STUDY 6: JOHN 3 - ESCAPING DEATH

© Rosemary Bardsley 2009

 

No one really listening to John’s Gospel can fail to understand that we are all in a terrible state and condition from which escape is necessary. It is obvious that we do not have ‘life’ – that we are in a condition of spiritual death. It is also obvious that the Son of God – Jesus Christ – came with the express purpose of rescuing us from this death.

In Chapter 3 John refers to this ‘death’ in several ways:

      • It is the inability to see the kingdom of God [3]
      • It is the inability to enter the kingdom of God [5]
      • It is to be only ‘flesh’ [6]
      • It is the inability to understand heavenly things [12]
      • It is to ‘perish’ [16]
      • It is to stand already condemned [18]
      • It is to not see life [36]
      • It is to remain under the wrath of God [36]

These verses teach not only the necessity of escape from this ‘death’ but also our inability to procure our own escape. A rescue is obviously needed, a rescue package that will not only remove us from this death and grant us life, but one that will also, as a first step, open our eyes to enable us to see and understand our extreme danger and need, and the grand option of the real life that is there for us to enter.

 

A. WHAT IS REQUIRED TO ESCAPE FROM DEATH TO LIFE?

What must I do to be saved? What must I do to gain eternal life?

These are real questions reported by the New Testament writers. Notice that both focus on self ‘What must I do …’. There is an innate self-centredness here that assumes a capacity to respond and to achieve the needed escape from death by one’s own ability and effort. There is an independence here that automatically does not request, or even consider requesting, outside help. The fact of personal inability, which we have already studied, does not enter our thoughts.

From the following verses from John 3 identify a word or phrase that expresses what is required to move from death to life [that is, to be saved].

3

5

7

8

15

16

18

18

20

21

21

29

32

33

36

Now sum up what is required in one or two sentences. [Write an explanation of what a person must do to be saved, based on the above verses.]

 

 

 

 

 

B. WHAT DOES IT MEAN ‘TO BE SAVED’?

Often the term ‘to be saved’ is used thoughtlessly, without any attention given to what it actually means ‘to be saved’. In Chapter 3 Jesus and John refer to salvation quite a number of times.

From the following verses from John 3 identify a word or phrase that expresses what it means to be saved.

3

5

7

8

15

16

17

18

20

21

36

In these texts Jesus and John look at the concept of salvation in a number of ways, but the key focus of being saved is the gift of eternal life. This immediately identifies the opposite of salvation as ‘death’. It also, as already noted, gives more precise definition to what Jesus meant when he spoke of seeing the kingdom of God and entering the kingdom of God early in the conversation with Nicodemus. To be ‘born again’, to have ‘eternal life’ and to ‘enter the kingdom of God ’ are one and the same salvation viewed from different angles.

B.1 What is the opposite of believing and being saved

So that we can appreciate more fully the greatness of this salvation, Jesus and John describe directly or by inference the opposite of being saved, that is, the condition and position in which we are in, left to ourselves, apart from Jesus Christ and the salvation he grants to those who believe in him.

From the verses listed identify the opposite of believing and/or the opposite of being saved [if the opposite is not stated in the text, identify the logical opposite].

3:6

3:16

3:17

3:18

3:19

3:20

3:32

3:36