John 3:16 + +
One of the most quoted verses in scripture is John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Isn't that the best news anyone, anywhere, at any time could ever hear? When we read about the "Good News" in scripture, that's it in a nutshell.
John 3:17, is equally as great, but not near as many people know it or can quote it, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." He does this by providing a way for us to overcome our sin problem. Through the sacrifice of His life as a ransom for us, He provides us redemption from our sin and that is the greatest news anyone could ever spread. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...," (Rom 8:1) What a great God we serve, and what a loving Savior we have in Christ Jesus.
John 3:18 is maybe a little less known still, and seldom do we hear anybody, including preachers include it with John 3:16.
The first part of vs-18 sounds great and makes us feel good doesn't it, "whoever believes in Him is not condemned...". We can take great comfort in that if we are believers can't we? If we are saved according to His teachings, we still have that smile on our face and joy in our hearts from vs-16 & 17, even after reading the rest of vs-18 which says, "...but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son." We still rejoice because we no longer stand condemned as we all did at one time in our lives.
But this verse is just as much scripture as the feel good verses above it isn't it? It speaks reality, perhaps an uncomfortable reality that if we've failed to obey him, ought to cause us to have a pit in our stomach at the thought of our own condemnation. The verse plainly says those that don't believe are condemned and that is not an opinion we simply arrive at by our own interpretation.
And let us understand that believing in Him doesn't simply mean we think He is real. Let's look at James 2:19, "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder." Why do the demons shudder? They believe don't they? The demons shudder because their belief is insufficient to lead them to acceptance and obedience of His commands. They remain outside of Christ and the Father. They know the power of God, and that God will punish those who fail to believe and obey. Likewise those who vs-18 says stand condemned are just as condemned as the demons James mentions, and it's not because they fail to acknowledge that Jesus exists, but that they fail to acknowledge Him properly with recognition as to who He is and render obedience to Him according to His will because of who He is.
Per Jesus, we are the light of the world. We are told to "let our light shine before men", so that "they may see our good works, and glorify [y]our Father in heaven." (Matt 5:14-16) In doing so people can come to know Jesus, not just who is, but know Him and learn from Him and obey Him, and through full belief avoid the condemnation that otherwise awaits them on judgment day due to their unbelieving hearts.
Many people around us today remain in that condition of condemnation because they don't believe, and they need us to help them out. May the Good News of Him spread like wildfire, and may we help to be the wind that fans the flames. Our prayer is that people will understand completely John 3:16, John 3:17, and John 3:18.