John 3.16 Recovered!- John Piper Preaches the Glory in a Much Abused Text

June 18, 2009

We all know it: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  This is probably even the first Bible verse most of us learned (it was for me, I memorized it off of a pencil from the Christian bookstore).  And it is a great verse.  But is it all it’s cracked up to be?

Last year a group of raging Southern Baptists used this verse as a bludgeon to attack Calvinism as if it were an R-rated movie or a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels.  They preached John 3.16 as a defense against the doctrines of grace, saying that the claims of this verse and the claims of 5-point Refromed soteriology could not be any further apart.

In light of that, there was much anticipation (at least in my heart) for the day when the well-known Calvinist John Piper, in what is sure to be a decade long exegesis of the Gospel of John, finally arrived at this verse.  This he did recently, spending two weeks on it, and boy did he not disappoint.

The first week was just a going through of the terms used in John 3.16.  God.  The world.  Gave.  Son.  Believe.  Perish.  Life.  And in doing this he did not sound all that different than his non-Calvinist (Arminian?) counter-parts, even agreeing that ‘the world’ refers to all of fallen humanity and not just the elect.

Oh, but then, then there is the one word he left out.  Love!  This was week two and this is where he recovered the glory of this passage from its prooftexting idolaters.   I will not go into what he said, I encourage you to just listen for yourself, but here is his main thrust: “Those who believe, God wants you to know his love beyond simply the love spoken of in John 3.16!”

Just listen to it.  You’ll be glad you did.

John Piper- God So Loved the World, Part 1

John Piper- God So Loved the World, Part 2