Atty. Adriel B. Gran

Can a person be saved by believing the kind of faith mentioned in John 3:16?

There is no other verse in the Holy Scriptures, which could match John 3:16 with reference to committing it into memory. Many in the Christendom today memorized it because it is universally considered as “the heart of the bible.

Even among the so-called “grace believers” circles, it is the most favorite for it speaks of how God ushered his astounding love to the humanity and how he assured believers of obtaining everlasting life once a person accepted him as the Savior and Lord.

But how many of us today think that by persuading one to believe the kind of faith meant by John during his time will not lead him to eternal bliss, but instead placed him in the outer darkness of hell? Nobody perhaps ever thought about that. It is for most the most absurd and a far-fetched idea! But, what if it is?

It is sufficient for us to be like Bereans (Act. 17:11) by studying a passage not in accordance with the adherence of most “bible scholars”, but in accordance with what the apostle Paul called THE DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD (Eph. 3:1-5). We will not just blindly accept the traditional teachings of those who love to be called “Pastor” or “Reverend”- though there is only one Reverend and that is God (Ps. 111:9), and not in the light of the word or epistle of the apostle Paul (2 Thes. 2:15).


Let us now study John 3:16. It says, “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.”

First and foremost, we will ask who was the writer of John 3:16, and in what particular point in time he was writing the same? Everybody could immediately mussed John, and would further say that it was written during Christ’s earthly ministry inside the realm of what we call “the dispensation of law”. But who was John? There were four John in the bible: a.) John, the Jewish official (Act 4:6); b.) John who was called Mark (Act. 12:12); c.) John the Baptist (Mt. 3:1) and d.) John the apostle (Mt. 4:21). It is interesting to note that all of them are Jews and they lived, worked and collaborated with the Jews.

The writer of John 3:16 was a disciple of Jesus, he was Christ’s beloved, who even leaned at his breast at supper (Jn. 21:20-24). He was the brother of Zebeddee (Mt. 4:42) and among the rooster of the twelve apostles who were forbidden by Jesus not to associate with the gentiles.
“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel
.” ( Mt. 10:5-6).

John was one of those that preached “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (v.7). He was told to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils (v.8), to provide nothing for himself “…for the workman is worthy of his meat” (vs. 9-10), and practiced water baptism with the other apostles (Mt. 4:1,2; Mk. 16:6; Mt. 28:19-20).


It was argued that since John 3:16 SPEAKS OF God’s time, it means that God- during apostle john’s time, was providing salvation to ALL the people as though they were all standing in the same footing before him.

But that was not the case. This message of love and provision for salvation to all alike is contained ONLY in the secret message of the apostle Paul in this present dispensation of grace, and that was only after the casting away of the nation Israel.

“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded… I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy…For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:7, 11, 32).

It was only in this age of grace that Jews and Gentiles have no difference in the sight of God.

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (Romans 3:21-22).

The message of the dispensation of grace was absent during the time of John for it was yet under the dispensation of law. This message Paul taught now is a distinctive one, since it was kept secret since the world began (Eph. 3:2-4). “…Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5).

Apostle John was not writing God’s love in the context of saving the Jews and Gentiles alike. During his time, they were not standing on the same footing. The Jews were called children, while the Gentiles were called dogs (Mt. 15:26). It was of the same context where Christ said… “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt. 15:24).

This passage was corroborated by Paul when he said, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8).


Salvation according to the mind of John and Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry is this…God was meant to save his chosen people first for them to become the channel of blessings to the entire world. “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26 ).

Israel first, Gentiles latter! That was how God’s love towards the world was meant by John when he wrote John 3:16.

God gave that promise of blessings first to Abraham and his seeds then to all.
“…and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3).

Israel was the covenanted people of God. Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13) confirmed this truth after the setting aside of Israel’s program. In his letter to the Romans he said, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises” (Romans 9:3-4).

Even during the time of the apostles, the Jews were reminded that the entire world would be blessed by them and through them.

“Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed” “Acts 3:25).


Another thing that prompted proponents into believing that John 3:16 is still applicable for preaching and teaching salvation today is that Jesus Christ, was according to them, given by God to die on the cross for the entire world.

Let me tell you that such was a false presumption. When apostle John said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …”, he did not think of God giving Jesus to die for their sins, but for him to be their king and messiah.

When John wrote John 3:16, Jesus was still alive! Thus, he could not preach that Jesus given by his father to die on the cross for their salvation. That was not the gospel during their time.
The coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah was the very hope of Israel! This was the message angel Gabriel assured Joseph before Jesus’ birth.

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

God giving his only begotten son in John 3:16 should not be interpreted in the light of another writer like Paul (Rom. 5:8), but in John’s writing itself.

Apostle John never taught that Jesus died for their sins, rather he spoke about the Word coming in the flesh to be their messiah and king.

He said, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh was the object of Faith for salvation during John’s time and had Israel accepted him as their king, then they would have become the channel of blessings for the entire world today as promised.

Sad to note that His coming was not reciprocated positively by his chosen people, thus, the ushering of another dispensation with another message of grace.

John said, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:10-11).

“But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:21).


One “grace pastor” attended one of my Sunday School and for his own reason reacted the query of a concerned member about the proper use of John 3:16. He said, he used it in his teaching and preaching for accordingly, “…in Soteriology, we cannot separate the person of Jesus Christ as the savior and his act in saving the people…”

Granting arguendo that his first premise is correct, but the second one is not! True,
indeed, Jesus Christ as a person never changed because he is immutable (Heb. 13:8), but his acts do!

Basic in the study of dispensationalism is that God’s dealing to men changes. It’s the principle that never changes. It’s His dealings to men that change. We have the same God, but his manner of saving varies from dispensation to dispensation.

When God asked Noah to build an ark for them to be saved, he never did the same thing during the time of Moses, nor of David, or of the 12 apostles. Much more at this present age of grace! Instead, He provided another manner, another object of faith for a believer to hold on to.

The truth is, the person of Jesus Christ never changed, but his act of saving varies from dispensation to dispensation.

During the time of John, salvation was by faith although manifested by works such as by adhering to the ordinance of water baptism (Mk. 16:16; Act. 2:38). Today, salvation is solely by grace through faith apart from works (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 11:6). The blood of Jesus Christ redeemed us and washed us from all our sins (Col. 1:14), and not anymore by water baptism (Tit. 3:5). We should not mix truths belonging to different ages so as not to have a confusing doctrine. Paul said,

“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2 ). “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:17 ).


Paul abhors mixing God’s Word, thus:

a.) Do not bring truths belonging to the past dispensation and apply it to the present;
b.) Do not bring truths belonging to the future dispensation and apply it to the present; and
c.) Do not apply truths belonging to a portion of a dispensation and apply it to another
portion of same dispensation.


May these things be the eye-opener to all of us in reference to John 3:16.

1. What was that object of faith, which apostle John had told to the Jews? Did he tell them to believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, that he was buried, and resurrected for their sins according to the scriptures? Or, told them to believe that Jesus is the Christ, their Messiah and King (see John 20:31)?

2. Where do you think John and his believers will spend their everlasting life with Christ? In heaven like Paul? Or, in the Kingdom to be established on earth?

I hope that this will instigate every reader to study His word more deeply and profoundly- taking into consideration the key in understanding the bible, to make it more profitable (2 Tim. 3:16,17), plain and simple for our learning.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

- - - END - - -


For more information, please contact:

Pure Grace Ministries


Cell #: +63 905 776 3888


Make a Free Website with Yola.