July 25, 2013
Solid foundation Ministries exists to do two things. The first is to help Christians build solid foundations. The second is to warn of dangers in the modern religious climate. Too many preachers, pastors, evangelists, etc., just go with the flow. They don’t want to rock the boat. They want to be accepted among the brethren.
The easiest way to get into trouble with the brethren in “Bible believing” circles is to compare the Scriptures with what we are doing today and to come down on the side of the Scriptures. A recent article I wrote entitled “Love In Our Soul-winning Presentations” is an example of how some will seek to justify their methods, rather than check things out to see if they need to change something.
I was talking to One pastor, who had not read the article, about this subject. His immediate response was something like “Jesus is the one who spoke John 3:16.” This is true, but is John 3:16 part of a soul-winning presentation? I think that if we look at it in its context we will find that it is not. It is the explanation of how one is save to a man who already believed.
John Chapter 2 is part of the context which needs to be understood if we are to see what is happening in John Chapter 3. John 2:1-11 tell of the first miracle performed by Jesus at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. John 2:12-13 tell us that Jesus and his family went to Capernaum after the weddin and then Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover. In John 2:14-17 He cleans the temple of the those who had turned the temple of God into a house of merchandise.
By this time He had the attention of the religious leaders of the Jews. They challenge His authority and asked for a sign in John 2:18, and He gives the sign of His resurrection in John 2:19-22
John 2:23 is an important verse in our understanding of chapter 3. It says that, at the feast of the Passover, many believed because of the “miracles which He did.” We are not told what these miracles were, but we can be sure that, after the incident in the temple, the religious leaders were watching Him very closely. Some of them saw the miracles and were, undoubtedly, moved by them.
This brings us to chapter 3. Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews, and therefore knew of all of this. He may have even been one of those assigned to watch Jesus. One thing is sure, he was well aware of the miracles and he knew that Jesus could not do them without God being with Him. The fact that he came to Jesus shows that something more than idle curiosity moved him.
We know from John 7:50 and John 19:39, that he was saved. John Chapter 3 makes no mention of his being saved at that time. When did Nicodemus believe? I submit that it is not only possible that it was in chapter 2, verse 23 where many believed because of the miracles, but that it is probable that this is when he believed. What evidence to we have to this? What did he say to Jesus when he came to Him? “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.”
Whether or not Nicodemus was saved before chapter 3, it is certain that there was some kind of conviction that Jesus was of God. Jesus knew his heart and what he really was there for. His answer was an explanation of how one is saved. Nicodemus did not understand at first and Jesus had to explain the new birth.
When Nicodemus asked, “How can these things be?” Jesus rebuked him for being a “master of Israel” and not knowing these things. The issue here is not believing unto salvation, it is about believing, or understanding, heavenly things. This should not be hard to understand because we understand that it takes new Christians some time to grow before they can digest the meat of the things of God.
Jesus explains that the lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness was a prophetic picture of Messiah (Christ) being lifted up on the cross. Those who, in faith, looked upon the serpent were saved from their illness, and those who look, in faith, upon the One on the Cross, the Lord Jesus Christ, will be saved from the illness of sin (John 3:14).
In John 3:15 Jesus explains that it is the believing in Him, the Messiah, that brings eternal life. In John 3:16 He explains that God sent His Son because He loves the world. This love is not given as the reason we should come to Christ, but as the reason that God made salvation available to mankind.
The rest of this passage (John 3:17-21) explains that God sent His Son not to condemn, but to save and that those who do not believe are already condemned because there deeds are evil. Why are they condemned? Because the light, Jesus Christ, is come into the world and they refuse to come to the light because they prefer their evil deeds.
John 3:1-21 is not a soul-winning presentation. It is an explanation of what takes place when one is saved.
It does explain how the new birth is received, and as such, may be used as part of a soul-winning presentation. First there must be conviction of sin and a repentant heart. Then showing God’s love may be just what is needed by the Holy Spirit to move the candidate to receive the free gift of salvation. On the other hand, it may not be needed as is seen in Peter’s message in Acts 2:14-36 and in Paul’s message in Acts 17:22-31.
The point of my article “Love In Our Soul-winning Presentations” and of this article is not to say that love cannot be used in soul-winning. It is to say that love should not be the main emphasis in soul-winning. When the love of God for each of us is used as the main motivation for coming to Christ for salvation, we downplay, or even eliminate, the importance of conviction of sin and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).
My purpose in spending this time explaining John 3:16 in its context is to show that this verse does not negate the fact that our over emphasis on God’s love in our soul-winning is wrong. It was also to show how quick people are to try to find justification for what they do.
I could have used many other illustrations to make my point. When we deal with issues such as biblical separation, godly music, modest dress, a woman’s place in the plan of God, biblical evangelism, or many other subjects, we find people twisting Scripture or biblical precept to justify their error.
God has always raised up men to warn His people of their error. They are called prophets. This is the only gift that is mentioned in all of the New Testament lists of spiritual gifts. This gift is often said to have ceased because there is no new revelation coming from God. A prophet’s main ministry has always been that of warning God’s people, not foretelling the future or giving new revelation. The predictive and new revelation aspects of a prophet’s ministry ceased with the completion of Scripture. The warning aspect is still needed to maintain purity in God’s churches. When God sends a prophet to warn, it is wise to listen.
The whole purpose of Solid Foundation Ministries is to get us back to the foundation of God’s Word. As Americans, we are very pragmatic. If it works, we do it. Pragmatism is not God’s way, righteousness is. Righteousness is dong things God’s way. It is not twisting some Bible verse or Bible principle so that it gets results.
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