For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.…
I. SALVATION IS BY THE GIFT OF CHRIST.
1. Christ came not to condemn the world.
(1) Condemnation might have been expected —
(a) From the condition of the world, without desire or effort for deliverance and rebellious against God.
(b) From the errands of other messengers sent in vengeance.
(c) From God's foreknowledge of the way in which Christ would be received.
(2) But God's ways are not ours. Had God's design been no more than not to condemn, but merely to neutralize or stay approaching ruin, Christ's mission would have been unspeakably precious.
(3) There are those who limit the effect of Christ's mission to a period of undeserved forbearance, and are blindly satisfied with a temporary, unenduring good.
2. Christ came that the world through Him might be saved. The nature of this salvation is —
(1) Atonement for sin.
(2) The bringing in of an everlasting righteousness.
(3) Exaltation to glory.
II. THE WAY IN WHICH MEN BECOME PARTAKERS OF THIS SALVATION.
1. Some men regard the world as saved, contrary to Scripture and universal experience.
2. Others regard God as disappointed in His great design. Not so. God has provided the salvation; man must voluntarily partake of it. How?
1. The glory must be given to God because —
(1) The remote and originating cause is the Father's love.
(2) The meritorious cause, Christ's redeeming work.
(3) The energetic agency, the Holy Spirit. Thus salvation is through the concurrence and co-operation of the Trinity.
2. But what is the instrumental cause? Faith.
(1) Had God proposed that for righteous deeds He would save us, our case had been hopeless.
(2) So it would had He arranged to place us again under the covenant of works, promising that by the deeds of the law performed in our own strength we should inherit heaven.
(3) Equally so had our salvation been conditioned by a combination of Christ's righteousness and our own.
(4) Or by our originating holy emotions of repentance and love.
(5) Knowing all this, God requires only that we should believe on His Son. This faith is His gift, the medium of Divine life and its active principle when communicated, involving self-renunciation, rational dependence on God, and trust in His grace in Christ.
III. THE REASON WHY MEN PERISH THOUGH SALVATION HAS BEEN PROVIDED.
1. Not because God passes them by or excludes them from life.
2. Not because there is no merit for them in Christ's mediation.
3. Not because the Holy Spirit might have breathed upon them, but has not. But —
4. Because the sinner will not believe. In this duty he fails.
(1) Under the sound of the gospel;
(2) Under the strivings of the Spirit;
(3) And though Christ stretches forth His hand all the day long.
5. Consequently he is condemned already by a double condemnation —
(1) Through his relations and adherence to the first man.
(2) Because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
(A. Beith, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.