Sermon: Jesus, the Object of Our Faith John 3:13-16

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Jesus, the Object of Our Faith

John 3:13-16

Primary Truth Taught- All who look to Jesus the Messiah and believe in Him receive eternal life. 


So far in John Chapter 3, we’ve witnessed the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. It began with Nicodemus asking the Lord some questions and we saw Jesus giving the answers. If you remember, our friend Nicodemus did not understand the answers.

Then, if you remember, there was a transition verse where Jesus began to take the focus from Nicodemus and turn it toward Himself. We saw that Jesus told him that the Son of Man must be lifted up just as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness. He also told him that everyone who looked on the Son of Man in faith would not just live, as with the serpent in the wilderness, but live eternally.

Human Need Met

In our world of inclusivism and universalism we’re told that all roads lead to heaven and that it doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian, Hindu, Muslim or anything in between you will get to heaven in the end. We must not listen to what people tell us and focus on and learn from what God tells us in His Word. God’s love for humans is directly connected to His Son Jesus. If we’re to be in a right standing before God it must take place in Jesus. This text puts the issue to rest, there is only one way and any other way will fall infinitely short.

John 3:13–16 (ESV)

13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

  1. 1. Jesus is the Son of Man

13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

Last time we looked to the account in Numbers 21 and compared it to looking to Jesus for eternal life. Today, Id like to look at this text from a slightly different vantage point or I’d like to hold it up to the light and turn it slightly as a jeweler would examine a precious stone and allow God’s Word to shine at a different angle.

Here Jesus is determined that Nicodemus would see that He is the Son of Man. While the Gospel writers often used titles like Lord, Messiah, or Son of God when referring to Jesus, the title Jesus most often used for Himself was the Son of Man.

The Son of Man is the title of Jesus’ humanity. Here He highlights the fact that He has taken on flesh and is, for a time, made in the likeness of mankind.

This title is a crucial part of Jesus’ mission to come to earth and to seek and save the lost. Without His humanity there is no salvation for lost sinners. It took a sinless human to pay the sin debt of humans. It took a sinless human to be able to be put to death on the cross. Jesus, in calling Himself the Son of Man, highlights these important truths.

There is another thrust that this amazing title, Son of Man has…

Here’s the exciting picture…Daniel the prophet has been given an enormous privilege. Like Apostle John, Daniel has been taken up into heaven. In heaven time is not like it is here on earth. In fact, in heaven time is no more. So, the prophet taken into heaven leaves the earth and the space-time continuum and for the briefest moments enters into eternity. There Daniel is watching the events as they occur and here, special events, those God wants him to see.

One of the events God wanted the Prophet Daniel to see was the ascension of Jesus Christ. On earth this event would be centuries away because, if you remember, Daniel lived about 700 years before Jesus was born.

So, there’s Daniel up in heaven when Jesus arrives back from earth…

While on earth the disciples are looking up into the clouds as Jesus leaves but for Daniel he sees Jesus come through the clouds to where he is.

Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV)

13 “I saw in the night visions,

   and behold, with the clouds of heaven

there came one like a son of man,

       and he came to the Ancient of Days

and was presented before him.

14    And to him was given dominion

and glory and a kingdom,

       that all peoples, nations, and languages

should serve him;

       his dominion is an everlasting dominion,

which shall not pass away,

       and his kingdom one

that shall not be destroyed.

I pray we’re seeing the significance of Jesus calling Himself the Son of Man. He’s basically telling everyone that the One Daniel saw ascend to heaven and stand before the Ancient of Days and was given a Kingdom…Jesus says, that’s Me. I’m the One Daniel saw. I’m the One who ascended into heaven after completing My mission. I’m the Son of Man.

Jesus tells us that the New Birth takes place when anyone believes and places their trust and faith in Him. Just like looking to the bronze serpent in the wilderness we must look to Christ.

He is the Son of Man and He knew it full well. Do you see the sovereignty of God here in this title? Every time Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man He is telling everyone that His mission is accomplished even before it takes place, however, in God’s mind it has already happened. Daniel saw it centuries before it happened on earth. By Jesus calling Himself the Son of Man He was telling everyone from disciples, angels and even demons and Satan that it is finished. The salvation of God’s people is accomplished when Jesus sets foot on earth; it’s a done deal.

  1. 2. Jesus is the Son of God

16 “For 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 is probably the most beloved verse in all the Bible. Loved because it tells us that God the Father has given His enemies a gift. Through love He gave His only Son. Like the previous verses we see again that Jesus is the focus of our faith. He is the object of our faith. Whoever believes, looks to by faith will be given eternal life. So, we see God gave the world a gift, namely, Jesus Christ His only Son and all who look to Him by faith have eternal life.

  1. God’s Great Love for Sinners

God’s love for the world is the motivating factor for sending His son to save His people. Paul, speaking of this love calls it a great love…

Ephesians 2:4–7 (ESV)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

  1. What it Means to Believe

Verses 15-16 share a common element. They both demand belief in Jesus. Because this belief or faith is a prerequisite for eternal life, we must look to what saving faith really is.

Knowledge– there are truths that must be known in order to have true faith. In other words, there is content to our faith. Faith by itself, just believing something does not give one eternal life. I have faith that the sun will set today but even as strongly as I believe that; there is no salvation in that faith. Saving faith is not a peaceful feeling or an emotional experience. Saving faith connects itself to the Person and work of Christ, not some Internet story about how your guardian angel works or some other absurd idea.

Accent– This is the assurance or conviction that a certain proposition is true. Have you ever heard someone say something like this: well I’m a Christian but I just don’t believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. This person might call himself or herself a Christian but one of the chief doctrines regarding the Person of Christ is denied. Regardless what anyone says, they cannot be a Christian and deny the deity of Christ. So, what about certain groups who do?

Trust or Commitment– Here is the embracing of truth. Trust ourselves to them and trusting in what they mean and adopting these truths into our lives. We trust and change the focus of our lives and behavior because these truths are affecting us.[1]

Because these truth claims are about Jesus Christ we are embracing Him as well as the truth.

I used the truth about Jesus possessing deity because that’s what John 3:16 tells us. He is the Son of God, which means that Jesus is in every way as much God and God the Father is God. This is what we are to believe in order to be saved and to possess eternal life.

Saving faith does not simply believe that there was once a man named Jesus. It is embracing Him in all He is. It is receiving truth from the Bible about Jesus and giving a hearty AMEN. It is being literally overwhelmed with the glory of Christ and loving Him all the more. In order for this to happen we must know Jesus correctly and the only place we learn about who He really is is from the pages of the Bible.

  1. The Tension Between John 3:8 and John 3:16

I want to shift gears for just a second to consider this verse in light of verse 8.

John 3:8 (ESV)

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Verse 8 tells us that just like the wind blows where it wishes and we do not control it or know where it came from or where it goes, so to the Holy Spirit moves and extends the New Birth to whomever God wishes. Verse 8 tells us God is in control of who is saved.

On the other hand we have John 3:16 which sounds like we choose to believe. So, we decide to be saved or not.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

The Tension in John 3
We will ask, How does God love us in this passage? How does the love of God for the world in verse 16 relate to the work of the Spirit of God in verse 8? There seems to be a tension here. Many feel it, and many people try to remove the tension in a way that dishonors the meaning either of verse 8 or verse 16.
On the one hand, verse 8 says that God the Spirit blows where he wills and makes alive whom he chooses. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” God is free. And it is he, and not we, who has the final, decisive say in who among the spiritually rebellious and dead will be raised to new life. None of us deserves to be made alive. And none of us has the power to make it happen. If anybody is rescued, God does it.
But on the other hand, John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This surely means that God is loving all and offering all eternal life — the very life that the Spirit gives in verse 8.[2]
John 3:16 actually speaks of a limitation — of a particular, rather than a universal, redemption.  For clearly, not everyone will be saved. Only those who believe in Christ are saved. The Father loved the world in this way: He gave His Son for the purpose of saving those who believe. The Son is given so that the believing ones will not perish, but by contrast, have eternal life. That is the purpose of the giving.
So, what John 3:16 teaches is:
ALL who do A (believe in Him)
will not B (perish)
but will have C (everlasting life)
What does this text tell us about who will believe or who can believe?
The answer is: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! The text does not address the issue of who will believe or who can believe.
However, if you do want to know John’s view on who can exercise faith, he does deal with that question – just not in this text. If you go back a few verses in the chapter to John 3:3, John quotes Jesus as saying “unless a man is born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” That’s clear, isn’t it?
Jesus said that a prerequisite, a necessary condition that must be met before someone can enter the kingdom of God, is that they are born again. We enter the kingdom of God through faith. But in order to enter the kingdom, we must first be born again, or made spiritually alive. If we are not FIRST born again, we cannot enter the kingdom of God.
This same issue is certainly addressed by Jesus, 3 chapters further on, in John 6:44, when He said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” It should be noted that the one drawn by the Father to the Son is also raised up on the last day to eternal life. (John 6:39, 40)
In John 6:65, Jesus said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”[3]
So, we see that while on the surface there seems to be some initial tension, in reality there is none whatsoever. God loves by sending His Son and absolutely everyone who looks to Jesus, believing will receive eternal life, no exceptions. Is God the first mover in salvation? Absolutely. Are we responsible to trust Christ and believe? Absolutely.


We should look inwardly and see if we are believing in Jesus Christ like the Bible teaches. Do we truly know Him rightly? Are we affirming or accenting to the truths and are we being changed by the truths we’ve seen in the Scriptures? All these things are indications that you have believed in Jesus Christ and have received eternal life.


Children’s Homework

Declaration of Grace

In the mercy and grace of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and gives to them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen


[1] Richard Philips: John volume 1 page 178

[2] John 3:16 by John Piper


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