Vol.XII No.VI Pg.5
August 1975

Looking To Jesus

Robert F. Turner

I have been asked to present some simple study — like Jn. 3:16. That is a reasonable request.

Beginning with verse 14: Jesus compares his crucifixion to the lifting up of the brass serpent by Moses. We learn from Num. 21 :4-9, that when the Israelites failed to trust God they were bitten by serpents, and died. When they confessed their sins and asked for relief, God had Moses make a serpent of brass and place it upon pole.. When a man was bitten, if he would look to the serpent he would live. Jesus said he must be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life. The reference is NOT to lifting Him up in our estimation. He was first lifted up (on the cross) then we might look to Him as our sacrifice.

Whosoever erases any idea of a limited atonement. Salvation is available to all (1 Tim. 2:4-6 Titus 2:11-14), but only those who believe in (i.e., put their trust in) Him will receive the offered blessing. Jesus wants to be your Savior, but you must turn to Him. (1 Tim. 4:10; Mk. 16:16).

Believeth is not a momentary thing, done at some point in time and it is accomplished. Faith (trust) is the base from which springs our life in Christ. In Him is life, for He is its source and maintainer. Another way to put it — we are lost in our sin (the disease), and our only hope is to have our sins removed, forgiven. Jesus died on the cross to pay the debt — so that God could be both just and the justifier of those who will put their trust in Him (the remedy). Bible faith is not some experience, some feeling that comes from God. It cometh by hearing... the word of God (Rom. 10:17). First there must be the fact, then the witness, then the witness records the fact, and finally — we hear and believe the record. The record concerning Christ is such that to truly believe it is to change our life accordingly. Gods word is the sword of the Spirit. By it He enters, motivates, and fills our life. And for those who thus receive Him, Christ becomes our life.

To one who understands the Bible use of faith it is almost a redundancy (more words than are needed) to say one must obey the Lord. James says faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:24-26). Faith which saves is a faith which worketh by love (Gal. 5:6). But God says obey (Heb. 5:9; Rom. 2:6-11; Acts 2:38), often enough, and clear enough, that there is little excuse for a Bible reader to think he will be saved by an inactive faith.

For God so Loved... Careful exegetes think Jesus statement ends with vs. 15, and vs. l6-17 are Johns comments on what He had said. If so, we are thankful to the Holy Spirit for such a wonderful comment. He puts the salvation of man on the basis of love, the love that flows from God toward creatures who had rejected Him, a love so great that it manifested itself in self-sacrifice, a love that came not to condemn but to save.

We should not perish... but love would be incomplete that did not warn of the awful end awaiting those who stubbornly reject Gods love.