Skip to comments.A look at John 3:14-18
Posted on 09/14/2013 12:29:44 PM PDT by matthewrobertolson
John 3:14-18 doesnt necessarily support the faith alone position.
For Protestants, John 3:14-18 might seem like the ultimate Gotcha! passage to use against Catholics. But if you look a little deeper, youll recognize that the passage does not defend the faith alone position and is totally in line with Catholic teaching.
The passage reads as, As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
That might seem a little damning to the Catholic position that good works are necessary, right? Well, in truth, its not.
With God, to believe means to obey. God does not desire a lukewarm, vague belief in Him, but a devoted life in His service. This is evidenced later in the chapter. John 3:36 reads as, He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
And if one looks at verses 19-21 of the chapter, they will see that Christ said that those who love darkness and do evil deeds will not reach the Light (Heaven).
Sin which, at its heart, is anything offensive to God is a heinous, damaging thing that we must cleanse ourselves of. This cleansing is done through Christ, of course, but meriting it requires a little more than a belief in Him. It requires a repentant heart (see Luke 13:3) and, in the case of mortal sin, sacramental confession (see my video about Confession).
On top of all of this, Christ told us in John 13:15 to follow the example that He set and He also told us in John 15:10 that we must keep His commandments to abide in [His] love.
We cant just sit back and relax non-stop, counting on our vague faith to save us we have to do things! Like St. Paul wrote in Colossians 1:24, we must help the Church in filling up what is lacking in Christs afflictions.
So, when reading the Bible, remember that true belief requires obedience and good works.
(All verses are from the NASB translation.)
Click here to watch the accompanying video.
The passage reads as, As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
Note please ... "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life."
Is given as if a comma should follow the word "believes", whereas in KJV the same passage reads,
"14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:"
15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
I get my grammatical subjectives and objectives mixed up sometimes, but the NASB is a seriously flawed source for the exacting of doctrine.
Since I just finished my work for the night, I decided to take the time to respond to this even though it was not directed at me. MatthewRobertOlson wrote to Harley:
“Your first point is flawed. The verse says “because their works were evil” (”their” referring to the “people [that] loved the darkness”), not because all works are evil. Therefore, to say that the verse means that “our works are evil” is quite a big stretch. “
Now this isn’t even a response to anything Harley even said, and it’s also quite nonsensical. She didn’t say that all works are evil. She said that our works are evil, which is a big difference, and a position you have no choice but to accept due to the sheer number of scriptures that prove the matter. Her own verse cited the Lord calling us “evil,” and Christ in another place says, “no one is good, save one, that is, God” (Luk 18:19). Paul, in his epistle, says “no one good, no, not one” (Rom 3:12). Now, these things wouldn’t be said if there was some spark of goodness in a man, or an exception to the rule somewhere where there was a good person. Either only God is good, and every man a liar, or else God is a liar and every man not accountable to Him whether they are good or not.
Now, since we know that God is no liar, but that man tells lies like he breaths, it follows that if we do have good works, it is not our own, but God who works in us “both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Php 2:13). We cannot say that there is a spark of goodness in us that caused us to differ, as you vainly say, since, before salvation, we are dead in sin, and “had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph 2:3). This is not a partial corruption. This is not a fraction of a corruption. It is a corruption of both mind and body so that there is no goodness in man unless God, by the Holy Ghost, gives it to Him.
Now if we are dead in sin, how can we, who are dead, give any heed to the things of the living? And if you say that God merely helps us, but does not quicken the soul so that it can believe, making an unwilling man willing, where is this spark of goodness in man that is there to be helped? Can you identify it? Can you tell me where it is? If a man is dead, he is no better than a spiritual corpse, as Augustine wisely observed:
“For it was by the evil use of his free-will that man destroyed both it and himself. For, as a man who kills himself must, of course, be alive when he kills himself, but after he has killed himself ceases to live, and cannot restore himself to life; so, when man by his own free-will sinned, then sin being victorious over him, the freedom of his will was lost. “For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” This is the judgment of the Apostle Peter. And as it is certainly true, what kind of liberty, I ask, can the bond-slave possess, except when it pleases him to sin? For he is freely in bondage who does with pleasure the will of his master.” (Augustine, The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love, Ch. 30. “Men are Not Saved by Good Works, Nor by the Free Determination of Their Own Will, But by the Grace of God Through Faith”)
You wrote, in reply to her, “Doesn’t the ability to give good gifts indicate at least a small amount of inherent goodness?” Now why do you come to this kind of a conclusion, instead of wondering how there can be any goodness in man when God specifically ruled it out? If God says that “no one is good, no not one,” and that all of our righteousness “is as filthy rags,” it does not follow that there is anything good in us, even a little bit, as all of it, even the best of our deeds, is inherently ugly and disgusting in his sight. The logical reply then, is, that if there really is any good in us, it was given to us by God. Such is the case with the Pagan nations historically and to this very day, where God gives to man common grace for the maintenance of society and the benefit of mankind in general; however, if God withheld even this from us, there would be no doubt that our unrestrained souls would run rampant in all manner of sins, just as the antediluvians did which resulted in God’s destruction of them all.
Therefore, we must confess with Paul, and not with the Catholics, the following saying, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;” (2Co 3:5).
“We are given graces, yes, but these graces do not simply give us salvation, but enable us to do good works and to have faith so that we can do our part of the process.”
Now this contradicts the scripture which says “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom 9:16). Your argument could only be true if the scripture said, “not of God who wills, or God who runs, but man who obeys,” or “Not of God who has mercy, but man who wills it,” since the mercy of God is not enough to effect salvation, but must wait for the man to work it out himself. But we say with all the Holy scriptures that faith is the gift of God, and that all those who receive it from the Father to believe, do come to the Son, without any of them being lost, as would be the case if left to our own willing and running (John 6:37, 39, 64-65). Or as Augustine puts it:
“if it is said, “It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy,” because it is of both, that is, both of the will of man and of the mercy of God, so that we are to understand the saying, “It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy,” as if it meant the will of man alone is not sufficient, if the mercy of God go not with itthen it will follow that the mercy of God alone is not sufficient, if the will of man go not with it; and therefore, if we may rightly say, it is not of man that wills, but of God that shows mercy, because the will of man by itself is not enough, why may we not also rightly put it in the converse way: “It is not of God that shows mercy, but of man that wills,” because the mercy of God by itself does not suffice? Surely, if no Christian will dare to say this, “It is not of God that shows mercy, but of man that wills,” lest he should openly contradict the apostle, it follows that the true interpretation of the saying, “It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy,” is that the whole work belongs to God, who both makes the will of man righteous, and thus prepares it for assistance, and assists it when it is prepared.” (Augustine, The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope and Love, Ch. 32)
I went through it and must be missing something that is clear to you - I'm always willing to learn, if you would be so kind to point out the specific verse.
My points are not "flawed". You neglected John 3:19 which states, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. There is not much to discuss. It is rather clear. We love the darkness. We don't love the light. And the reason is because our works are evil. We love to be disobedient.
Question: How are we able to "give good gifts" if we are totally evil? Doesn't the ability to give good gifts indicate at least a small amount of inherent goodness?
I did not say we are "totally" evil. I said we are evil.
God must change our hearts.
This was a gentle rhetorical question to enlighten us to our true condition. This is one of the reason He came and died for us:
As Paul states, "Oh wretched man that I am. Who will deliver me from this dead?"
This corruption in us is the reason we cannot do anything pleasing to God. First, God must give us a new heart and spirit to walk in His ways. (Eze 36:26) Then God must lead us in His path for righteousness sake. (Psalms 23:3)
But what you have raised is a very interesting topic. To think that man is intrinsically good is new thinking developed in the Renaissance. It is not what scriptures teaches us and, if we were honest with ourselves, it is what we really know about ourselves. Deep down inside us we know we have all those characteristics that are vile wanting to surface. God doesn't suppress them. God eradicates them. But this can only happen once He makes us new creatures and calls us to walk in His statues and obey His ordinances.
It is totally to His praise and His glory that we are who we are. We cannot do good things for the Father. It is only through God the Son and God the Spirit that we bear fruit.
This is an absurd argument, as
1., it makes the level of authority of words dependent upon the past or even present holiness of the instrument, and,
2. it ignores the fact that Paul did indeed have first hand information, and
3. it would make 2 gospels of lesser authority than the other writers as Mark and Luke were not first hand accounts, which fact is also ignored, or you are ignorant of.
As re 1, while being the Lord means Christ personally had more authority than any man, yet He is not known to have written anything except some words in the sand once, but wrote the NT by His Spirit thru chosen instruments. And the authority of which which words are based upon that (and didactically whether the form is teaching God's will simply recording things such as the conclusions of the natural mind as in Ecl. 2:24; 8:15) and not the past or even present holiness of the instrument.
If otherwise, we would have to reduce the worth of David's words since even as a believer he was guilty of adultery and murder. And also those of Peter as by his own confession he was a sinful man b4 conversion, and afterwards he was guilty as charged of hypocrisy, (Gal. 2) by Paul, whose words Peter affirmed as Scripture. And who is never charged with sin in his post conversion life, but is shown as being the primary theologian, writer of Holy Writ and church planter and disciple. In fact, excluding duplicate accounts, Paul is given more press by the Holy Spirit than Peter, and is so instrumental that he is called "pope Paul" in polemical parody in response to exalting Peter above that which is written.
As re. 2, Paul did have first hand information, as His writes in Gal. by the Holy Spirit,
"But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man." "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11-12)
This likely most fully (at least) took place when during the three years before he went to Jerusalem, in part of which he sojourned in Arabia. (Gal. 1:17, 18)
And Paul states in refuting those, who like you, impugned his apostolic authority, "have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" (1Cor. 9:1) and labored more than the rest. (1Cor. 15:10)
As re 3, Mark and Luke are not 2 gospels of lesser authority than the other writers as Mark and Luke were not first hand accounts, with Mark being held to have written what Peter had preached, and Luke the historian writing what eyewitnesses from the beginning recalled. Meanwhile, your holiness hermeneutic Matthew, the tax collector for pagans.
Thus your reasons for the second class authority of most of the NT are not valid, nor is the reason you gave for so doing, . that of having to choose btwn the gospels and Paul. That being said, yet as said, the Lord, being the Lord, His words do reflect His primary anointing and authority, though these are by the same Spirit that inspired the rest, of which Christ foretold. (Jn. 16:12-15) And as a comparison of duplicate accounts indicates, sometimes we are not reading what Christ exactly verbatim said as the Spirit sometimes recasts them in giving a more comprehensive revelation.
I don’t see that this passage reveals that Paul met Jesus.
Well and truly said, dear brother in Christ; thank you!
Thank you so much for your encouragements, dear brother in Christ!
Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? - I Cor 9:1
And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. - Acts 22:7-8
I’m not sure I really get the Roman Catholic approach either. I am Eastern Orthodox and, as far as I can tell, we aren’t as legalistic about everyday theology as either RCs or Protestants.
In our view, faith and works are like oxygen and hydrogen in water. Sure, there are two oxygen atoms and you can’t have water without them, but you can’t have water without hydrogen either. Why make things that have to work together oppose each other? It makes no sense.
In expanding on why i stated to you in 126 , besides it not mattering as regards authority whether Paul actually met the Lord Jesus, that He did see the Lord is clear, and the special direct revelation of the gospel that Gal. 1 refers to can indicate personal instruction.
In any case, as Paul states by the Spirit of Christ, "in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing." (2 Corinthians 12:11)
You cannot even diminish the rebuke of Balaam's donkey (Num. 22:28-30) because of the instrument that spoke it. And there is no real conflict between the gospels and Paul, and in fact the epistles work to explicate the Lord's sayings and provide consequently details and theology behind the gospels. Without the epistles we would not even have much light on ecclesiology, which Rome much depends upon even if she substantially reinvents aspects of it.
A sound basic (if not strict) description is that the OT is the Preparation (for Christ), the gospels are the Presentation (of Christ and His truths), the books of Acts is the Proclamation (of Christ's message), and the epistles are the Explanation (of Christs message and its details), while the books of Revelation is the Consummation. To God be the glory.
You almost sound like a Roman Catholic mole in Protestant church clothes.
When you write, “Of course salvation is solely on the basis of the atonement of Christ. The Catholic Church, in fact, has condemned Pelagianism (salvation by works) as well as the variation called semi-Pelagianism,” you seem to do a good job of glossing over the glaring theological differences that exist between Roman Catholic soteriology and that of the Protestant Reformation.
If you believe all that, why was there any need for a Protestant Reformation — and why was Luther not welcomed by Rome as a hero?
Actually, most Catholics are very concerned about the things that Mary accomplished, as well as her intercession for them. (I know: I used to share that concern.) Go to Lourdes, if you want a full taste of it, as I did in the days of my Catholic youth.
You must not have read many threads: There are many vicious, uppity, uncharitable attacks on Protestants by Roman Catholics on this board.
I do not look down my nose at Catholics: I remember where I came from. However, I am honest enough to know that most of them are not saved. I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and taught by nuns. Nowhere was I ever taught the Gospel as St. Paul presents it in Romans Four — or all of Romans for that matter. In fact, I always envied the confidence my Protestant friends and neighbors enjoyed in their salvation.
Frankly, whether or not you “have a problem” with the Catholic view of the referenced passage in John Chapter 3 is beside the point. The issue is: Does what was presented in the original post on this passage represent sound exegesis of the biblical text? Methinks that it rather does not.
Considering converting to Romanism, by any chance? We do not need folks muddying the waters, as you appear to be doing rather skillfully. Not everyone has these things down, yet. You run the risk of leading others astray with your easy talk.
True... it ABSOLUTELY supports it!!!
If you can find Anything in here that is NOT 'belief'; then please, Please, PLEASE!!!! show it!
SOMEone's definition of MEET is a bit lacking.
Really? You think that Saul, being a Pharisee of the Pharisees, who lived at the time of Jesus, didn't have knowledge of who Jesus was or that the possibility exists that SAUL actually did meet Jesus before He was crucified?
If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say it was pretty likely Saul DID meet Jesus at some time before He was crucified.
I'd lay money on the fact that Saul did know of Him, if not had at least seen Him.
Course, there's no way of knowing if that was the case until we die, but I would not be surprised.
Well, if having a conversation with someone and having them introduce themselves to you isn't *meeting* them, I don't know what is.
Perhaps it depends on what the meaning of *meet* is, eh?
Acts 9:1-6 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? And he said, Who are you, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.
I equate it with being a member of a team (seeing how this is football season). If the coach tells you to learn the plays or get in condition or be at practice and you never do these things, then are you really on the team.
If Christ tells us to do certain things and we don’t do them, were we ever really on the team.
I agree you just can say I’m saved and then go on your merry little way. There should be some outward evidence of an inward conversion.
However, none of those things I do saves me. Salvation is from Christ and Christ alone. Nothing we can do to add to that.
I do find it interesting though that when I ask my Catholic friends how do they identify their religious affiliation they usually respond as Catholic....not Christian. It’s almost as if Catholicism trumps Christianity. It might be a semantic thing.