The Old Testament prophets predicted the first coming of Christ: his person, work, death, resurrection and second coming. The four Gospels of the New Testament record the fulfillments of all but the last event. These four accounts rest on the solid foundation of prophetic precedent. No other religious writing can make that claim.
The simplicity of Christ's call to salvation is often clouded or obscured by agenda driven theologies inherited from denominational traditions. This paper is written in order to put the Christian soul at rest concerning his own salvation, and that his hope should rest upon the word of God, and not the words of man.
John's Gospel bills itself as unique among the four, and for an excellent reason: everything you need to know about Christian salvation is found in the book of John. If it's not in John, then you don't need it to be saved. God anticipated the doctrinal errors coming down the pike, and caused John to write in such a way as to put them out of business. He did it with two short verses found in John found in John 20:30-31, where we are told:
This passage tells us three things::
1) That "this book", limits this statement to John's Gospel
for the purpose of establishing God's criteria for salvation..
2) That " Jesus is the Christ", the agent of our salvation, being God in the flesh, is the promised Savior of the world.
3) That "believing ye might have life through his name" tenders the offer of eternal salvation through excercise of
faith in HIM.
This agrees with another passage in John, where Jesus was asked the same question you may be asking now: "What must we do to work the works of God?"
"Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." John 6:29
This may seem too simple. We are proud, and want to show ourselves as worthy. But it's our utter unworthiness in the first place that brought Christ into the world to save us from our sin. He did what no one else could do. He paid a debt he didn't owe, because we owed a debt we couldn't pay. He redeemed all who believe from sin, death and hell by taking upon himself our punishment at the cross, where he suffered and died as predicted in Psalms 22, Isaiah 53 and Daniel 9:26, Old Testament passages foreshadowing his death and resurrection from the dead.
But does Jesus really have such power to save? The 49th Psalm tells us that no MAN can redeem the life of his brother, or give to God a ransom for him. But when John the Baptist appears, he tells us to "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world". Clearly Jesus is more than just a man, or he could not redeem all mankind from sin. The lesser is always blest by the greater, and only Christ, by nature and inheritance, has the power to do this. (See Colossians 1:12-20 for further amplification.)
John's Gospel is liberally sprinkled with salvation verses. Each verse exhorts us to trust in a person, Jesus Christ, and no other. Further proofs of the simplicity of salvation in John's Gospel can be understood from what is NOT mentioned in that book. The following four things occur elsewhere in Scripture, and for good reasons. But in John they've been left out, and this for reasons we are meant to understand completely, that we may fully know the grace of God in freely bringing us to glory.
Not mentioned in John's Gospel are:
2) Christian baptism
3) Speaking in tongues
4) The Lord's Supper
These four things are not mentioned because they are not required for the salvation of the soul, which, as we read earlier, is the primary purpose for which John's Gospel was written. Many sects, cults and denominations embrace one or more of these four things as doctrines, requiring Christians to think they can attain or maintain salvation by professing or performing them. But if that were true, then why does God offer you salvation WITHOUT mentioning these any of these things in John's Gospel?
Let's review these four things, and may God grant you peace of mind as you learn His thoughts on your salvation and embrace them as your own.
Most folks view "church" as a religious system, a building or meeting place for Christians. They think of geographical locations, buildings or systems of religion that define what "church" is. But Jesus disclaims that in John chapter 4, where he caused a Samaritan woman to understand the mind of God:
"Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him." John 4:21-23
Jesus here eliminates all geographical locations, buildings and systems of religion as definitions of what the "church" is. If any "church" on Earth had power to save, it would have been mentioned it somewhere in John.
2) Christian baptism.
John mentions that both John the Baptist AND Jesus' disciples baptized. But this baptism was a baptism of REPENTANCE. It could NOT have been "Christian", as such, because JESUS HAD NOT YET BEEN CRUCIFIED AND RAISED FROM THE DEAD. The other Gospels mention Christian baptism, as does the book of Acts. But if Christian baptism could save the soul, it would have been mentioned in John. John, however, only mentions the baptism of repentance, a baptizm that was ONLY directed toward the Jews (See Matthew 10:5-6). We learn from this that baptism is NOT the root of salvation, but the fruit of it, being ordained as the path of obedience. If water baptism could save the soul, then why is it that Cornelius and his household were all saved BEFORE, not after they were baptized? (see Acts 10). If you must be "born of water and of spirit" (John 3:5) to enter the kingdom of God, then clearly the "water" stands for something other than baptism. A clue of this is found in Ephesians 5:25-26, where the Word of God is referred to typically as "..the water of the word..".
3) Speaking in tongues.
John's Gospel is silent on the subject of speaking in "tongues", but quite vocal on salvation and the word and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. God is NOT silent about what evidence to look for in a spirit-filled believer:
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have
love one to another." John 13:35
4) The Lord's Supper.
John does not mention the Lord's Supper. The Holy Spirit focuses instead on the literal flesh and blood of Christ once offered to bear the sins of many.
"For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." John 6:33-35
The blood of Christ is here exalted by the fact that John's is the only one of the four Gospels that mentions the Roman spear piercing the side of Christ as he hung dead on the cross:
"But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken." John 19:33-36
The other three Gospels give us the Lord's Supper, which is a prophetic picture, or type, of his finished work on the cross. But notice that Jesus was still in his body when he told his disciples, "take, eat, this is my body", and his blood was still in him when he passed the cup, saying, "this is the blood of the New Covenant...".
So the bread and the wine could NOT have literally been his body and blood, but rather were meant to be a prophetic object lesson to be done "..in remembrance of me". Some will object to this simplicity, quoting that passage beginning in John 6:51, which culminates in the directive, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you." But in the same context, he calls himself the "Bread which came down from heaven". If you must recieve Jesus as a temporal loaf of bread, his flesh as literal meat, and his blood as necessary drink, how will you ingest him? Sincerity requires that you eat Him both as meat and bread.
Think for a minute: when Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, they thought he was a ghost, but Jesus replied:
"Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." Luke 24:39
Since Jesus was resurrected with his "flesh and bones" intact, and is now in heaven on God's throne, in order to get the "real thing" and eat his literal flesh, you'd have to go there, eat him and come back. This is absurd. God does not hide salvation behind the skirts of absurdity. He doesn't shut the door of the Kingdom in men's faces, forcing them to accept what can't be reconciled with the whole counsel of Scripture. God always puts truth where children can find it. It's important to be simple about this, because Jesus is simple about it. This is why he says in Matthew 18:3:
"...Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
God's simple truth is plainly given in John, and it remains only for you and I to believe and act upon it. John the Baptist called Jesus the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world". Was Jesus literally a lamb? No. But in calling Jesus the "Lamb of God", John announced Him as the fulfillment of prophetic type of the PASSOVER LAMB, a sacrificial antecedent whose blood once sheltered Israel from the judgments falling on Egypt, but which is now manifest for us in the finished work of Christ. It's the finished work of Christ alone that shelters all who believe from God's coming judgments against sin. As to the testimony of the Lord's Supper, the Holy Spirit tells us:
"For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." 1 Corinthians 11:26
So then, by taking the Lord's Supper, the Christian is preaching three things: the death, resurrection and second coming of Jesus Christ. You do this because you are a Christian, not in order to become one, or to somehow maintain your place with God. Your place with God is guaranteed in John 5:24, where Jesus plainly states:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
Christ is OUR Passover Lamb. From the moment we trust in Him, the blood of the New Covenant is applied to our hearts. We have crossed over into life, and are now counted among those standing in eternal safety on a far shore while wave upon wave of judgment crushes the chariots of the enemies of God. No one who has trusted in Christ will ever wash up on the beaches of the damned. It is God, not man, who has spoken (see Deuteronomy 18:18-19).
"...Let God be true, but every man a liar..." Romans 3:4
"It is finished". John 19:30
"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." John 3:16
"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. " Psalms 103:13
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8