John 3:16 does not say man can choose to believe or not

Many try to use John 3:16 to say that God gives man a chance to believe or disbelieve in Christ. But no where does that verse say this.

John 3:16

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16 does not say man has a choice. It explains that God loved His creation (universe) or the collection of those who would believe (depending on your understanding of the meaning of ‘world’), that He gave His only Son so who ever believes in Christ will have eternal life. It is a description of those who have eternal life – anyone who believes. That does not mean man has a choice – just that those who  believe have eternal life.

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2 Responses

  1. Before we interpret what is meant by “belief” in the context of John 3:16, let us first question whether or not people choose what they believe or disbelieve, or if what is believed or disbelieved is forced on them against their will by some other being:

    Genesis 1:1-3

    “1.Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

    2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

    4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

    6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”

    What this passage does NOT say in verse 6 is “When God caused the woman to believe that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”

    No. Clearly, Eve chose of her own discretion to discredit God’s command and partake of a faulty belief. This is why Romans 1:25 states “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.” Note: It does NOT say “Satan caused them to disbelieve the truth about God and to believe a lie.” Neither does it say that “God caused them to disbelieve the truth and believe the lie.”

    So if neither God nor Satan causes disbelief in us, who does? In simple terms, Eve exchanged the truth of a lie due to her own conscious belief, a conscious and willing choice made by her own God-given capability of Freedom of Thought. Disbelief is then something that we do to ourselves through our own vain imaginations.

    If we disallow freedom of choice in belief that is a very dangerous doctrine indeed! Why is it so dangerous? It is dangerous because that would mean that people are not responsible for their beliefs and therefore not responsible for their actions. If God makes people believe in Him, contrary to their own will, then it is not their responsibility to “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near” in Isaiah 55:6. God will just conform them into belief. So what is the point of seeking the Lord? No. No. NO! NO!

    Repentance is a choice made in the spirit of a man. While only God can conform the spirit into holiness (i.e. the ministry of reconciliation), man is yet responsible for his own beliefs, no matter how true nor how faulty, and be not mistaken…And Indeed the Most Holy and Sovereign God will judge accordingly.

    • We have only such choices as God gives us, given His purpose, His choice, how He has caused or allowed things to happen. But God works in us to do according to HIS purpose. God is the one who decides how things will go. We might have our plans and such, but God will direct our steps. God decides when and where people and nations will live and nations so they might find God. But without God making it happen, we have no choice. And the choice we make is made certain by God.

      If repentance is a choice of man, why was Esau not granted repentance, even though he sought it with tears (Hebrews 12:15-17)?

      EVERYTHING that exists does so because of GOD and FOR God and THROUGH God. Its all about GOD, not about us.

      People are responsible for their choices, and yet their choices were not made in a vacuum – God worked so what HE wanted to occur would occur.

      God ordains all things
      a. God ordains people to live (Numbers 24:23)
      b. God ordained the moon & stars (Psalm 8:3)
      c. God promises beforehand (Genesis 24:7)
      d. God said beforehand that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 4:21)
      e. God foretells & acts & it occurs (Isaiah 48:3-6)
      f. God ordained His precepts (Psalm 119:4)

      God has a purpose
      a. God’s purpose is eternal (Ephesians 3:11)
      b. It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose (Philippians 2:13)

      God has a plan and decides beforehand what will happen
      a. God has a plan, and it will come to pass (Isaiah 14:24-27; 19:12; 22:11; 23:9; 37:26; 46:10-11; Jeremiah 49:20; 50:45)
      b. God knows His plan (Jeremiah 29:11)
      c. God’s plan can be difficult to understand (Micah 4:12)
      d. God’s plan does not change (Psalm 33:11)
      e. God’s plan includes everything (Proverbs 16:4; Ephesians 1:11)
      f. God’s plan is concerned with the welfare of God’s chosen (Psalm 27:10-11; 37; 65:3; 91; 121; 139:16; Daniel 12:1; Jonah 3:1-10; Matthew 6:25-29)
      g. God’s plan prevails over man’s plans (Proverbs 19:21)
      h. God sometimes warns of His plan (Jeremiah 18:11)
      i. God’s plan sometimes seem to depend on our actions (Jeremiah 36:3; Hebrews 4:7)
      j. God’s plan does not always depend on our actions (Micah 2:3)
      k. All the days of your life were ordained & written in God’s book (Psalm 139:16)
      l. God has determined the places and times people shall live (Acts 17:26)
      m. God’s power & will decided beforehand what would happen (Acts 4:27-28)
      n. God allows some things to show His power and to proclaim His name through all the earth (Exodus 9:16)
      o. Christ was handed over by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23)
      p. Paul was set aside from birth (Galatians 1:15)

      Faith and salvation are from God
      a. The work of God is that we believe in Christ (John 6:29)
      b. Jesus is the author of salvation (Hebrews 2:9-10)
      c. Jesus is the author & perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2)

      Only those that God gives to Christ will come to Him
      a. No one can come to Christ unless the Father who sent Christ draws him (John 6:44)
      b. Everyone who has heard and learned from God the Father will come to Christ (John 6:45)
      c. Only those God has specifically granted permission can come to Christ (John 6:65)
      d. All the Father gives to Christ will come to Him and never be driven away (John 6:37; 17:24)
      e. Some people’s names are not written in the book of Life (Revelation 13:8, 17:8)

      People are sinners and unable to respond in faith without God
      a. God hates sin (Psalm 5:5)
      b. God is not responsible for our committing sin (Ezek 28:15)
      c. All have sinned (Romans 3:23; 5:12; 1 John 1:10)
      d. Sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23; 6:23)
      e. Wrath of God comes to men who exchange what they create (image of animals) for God (Romans 1:18-23)
      f. Unbelievers can not please God (Romans 8:7-8)
      g. It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6)
      h. God does not hear sinners (John 9:31)
      i. Godly sorrow leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-11)
      j. God leads us to change (Romans 2:4)
      k. The law was intended to teach of our need for Christ, not save us (Romans 3:19-31)
      l. Satan blinds people (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
      m. People are blind to their need and the truth (Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:14-15)
      n. All people are under the power of sin (Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:9-11)
      o. Some people will stumble and are destined to disobey the message (1 Peter 2:8)

      God chose the elect
      a. God chose Abraham (Genesis 18:19)
      b. God chose Jacob (the younger) over Esau (the older) (Genesis 25:23-26; Malachi 1:2-3)
      c. God decides who are His people (Hosea 1:10; 2:23)
      d. God chose & predestined believers before creation of the world according to His good will for His plan and purpose (Ephesians 1:3-14)
      e. The elect were chosen according to the foreknowledge of God (in an intimate relationship) (1 Peter 1:1-2)
      f. Believers were chosen from the beginning (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)
      g. People who love God are those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)
      h. Those God foreknew (in an intimate relationship) He also predestined, called, justified, & glorified (Romans 8:29-30)
      i. You did not choose Christ, He chose you (John 15:16; Acts 9:15; 1 Thessalonians 1:4)
      j. All who were appointed for eternal life believed (Acts 13:44-48)
      k. People are chosen because of God’s grace, not because of what they do

      i. God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion. (Exodus 33:19)
      ii. Jesus saves us because of God’s mercy, not because of good works, to do God’s work, which He prepared for us in advance (Romans 11:5-8; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5)
      iii. God chose from the weak, the foolish, the base, the despised, the poor (1 Corinthians 1:27-29; James 2:5)
      iv. God chooses so that His purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls. God has no injustice but it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy (Romans 9:6-33)

      l. People are chosen to display his glory (Ephesians 1:6,12,14)

      We are each responsible for our choices.
      a. Each person dies for his own sins (Deuteronomy 24:16; Eze 18:4)
      b. We must warn the wicked of his sin, but we will not be accountable for his sins. But if we do not warn him of his sin, he will die for them, and we will be responsible for his blood (Ezekiel 3:19)
      c. If we do not believe Jesus is the Christ, we will die in our sin (John 8:24)
      d. Each person will be judged according to what he has done (Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 1:17; 1 Peter 4:5-6; Jude 1:14-16; Rev 20:12-13)

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