Many of us know John 3:16, but how many of us know what it says after that?
- ‘Whoever believes in him [God the Father or the Son] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.’ (John 3:18–21)
This passage shows that man is born loving the darkness; he delights in it. That means, man naturally loves lostness and darkness–that is, he loves his sin. Our hearts are bent that way; we are tainted all the way through.
But how do we ever get from being a person who, deep down inside, loves darkness and hates God, to someone who loves light, who loves God? If our theology doesn’t answer this question clearly from Scripture, we need to change our theology. The answer isn’t free will; it’s not prevenient grace; it’s not some people make better choices than others. The answer is–God.
The Lord is so kind that he actually gives us what we need. In John 3 after the Apostle John records Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, the Apostle also records John the Baptist speaking plainly: ‘A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven’ (John 3:27). How kind of our Lord to give us what we need–grace, gospel, faith, salvation.
He loved us enough to cause our new birth. ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…’ (1 Peter 1:3). Truly, what good thing do we have that God has not given us? (See 1 Cor 4:7; Phil 1:29; 2 Tim 2:25.)
The simple fact is, if the Lord hadn’t made sure we would come to his family out of the darkness, we never would have come.
- John 1:5 ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’
- John 6:37 ‘All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.’
- 2 Corinthians 4:6 ‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’
- Colossians 1:12–13 ‘giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,’
- Romans 5:5 ‘and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.’
We shouldn’t run from these doctrines because they make some people uncomfortable. We rejoice. They bring our hearts comfort; they should cause all Christians to rejoice in God’s kindness and sovereignty. These verses show that God can’t be stopped. They provoke us to praise him.
(GSiV: No Free Will: Bondage; The human will in bondage to sin; Traditionalism/Provisionism;