jesus died. And for every believer, His wrath was satisfied. “For every sin on Him was laid. Here in the death of Christ I live.”

But it doesn’t end there. If that was it, if that was everything Christ does to deliver us it would be amazing. That would be no small or inconsequential thing. But that, I’m convinced, is only the start of it all. Christ delivers us not only by dying for us on the cross, but living in us by His Spirit. Paul’s gospel was a gospel that demanded him to say things like: “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” and “…because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts…” and “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Don’t let Pentecostal distortions rob you of the joy this brings. Don’t let western categories of thought push you into thinking this must be balanced by some other doctrine. Listen to me: If it’s true, it doesn’t need to be balanced. Christ indwells believers by His Spirit, and there He produces and causes our deliverance from sin and sins. How else is a church marked by the work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope? How else is it possible to strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord? Christ delivers us not only by dying for us on the cross, but living in us by His Spirit. It’s Christ! It’s all of Christ! Christ delivers. He will do it. He will bring it to pass. He will cause us to walk as we ought to walk, if we walk by Him, by His Spirit. Does this mean the Christian has no need for exhortation and instruction? Does this mean the Christian does not exercise his will at all? Of course not. But these things must be seen in their proper context. We must put the cart in its proper place in relation to the horse – the bigger, and driving, if not generating and governing reality.

The Blackie Pulpit