John 3:16 is probably the most cited proof christians give that they are saved. And, if they are like I was when I was a christian, they have never given much thought to anything beyond John 3:16 as proof they have been redeemed. I mean, lost people wouldn’t even think about John 3:16, right? So, I MUST be saved!
John 3:16 is the favorite, because it’s one of the first verses christians teach their young, and because it states that “whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
So, let me ask you a question: is everyone who posts “John 3:16” actually born again?
If so, that would mean that all one has to do is say, “John 3:16,” and the Father would then be obligated to give that person eternal life. If that isn’t salvation, then why isn’t it? It’s certainly given as the “undeniable” proof of salvation by a lot of christians.
But, taking it a step further, is everyone who says, “I believe,” saved? If scripture says that all who believe shall be saved, and you say you believe, does that seal the deal? How about if you say “I believe,” and you really, really, really, really, really mean it?
Sadly, christianity is both deficient and dishonest in its doctrines of salvation, for there is no scripture that can confirm that anybody is born again. Scripture, in and of itself, is just words. Words have no inherent power, especially not to save lost people. The true instruction of scripture comes directly from its Author, not from the words themselves.
Moreover, Satan and his demons believe—and, their belief is higher than mere mortal belief, for they see both the physical AND spiritual realms, and they definitely believe.
If mere belief were all that is necessary to be born again, then Messiah actually got it wrong in Luke 8:13 when He said that some will believe with all joy for awhile, but, in their time of testing (that all must go through to receive salvation), they eventually fall away because they have no root (they never received the source of life, who is the Holy Spirit).
We know that Messiah wasn’t wrong, and it’s clear that simple belief does not mean that someone is saved, so when John 3:16 speaks of all who believe not perishing, what “belief” is that?
John explained it more deeply in 1 John 5:10. From His eternal perspective, those the Father sees as “believers” have the Witness (Greek: evidence) inside them—it is not simply that they have human belief, but that something has been placed within them, they have “believed unto righteousness.”
They did not merely believe, but they believed to the point of being made righteous. They believed to the point of receiving the Covenant—they went from the gate, through the Outer Courtyard (brazen altar and laver), which is simple human belief, through the door into the Holy Place (menorah, bread of the presence, and the altar of incense), which is the guiding of the Holy Spirit in the pillars of cloud and fire, and through the veil into the Holy of Holies (Ark of the Covenant), which is salvation.
So, John’s actual explanation is this: those who have the Holy Spirit are believers, and those who don’t are unbelievers. It is not merely one’s human belief that defines who is which, it is the indwelling Spirit who does that. Merely stating “I believe” doesn’t mean that one is actually saved, just as citing “John 3:16” doesn’t actually mean anything regarding one’s salvation.
For more information: What Is Saving Belief?