Know Your Bible

VOL. 10                                                                                                                                                                                November 13, 2011                                                                                                                                                                                NO. 42


 The Difference Between "Should" And "Shall"

The sign I saw on the side of the road at a local Baptist Church read "Whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish". Curious about this new reading of John 3:16, I put "shall not perish" and "salvation" into an Internet search engine and came up with about 15,600 hits.

Well, that's just a variant translation, right? Changing that word does not really change the meaning of the text. Or, does it? The fact is that this is yet another situation in which we discover the power of the definition of words.

Most translations get it right. In fact, of the eight different translations I consulted on this question only one (the New International Version) "translates" the word Greek word "me" (pronounced "may") as "shall not." My Greek lexicon defines it as "a primary particle of qualified negation" and points out that ou (pronounced "oo") is the Greek word that denotes an absolute denial.

So, this passage should properly be rendered "Whoever believes on him should not perish." It is that qualification which the original Greek word shows by way of our translation of it in the word "should" which is of vital importance to our consideration.

The verse, in its entirety reads "for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life." And in one short verse, Jesus has given us much to think about and consider.

First of all, He tells us that He was sent to this world because of God's deep, abiding love for us. The word for "love" here is "agape" love. A love of directed will that searches out what is best for the recipient of that love.

That love caused God to send Christ to this world, the only one of two men we could properly refer to as His direct sons (the other being Adam) who was born of woman. His "only begotten" Son. And not only to send Him, but to send Him for a reason: that mankind may not perish but have eternal life instead.

But notice here that belief alone is not sufficient. James tells us that even the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19). If we then believe that "whoever believes on Him shall not perish" then we profess our belief that there will be demons joining us in Heaven.

But Jesus is pointing something out here by the use of the word "should not" instead of saying "shall not". He is pointing out that our faith should prompt us into action. If you do not believe, if you have no faith, then you will never be saved for you will never act. However, even if you do believe, you still may not be saved because you still may choose (for whatever reason) not to obey. There is a reason why He chose to use the "qualified denial" when referring to those who believe and discussing their salvation.

So, reader friend, do you believe? If so, that is the first step along the proper road to having eternal life. But then you must ask yourself "have I obeyed?"

Later Jesus would say "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord' and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46) People calling out "Lord! Lord!" at least have enough belief to voice the words, but without backing those words and that belief up with action, it is still insufficient.

Resolve today to begin backing up your words with the proper actions!

---Mickey Chandler

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Do You Feel Saved?

Are you saved? How do you know you are saved? "I know I am saved because I feel it in my heart," many often say. But are the feelings of your heart the proper standard to determine your salvation? 

We do not use this standard in other matters. No one says of his bank statement, "I know it is right because I feel it in my heart," while they ignore to properly add and subtract from their balance. No carpenter says, "I know the board is 10 feet long because I feel it in my heart". He checks the board with the proper standard, the measuring tape! But, when it comes to a matter far more important than bank balances and board lengths -- salvation  -- many are willing to trust their eternal welfare to their feelings.

Can you trust the feelings of your heart to tell you whether or not you are saved? The Bible says "No!" "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool" (Prov. 28:26), for "the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jer. 10:23). "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Prov. 14:12). Feelings are subjective, they change from person to person and even within the same person. Truth is objective, it remains fixed and does not change, regardless of the person or the year.

The way you feel about salvation does not change God's truth concerning it, just as the way you feel about math, does not change the truth of it. Whether or not you are saved is an objective fact, not subject to the whims of how you feel from moment to moment. So how can they know they are saved? 

The Scripture says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding" (Prov. 3:5). You do not have to rely upon your own faulty and deceptive feelings concerning your salvation. The Lord has given "the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation" (2 Tim. 3:15). The knowledge and confidence of salvation can only come from the objective standard of God's Word. God will judge you by His Word, not by how you feel. Jesus proclaimed, "the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). 

What is your salvation based upon? Many people feel in their heart they are saved because they have "simply believed" in Jesus. While salvation certainly requires faith in Jesus, faith alone does not and cannot save according to God's Word. James wrote, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only" (Jas. 2:24). Other people have prayed and "asked Jesus to come into their heart" and now they feel they are saved. But nowhere does the Bible teach one must simply pray to Jesus in order to be saved. God's Word teaches to be saved you must: hear the gospel (Rom. 10:17); believe Jesus is the Son of God (Mk. 16:16); repent of your sins (Acts 2:38); confess Jesus (Rom. 10:9; Acts 8:36-38) and be baptized for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16). 

Those who obey God's Word do not have to guess whether or not they are saved based upon the feelings of their heart. They know they are saved because their salvation is based on the unchanging Truth of God's Word.

---Wayne Greeson

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