Without a doubt, John 3:16 is the most well-known passage in the New Testament. It’s seen on T-shirts, bumper stickers, and written on signs in the stands at professional sporting events. Sadly, it’s also a passage that is frequently taken out of context.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. JOHN 3:16
Some people read John 3:16 and come to the false conclusion that God offers universal salvation regardless of what someone believes or who they worship.
They believe all paths lead to God. In our culture, some would assert that if God was really loving He would have provided a variety of options. But God didn’t provide a variety of options—He provided One. The text says that God’s love is so deep that He sent His only Son. True belief is conditioned upon belief in the Son.
Jesus’ mission in coming to this world was to save people. Those who believe in Christ and trust His work on the cross for their salvation will not be condemned. But those who refuse Christ are condemned because there is no other option for being reconciled to God. Apart from Jesus, we live in darkness. John wrote, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19).
Those who believe in Jesus aren’t condemned. What is the alternative for those who don’t believe? Why should this lead us to tell others about Jesus with urgency?