Sermon – November 11, 2018

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John 3:16-21 – Why We Believe (mp3)

I was deadly afraid of aliens as a child. This fear led me to come up with elaborate plans to avoid their detection, and even to reasons why they can’t exist. So, why do some people believe in them? Why should we believe their reports of seeing them? In some ways, this is close to what we have in Christ: a man, fully human, but sent from a place outside of this world, who we are told to believe in because of eye-witness accounts. Why do we believe in Christ? Why do some others not believe? And, for all that, why did Jesus even come? Today, we get to think through what John states as the reason for our belief in Christ, and why others refuse to believe.

1. Why did Jesus come?
Jesus came to save sinners. His coming was only good news for the world; no one is ultimately rejected and condemned because they heard the good news and rejected it. We would do well to remember this when we (necessarily!) talk of hell. Let us always remind people of the condemnation that exists over them, in order that we might give them the best of news: Jesus Christ has come to save sinners!

2. Why do some people not believe?
While people ultimately give numerous reasons for their unbelief, some of which might be true, John provides an easier and more straightforward reason: they love their sin. Like cockroaches hiding from the light, those who do not believe are condemned already because they hid from the exposure of their sin, desiring rather to hide in their sin then to stand in the light and be cleansed.

3. Why do some people believe?
There is an easy way to read John 3:21 in such a way that it seems that those who believe are simply better, more moral people than those who reject the gospel and Jesus. They, after all, practice the truth. But John doesn’t mean simply doing the right things with that statement, as though it implied perfection. Rather, given the use of the phrase in 1 John 1, he means that we do come into the light to have our sins exposed – so that we can have Jesus cleanse them. In fact, we long for this, so that the world might know that the work we do is wrought ultimately in the work of God.