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Book Reviews: Baptism & Confirmation & Patterns for Baptism

Book Reviews Baptism and Confirmation Church House Publishing, 2022 (ISBN: 9780715123522, 468pp, £40) Patterns for Baptism Church House Publishing, 2022 (ISBN: 9780715123492, 392pp, £25) These handsome volumes are the latest additions to Common Worship, the Church of...

The Diverse Excellencies of Jesus Christ: Gospel-Driven Anglicanism

Gospel-Driven Anglicanism By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles The Diverse Excellencies of Jesus Christ  The American Theologian and Pastor, Jonathan Edwards (1703 -1758), once preached a sermon entitled “The Admirable Conjunction of Diverse Excellencies in Jesus Christ”. The...

The Cancelling of the Creator

The Cancelling of the Creator The headline from a national newspaper popped up on my phone: “Daniel Radcliffe is surely the world’s most ungrateful man”. It’s not a title many would be scrambling to win for themselves, but the opinion-piece made the case. Daniel...

Melville-Knox Christian School Opens in Aberdeen

Melville-Knox Christian School Opens in Aberdeen Melville-Knox Christian School Aberdeen officially opened on Monday 7th November after years of prayer, planning and organisation. We give thanks to the Lord that we have been able to reach this significant milestone;...

Barnabas Report: At Least 21 Christians Killed in Mozambique

Barnabas Report At Least 21 Christians Killed in Mozambique During October At least 21 Christians have been killed by Islamist extremists in violent attacks throughout October in northern Mozambique. Jihadists set fire to a church building and several houses in the...

Sanctuary Foundation Offers Free Advent Resource

Sanctuary Foundation Offers Free Advent Resource  Sanctuary Foundation has been aiding those trying to offer assistance for those fleeing the war in Ukraine through its, “Homes for Ukraine” scheme.  The charity has been serving as a liaison by resourcing hosts and...

Annual Clive West Memorial Lecture Set for Belfast

Annual Clive West Trust Lecture Set for Belfast The 2022 Clive West Trust Lecture will take place on Thursday, 22 November at St Nicholas’ Church on the Lisburn Road in Belfast at 19:30. This year’s featured speaker is the Revd Dr Tim Ward.  Ward earned his PhD from...

Church of England Council Rejects Croft’s Position

Church of England Evangelical Council Rejects Croft’s Position In a press statement following the pronouncements of Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, the Church of England Evangelical Council repudiated the departure of biblical teaching advocated by Croft. It said,...

On Transubstantiation: Reformation Anglicanism

Reformation Anglicanism On Transubstantiation By the Revd Canon Chuck Collins Transubstantiation became the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church at the Fourth Lateran Council that began, November 11, 1215. The Council of Trent in 1551 went on to confirm the...

Oxford Good Stewards Trust Announced in Response to Bishop of Oxford’s Revisionism

St Paul’s Banbury, Oxford Answers Bishop and Announces  The Oxford Good Stewards Trust The Revd Dan McGowan, Vicar of St Paul’s, Banbury in Oxford Diocese has answered Bishop Croft’s revisionist declarations about same-sex matters and announced the formation of The...

Pilgrim’s Process: John 3:16 The Gospel in Miniature

Pilgrim’s Process

John 3:16, The Gospel in Miniature

By the Revd Dr Peter Sanlon

Martin Luther said of John 3:16 that it contains ‘the Gospel in miniature.’ It may well be the most famous verse in scripture – it was the first one I taught my children to recite. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.’

As food for our pilgrimage to heaven, let us reflect on this feast of a verse. Some doctrinal observations:

1.       It is unclear in the Greek text whether Jesus said these words or whether they form the Spirit inspired reflection upon Jesus’ exchange with Nicodemus. This ambiguity should draw us deeper into the mystery of the verse – our reflection on the love of God is united with our Lord’s teaching.

2.       God’s love is the bedrock and reality with which we must all reckon. God’s love is the leading theme of the verse and the leading theme of the gospel. John Owen preached on our verse: ‘The Scripture positively asserts this very love as the chiefest act of the love of God.’

3.       The use of the word ‘so’ indicates that God’s love is not a vague undefined force, but is revealed and demonstrated to us in a concrete way. God loves us in a specific way – the giving of his Son.

4.       The extent and cost of God’s love is seen in the preciousness of the gift – the Son is the Father’s only begotten – his only precious loved Son. Sacrificed for the world.

5.       The world is – in John’s main usage – the cosmos in wicked rebellion against its creator. The focus is not on every person (that would contradict John’s emphasis elsewhere that Jesus laid down his life for his sheep) but rather the undeservedness of a world that rejects God.

6.       A response is demanded from such a great display of costly love –-  we are urged to believe on Jesus. Our faith will be fitted to the object — a loving object of faith requires a loving faith. So our trust in Jesus will be warm-hearted, enthusiastic and passionate.

7.       It is important that people hear of God’s love and respond because the Son will return to judge. The future reality of a division of all persons into those who perish and those who live eternally makes the gospel verse vital and urgent. To use the technical theological language, the atonement is eschatological.

Many sermons have been preached on this verse – many more will doubtless be. Likely many of us have learned John 3:16 years ago. That said, the themes it speaks of are never exhausted.

The Revd Dr Peter Sanlon is the Rector of Emmanuel Anglican Church, Tunbridge Wells.

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