Ephesians 4:3-6; One Faith –the believer and the disciple.

Class Outline:

Tuesday, March 30, 2021


“The mind of man recoils from so daring an expression of divine generosity.” [Hodges]


Simplicity of the gospel in JOH 3:14-16.


JOH 3:14-16

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.

16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”


Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about eternal life.


JOH 3:3

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."


The reference to life in the image of the serpent on the pole is clear.


NUM 21:8

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live."


The people did look at the serpent and they lived. It was as simple as looking, and in Jesus’ reference to Himself is obviously meant to be the same, “even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him have eternal life.” Jesus means for Nicodemus and all others to look to Him in faith. God did not require the Israelites dying of venom in the desert to make promises to never complain again, or to promise to work, or to do anything but to look at the serpent.


Analyzation of the text seems to point the end of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus to be at vs. 15, which would make vs. 16ff John’s own inspired commentary, however we cannot be sure. Yet, if Jesus did speak vs. 16 and onward to the Pharisee, the conclusion is the same; obviously because the gospel doesn’t change, and so neither does its simplicity.


There is no qualification here to “this kind of faith” or “that kind of faith” or of a “faith that leads to this or that.” The issue is simply faith in the divine offer. One body, one spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith.


Looking at the serpent on the pole is akin to looking at the crucified Savior on the cross. Will a man believe upon Him for eternal life or no? Therefore, all who have eternal life can and should be sure of it.


Is there a difference between a disciple and a believer, or are they one?


Our Lord made clear that discipleship was a costly commitment.


LUK 14:26-27

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”


LUK 14:27

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”


LUK 14:33

“So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”


Too often, these words are taken as conditions for eternal salvation. This is wrong, for it would make salvation conditioned upon the goodness in man. Such a thought would negate even the need for salvation.


Secondly, are these words describing the inevitable result of salvation? To any listener simply hearing His words, it would be obvious that the Lord was warning us about the very real danger of failure.


It is unmistakable that His words are filled with warning.


LUK 14:28-33

“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' 31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks terms of peace. 33 So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”


If these are the conditions to being a Christian, then salvation is faith plus works, and that false gospel conflicts with many clear passages in the Bible.


Yet, for a believer to set his mind to being a disciple, he is warned that it will cost something (time, diligence, perseverance, strength) like a man building a tower, and it will seem difficult, like a general looking at an opposing army that has twice as many men as his own. Perhaps we could derive from the second reference that the opposition to discipleship will sometimes look to us as too difficult for us. Yet still, we read of many battles in Israel’s beginning in which they were heavily outnumbered and still had to rush into battle with faith in the promises of God.


JOS 10:25

"Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous, for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies with whom you fight."


JOS 11:6

“Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel”


Therefore, the faith for salvation is simply believing on Jesus Christ as your Savior. Yet then, after salvation, we are called to believe many doctrines and promises throughout all the days of life. Some challenges will be harder than others. Faith is faith, but the ability to believe God’s word in more and more difficult situations will increase as the believer matures. Faith doesn’t change, but the situations before and after salvation do change as the believer is born-again, entered into union with Christ, and enters into the predesigned plan that God has made for their life. Before salvation, the only issue for a man is faith in the gospel. After salvation the issue becomes faith in all the word of God and all the promises of God.


In John’s Gospel, he uses the expression (21x): the verb for believing plus the preposition eis (on).


He does this 21 times, including the famous JOH 3:16. It is unmistakable in conveying faith on (or in) Christ for eternal salvation.


JOH 8:30-32

As He spoke these things, many came to believe in [eis] Him.


31 Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."


Jesus clearly spoke that those who believed upon Him had eternal life.


JOH 6:47

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.”


There is nothing conditional in that statement other than faith in Him. Remember also the declarations that the one who has faith in Him will never hunger or thirst again and also that He had never lost one who trusted in Him.


JOH 6:35-40

Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 "But I said to you, that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37 "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."


We never read anywhere of a faith in Christ that is not saving. Man postulates this; not God.


Getting back to Joh 8:


JOH 8:30-32

As He spoke these things, many came to believe in [eis] Him.


31 Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."


It is obvious that the individuals in vs. 30 are the same as those in vs. 31. But are they the same as those in vv. 33, 39, 41?


It is however claimed that the ones in vv. 30 and 31 are the speakers in vv. 33, 39, 41, and that in vs. 44 Jesus tells them they are of their father the devil.


This postulation misses the whole point of vv. 30-32 in the context of the entire passage.


JOH 8:13-59 is clearly a controversy section which has its setting in the Jewish Temple (8:20). Jesus’ hearers and opponents throughout the section are his general audience in the temple treasury. They are described as Pharisees (8:13), as Jews (8:22, 48, 52 and 57) and more simply as “they” (8:19, 25, 27, 33, 33, 41, 59). John does not expect us to construe the “they” of verse 3 any differently than we do the same word in verses 19, 25 and 27. He intends the larger audience. Verses 30-31 are about those who believe in Him out of that crowd. They are a kind of “aside” to the reader to explain the background and purpose of Jesus’ statement in verses 31b-32 about continuing in His Word.