Rethinking Salvation and the Purpose of John’s Gospel: Challenging Assumptions about Conversion

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The gospel of John is often regarded as an evangelistic account, aiming to introduce unbelievers to Jesus and lead them to faith. However, what if there’s a different perspective? In this blog post, we’ll explore a thought-provoking idea that may keep you pondering its implications. Specifically, we’ll question the assumption that belief in Jesus was the only pathway to salvation, especially within the context of the first century.

In the third episode of the Rethinking Scripture Podcast, we delve into the topic of conversion, with a particular focus on the gospel of John, chapter one. Our discussion also incorporates insights from notable theologians like Dr. Earl Radmacher, who made significant contributions to biblical academia during his tenure at Western Seminary, Grace Seminary of the Northwest, and Rocky Mountain Bible College and Seminary.

Exploring the Nature of Salvation: Drawing from Dr. Radmacher’s book titled “Salvation,” we examine the multifaceted aspects of spiritual salvation, encompassing past, present, and future. This holistic view encompasses justification, sanctification, and glorification, each playing a vital role within the broader scope of salvation. By placing faith in the finished work of Christ, moderns are initially saved from sin’s penalty and declared righteous. Throughout their lives, believers experience ongoing deliverance from sin’s power, with the ultimate promise of eternal freedom from sin’s presence in heaven.

Reassessing the Purpose of John’s Gospel: To grasp the Gospel of John’s message accurately, we must understand its purpose and how it shapes the narrative. Typically, scholars refer to John 20:30-31 as a key passage for determining the gospel’s intent. According to Radmacher and Derickson, John aims to engender faith in his readers, leading them to believe in Jesus and receive eternal life. However, this perspective often emphasizes justification over sanctification. By examining the gospel of John, we challenge the assumption that John’s purpose was solely evangelistic (justification), exploring the potential implications for sanctification salvation to be the main focus of the teachings of Jesus.

With this newfound perspective, we raise intriguing questions: Have we been reading the gospels with incorrect assumptions about salvation? Could it be that some individuals in the first century were already saved by placing their faith in the Old Testament’s promise of a Messiah? For those, would their encounters with Jesus be a step of sanctification instead of justification? By contemplating these questions, we open the door to a fresh understanding of salvation, its historical context, and the purpose of the gospels.