Sermon Details




Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36)

Please turn in your Bible to John 3.  There are just 6 verses before us today, and I am grateful for the privilege of presenting them to you.  What we have here gets to the heart of who Jesus is and why faith in him matters for every one of us.

If you have been a believer for many years, these verses are for you.  They will remind you of the supreme value of your Savior and bring you joy as you see again all that is yours in him.

If you are new to the church, looking at faith, or perhaps returning to faith, these verses are for you.  They will show you what faith in Jesus Christ means, and how what he offers can be yours today.

If you have been brought up in the church, and you are here because of habit, or because your parents didn’t give you the option to stay at home, these verses are for you.  They will show you what is at stake in the decision you are making, even now at this point in your life, in regard to Jesus Christ.

I want to present what is here in these verses under two headings: First, what we learn about Jesus.  Second, how we respond to Jesus.

7 Things You Need to Know About Jesus

What We Learn about Jesus

1. Jesus came from above.

He who comes from above is above all.  He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way.  He who comes from heaven is above all. (John 3:31)

This immediately distinguishes Jesus from all of us.  We are “of the earth.”  We “belong to the earth.”  This is our home.  But Jesus came from above.  That is, he did not originate from the human line of descent as all of us do.  He came into the human line of descent when he came to us from heaven.

Your life began when you were conceived in the womb of your mother.  But that was not true of Jesus.  Before he was ever conceived in the womb of the virgin, Mary, he shared the life of God in heaven.

2. Jesus gave testimony as a witness.

He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. (John 3:32)

We live in a culture that is constantly telling us that everything is a matter of opinion: “We all have our own opinions and it is arrogant to claim that one opinion is better or more valid than another.”

But there is another category that we all recognize, besides opinion, that functions in a different way from opinion, and that is testimony.  In a court of law, a witness speaks of what he has seen and heard.  The role of the witness is not to try the case – that belongs to the judge or jury.  The role of the witness is to testify to what he has seen or heard.

That is exactly the way in which Jesus Christ is described here: “He bears witness to what he has seen and heard” (as the one who comes from heaven).  The teaching of Jesus is not an opinion to be considered; it is a testimony to be believed.  Jesus Christ did not come into the world to bring a theory for us to evaluate.  Christ came from heaven to tell us about his own home, and when he spoke, it was from his own experience.

3. Jesus was sent by the Father.

For he whom God has sent… (John 3:34)

This, of course, is the great evidence of the Father’s love for every one of us.  How could you know today that God loves you?  Certainly, you would not be able to deduce that by looking at the world.  This world is in rebellion against God and deeply scarred by the presence and power of evil.

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16).  That is how you know the love of God, you see it in Christ.  You see it in the fact that he came, and that when he came, he did not come to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.

4. Jesus speaks the words of God.

For he whom God has sent utters the words of God. (John 3:34)

Christ came to us from the Father.  The works that he did are the works of the Father, and the words that he spoke are the words of the Father.  Jesus said to Thomas: “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).  He whom God has sent utters the words of God.  Jesus Christ is God with us, and you can have full confidence in him!

5. Jesus has the Spirit without measure.

For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. (John 3:34)

Does this mean that God gives the Spirit without measure to Jesus or that Jesus gives the Spirit without measure to us?  Surely it must be the first.  Christ is the one who has the Spirit, that is the Holy Spirit, without measure – the third person of the Trinity.

You can be absolutely sure that whenever you come to him in your need, you will never find that he has run out!  There will never be a time when you come to Jesus and he says, “I am sorry there has been a run of people asking forgiveness and I am cleaned out for now.”  That’s never going to happen!  You will never come to him for strength and hear him say, “There are a lot of people asking for that one recently and my supplies are a bit low!” No.  He has the Spirit without measure!

6. Jesus is loved by the Father.

The Father loves the Son… (John 3:35)
What a marvelous truth this is!  There may be times in your life when you are no longer sure of God’s love for you.  This happens for a Christian, especially when we have a heightened awareness of our own sins.  You will know what it is like to say from time-to-time: “How can God possibly love me when I mess up like this?”

How do you answer that question?  You say, “I may not be sure of God’s love for me, but I know that the Father loves the Son.  And if I am in Christ, the Father’s love reaches me, even here in my failure.”

7. Jesus holds all things in his hands.

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. (John 3:35)

What a marvelous truth this is for every Christian believer.  Everything that concerns you today is in the hand of Jesus – your joys, your sorrows, your work, your home, your friends, your loved ones, your life, your death, and your eternity.  What this means is that nothing can touch you, unless it has first passed through the hands of the Son of God, who loved you and gave himself for you.

No wonder we worship and adore Jesus.  He came from above.  He gave testimony as a witness.  He was sent by the Father.  He spoke the words of God.  He has the Spirit without measure.  He is loved by the Father.  He holds all things in His hands.

There is no one else who has ever lived about whom these seven things could be said.  This is the glory and wonder of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 Observations about Faith

How We Respond to Jesus

1. The simplicity of faith

Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. (John 3:33
Faith, at its root, is believing the testimony of Jesus.  He has come from heaven.  He tells us what he has seen and heard.  And faith simply believes the testimony of Jesus.

Other things grow from this root.  Love for Jesus grows from the root of believing what he says.  Hope in Jesus grows from believing what he says.  Obedience to Christ grows from believing what he says.  Strength and courage will come to you as you believe what he says.  Joy in Christ grows from believing what he says.  But faith, at its root, is very simple: It is believing the testimony of Jesus, receiving all that he says.

Some people have the idea that faith is a very difficult and complex business, and that it involves a long journey.  Some people are convinced in their mind that faith is much easier for some people than it is for others.

If you are a believer, you have probably heard people say, “Oh, I think it is a marvelous thing that you have faith.  I don’t think I could ever have faith.”

Maybe you have said something like this yourself: “Oh, I sometimes wish I could have faith like these other people, but I just can’t believe.”  As if some people were born with a genetic disposition in that direction.  As if some have a capacity for faith that others just don’t get.

I want you to see the simplicity of what God calls us to today: God has sent his Son into the world.  His Son, Jesus Christ bears witness to what he has seen and heard, and God calls you to believe his testimony.

When you believe the testimony of Jesus you honor and glorify God: “Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true” (John 3:33).  When you believe the testimony of Jesus, you are saying, “I don’t think for one moment that God is a liar.  I do not think that Jesus is misleading me when he tells me what he has seen and heard.”

Believing the testimony of Jesus honors and glorifies God, and here is why: The opposite of belief is not unbelief; the opposite of belief is defiance.  Belief responds to God by saying,

“I have heard what you have said and I accept it!”  But unbelief says to God, “I have heard what you have said and I do not accept it.”

This is the reason why the distinction between opinion and testimony is so important.  If we were to discuss who is the greatest classical composer of all time, we would have different opinions, valid opinions, because we each have different tastes and different backgrounds.

For example, many Russians would say Tchaikovsky, some French would say Debussy, some Hungarians would say Liszt, many Germans would say Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Handel, Mendelssohn or Wagner (plenty of choice there!), the Brits might say Elgar, and here in America we might go for Gershwin (at least that would be my opinion!).

We could have a discussion about this.  I might say, “I think Gershwin is the greatest ever American composer.”  And you might say, “I absolutely disagree with you, Colin.  I can’t accept that.  Aaron Copland is far better.”  The joy and freedom of that is mature people ought to be able to share opinions without offense.

But suppose you ask me about the city of Edinburgh.  Let’s assume you have never been there, but you have heard that I was born and raised there.  Suppose you ask me about the city and I say to you: “The main street has shops along one side and gardens on the other.  And towering over the main street and the city is a castle set on a rock.  And at one o’clock every day, except Sundays and Christmas Day and Good Friday, a volunteer from the royal artillery fires a single shot from a gun to mark the time.”

Suppose you say, “I don’t believe a word of it.”  I would say, “Look, I am telling you what I have seen and heard!  I have seen the gardens.  I have heard the gun.  I’m telling you what I’ve seen and heard!”

Or suppose you were to tell me about your hometown, where I have never been.  If you were to tell me what you have seen and heard and I did not believe you, then you are going to be offended.  Why?  Because I would be calling you a liar.  I would offend you, insult you, and impugn your character.

That’s how it is if we refuse to believe what Jesus has seen and heard.  He has come from above, from the place none of us has been.  To disbelieve his testimony is to call God a liar.  It is to impugn his character, and nobody wants to be in that position with Almighty God!  Calvin says, “We cannot offer a bigger insult to God than not to believe his Gospel.” [1]

So the opposite of belief to the testimony God has given in Jesus is not unbelief, but defiance.

It is to set yourself against God and refuse the grace he offers to you in Christ.  This is surely the reason why, in verse 36, we read: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).

2. The urgency of faith

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36)

Let’s take the second part of the verse first: “Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).

In the light of this verse…

It cannot be the case that love and compassion are all that can be known from God.

It is the opinion of some that a God who gets angry with sinners is an outdated idea that belongs back in the Old Testament.  That is the opinion of some.  No one can testify to it.  But here it is right in front of us in the fourth gospel – the wrath of God!

In the light of this verse…

It cannot be the case that all will be well with all people in the end.

If anyone does not obey the Son, he will not see life.  There is no room here for the opinion of some who say, “Jesus came into the world, everyone will go to heaven in the end.”  Whoever does not believe in the Son will not see life!

In the light of this verse…

It cannot possibly be the case that death is the end of a person’s existence.

You cannot testify to this.  None of us has been there.  “Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36)It is already present, and hanging over a person.  Apart from faith in Jesus, it remains.

Many of you are in business and you are familiar with the value of doing a SWOT analysis:

  • What are our Strengths?
  • What are our Weaknesses?
  • What are our Opportunities?
  • What are our Threats?

That last question is really important in the business world.  What is out there that could potentially “blow us out of the water?”

If we were to do a SWOT analysis of a human life, what would be the ultimate threat that a person in this world could face that might blow them out of the water (so to speak)?

  • Money – losing your job, your business, or your investments
  • Health – a heart attack, a stroke, or cancer
  • Relationships – losing the presence of someone you love

All of these may be threats indeed, but if we take what is before us in these verses seriously, we have to say that to “remain under the wrath of God” is the greatest threat that could ever hang over any human life.

What can be done about this ultimate threat that hangs over every human life?  Jesus Christ came into the world to deal with this ultimate threat, and here is how he did it.  When Jesus died on the cross, he bore the divine wrath on behalf of sinners.  And this is the great outpouring of the love of God.  “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

A lot of people get stuck at this point.  If God really wants to show that he loves me, why doesn’t he give me what I really want like a cure for cancer?  How does Jesus dying on the cross show that God loves me?

Imagine a couple sitting in a car on a moonlit night near Niagara Falls.  He puts his arm around her shoulder leans over and whispers in her ear, “I love you.”

She looks up at him and says, “Do you?  I sometimes wonder.”

“All right,” he says, “I’ll prove it.  No sacrifice is too great for me.”  So he gets out of the car and goes to the edge of the falls.  With one huge leap, he throws himself over the edge and, as he falls down into the abyss, he screams out, “I love youuuuu…”

It is an unforgettable experience for this girl!  But it is not a demonstration of love; it is a demonstration of stupidity!  Why?  Because it accomplishes nothing whatsoever for the girl.

The only way in which the death of Jesus can be a demonstration of the love of God for us is if it achieves something for us.  And this is what the death of Christ achieves: He deals with the greatest threat to human life on the cross.  Christian brother, sister, the wrath of God burned itself out as far as you are concerned when Jesus bore it on the cross for you.

Jesus Christ has dealt with the greatest threat, the greatest danger, the greatest liability you will ever face.  He did it at unfathomable cost to himself.  And he did it in love for you.

When you are in Christ, you cannot possibly face the wrath of God, because he has absorbed it in himself on your behalf.  One day you will stand in the presence of God, and when you do, you will have no reason to fear the wrath.  Why?  Because your savior absorbed the wrath in himself and now it can never, never, never touch you.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).  That is the urgency of faith, and it’s found in Jesus Christ, so don’t stand at a distance from him.

3. The opportunity of faith

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. (John 3:36)

The simplicity of faith means that it is possible for any person, no matter how far you are from Jesus Christ, to believe in him today.  The urgency of faith means that you must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, not just sit there and observe these things, and there is no better time to do that than today.  So today is a great day of opportunity.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life!  That could be you today!

I love that word ‘whoever.’ Whoever believes in the Son of God has eternal life! There is enough grace in Jesus Christ to deliver every person on every campus of this congregation today from the wrath. And that is not just true of us. It is true of every person you will ever meet. That is why every Christian has good news for others. There is no person on the planet who could not be saved from the wrath and brought into eternal life by Jesus Christ. And what does he call you to do? Believe!

What does he promise to those who believe? “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life!”  I love the word ‘has.’ It is not ‘might have,’ as if it were in doubt.  It is not ‘will have,’ as if it were a long way off.  “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life!”  The full joy of this life belongs to the future when you will be in the presence of Jesus, but the good of it can begin for you now.

A person who walked into church today, not even aware that you were under the wrath of God, could walk out today knowing that you have eternal life!  Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ today!  Deal today with the greatest threat and seize the greatest of opportunities!


[1] John Calvin, John, p. 74, Crossway, 1994.


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