Newness of Life

KEY VERSE: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” —John 3:16


THE Key Verse in our lesson is probably the best known scripture in the Bible, and conversely it is probably the least understood. In John 3:14,15, Jesus states that his mission here on earth was pictured by an experience of the nation of Israel while in the desert. The nation had complained against God and against Moses, and God sent a plague of serpents and many of the people died. The Israelites came to Moses and asked him to intervene with God, so God instructed Moses to have the people make a serpent out of copper and lift it on a pole so that whoever was bitten by a serpent could look upon the brazen serpent, and his life would be saved. Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” The brazen serpent was a type of Jesus, illustrating that it was necessary for him to die, and because he would die, sinners would be given an opportunity for life if they believed on him. The incident also signified the manner of his death.—John 12:32,33

The first phrase of our text, “For God so loved the world,” gives us a partial insight into God’s character, but to fully understand the implications of this statement it is necessary to review Jehovah’s dealings with his creation—man. We know that when Adam was created perfect it was with the ability to obey God’s laws. But we also know that he disobeyed and that his disobedience was deliberate, for the Apostle Paul tells us “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (I Tim. 2:14) The penalty, of which Adam was fully aware, was death. The wording of the penalty in Genesis 3:19 was simply that Adam would return to the dust of the ground from which he was taken. There was no promise of an afterlife of any kind but rather that he would simply go out of existence.

The penalty that fell upon Adam was inherited by all of his progeny. The sentence was fair and just, so God could not be faulted in any way if he had simply allowed the sentence to stand. It is important for us to realize, however, that God, in his foreknowledge, knew that Adam would fail in his time of testing in the Garden of Eden, and he foresaw that this would be best for Adam and his race for it would provide the means of giving them experience with evil, sickness, and death. This was something that Adam in his trial did not have. With this knowledge he and his offspring would be in a position to make a completely reasoned judgment in the kingdom between sin and righteousness—that is, obedience and disobedience to God’s laws.

But God’s laws are fixed and his judgments are unchangeable. How then could God mitigate or soften the sentence pronounced upon Adam in order that Adam might be able to benefit from the lesson? The answer is that he could not! The penalty for willful sin had to stand. But God’s perfect law of justice could continue to be satisfied if a perfect man could be found to take perfect Adam’s place in the dust of the ground. (Adam was perfect at the time of his disobedience.) This perfect man was Jesus, who in his pre-human existence was a great spirit being called in the Scriptures the Logos. The Apostle Paul states: “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law” (and in due time the whole world of mankind).—Gal. 4:4,5

This gift of his only begotten Son was at great cost to the Heavenly Father. He was not required to do it, but it was a manifestation of his love for the human race as he, in his foreknowledge, was able to visualize them in their perfection at the end of the Millennial Age. The Apostle Paul states: “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. … Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Rom. 5:8,18) And so we have the wonderful statement by Jesus, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.—John 3:16,17

Dawn Bible Students Association
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