John 3:16- Absolute Assurance?


Here is something I don’t understand: how many Protestant-Christians say that we have an Absolute Assurance of Heaven. I can attest to this, because I live in the “bible belt,” and was a former Protestant myself. I’m aware that not all Protestants believe this, but it’s certainly commonplace.

Most of them who believe this point to John 3:16.

For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son: that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting.

Latin: Sic enim dilexit Deus mundum ut Filium suum unigenitum daret ut omnis qui credit in eum non pereat sed habeat vitam aeternam

Notice how it says “may not perish.” That’s not a guarantee. In other translations such as the KJV it uses “should.”

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

“Should” and “shall,” both commonly used, mean the same thing. Shall is a form of the verb “should.” Clearly, “should” and “will” do not mean the same thing. Therefore, the verse does not say that we will go to Heaven just by believing alone.

If anyone has things to add to this argument, please feel free.

In Pax Christi


The two obvious questions that come to my mind are

  1. What does it mean to believe? Presumably it means more than the “dead faith” spoken of in James.

  2. What happens if a person stops believing? We have evidence all around us of former Christians who have stopped believing in Christianity, so nobody can deny that such things happen.


Pslam 2:7 says that David a begotten don of God. Is David and Jesus the same person?



David has only a human nature and was procreated (a human mother and father)

Jesus, is the Son of God, Begotten, not made with both a fully human and a fullly Divine nature.

I have absolute assurance… not in myself… but in the Truth.

The Truth is not something, it is somebody, and His Name is Jesus Christ



So I’m reading the translation incorrectly?
pslam 2:7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.


actually God says “…today I have begotten you…”

that would tell us that David had a beginning.

Jesus is only present… no past, no future, and not restriced by time.

His “beginning” on earth is only in reference to our limitations of time and space.

God had no limits.


You Are My Son:
Each time a legitimate son of David was crowned king as the successor to his father in the city of Jerusalem, these words could be used of him. The new king was adopted by God as His"son"; he would look to God as his “Father”. This formula of adoption was announced in a solemn ceremony of coronation attended by priests and prophets, with pomp and celebratory worship of God. In the New Testament, the Son of God is also declared to be the King, the true Anointed, the Christ.


Looking up the definition of “Shall” in my Webster’s dictionary, the definition is give as “Be going to; indicates futurity”. Here is another definition from another website.

Inflected forms: past tense should ( shd)

  1. Used before a verb in the infinitive to show:
    a. Something that will take place or exist in the future: We shall arrive tomorrow.
    b. Something, such as an order, promise, requirement, or obligation: You shall leave now. He shall answer for his misdeeds. The penalty shall not exceed two years in prison.
    c. The will to do something or have something take place: I shall go out if I feel like it.
    d. Something that is inevitable: That day shall come.
  1. Archaic
    a. To be able to.
    b. To have to; must.

The word “Shall” is infact a definitive statement. Looking at the KJV translation

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Bolding the “should not” phrase as you have pointed out and looking at Strongs Hebrew Greek Dictionary, it states the following for the phrase “should not”:

A primary particle of qualified negation (whereas G3756 expresses an absolute denial); (adverbially) not, (conjugationally) lest; also (as interrogitive implying a negative answer [whereas G3756 expects an affirmative one]); whether: - any, but, (that), X forbear, + God forbid, + lack, lest, neither, never, no (X wise in), none, nor, [can-] not, nothing, that not, un -taken], without. Often used in compounds in substantially the same relations.

No where is the term defined as a “maybe” or “possibly”.

For those of use that have assurance of salvation, also looks at the second part of the verse. “but have everlasting life”. This says “have”, not “may have”. God, makes this doubly by not just stating what will not happen, perish, but affirms what will happen, everlasting life.

But we also do not stop at this one verse. There are others that bolster our assurance.
John 3:15, 18, 36
John 5:24
John 6:40, 47
John 7:38
John 11:25-26
Acts 10:43
Acts 13:39
Romans 1:16
Romans 4

  1. “Believe” in this text means the following using the Strong Hebrews Greek dictionary:

From G4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well being to Christ): - believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.

  1. Based on the definition of believing, we can phrase the question, “What happens when people do not have faith in Jesus Christ?” Without faith in Jesus Christ, God tells us that they will be judged and sent to hell.


A little off the subject of absolute assurance, this passage needs to be taken in context. Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about Baptism and this passage should not be taken out of context of His overall message. For more information listen to the first 13 minutes of program 11 “Gospels II” of this Scott Hahn talk. Scott explains how being born again means being

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