Understanding John 3:16
by Donald Reiher
I would hate to be in a position which holds that any one of the clear presentations of eternal life offered on the basis of faith alone in Christ alone, in John’s Gospel is really incomplete, easily misunderstood, or inadequate to lead even a child to faith in Christ.
I believe that the Bible is the powerful, inspired and inerrant Word of God, and that a basic, childlike understanding of the truth in John 3:16 is able to grant even a child eternal life, and 100% assurance of that fact. The full assurance would be based upon Christ’s promise, and not upon any works they will have to add to that faith . . . including repentance of any kind.
The Word of God, John 3:16 included, is powerful. It does not need the help of Systematic Theology, Philosophy, Church Fathers, Confessions or light from Dr. Hodges, Calvin or any other man to grant eternal life to someone as naive and unsophisticated as a child.
John, I think I can safely say that we in the FG movement appreciate your stance on the Bible such as literal hermeneutic, sound theology, and Bible Exposition through many years, and we applaud that track record. However, it appears of late, you are getting so entrenched in the Reformed/Lordship camp you are leading people towards eisegesis (i.e. reading theology into the text, quoting reformed works), rather encouraging exegesis and inductive study of the Scriptures.
On the other hand, in the FG movement, we encourage careful exegetical study (as L.S. Chafer encouraged), and direct inductive study to check out everything we say. Like the Bereans, we all need to confidently use that practice (carefully and prayerfully) to constantly make corrections to what we hear, no matter who we hear it from. . . even Hodges if necessary. Dr. Hodges would be GREATLY offended if ANYBODY took everything he said as Gospel truth without checking it out on our own. I am not just saying this. . . he and Dr. Wilkin is passionate about that. We don’t just quote. . . we are responsible to check out everything. I don’t hear those words from Reformed/Calvinistic speakers very often! Basically the Westminster Confession of Faith is as authoritative as the Scriptures when I read men like James White. They quote it side by side with Scripture. If you disagree with WCF, then you are wrong, no questions asked.
We will all stand before God some day, and be judged for what we believe, apply and teach. I would rather disagree with what the popular, Biblically illiterate Evangelical community teaches about repentance, and agree with what I find to be true from Spirit led, prayerful, careful, exegetical, inductive study of the Word of God. I am sure you would do the same.
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