John 3:16 Re-Examined

By Rand Winburn

I wish to re-examine John chapter 3, the purpose of which is to prove - not with one verse, but with an entire chapter - that salvation is the gracious work of God given to the Elect alone because He willed to do so…..not because we willed Him to do so. In this chapter the 5 Points of Calvinism are taught, which I will reveal to you.

   NOTE: The 5 POINTS are known as TULIP:

          Total Depravity of man who does not will to follow Christ

          Unconditional Election of certain men by God the Father

          Limited Atonement by the Son only on behalf of the Elect

          Irresistible saving Grace given by the Holy Spirit to the Elect

          Perseverance of the Elect in following Christ to the end

Let us begin with John 2:23-25. I do so because the book of John was not originally divided into chapters or verses. They were added hundreds of years later. Please note that Jesus did not trust (commit to) man because He knew what was in man. This is an extremely negative statement teaching man's Total Depravity; i.e., original sin nature inclined to evil.

Nicodemus came by cover of night to learn from Christ. He did so for fear of being ostracized by his peers. Pride was also a factor. He was supposed to 'know it all' as the master of Israel. To admit that he did not 'know it all' was an admission he did not wish to make publicly. Common sense told Nicodemus that Jesus was no kook. God was with Him (not against Him) as evidenced by His miracles.

Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

This verse also teaches the Total Depravity of man. He is born in original sin, blind to the things of God. He must be regenerated. Just as the Roman Catholic Church denies Calvinism, Nicodemus denies the possibility of another birth. Jesus sets him straight.

Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Cleansing by water, as in baptism or washing of hands, is not sufficient. Nor is the fleshly birth of an infant who exits the womb through water sufficient. A spiritual birth is necessary to enter the kingdom of God. That spiritual birth is the sovereign gracious work of God alone.

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and wither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.

Did you know that the Greek word translated here as wind is the exact same word also translated as spirit? [Greek: pneuma] Thus, we may also translate this passage as:

The Spirit goes where and to whom He wills…..

Jesus is teaching the sovereign grace of God in salvation of the Elect. In this we have the Unconditional Election of certain men chosen for salvation before the foundation of earth according to the will of God -- not the will of man. Just as the wind does not blow where man tells it to, the Spirit does not follow the commands of men. He blows/regenerates only those chosen/elected before time. The Spirit regenerates only those for whom Christ died, (Limited Atonement). Those who remain unregenerate do so because they were not chosen, nor did Christ shed His blood for them. Those who reject Christ do so because they will to do so. Those who join Christ do so because God willed them to do so.

Just as the wind cannot be resisted by man, neither can the Spirit be resisted, (Irresistible Grace). Man in original sin does his best to oppose and resist the true God. Yet out of love for His Elect, God's merciful will for their salvation supercedes their evil will. The Elect cannot resist God's will anymore than an infant can resist God's will in their first fleshly birth. An infant has no will to fight childbirth. An infant did not ask to be born. Neither does an Elect sinner have a will to fight the saving grace of God. Neither does an Elect sinner first ask God to choose and save him. There is no contest in the contest of the wills. God wins every time :o)

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