Live Forever in the Light of the Lord!
Live Forever in the Light of the Lord!
The Gospel of John
John 3:17-21 (Reading vs. 14-21)
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 29, 2016
(Revised July 13, 2019)
*Tonight in John 3, we will finish the crucial conversation that began when Nicodemus the Pharisee went to see Jesus by night. The Lord explained to Nicodemus that we must be born again spiritually in order to have everlasting life in the Kingdom of God. Our main focus tonight will be on vs. 17-21, but for context we'll begin reading at vs. 14.
*For background, remember that in vs. 14-15, Jesus said:
14. . . "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
15. that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
*Nicodemus was very familiar with the Lord's comparison in vs. 14. This Old Testament story is found in Numbers 21:4-9. There God's Word is talking about Moses and the Children of Israel. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, it was almost time for God's people to go into the Promised Land. But they were still mumbling and grumbling against both Moses and God.
*Listen to what happened in Numbers 21:4-9:
4. Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way.
5. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.''
6. So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.
7. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.'' So Moses prayed for the people.
8. Then the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.''
9. So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
*Look and live! That was the only hope for the Children of Israel who had been bitten by those fiery serpents. And it's the only hope for people today!
*Fourteen hundred years before Jesus was born, God gave an Old Testament picture of what Christ was going to do on the cross for us. The holy, holy, holy Son of God was going to become like a hated, dead snake on a pole for our sins. That why in vs. 14, Jesus said: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up."
*With this background in mind, let's read vs. 14-21, and as we read please think about living forever in the light of the Lord.
*Take a moment to think about our sun. We tend to take it for granted, because it's up there in the sky every day. But our local star really is amazing. It's 93 million miles away, and 864,000 miles across. About one million earths could fit inside! That boggles my mind. And the sun is hot. At the core of the sun the temperature is 28,799,540 degrees Fahrenheit! (1)
*Without the heat and light of the sun, life as we know it could not exist on the earth. The sun is essential. But the real Light of the world infinitely more essential. The sun is amazing. But the real Light of the world infinitely more amazing, because Jesus Christ is the Light of the world!
*God wants everybody to live forever in the light of the Lord. And tonight's Scripture shines God's light on some vital things we need to see.
1. THE FIRST IS GOD'S RICH SALVATION.
*And we can see it in vs. 17, where Jesus said, "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him MIGHT BE SAVED."
*Thank God that the Father didn't send His Son here to condemn us! It surely would have been a whole lot easier for Him. And we surely did deserve His condemnation! But out of God's great love, the Father was willing to sacrifice His only begotten Son on the cross for our sins, and the Son was willing to take the punishment for our sins on the cross.
*Hebrews 9:24-28 gives us great news about the Lord's sacrifice for our sins:
24. . . Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
25. not that He should offer Himself often, as the (Old Testament) high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another
26. He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
27. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
28. so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
*Hebrews 7:24-27 also says this about Jesus our risen Savior:
24. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.
25. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them.
26. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;
27. who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
*Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for our salvation. That's why here in John 3:17, Jesus could say: "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
*And Christians: Our salvation is secure! We can see this truth in the first part of vs. 18. Here Jesus was talking about himself in the third person, and the Lord said: "He that believeth on Him is not condemned!"
*In other words: He who believes in Jesus is not condemned today, tomorrow or forever! That is absolute security! There is no condemnation in Christ! As Romans 8:1 says: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."
*Christians: There is no condemnation in Christ! This is true when you lay down tonight, and when you get up in the morning. Next week, next year, for as long as you are in this world, you are not condemned! And when you leave this world, you are not condemned because you have trusted in the Savior who died for you. You are not condemned, because the Lord said, "He that believeth on Him is not condemned!"
*Watchman Nee told a great story about a new Christian who came to see him. The man was in deep distress, and said, "No matter how much I pray. No matter how hard I try. I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my Lord. I think I'm losing my salvation!"
*Then Pastor Nee wisely told him, "Do you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house-trained. He never makes a mess. He is obedient. He is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen I have a son, a baby son. He makes a mess. He throws his food around. He fouls his clothes. He is a total mess. But who is going to inherit my kingdom? -- Not my dog. My son is my heir." (2)
*And believers, the Bible tells us that we are the children of God! As 1 John 3:2 says: "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
*On top of that, Romans 8 says:
16. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17. and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. . .
*We are joint heirs with Jesus, and God is our Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. That's our salvation!
2. AND GOD WANTS US TO SEE HIS RICH SALVATION. HE ALSO WANTS US TO SEE HIS RIGHTEOUS CONDEMNATION.
*God Himself is the holy, righteous Judge of all. And without Jesus, we are all guilty before Him. If we have never trusted in the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for our sins, if we have never received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are under God's righteous, eternal condemnation.
*The Lord gives us this certain truth in the last part of vs. 18, but I'll read the whole verse again. Speaking of Himself, Jesus said, "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not IS CONDEMNED ALREADY, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
*This verse shows us how desperate people are without Jesus. They are condemned by God. They are condemned already. They are condemned by their own sins. And there is absolutely no hope of escape for them, except by believing in our risen Savior Jesus Christ.
*It's sometimes hard for Christians to face up to the reality that people are hopelessly lost without Jesus. People we know and love, people we've never met, and people who have never heard the good news about Jesus are hopelessly lost without the Lord.
*We may be tempted to think that somehow they will be okay without Jesus. But the Bible is very clear on this matter. Here Jesus said, "He who does not believe is condemned already. . ." And why? -- Because they have "not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
*No one is good enough to go to heaven without Jesus. Romans 3:10-20 makes this truth as clear as can be:
10. As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one;
11. there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.
12. They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.''
13. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit''; "The poison of asps is under their lips'';
14. Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.''
15. Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16. destruction and misery are in their ways;
17. and the way of peace they have not known.''
18. There is no fear of God before their eyes.''
19. Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
*This is why Jesus gave us the Great Commission before He we back home to Heaven. In Matthew 28:18-20:
18. . .Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
*But you see, if people could be saved without Jesus, then the Great Commission would be: "Shhhh! -- Don't tell anybody about Jesus, because then they will have to choose whether or not to receive Him as Lord and Savior."
*In Ephesians 2, Paul spoke to those Gentile Christians about their spiritual state before they trusted in the Lord. And in vs. 12-13, Paul said:
12. . . At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ.
*Then in vs. 18-19, Paul said:
18. For through Him (i.e. through Jesus) we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.
19. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
*The Christians in Ephesus were hopelessly lost before they trusted in Jesus, and there are untold millions just as lost in our world today. "He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
3. GOD WANTS US TO SEE HIS RIGHTEOUS CONDEMNATION. HE ALSO WANTS US TO SEE MAN'S REVOLTING DETERMINATION.
*We can see this evil determination in vs. in 19-20, where Jesus said:
19. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
*Verse 18 shows us how desperate people are without Jesus, but vs. 19-20 show us how despicable people can be toward Jesus. There are many people in the world today who actually love the darkness, and hate the Light. They love their sin, and hate the Savior.
*Here Jesus was specifically talking about people like the warped, misguided, Pharisee companions of Nicodemus. They had the Light of Jesus Christ shining brightly in their midst, but they refused to see it.
*That same crowd is hanging around everywhere today. You may not know any of them personally, but you have probably seen their work on TV. It's a radical anti-Christ crowd that rejects the Bible because it condemns the things they want to approve.
*These stubborn people in vs. 19-20 shut up their hearts and minds, because they hate the Light, and they don't want any of God's light coming in.
*But if you know somebody like that, don't give up on them! For a long time, the Apostle Paul was one of the Light-haters. In fact, Paul was one of the ringleaders in that Christ-hating group of Pharisees. Acts 8:3 says: "As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison."
*And in Acts 26:9-11, Paul said:
9. "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
10. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.
11. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities."
*I am so thankful that the Lord didn't give up on Paul! And I am so thankful that He didn't give up on me!
4. BUT GOD WANTS US TO SEE MAN'S REVOLTING DETERMINATION. HE ALSO WANTS US TO SEE HIS ROYAL TRANSFORMATION.
*And in vs. 21 we can see the transformation begin to take place. Jesus said: "But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."
*In John 8:12, Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'' And Jesus will always be the supreme, life-giving Light of the world. But who starts moving toward the Light? Who comes to the Light? Who is drawn to the Light? These are the ideas behind that phrase "cometh to the light" in vs. 21. (3)
*Jesus gave us the answer in John 6:44, where He said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." And in John 12:32, Jesus said: "If I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.''
*Christians, we came to the light of the Lord, because God Himself was drawing us to Him. Like plants are drawn to the sun, people come to the Lord, because He is drawing them with His great Light.
*We also must notice that Jesus didn't say, "He who does good comes to the Light." That's because even the best people in the world aren't good enough to deserve Heaven. And that's why in Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul tells Christians that "by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
*Jesus didn't say, "He who does good comes to the Light." He said, "He who does THE TRUTH comes to the Light." The Lord was talking about people who are honestly open to the truth. He was talking about people who are willing to receive the truth when they hear it, and John 14:6 tells us that Jesus is the truth!
*Again, vs. 21 says: "He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." William McDonald explained it this way: "If a man is truly honest before God, he will come to the light, that is, he will come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and realize his own worthlessness and sinfulness. Then he will trust in the Savior for himself, and thus be born again through faith in Christ." (4)
*So, we receive the Light, and then we begin to walk in the Light. We begin to follow the leadership and guidance of the Lord. And when we do, our lives begin to shine with good works. But all the glory goes to God, because He drew us to the Light, and He is ever working in our lives. As Paul said in Philippians 2:13: "It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."
*All the glory goes to God. But we get to share in the satisfaction, knowing that our life in the Light with Jesus is the best life anyone can ever have! Also knowing that the best is yet to be forever and ever in Heaven!
*What a difference it makes when we live in the light of the Lord! Lost people can't see Jesus, but Christians, we do see Him in the spiritual light, because Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. And Hebrews 2:9 tells believers, "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone."
*We see Jesus! But what does He look like? He looks like our big brother, for John 1:12 says, "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name."
*And Jesus looks like our best friend, for in John 15:13, Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." That's what Jesus did when He died on the cross for our sins.
*When we come to the light, Jesus also looks like our Savior, for in Luke 19:10, Jesus said He had come "to seek and to save that which was lost.'' And He looks like our Lord and God, for that's what Thomas rightly called Jesus in John 20:28.
*Come to the Light of the world! Come to Jesus Christ today, and start living in the light of the Lord.
(1) Adapted from:
(2) Sermonillustrations.com - Topic: Security
(3) WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT by Archibald Thomas (A. T.) Robertson - Published in 1930-1933 - John 3:21
(4) BELIEVER'S BIBLE COMMENTARY by William McDonald - Edited by Arthur Farstad - Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Copyright 1995, 1992, 1990, 1989 - John 3:1-21 - "Jesus Teaches Nicodemus About the New Birth"