Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
I have finished this series of posts looking at the book of John through the ideas surrounding the Jewish Passover. I had thought to publish the final post here, but it is too long. Instead, I am presenting the opening paragraphs and encourage you to read it on my Wordpress blog.
We now reach a dividing line that separates two opposite flowing theologies. These both center on who Jesus is AND how he saves man. The dividing line is between the necessity, or not, of a present Christ.
When we look at most of Christendom's theology concerning the crucifixion and resurrection we see that it comes from their understanding of the writings ascribed to Paul. With that understanding comes the concept of salvation I quoted in post # 2 of this series, which is based entirely on Jesus' crucifixion:Salvation is the result of confessing one's belief that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died so that our sins are forgiven, thereby reconciling us to God, the Father. We believe, we confess, that’s it. Salvation resides in Jesus plus nothing. That is, we need nothing except to believe in Jesus Christ and our fellowship with God is restored. What follows is an intimate life with God forever. If hearing His voice is a necessary condition of salvation, then the Jesus plus nothing statement becomes Jesus plus something, i.e. hearing His voice.
You will note that this concept of salvation is based on the power of death. Contrast that with Jesus' statement, "The thief comes to kill and destroy. I am come that you might have life and that more abundantly." This statement comes in the context of the shepherd who speaks to his sheep and the sheep hear his voice and follow.
The 'Jesus plus nothing' salvation does not need a present Christ. Jesus did his work by dying on the cross, and he can now exit the scene only to reappear at the end (finale) of the world termed the 'second coming'. The 'shepherd' salvation depends upon a shepherd actively present, functionally present. Under an absentee shepherd, the sheep scatter and are consumed by the wolf. But the end (goal) of the age has arrived, the shepherd is present, and dwells in and among his sheep.
I want to pull in references from Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as those from the book of John that concern Jesus' work. The parable of the wicked husbandmen is a statement of the situation Jesus found himself in and provides us clues about his view of what he came to accomplish:
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