Discourses on John 3:1-21


John 3:17

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
This verse seems especially designed to correct the proud conceit of the Jews that the Messiah when he came should raise them to great honour and destroy the Gentile nations. But Jesus appeared with a milder and gracious design, not to condemn, but to save – to save the world – without distinction of Jew or Gentile.
We have spoken of the love of God in sending his Son already – the same subject offers again. And it is a delightful and fruitful subject. Those who understand it and live it are not weary of hearing it, and it is so full and comprehensive that those [who] preach it are not confined to the necessity of saying the same things. Let us consider the clauses in order.
1. It is well we have such assurance of God's design, otherwise to have heard that he was about to send his Son might have raised a just fear that he was coming to condemn, for what else could a world of sinners, expect from a holy God? But where sin has abounded, grace has much more abounded.
But if God sent not his Son to condemn but to save – how is it that so many perish at last? Is the Great God disappointed? We shall have occasion to consider this at large from the following verses. At present:
  1.1 We must necessarily understand the world in a restrained[limited] sense. It is here used as opposed to the single nation of the Jews. Taken at large as including all mankind, we cannot say that Christ came to save them everyone, because if he had they would have certainly been saved. But:
    1.1.1 He came not to condemn the world because as it follows all the world are by nature under a sentence of condemnation already as transgressors of the law.
    1.1.2 He came not (in the days of his flesh) to execute this sentence, but on the contrary to open a door of hope and to show the way of salvation to those who were sitting in the region of the shadow of death.
    1.1.3 He came to make his salvation, [1] his name, grace, power and righteousness infallibly successful to the salvation of many. Matthew 20:28. [2]
  Two things I would remind you of therefore from what has been said:
  1. That the destruction of sinners under the light and preaching of the Gospel is from their own obstinacy and self will. Jesus came not to condemn you – he says why will you die [3] – he says look upon me and be ye saved [4] – if therefore you will perish, after being told of your state, the only remedy, and the consequences of unbelief, your blood will be upon your own heads.
  2. The Lord Jesus will come again and then he will come purposely to condemn the unbelieving world. O that you might be impressed with that awful description – 2 Thessalonians 1:7– 10. [5]
  If you are stirred up to fear then observe:
2. His proper design
That the world through him might be saved. He came into the world to save sinners. See if he has done every thing.
  2.1 Are you guilty?
Jesus has paid a ransom price. He bore our sins in his own body upon the tree. 1 Peter 2:24.
  2.2 Are you still unworthy?
But Jesus has wrought out a righteousness – invested with this robe of salvation – you shall be beautiful in the king's eyes, all glorious within. Isaiah 61:10. [6] As a believer in Jesus his righteousness is yours. He himself shall be your righteousness. Jeremiah 23:5. [7]
  2.3 Are you poor and destitute?
He has all fullness – every grace to communicate – life, peace, strength, wisdom. Do you want faith – or repentance – or power of[over] sin? Jesus has them all and he says, If any man thirst let him come to me and drink. [John 7:37]
  2.4 Do you fear that you shall be hindered by your enemies, by the world, Satan or your own hearts?
But remember Jesus reigns in glory. See him:
    2.4.1 as King managing all
    2.4.2 as Advocate for his people
  2.5 Do you still find your heart misgiving – as though something particular in your case must shut you out from his regards?
Consider his promises – Matthew 12:31; John 6:37. [8] Remember likewise how he dealt with others. Did he not send his Apostles – beginning at Jerusalem? [9]

Series No. 20

[1] It is not too clear in the ms if ‘salvation’ has been crossed out or underlined.
[2] Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
[3] Ezekiel 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
[4] Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
[5] 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
[6] Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
[7] Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
[8] Matthew 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
[9] Luke 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Cowper & Newton Museum, 714(2) No. 4

Marylynn Rouse, 28/10/2020