The Sovereignty of God By Don Fortner


“Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and in all deep places.”  With these words David declares the sovereignty of God and calls for us to give him praise. ( Psalms 135:6 )

There are no attributes of God more comforting and delightful to his children than his great and glorious sovereignty.  Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe troubles, and when enduring the most heavy trials, we rejoice to know that our God has sovereignly ordained our afflictions; that he sovereignly overrules them, and that he sovereignly sanctifies them to our good and his own glory.  Every believer rejoices in the sovereignty of God. There is no truth of Holy Scripture for which we must more earnestly contend than God’s dominion over all creation, his sovereignty over all the works of his hands, the supremacy of his throne and his right to sit upon it.

God’s saints rejoice to hear him say, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?” (Matt. 20:16).  Nothing is more comforting to God’s saints in this world than the knowledge of the fact that “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Ps. 115:3).  We rejoice in God’s sovereignty!  But there is nothing revealed in the Bible that is more despised by worldlings and self-righteous religionists.  Natural, unregenerate, unbelieving men and women are happy enough to have God everywhere, except upon the throne of total, universal sovereignty.  They are happy to have God in his workshop, creating the world and naming the stars.  They are glad to have God in the hospital to heal the sick.  They are pleased to have God in trouble, to calm the raging seas of life.  And they are delighted to have God in the funeral parlor to ease them of pain and sorrow.  But God upon his throne is, to the unregenerate man, the most contemptible thing in the world.  And any man who dares to preach that it is God’s right to do what he will with his own, to dispose of his creatures as he sees fit, and save whom he will, will be hissed at, despised, and cursed by this religious generation.  Be that as it may, it is God upon the throne whom we love, trust, and worship.  And it is God upon the throne that we preach.

Proposition:  Total, absolute, universal sovereignty is an attribute of God as essential to his Being as perfect holiness.

A God who is not sovereign is as much a contradiction as a God who is not holy, eternal, and immutable.  A God who is not sovereign is no God at all. And if the god you worship is not totally sovereign, you are a pagan, and your religion is idolatry.  You would be just as well off to worship a statue of Mary, a totem pole, a spider, or the devil himself as to worship a god who lacks the attribute of total sovereignty over all things.

In one of his letters to the learned and scholarly Erasmus, Martin Luther said, “Your thoughts of God are too human.” No doubt Erasmus resented the remark. But it exposed the heart of his heretical theology. And it exposes the heart of all false religion. I lay this charge against the preachers of our day and against the people who hear them, follow them, and support them – Their thoughts of God are too human. I know the seriousness of what I am saying. But it must be said. The God of the Bible is utterly unknown in this religious generation.

God’s charge against apostate Israel was, “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself” (Psa. 50:21), and that is his indictment against the religious world of our day. Men today imagine that God is moved by sentiment, rather than by the determination of his sovereign will. They talk about omnipotence, but imagine that it is such an idle fiction that satan thwart the power of God. They think that if God has a plan, it must, like the plans of men, be subject to constant change. They tell us that whatever power God does possess must be limited, lest he violate man’s free-will and make him a machine. The grace of God is thought by most people to be nothing but a helpless, frustrated desire of God to save men. The precious sin-atoning blood of Christ is thought by most to be a waste, shed in vain for many. And the invincible, saving power of the Holy Spirit is reduced by most to a gentle offer of grace which men may easily resist.

The god of this generation no more resembles the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth than a flickering candle resembles the mid-day sun. The god of modern religion is nothing but an idol, the invention of men, the figment of human imagination. Pagans in the dark ages used to carve their gods out of wood and stone and overlay them with silver and gold. Today, in these much darker days, pagans inside the church carve their god out of their own carnal imaginations. Either God is or God is not!

In reality, the religionists of our day are atheists, for there is no possible alternative between a God who is absolutely sovereign and no God at all. A god whose will can be resisted, whose purpose can be frustrated, whose power can be thwarted, whose grace can be nullified, whose work can be overturned, has no title to Deity. Such a god is not a fit object of worship. Such a puny, pigmy god merits nothing but contempt!

When I say that God is sovereign, I am simply declaring that God is God. He is the most High, Lord of heaven and earth, overall, blessed forever. He is subject to none. And he is influenced by none. God is absolutely independent of and sovereign over all his creatures. He does as he pleases, only as he pleases, and always as he pleases. None can thwart him. None can resist him. None can change him. None can stop him. None can hinder him. He declares,“My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isa. 46:10). “He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Dan. 4:35). Divine sovereignty means that God sits upon the throne of universal dominion, directing all things, ruling all things, and working all things “after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11).

Divisions:          When preaching the sovereignty of God, the greatest difficulty is deciding where to cut the message off. This is a subject about which hundreds of books have been written, and yet “the half hath not been told.” Divine sovereignty is not some isolated doctrine, taught in a few verses of Scripture. This fundamental, essential attribute of God is revealed upon every page of Inspiration. But tonight we will limit our thoughts to five revelations of the sovereignty of God. Here are five things which manifestly and irrefutably reveal the sovereignty of God.

1. Predestination

2. Creation

3. Providence

4. Salvation

5. Spiritual Gifts



          Does the Bible teach predestination? Of course it does! Any preacher who attempts to deny that it does is either a babbling idiot, totally ignorant of the Word of God, or a liar.

          A. God chose some men and women in eternity to be the objects of his saving grace and predestinated those elect ones to be conformed to the image of his dear Son (Rom. 8:28-29).

Before the world began God sovereignly determined

1.    That he would save some.

2.    Who he would save.

3.    How he would save them.

  • Redemption
  • Regeneration
  • Resurrection
  • ·        When he would save them – “The time of love.”

And having determined these things he infallibly secured his eternal purpose of grace by sovereign predestination.

B. Yes, God predestinated everything from eternity that comes to pass in time to secure the salvation of his elect (Eph. 1:3-6, 11).

“All things are of God” (II Cor. 5:18).

Eternal election marked the house into which God’s saving grace must come. Eternal predestination marked the path upon which grace must come. And sovereign providence led grace down the path to the house at the time of love.

Illustration“He must needs go through Samaria” (John 4:4).


Nothing moved God to create, except his own sovereign will. What could move him when there was nothing but God himself? Truly, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psa. 19:1-4).

A. God created the heavens and the earth as a stage upon which to work out his purpose of grace (Psa. 8:1-9).

B. God created the angelic host to be ministering spirits to those who shall be the heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14).

C. God created the sun, the moon, and the stars for the benefit of man.


          D. God created all plants and animals to provide food, comfort, and pleasure for man.


          E. At last, God created man in his own image and after his own likeness that he might show forth the glory of his grace in man.


1.    Adam was created in the image of Christ, our eternal Surety and Substitute.

2.    Adam was created in conditional holiness.

3.    Adam was permitted to fall and we all fell in him, that we might be raised to life again in Christ the second Adam.


In divine providence, God almighty sovereignly accomplishes his eternal purpose of grace in predestination.

IllustrationThe Lamb and the Book (Rev. 5:1-10; 10:1-11).

  • The Lamb is Christ.
  • The Book is God’s purpose of predestination.
  • Christ rules all things in providence by the Book of God’s predestination.


A. God’s sovereign rule of providence extends to all his creatures.


          Inanimate matter, irrational creatures, all things in this world perform their Maker’s bidding. At his pleasure…

1.    The waters of the Red Sea divided (Ex. 14).

2.    The earth opened up her mouth to swallow his enemies (Num. 14).

3.    The sun stood still (Josh. 10).

4.    The sun went backward ten degrees on the sundial of Ahaz. Once, he even made an axehead float!

5.    Ravens carried food to his prophet (I Kings 17).

6.    Lions were tamed for his servant Daniel.

7.    The fire refused to burn his faithful servants, when they were cast into the fiery furnace.

B. God’s rule of providence extends to the wills and actions and words, even of wicked men.


1.    He kept Abimelech from adultery with Sarah.

2.    He kept the Canaanites from desiring the possessions of Israel, when they went to worship him (Read Ex. 34:23-24).

3.    The king’s heart is in the hands of the Lord (Prov. 21:1).

4.    Shemei was sent of God to curse David.

5.    The remainder of wrath, he restrains (Psa. 76:10).



1.    The salvation of his elect.

2.    The eternal, spiritual good of all his people.

3.    The glory of his great name.

Application:       Children of God, here is a resting place for our troubled hearts. Neither satan, the demons of hell, nor men, nor sickness, nor war, nor pestilence, nor the whirlwind is beyond the reach of God’s sovereign throne (Matt. 10:30). Blessed be God, “My times are in thy hand!”



A. He chose to save some, but not all.


          B. He gave Christ to die for some, but not all.


          C. He sends his gospel to some, but not all.


          D. He gives his Spirit to some, but not all.

E. He causes some to hear his voice, but not all.


          F. He saves some who seek him, but not all.


  • The woman with the issue of blood, but not the rich young ruler – The leper, but not Nicodemus – The Publican, but not the Pharisee.

“Salvation is of the Lord!”

  • He planned it.
  • He purchased it.
  • He performs it.
  • He preserves it.
  • He perfects it.


God sees to it that his church has all that she needs to carry out the work he has for her to do.

  • We need missionaries – But we need pastors too.
  • We need preachers – But we need deacons.
  • We need witnesses – And we need prayers.
  • We need workers – And we need givers.
  • We need some to do great things – And some to do small things.

Let us each covet earnestly the best gifts, the gift of love, and if we have that we will serve God and his people well in our place.

Application:       “Our God is in the heavens! He hath done (and is doing) whatsoever he hath pleased!”

1.    Believe him confidently.

2.    Walk with him in peace.

3.    Submit to him cheerfully.

4.    Serve him faithfully.

5.    Honor him supremely!

Don Fortner

HL :


11 thoughts on “The Sovereignty of God By Don Fortner

  1. Admin Edited (wpmember7, please stop commenting in the form of senseless babble it is not edifying and your opinion is of no value to the body of Christ.)


    • wpmember7,

      If you took the time to read properly, you would see the teaching is not by Grant, but by Don Fortner. It is not a teaching that would impress the uninformed or the reprobate mind. Neither was it placed to impress you. We read God says : But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
      (1 Corinthians 2:14-15 KJV)


  2. Greetings of peace in Christ. I have just read Don Fortner’s thoughtful, albeit brief, article on the Sovereignty of God and I must say that I enjoyed it very much. Nevertheless, at one point brother Fortner makes a contrast in which he states that a leper was saved but Nicodemus was not. I believe this is incorrect, as Scripture suggests that Nicodemus may well have believed on our Lord and been saved:

    “And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”

    John 19:39-42.

    If Nicodemus, a Pharisee, had remained in unbelief regarding our Lord Jesus, I seriously doubt he would have gone to these lengths to involve himself in his burial. Just thought I would make that comment. Grace and peace be unto all who love our Lord in the truth.



    • Daniel,

      Thank you for your comment. Just a note , your other comment was removed as it seems that you made double comments, although there is a slight difference is this correct ?



    • Daniel in reply to your comment. Here is a rather long read but important to understand. It is also a sermon by Don Fortner. I hope your question is answered more clearly herein :

      “How can these things be?”

      “Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you [of] heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven. And 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. 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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:9-21)

      In this 3rd chapter of John’s Gospel God the Holy Spirit has recorded for us a conversation between our Lord Jesus Christ and one of the most learned, well-taught, and highly respected religious leaders of his day, Nicodemus. This is one of the most important passages in all the Bible. Its doctrine is both profound and essential. Nowhere in Scripture are we given stronger statements about the new birth and salvation by faith in Christ than are found here.

      In the first part of our Lord’s conversation with Nicodemus he declared the necessity of the new birth, asserting that we must be born again, because until we are born again we cannot see the kingdom of God and cannot enter into it. Without the new birth, no one has the capacity and ability to understand anything spiritual (John 3:3). And without the new birth, without a new, righteous nature being created in us by God the Holy Spirit, we cannot enter into God’s heaven (John 3:5, 7; Hebrews 12:14; Revelation 21:27). — “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (v. 7).

      Then, in verse 8 our Savior showed Nicodemus, and shows us that the new birth is a sovereign act and work of God the Holy Spirit. — “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

      The wind is invisible. We cannot see the wind; but we can certainly feel the effects. Even so, we cannot see the Spirit of God; but his power and the results of his work are evident.

      The wind is sovereign in its actions. It is beyond man’s control. The wind does not consult with us and is not regulated by us. So it is with the Spirit of God. The wind blows when it pleases, where it pleases, and as it pleases. So it is with the Spirit (Exodus 33:19; John 5:21).

      The wind is irresistible. When the wind blows in its power, it sweeps everything before it. It is so with the Spirit of God. When he comes in the fulness of his power, he breaks down man’s prejudices, subdues his will, conquers him, and sweetly forces him into the arms of Christ. — “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psalm 110:3). — “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causest to approach unto thee” (Psalm 65:4). — “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).

      Our Lord’s conversation with Nicodemus continues in verses 9-21. His doctrine of regeneration is immediately followed by his doctrine of justification. Here he tells us how sinners obtain God’s salvation by faith alone. After declaring the necessity and nature of the new birth to Nicodemus, — “Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?” (John 3:9) — Our Lord Jesus answers the question in verses 10-21.

      Spiritual Ignorance

      The first thing set before us in this passage is a glaring display of spiritual ignorance. Here is a man who was “a master in Israel,” learned in all matters of religious thought, fully acquainted with all the theological trends of the day, a man of letters and degrees, who was utterly ignorant of all things spiritual (vv. 9-12).

      When he was told about the new birth, Nicodemus immediately exclaimed, “How can these things be?” This question reveals the spiritual ignorance of all men by nature, even well-trained, academically superior, highly honored men. Nicodemus was very well educated, very religious, and of high moral character and reputation. — “A Master in Israel!” Yet, he was spiritually ignorant. If we would understand the things of God, we must have something more than education, morality, and sincerity. We must be taught of God.

      Even though God became incarnate and spoke in human language, men understood him not (Proverbs 4:19; Ephesians 4:18). Even preachers, teachers, religious leaders, and theologians may be ignorant of Divine truth. The fact that a preacher has graduated with honors from some theological center is no proof that he is a man taught of God (John 6:44-45).

      Nicodemus was one of those pastors in Israel who had ceased to feed the people with knowledge and understanding. The blind were leading the blind, and both were falling into the ditch (Matthew 15:14). The successors of such men are found in every age; and they are abundant today. Let most any preacher or religious leader of our day comment on anything spiritual, and you will have a glaring example of Paul’s declaration in 1 Corinthians 2:14. — “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

      Look at the next verse. After chiding Nicodemus for his ignorance, our Lord shows him the reason for it. It was because he refused to receive the Savior’s witness. — “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness” (v. 11). The reason sinners do not know the things of God is twofold: First, they are without the ability to discern anything spiritual. Second, they refuse to believe God’s revelation of himself.

      None are so blind as those who will not see! As we believe God’s Word, he gives us understanding of what we believe. As we walk in the light revealed, we are given more light. But, if you receive not the witness of God, you have yourself to blame for your ignorance (John 5:40-44).

      Earthly Things and Heavenly

      Verse 12 might seem a little confusing. What are those earthly things and those heavenly things our Savior speaks of here?

      “Earthly things” refer to the new birth, which takes place on earth, and to the “wind,” by which he illustrated the Spirit’s operations of grace in regeneration. These things Nicodemus ought to have known about from Ezekiel 36:24-27. If he did not believe God’s Word about these earthly things, it would be useless to tell him of “heavenly things,” of things pertaining to the counsels of God, the mysteries of grace, and the things God has prepared for them that love him (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

      It would certainly be meaningless for our Lord to tell him of those things he had accomplished as the covenant Surety and Mediator of his people. It would be meaningless, that is, unless the Lord himself was pleased to make the Word effectual. Yet, having said that, the Lord proceeds to tell him of heavenly things in verse 13. — “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

      These are heavenly things indeed! Here our Savior asserts that he, the God-man, and no other man but the God-man had already ascended up to heaven. He then asserts that he had come down from heaven. And third, he says that he was in heaven, even while he walked upon the earth. Obviously, our Savior is talking here about that which he accomplished before the world began, when he stood forth and was accepted as our covenant Surety, as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. In a word, our Lord here declared to Nicodemus that the work he came to do on earth was already accomplished by him in heaven (Romans 8:29-30; 10:4-9; Hebrews 4:3).

      It is true that both Enoch and Elijah had ascended up to heaven; and all those who had died in faith were already in heaven. But all who are there, and all who ever shall be there are there because of the efficacy and merit of Christ, the God-man Mediator, our Substitute.

      Read our Lord’s words in verse 13 again, and rejoice. — “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” If no man but Christ ascends to heaven, then all others, except Christ, are shut out of heaven. Is that not right? How, then, can we enter heaven? The Church of God’s elect, the whole election of grace, is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12). We and our Savior, the Church and her Head are one Christ! We are described as “the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:23).

      Another Necessity

      Our Lord Jesus spoke of the necessity of the new birth. — “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The new birth is a new creation, the imparting of Divine, or eternal life. It is having a new, righteous nature imparted to us and created in us by God the Holy Spirit. But, before any sinner could be granted such grace, before any could be born of God, something else had to be done. So, secondly, our Savior spoke to Nicodemus about another necessity. Before God could do anything for us, he must do something for himself.

      “And 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.” (vv. 14-15)

      If eternal life is to be bestowed upon us, it must be bestowed upon us righteously and justly. Eternal life could never be bestowed upon men, except by the satisfaction of Divine justice. The Son of God must be lifted up. Eternal life must come out of his substitutionary death. The sacrificial work of Christ is the basis of the Spirit’s operations and the ground of God’s gift of life (Isaiah 53:4-6).

      It is the Son of man who must be crucified, for atonement could be made only by one in the nature of him who sinned. Only as man was Christ capable of taking upon himself our guilt and its penalty. The Jews expected the Messiah to be lifted up or elevated to the throne of David; but before this, he must be lifted up on the cross of shame, enduring the judgment of God upon our sins.

      To illustrate the character, meaning, and purpose of his death, our dear Savior refers to the well-known incident of the brazen-serpent in Numbers 21:6-9. The people were bitten by fiery serpents, dying, and without hope. Moses made a serpent in the likeness of the cause and lifted it up. Those who looked in faith lived. Christ is made in the likeness of sinful flesh and crucified. The only animal upon whom the Lord God specifically pronounced his curse was the serpent. So our Lord Jesus who was made sin and made a curse for us was rightly represented by the cursed thing. All who look to him in faith shall live (Isaiah 45:22).

      By being “lifted up,” our Lord meant nothing less than his own death upon the cursed tree. That death, he would have us know, was appointed by God for “the life of the world” (John 6:51). It was ordained from all eternity to be the great propitiation and satisfaction for the sins of his people throughout the whole world. It was the payment of our debt, by an Almighty Substitute and Representative of infinite worth and merit. This is God’s scheme of grace and redemption. In infinite wisdom and goodness he purposed to save sinners by the sin-atoning death of his dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross.

      When Christ died upon the cross, our many sins were laid upon him. He was made “sin” for us. He was made “a curse” for us (2Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13). By his death he purchased complete pardon for our souls and obtained eternal redemption for us.

      The truth set before us here is the very foundation-stone of our faith — Substitution. Christ’s death is our life. His cross is our title to heaven. Christ “lifted up” and put to shame on Calvary is the ladder by which we “enter into the holiest” and ascend at last to heavenly glory. We are sinners, but Christ has suffered for us. We deserve death, but Christ has died for us. We are guilty debtors, but Christ has paid our debt with his own blood. This is the good news we preach. This is the gospel we believe. On this let us lean while we live. To this let us cling when we die. Christ has been “lifted up” on the cross, and has thrown open the gates of heaven to poor sinners!

      The Cause

      Third, our blessed Savior shows us that the cause of all this is the love of God.

      “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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (vv. 16-17)

      The Lord Jesus declared that his death on the cross was an imperative, a necessity. He did not say, “The Son of man shall be lifted up,” but, “The Son of man must be lifted up.” There is no other alternative if the claims of God are to be met, if the demands of justice are to be satisfied, if sin is to be put away, and if the elect are to be saved, — Christ must die (Romans 3:25-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The law and justice of God demand it

      John 3:14 declares the remedy for sin. Christ must be lifted up. Verse 15 is the result. — “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Verse 16 is the reason. — “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!”

      The cross is a display of righteousness, justice, truth, and holiness; but there is more in the cross of Christ than an exhibition of the holiness of God. The cross is the great display and manifestation of the love of God. John 3:16 takes us back to the very foundation of everything. God’s great salvation was provided by love. Christ came and died because God loved us and was determined to have a people like Christ, not in order to make the Father love us, but because he loved us. The atonement was not the cause but the effect of God’s love (1 John 4:9-10).

      “Twas not to make Jehovah’s love
      Toward his people flame,
      That Jesus from the throne above,
      A suffering man became.

      Twas not the death which he endured,
      Nor all the pangs he bore,
      That God’s eternal love procured,
      For God was love before.

      He loved the world of His elect,
      With love surpassing thought;
      Nor will His mercy e’er neglect
      The souls so dearly bought!

      The warm affections of His breast
      Towards His chosen burn;
      And in His love He’ll ever rest,
      Nor from His oath return.”

      In this 16th verse our Lord tells us seven things about the love of God.
      1. The tense of his love. — “God so loved.” He always has loved us. It is an everlasting love (Romans 5:8; Jeremiah 33:3).
      2. The magnitude of his love. — “God so loved.” It is an infinite love (John 15:13).
      3. The scope of his love. — “God so loved the world.” His love is not limited to the Jews only, but to all nations (Revelation 5:9).
      4. The nature of his love. — “God so loved…that he gave.” Real love ever seeks the highest interest and well being of its object. Love is unselfish; it gives. God gave the greatest gift.
      5. The sacrificial character of his love. He not only gave his Son to live on earth among men, but to die the death of the cross (Philippians 2:6-8).
      6. The design of his love. — “That whosoever believeth on him should not perish.” God has a people who shall not perish. No condemnation or judgment shall come to them (Romans 8:33-34).
      7. The beneficence of his love. — “But have everlasting life.” This is what our Lord imparts to his own: — eternal life and glory (1 John 3:1-3).

      The coming of Christ was not to condemn the world; the world was already condemned (Romans 5:18). The Son of God came into the world in human flesh that men and women of all nations might be saved. The word “might” does not express any uncertainty about the fact of their being saved. It expresses our Lord’s purpose and design in coming. He came in order that the world might be saved. His person and work for sinners enabled God to be both just and Justifier of those who believe (1 Peter 3:18; Isaiah 45:20-25).

      By Faith Alone

      Fourth, our Lord teaches us that sinners obtain all the blessedness of eternal life in Christ by faith alone.

      “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (VV. 18-21)

      Obviously, faith in Christ does not give sinners life. Faith is the result of life given by God the Holy Spirit. And faith does not accomplish justification. Faith is the result of that justification Christ accomplished at Calvary. Yet, no one is saved without faith; and all who are saved are saved by faith alone, because salvation is by grace (Romans 4:16). Three times our Lord repeats this glorious truth to Nicodemus. Twice he proclaims that “whosoever believeth shall not perish.” Once he says, “He that believeth on the Son of God is not condemned.”

      Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is salvation. He that has faith has life, and he that has it not has not life. Nothing is necessary to our complete salvation. Nothing will give us an interest in Christ except faith in him. You may fast and mourn for sin, and do many things that are right, and use religious ordinances, and give all your goods to feed the poor, and yet remain unpardoned, and lose your soul. But if you come to Christ as a guilty sinner, believing on him, eternal life is yours and you cannot be lost. Without faith in Christ, there is no salvation; but through faith in the Son of God, the vilest sinner is saved forever.

      In this matter of salvation, faith stands alone, without works. If you would know whether you are justified by Christ, there is but one question to be asked. — “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (v.18).

      For the believer there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1) because Christ was condemned in our stead (Isaiah 53:4-6). Those who believe not are condemned already. We all came into this world with the curse of sin upon us and were by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Guilt and condemnation is increased by persistent unbelief. If any go to hell, it will be because they loved darkness rather than light. It will be because they refused to come to Christ, because they refused to believe on the Son of God (Proverbs 1:23-33; Matthew 11:21-30).

      Oh, may God the Holy Spirit give you faith in Christ! May he be gracious to you and give you the gift of life, for Christ’s sake.

      Don Fortner


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