John 3:16 is such a beautiful verse in the bible because it expresses the love God has for mankind. It says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
What is implied in “believing” in the Son? Some religious people think of “belief” as including no more than assent of the mind; mental acceptance of the fact that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son. They then argue that this is all that is necessary to salvation because John 3:16 mentions no other condition for everlasting life. They deny the baptism is essential because John 3:16 says nothing about baptism.
Is repentance necessary to eternal life? In Acts 17:30 Paul taught that God “Commands all men every where to repent.” Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). Peter told sinners, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. . .” (Acts 3:19) But there is not a word about “repenting” in John 3:16-unless we include it in the “believing” in that passage. Does the “belief” that brings everlasting life include or exclude repentance?
Is confessing essential? Paul wrote, “That if you will confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and will believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” How do these statements in Rom. 10:9, reconcile with John 3:16 since the latter makes no mention of “confessing with the mouth?” Can one have everlasting life by believing in the heart but without confessing with the mouth?
Is baptism unnecessary for remission of sins? The Jews on Pentecost were told by Peter, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Ananias told Saul to “Arise, and he baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Again, the Bible says in I Pet. 3:21, “The like figure where unto even baptism does also now save us … by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Just as soon as we call attention to such passages as these, someone says, “But what about John 3:16? It says nothing about baptism.” Yes, but it also says nothing about repenting and confessing Christ! If all these things are nonessential because they are not specified in John 3:16, why do other scriptures list them as essentials? Are we not obligated to understand John 3:16 in the light of the Bible as a whole?
In a detailed comparison of John 3:16 and John 3:36 we find that obedience is added to faith. “He that believes on the Son has eternal life; but he that obeys not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Other passages show that baptism is necessary to obedience as well (Acts 10:48 ff; Mk. 16:15, 16), therefore John 3:16 does not exclude baptism! Now take time to read Heb. 5:8, 9 and James 2:24. Remember the words of Jesus when he said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Mt 7:21) Therefore, if you believe in the man, obey his commands, the man being Christ Jesus!