About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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Revisiting John 3:16


John 3:16 is probably the most well known verse in the Bible, but there might be more to it than you think. 


"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."


If you think Jesus said that whoever believes, as in, gives mental assent or acknowledgement to His existence will not perish but have everlasting life, I believe you misunderstand Him, and here is why.    


Our English verb "believes" in John 3:16 is translated from the Greek present participle "pisteuo," which is the participle form of the Greek noun "pistis."  The simple definition of pistis is trust.  When pistis is used as a present Greek participle, it accentuates one being a trusting one, not just one doing the act of trusting.  It places the emphasis on being, not doing.  If I can say it this way, you trust your life with Jesus because you have become a trusting-in-Jesus person.  Trusting Jesus is more than an act of trusting.  It is who you are.  It's your very nature.               


This present participle stresses who a person is in present time, not just what he does or what he believes in his mind.  I am not splitting grammatical hairs.  There is a distinct difference between doing something and being that which you do.  For example, a licensed auto mechanic fixes cars because that is who he is.  He is an auto mechanic.  On the other hand, not everyone who fixes a car is a licensed auto mechanic.  It is just something some do as a hobby.  To whom would you trust your car?  Maybe you'd agree with me.  You would rather trust your car with a certified auto mechanic than a neighbour who attempts to fix his car from time to time.   Being is distinctly different than doing.          


John 3:16 means this.  Anyone, by virtue of becoming a born again (John 3:1 - 5), newly created (2 Corinthians 5:17), present-day, trusting-in-Jesus one, will not perish but have everlasting life.  You become this trusting-in-Jesus one, a believer, when the Holy Spirit enters your life and creates you into someone you have never been.  Believing in Jesus becomes something more than an action you do.  You believe because you are a believer.    


There is more to salvation than just believing in your mind that Jesus exists.  One is saved when he becomes a believer, a new creation, a born-again-of-the-Spirit of God person who by virtue of his new nature becomes a trusting-in-Jesus one.  Mental acknowledgement of Jesus, as important as that is, saves no one.  If you get John 3:16 wrong, you will get salvation wrong, and that jeopardizes your eternal destiny.   


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