Abiding Truths from John 3:16

The practice of correlating and applying Scripture to one’s life is very important. The Scriptures provide us insight into our lives but more importantly insight about a heavenly father that deeply loves and cares for His children.

In an effort to provide more encouragement and help in the correlation and application process of Scripture, I wanted to provide an extra post on this subject. This is an examination of the classic verse John 3:16. My hope in providing this is to encourage all of you in taking time to not only read the Bible, check off a box and move on with your day. But to examine Scripture, go deep, learn from it, and see what God is teaching and telling you. This may be one option or possibility in trying to discern a principle or truth that God wants you to hear in your current season of life.

 

So let’s begin by looking first at John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

 

CORRELATION OF JOHN 3:16

Step 1 – Six Interrogative Questions

Who? (Subjects and objects. Who are all the who’s in the passage?)

 God (subject)

 The world (object of “loved”)

 God’s only-begotten Son (object of “gave”)

 Whoever believes in Him (subject of “believes”, “shall not perish” and “have eternal life”).

 

What? (Main verbs. What topics, what actions, what subjects, what issues?)

 God loved the world.

 God gave His only begotten Son.

 Whoever believes in Him.

 Whoever believes in Him shall not perish.

 [Whoever believes in Him shall] have eternal life.

 

When? (Temporal indicators. Any time references?)

 God so loved the world. (past)

 God gave His only begotten Son. (past)

 Whoever believes in Him. (present)

 Whoever believes in Him shall not perish. (future)

 [Whoever believes in Him shall] have eternal life. (future)

 

Where? (Locative indicators.)

 Whoever believes “in Him”. (adverb/locative)

 

Why? (Reasons, causes, purposes/results.)

 “For God so loved” the world. (Gives reason for what was stated in the preceding context.)

 “That He gave…” (Describes the result of God loving the world.)

 “That whoever believes in Him.” (Describes the two results – one positive (“[shall] have”) and one negative (“shall not perish”) – of God giving His only-begotten Son, Jesus.

 

How? (Manner, means, instrumentality.)

 “God so loved” (Describes how, or the manner in which, God loved the world.)

 “Whoever believes in Him” (The means for not perishing is by believing in Him; the means for having eternal life is by believing in Jesus.) (How does one not perish but have eternal life?)

 

In Scripture study, we never stop observing the text. Avoid making comments about the paragraph that weren’t there or summarizing the text in your modern words. Avoid putting words into the mouths of the author. The key is the mechanical layout: the forms, functions, and explanations of the various words, phrases, and clauses. The truths should come from the layout and from Step 1.

 

Step 2 – Here are the truths of John 3:16

Notice that we have created nothing. We let the passage speaks for itself. Observe that the passage answers our questions (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?) and thus reveals these truths.)

 

 God loved the world. (Whom did God love?)

 God gave His only-begotten Son. (Whom did God give?)

 The manner in which God loved the world was that He gave His only-begotten Son, Jesus. (How did God love the world?)

 The result of loving the world was that God gave His only-begotten Son, Jesus. (Why did God give His Son?)

 God gave Jesus so that those believing in Jesus would not perish.

 God gave Jesus so that those believing in Jesus would have eternal life.

 A result of God giving Jesus is that whoever believes in Him shall not perish.

 A result of God giving Jesus is that whoever believes in Him shall have eternal life. (Why can those who believe in Jesus not perish but have eternal life?)

 The reason God gave His only-begotten Son, Jesus, was because He loved the world.

 The means by which one shall not perish is by believing in Jesus. (How does one not perish?)

 In contrast, the means by which one has eternal life is by believing in Jesus. (How does one have eternal life?)

 

Step 3 – Group truths together based on topics

From Step 2, we discover three ideas: Love, Giving, and Believing. Now, re-organize all of these truths under these three ideas. (NOTE: Use all the truths from Step 2. Don’t change the wording. Use them “as is”. Don’t add new truths. Simply organize the truths you listed in Step 2.)

 

LOVE

 God loved the world.

 The manner in which God loved the world was that He gave His only-begotten Son, Jesus.

 The result of loving the world was that God gave His only-begotten Son, Jesus. (You can place this truth here or under GIVING.)

 The reason God gave His only-begotten Son, Jesus, was because He loved the world.

 

GIVING

 God gave His only-begotten Son.

 The result of loving the world was that God gave His only-begotten Son, Jesus. (You can place this truth here or under LOVE.)

 God gave Jesus so that those believing in Jesus would not perish.

 God gave Jesus so that those believing in Jesus would have eternal life.

 

BELIEVING

 A result of God giving Jesus is that whoever believes in Him shall not perish.

 A result of God giving Jesus is that whoever believes in Him shall have eternal life.

 The means by which one shall not perish is by believing in Jesus.

 In contrast, the means by which one has eternal life is by believing in Jesus.

 

Step 4 – Here, we take away the minor truths from the passage, which leaves the major truths. (NOTE: Don’t change the wording or add new truths at this stage. Simply list the major truths under their respective headings). These are the major points of the passage. All other “truths” support these points; they are subordinate to these “truths.” Notice that these are the main points of the mechanical layout; they are the phrases and clauses closest to the left margin and so highest in the grammatical and syntactical hierarchy. (Remember, no 1st or 2nd person pronouns!)

 

LOVE

 The reason God gave His only-begotten Son, Jesus, was because He loved the world.

 

GIVING

 God gave Jesus so that those believing in Jesus would not perish.

 God gave Jesus so that those believing in Jesus would have eternal life.

 

BELIEVING

 A result of God giving Jesus is that whoever believes in Him shall not perish.

 A result of God giving Jesus is that whoever believes in Him shall have eternal life.

Step 5 – Then, re-word these major truths into 3-5 theological principles. (NOTE: Do not use 1st or 2nd person pronouns. Keep these principles simple: no compound or complex sentences. Use timeless names. Seek to keep these principles at 13 words or less.)

 Christians should love others in a manner that reflects God’s love and sacrifice.

 People should believe in Jesus so that they will not perish.

 People should believe in Jesus so that they can have eternal life.

Step 6 – Finally, represent the main theme or theological proposition in one simple statement from the theological principles above. (This can also be referred to as a timeless principle. See NOTE in Step 5 above for guidelines.)

Because God loved the world, He gave Jesus so that by believing in Jesus believers might not perish but have eternal life.

Theological proposition for personal application: I believe in Jesus, Whom God gave because He loved the world, so that I might not perish but have eternal life.

Credit to Terry Hebert, John Contoveros and the DTS Bible Exposition department

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