Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Has the Gospel of John Failed to Specifically and Precisely Express the Terms of Receiving Eternal Life? If so, John Failed in His Purpose (Jn 20:31)!

The question has been asked by the "more information needed" soft FGers, "Can a lost man be born again without understanding Christ's death for sins?"

Proof that he can:

Old Testament saints were born again without understanding Christ's death for sins, as in the instance of Saul.

1 Sam 10:6
6 Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.
NKJV

1 Sam 10:9-10
9 So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.
NKJV

Saul was born again apart from a conscious and necessary understanding of Jesus' Christ's death for sins.

New Testament saints were born again apart from understanding Christ's death for sins:

In other words, the 11 disciples were born again before understanding the cross and its significance. They believed that Jesus was the Christ (John 1:35-50) and we know that anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born again (1 John 5:1). They believed in Him (John 2:11). Anyone who believes in Him is born again (see John 3:1ff). The disciples were saved very early in Christ's ministry, even before John the Baptist was put into prison (which was even prior to the Sermon on the Mount!) and were taught soteriological truth at that same time (see John 4; the woman of Sychar).

It wasn't until late in Christ's third year of ministry that Christ began to tell His disciples about His death:

Matt 16:21
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
NKJV

What was Peter's response?

Matt 16:22
22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!"
NKJV

Peter's reaction does not suggest that he understood Jesus' death for sins.

Furthermore, as we have noted, they were born again, yet at the same time DID NOT BELIEVE the resurrection:

Mark 16:11
11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
NKJV

John 20:8-9
9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead
NKJV

Let us make a point right here, gentleman. A line in the sand.

The gospel of John was one of the last books written in the New Testament. It was written FAR AFTER Paul died (20 to 30 years after!!)

The gospel of John was written between 85 and 95 A.D., as dated by most conservative scholars. This makes it the last or second to last book written in the Bible (Revelation being the last by most scholars).

Let me ask you a question. Please think about this line of logic!

What was the purpose of John's gospel? As you will know and say, the purpose was evangelistic. Of course we are talking about the famous verses in John 20:30, 31:

John 20:30-31
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name
NKJV

This puts the gospel of John in a unique category. By its own explicit purpose statement, we find that it is the only book in the whole of the canon that was written with the express purpose of bringing men to faith in Christ for eternal life.

No other book can claim this nor does it claim it for itself. The gospel of John is unique in the canon.Now, the purpose of the gospel was to bring people to faith in Christ for eternal life. That is settled.

How does it do that? It goes into great detail Christ's soteriological affirmations to those who He ministered to (the woman at the well, Nicodemus, Martha, etc.)

Jesus says, "I give eternal life to the one who believes in Me. The one who believes in Me shall never perish, hunger, thirst, be lost, nor be cast out. The one who believes in Me will never come into the judgement, and will be raised on the last day. Do you believe this?"

Jesus, in the gospel of John, is presented as offering a gift. He is seen as the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him. Nowhere are we met in the text of the gospel of John the necessity the cross or the resurrection as the conscious and necessary object or content of saving faith.

Please read this text from Zane Hodges with an open and LOGICAL mind (not enveloped in your passion that states emphatically, "NO ONE CAN BE SAVED UNLESS THEY BELIEVE THAT JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS AND ROSE AGAIN".

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At the time of writing, the cross was years ago, and if belief in the work of the cross was by then necessary for salvation, John definitely gives us the wrong impression by stressing the way the cross dumbfounded even His most intimate disciples.

Let me put it to you this way. The Gospel of John is the only book in our New Testament canon that explicitly declares its purpose to be evangelistic. Of course, I am thinking of the famous theme statement found in John 20:30-31, where we read: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

This statement does not affirm the necessity of believing in our Lord’s substitutionary atonement. If by the time of the writing of John’s Gospel, it was actually necessary to believe this, then it would have been not only simple, but essential, to say so.

Inasmuch as the key figures in John’s narrative did believe in Jesus before they understood His atoning death and resurrection, it would have been even more essential for John to state that the content of faith had changed. But of course he does not do this. The simple fact is that the whole Fourth Gospel is designed to show that its readers can get saved in the same way as the people who got saved in John’s narrative. To say anything other than this is to accept a fallacy. It is to mistakenly suppose that the Fourth Gospel presents the terms of salvation incompletely and inadequately. I sincerely hope no grace person would want to be stuck with a position like that.

Let me repeat. Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the Gospel of John teach that a person must understand the cross to be saved. It just does not teach this. If we say that it does, we are reading something into the text and not reading something out of it!

What is my point? That we should not preach the cross of Christ to men? Not at all. I will make it emphatically clear a little later on that I think we should. Instead, I am arguing that we need to focus on the core issue in bringing men and women to faith and eternal life. What is that core issue?

Very simply it is this: We want people to believe that Jesus guarantees their eternal destiny. Of course, we would like them to believe a lot more than this, but this at least must be believed. Our failure to clearly define our goal in evangelism can have a negative or impeding effect on our efforts to lead people to simple faith in Christ.
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To re-express:

The gospel of John was written 20-30 years after the death of Paul. It was written as one of the last two books in the canon. It was written with an express purpose of bringing people to faith in Christ for eternal life. The book does not mention the word "gospel" nor does it require that understanding the death and resurrection of Christ is necessary to be born again. It DOES NOT TEACH THIS.

Is the gospel of John insufficient then in its explanation on how one is to receive eternal life? Are the exact and precise terms that it expresses lacking fundamental content to saving faith?

The text over and over again states that believing Jesus in His promise to guarantee to the believer eternal life is what saving faith is. Never in the gospel of John is the cross or the resurrection given as the conscious and necessary content or object of saving faith.

If it was an object or content to saving faith by then, according to those who believe it is so based upon a misguided appeal to "progressive revelation," it would have behooved John to include that in ANY of the soteriological affirmations of Christ, OR added this information at the end of the gospel as a new requirement IN ADDITION to faith alone in Christ alone for eternal life.

But of course he did not add this information. His gospel, in its soteriological affirmations, is adequate and sufficient to bring one to eternal life.

We do not need to impose other material on the gospel of John. If more information was required for saving faith in addition to what John says is the content of saving faith, then the gospel of John has failed in its purpose. It is not adequate to instruct us PERFECTLY and SPECIFICALLY on what we must do to have eternal life.

I sure hope, that after having read this, that you don't want to put yourself in the position of stating that the soteriological affirmations and assertions in the gospel of John are insufficient to receive eternal life.

1 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I am sure it must be tiring writing these posts, but they are so neeeded.

July 06, 2007 12:48 AM  

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