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A Little Ocean Ambiance
The Salvation of the World:
in the book of John
Dr. Richard Flanders
Juniata Baptist Church
One hindrance to revival among God's separated people as we
enter a new
century is the growing interest among fundamentalists in
that God desires only the salvation of the chosen few. A
fresh study of
the Gospel according to John will dispel that false
doctrine, and renew
our faith in the truth that God wants to save everybody!
Truly, the Lord
"is not willing that any should perish, but that all should
repentance" (II Peter 3:9).
It is not a falsehood to say that the book of John is about
of the world! While not teaching that everyone in the world
saved, John does teach us that anyone can be saved, and
that God has
provided for all to be saved.
The Apostle John names Jesus "The Saviour of the world"
also I John 4:14).
". . .we have heard him ourselves, and know that
this is indeed the
Christ, the Saviour of the world."
". . .Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the
Follow the flow of doctrine in the book of John, and you
will see God's
plan to save the world, and how it is that our Lord is
truly the Savior
of the world!
- The Light of the World.
The book opens with a grand description of the relation of
the triune God
with His world.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word
was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things
were made by
him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was
life; and the life was the light of men." (John 1:1-4)
God the Son is, and always has been, God the Word. He made
and in Him "was life, and the life was the light of men."
Of what men is
the Son of God the Light?
"And the light shineth in darkness; and the
darkness comprehended it
not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came
for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men
might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear
that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every
man that cometh
into the world." (John 1:5-9)
John the Baptist was sent "to bear witness of the Light,
that all men
through him might believe."The plan was that all men would
believe in the
Light. To this agree Paul's divinely-inspired words in I
"I exhort therefore, that. . .prayers,
intercessions. . .be made for all
men. . .for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the
knowledge of the
We should pray for "all men" because God wants "all men to
Christ is the Light of the World, according to John 8:12,
9:5, and 12:46.
In what sense and to what extent is He the Light of men?
John 1:9 says of
"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man
that cometh into the
Clearly He is the Light of all men! The Lord says to Christ
in Isaiah 49:6,
"I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles,
that thou mayest be
my salvation unto the end of the earth."
If Jesus Christ has lightened all men, why are not all men
explanation given in John 1:5 is simply that "the light
darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." The matter
of the Savior
of all saving only some is explained in John 1:10-12 this
"He was in the world, and the world was made by
him, and the world knew
him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him
not. But as many
as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons
of God, even to
them that believe on his name. . ."
As we can see, human choice is involved in determining the
effect of the
Light upon darkened men. However, the Light of the World
did indeed come
to be the Savior of the World!
- The Lamb of the World.
God's intent to dispel the darkness of mankind through
Jesus Christ is
expounded in John 1:1-18. John the Baptist is presented in
as the "witness, to bear witness of the Light." In the next
is shown to be the great forerunner and baptizer of Christ,
narrative presents him pointing men to Him.
"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and
saith, Behold the
Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This
is he of whom I
said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me:
for he was
before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made
Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John
saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a
dove, and it abode
upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to
baptize with water,
the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit
and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with
the Holy Ghost.
And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God."
Ten titles or names are given to Christ in the first
chapter of John:
"the Word" (vs. 1, 14), "the Life" (v. 4), "the Light" (vs.
4, 5, 7, 8,
9), "the only begotten of the Father" (vs. 14, 18), "Jesus
17), "the Lamb of God" (vs. 29, 36), "the Son of God" (vs.
34, 49), "the
Messiahs. . .the Christ" (vs. 20, 41), "the King of Israel"
(v. 49), and
"the Son of man" (v. 51). The designation of Jesus as "the
Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sin of the world" tells to us that
God provided for
the salvation of the world, as well as desired it.
Calling Him "the Lamb," John referred to Christ's coming
death. Of course, a spotless lamb was an animal acceptable
Testament offerings at the Temple. Jesus paid for our sins
so that we
could be saved, but for whose sins?
". . .he is the propitiation for our sins: and not
for ours only, but
also for the sins of the whole world." (I John 2:2)
The First Epistle of John is certainly clear in its answer
question, both in the quotation above and in Chapter 4.
Read verses 9-14,
and see that "the world" in verse 14 is the group indicated
pronouns "us" and "we" in the verses 9 and 10, saying again
paid for everybody's sins when He died on the cross. This
is also the
meaning of the words spoken by John the Baptist in John
1:29. Jesus died
in order to take away "the sin of the world."
The most obvious flaw in the classical expression of
Calvinism is found
in the doctrine of "Limited Atonement," the belief that
Christ died only
for the sins of the elect. It is an error exposed and
than once in Scripture. The chapter that calls upon
Christians to pray
for "all men" (I Timothy 2) because God "will have all men
to be saved"
(vs. 1-4), also says that "Christ Jesus. . .gave himself a
all" (vs. 5-6). Later in I Timothy, God is called "the
Savior of all men,
specially of those that believe." The teaching of the Bible
Christ died as a propitiation for the sins of all men, but
only those who
believe in Him are reconciled to God. According to Strong's
777-778), John Calvin himself eventually came to agree with
rather than a "limited" atonement.
The Lord Jesus illustrated His atoning death in the parable
of the Hidden
Treasure (Matthew 13:44). In this story, Jesus told of a
man who buys an
entire field in order to get a treasure buried in it. He
that he hath, and buyeth that field," In the same way,
Himself to purchase the world because He knew of a
"treasure" of men who
would believe in Him. Although not all will be saved, God
did provide for
the salvation of all.
- The Life of the World.
The best-known verse in the Bible about God's salvation is
in the third
chapter of John. It is verse 16.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
Some Calvinists want to make the word "world" in John 3:16
the elect. However the context of the whole book of John
abundantly clear that "the world" in this famous scripture
the world! Then comes verse 17.
"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn
the world; but that
the world through him might be saved."
God sent His Son to save the world, and to give "whosoever"
in Him "everlasting life."
Now if God sent Christ to save mankind and not to condemn
us, why will
men be condemned? Will the purpose of the Lord be thwarted?
The answer to
this question is found in the decision of Almighty God to
choice be involved in the equation of salvation.
Strict Calvinists have a great problem with such an idea.
Some of them
think that to allow man's will into the issue of eternal
life or death is
to dethrone God. The truth is, however, that God does not
sovereignty when He tells us that we have a decision to
make. The Eternal
King of the Universe certainly could have wrought our
giving us a choice, but He did not. The sovereign Lord
human choice would have a role in the bestowal of eternal
In John 3:18-21, Jesus tells us men are condemned even
though He was sent
to save them.
". . .he that believeth not is condemned already,
because he hath not
believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (v.
How is it that they are condemned?
". . .this is the condemnation, that light is come
into the world, and
men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds
were evil." (v.
We have a choice between light and darkness because Light
the darkness into which we were born (Remember John 1:1-9).
choose to love the Light will believe in Jesus Christ.
Those who love
darkness rather than the Light will not believe, and will
John 1:10-12 blames the lost world for not knowing Christ
because of its
choice not to "receive him." In John 5:39-40, Jesus says,
"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye
have eternal life: and
they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to
me, that ye
might have life."
They will not come to Him. In John 4:48, they will not
decision of the will keeps a man from having eternal life.
And yet man is not completely free and independent in the
exercise of His
will concerning Light and Life. His nature is dark and
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6).
Jesus said, "No
man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me
6:44). So the darkness of man's inborn nature moves him
away from Christ,
and only the call of God can draw him to Christ. What about
this call of
God? John 6 certainly deals with it, but what does it say?
explains verse 44 (quoted above) this way:
"It is written in the prophets, And they shall be
all taught of God.
Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of
cometh unto me."
All are taught, but only the man "that hath heard" will
come to Jesus.
Any teacher knows that not every person that is taught
learns. Back in
Matthew 22:14, Jesus said, "Many are called, but few are
call of God is to all men, although only few respond.
Is this the true meaning of John 6:44-45? Hear the words of
Jesus in John
". . .if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw
all men unto me."
The lifting up of Jesus was His crucifixion (See verse 33
3:14-15). The Bible teaches that the Cross of Christ draws
"all men" to
Him. No man will come unless he is drawn, but all men are
drawn to the
Cross. Those who yield to this drawing are the ones who
drawing is related to the enlightening of John 1:9. Jesus
man that cometh into the world." Not all men respond, but
all men are
enlightened. God's enlightening and drawing enable the
sinner to make a
choice for which he will be eternally responsible. John
the words of Jesus.
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven:
if any man eat of
this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I
will give is my
flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
He gave His life for the life of the world. Anyone who
chooses to partake
may "live forever."
- His Own Sheep.
When we come to the tenth chapter of John, we find that
Christ has people
He regards as "His own sheep" (vs. 2-4). These people are
not only those
who have come to Him for salvation, but also people who
have not yet
come, but will.
"Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
them also I must bring,
and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold,
shepherd." (v. 16)
In this chapter, a balance of involvement of both God and
presented, just as it is in many other scriptures. See
"Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I
say unto you, I am
the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are
robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by
me if any man
enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and
The sheep will hear and heed the Shepherd, and not
imposters. But anybody
who decides to "enter in" through Christ the Door "shall be
God's mind, they are already His sheep, but to them, a
movement on their
part brought them into the fold. How can we understand this
the light of God's plan to save the world? The answer to
this question is
in what God knows.
"I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am
known of mine." (v.
Because He is omniscient, God knows and has always known
who among men
will love the Light and come to it. See in Romans 8:29 and
I Peter 1:2
that both God's election of the saved and His
predestination for the
saved are based upon His foreknowledge of the saved. The
Lord is above
and beyond time, and saw every believer in Christ before
the world began.
To Him, only His own sheep will be saved. See this again in
"Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as
I said unto you. My
sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto
them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither
shall any man
pluck them out of my hand."
See in the middle of this passage that it is based on the
fact that Jesus
knows His sheep. Election and predestination are based on
and do not contradict God's plan and offer to save
This whole matter of salvation, responsibility, and
judgment is summed up
by the Lord in John 12:46-48.
"I am come a light into the world, that whosoever
believeth on me should
not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and
believe not, I
judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to
save the world.
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one
him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him
in the last
No matter what theological view of God's sovereignty we
accept, let us
never lose sight of the truth that salvation His been
provided for every
man if he will receive it. Let us with John the Baptist
"bear witness of
the Light, that all men through him might believe."Let us
believing in the possibility of anybody believing. May our
zeal for souls
be fired by the measureless love of the Savior of the
Wed, 27 October 1999
by Dr. Rick Flanders
currently Pastor of
Juniata Baptist Church
Juniata Baptist Church|
5656 Washburn Road
Vassar, MI 48768
Dr. Rick Flanders Biographical Data
Converted in 1963 through a radio ministry.
Earned B.A. and M.A. degrees from Bob Jones University.
Honorary D.D. from Pensacola Christian College.
Pastor at Juniata Baptist Church since 1973.
On BCPM Board, (Baptist Church Planting Ministry)
and also MACS. (Michigan Association of Christian School)
- Articles published in the;
- Sword of the Lord
- Baptist Preacher,
- Christian View of the News,
- Pulpit Helps,
- Maranatha Watchman
- Church Bus News,
- and other national periodicals.
His Majesty's Service
In His Service,
Teaching the Word
To Glorify Our Lord
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