Progress of Revelation?

By Dr. Roger Fankhauser, FGA Executive Council member and the pastor of Burleson Bible Church in Burleson, Texas.  Dr. Fankhauser can be reached at rsfankhauser at bellsouth dot net.
A great puzzle pops up when we think about John’s purpose statement: “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31). The puzzle is, what about the cross and resurrection?
My disclaimer: I am not trying to tackle the so-called “cross-less gospel” (I don’t like the label, but it identifies the problem). I simply want to point out five ideas that, to me, connect the death and resurrection with the many passages in John prior to John 19 that say “whosoever believes” and don’t mention the resurrection!
1. The death and resurrection are not “signs” that Jesus performed (20:30). The signs He performed confirm His identity, but are not part and parcel of the gospel. So, the fact that John doesn’t identify the cross and resurrection as “signs” doesn’t change his argument.
2. John’s record of the death and resurrection account occurs before the purpose statement, so by the time the reader gets to the purpose statement in chapter twenty, he or she would know the whole story.
3. The theological truth “whosoever believes in me has eternal life” is timeless. Early in the story, John identified Jesus, through the words of John the Baptist, as “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” By the end of the story, we know how He took away the sin of the world (e.g., “It is finished”, John 19:30). The progress of revelation adds content to the identity of “Me”. The fact that neither Jesus as the speaker nor John as the writer add the resurrection in the “whosoever believes” passages reflects that these crucial events had not yet happened in history and John accurately recorded the pre-crucifixion events and conversations as they unfolded. Even though John was written after the resurrection, he recorded events and conversations that happened before the resurrection.
4. The disciples did not understand Jesus when He did tell them He must die (e.g., John 14:28-29, 16:16-20, 20:8-9). To require faith in a future event – one they didn’t grasp - seems unreasonable. By the time we come to the end of chapter twenty, however, they do believe in His resurrection (e.g., John 20:8, 29)
5. Post resurrection, Paul connects Jesus’ identification as the “son of God” with the resurrection (Rom. 1:4). He also connects the gospel the Corinthians “received” (a synonym for belief, John 1:12) and the death and resurrection when he says is that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures… and was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:1-4). The burial and post-resurrection appearances confirm the death and resurrection. I know some take the passage as referring to sanctification issues (“if you hold fast”), but I don’t believe it is limited to sanctification – it is both / and.
Including the death and resurrection of Jesus in the description of the “Me” of “whosever believes in Me” does not violate the message of John. It simply recognizes the progress of revelation, even within the book of John, that adds with clarity the story of the death and resurrection.

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