The Distinctive Sonship Soteriology Of Jesus In The Fourth Gospel, PART I -- By: Don Trest
JODT 20:60 (Summer 2016) p. 143
The Distinctive Sonship Soteriology Of Jesus
In The Fourth Gospel, PART I
* Don Trest, M.B.S., D.Min., professor of Bible & theology, Tyndale Theological Seminary and Biblical Institute
John, more so than Matthew, Mark, and Luke, highlighted the correlation between believing in the Son and receiving eternal life from the Son. Believing in the Son to receive eternal life from the Son is the soteriological center in the Fourth Gospel, but not so in the Synoptic Gospels. Jesus proclaimed to his audiences (in John’s Gospel), “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (6:40).1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life” (v. 47). The Sonship depositions reported by John in the Fourth Gospel establish Sonship as the requisite element in the messianic claim of Jesus to Israel and constitute the soteriological underpinning for the gospel in the church age.
Martha (in her John 11:25-27 confession of faith) encapsulated the response Jesus required of the Jewish leadership and the Jewish people to his messianic ministry, and consequently to people everywhere throughout the world in the church age. Jesus made a twofold statement to Martha and gave two implications. He then asked Martha to believe what He had said to her. Jesus said to Martha, “I am the Resurrection and the Life;” the implications: 1) the one who believes in Jesus, though he may die physically, he shall live — bodily resurrection from the dead in the age to come; and, 2) the one who physically lives and believes in Jesus shall never die — eternal life in this age and forever. In her response, Martha confessed to Jesus, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ (Messiah) [in redemptive relationship to Israel and mankind as the Savior], the Son of God [in essential relationship to God as the eternal Son having the divine prerogative of resurrection and life], who is [the One] coming into the world [sent by the Father into the world in fulfillment of the divine promises as recorded in the Bible and validated in the actual life and ministry of Jesus].” In John, the redemptive value of Christ’s death and
JODT 20:60 (Summer 2016) p. 144
resurrection is in proportion to the relationship of the Son to the Father. Therefore, belief in Jesus — the Christ, the Son of God, sent by the Father into the world — is the essential soteriological content revealed in John.
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