the RAVEN FOUNDATION

God’s salvation is not limited to those of a particular religion or creed.

S1:E17 EPISODE SUMMARY

For the 2nd Sunday of Lent, Adam and Lindsey read John 3:1-17. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” These are the most famous words of scripture, the thesis statement of the Christian faith. But they have so much negative theological baggage attached to them that they are not always the words of reassurance and comfort that they really are meant to be.

Before this famous verse, though, we get a story of Nicodemus. He is a Pharisee who seeks Jesus in the night because he recognizes the divine presence within Jesus. Jesus tells Nicodemus that no one can see the kingdom of God without being born “from above.” Nicodemus doesn’t understand, asking if anyone can re-enter the mother’s womb.

Nicodemus may have misunderstood, but he’s trying. He’s “in the dark,” confused and bewildered, but he found his way to Jesus. Before we laugh at Nicodemus’s literalism, we should humbly remember that we are all on a journey into deeper understanding; our eyes are still adjusting to the light that grows brighter as we follow, and of course, we too get things wrong.

And John 3:16 is one of those verses that has long been misinterpreted, has long needed to be understood in the light of God’s universal, unconditional love. God’s salvation is not limited to those of a particular religion or creed. “Whosoever believes” is not meant to single out only Christians for salvation.

Adam and Lindsey explore the meaning of John 3:16 and the following verses. What are we saved from? What does it mean to be called to believe in Jesus, in Love Incarnate? What does it mean to be condemned “already,” and is condemnation permanent?  The discussion touches on these questions.

Ultimately, we at Raven believe in universal salvation and reconciliation. John 3:16 attests to God’s great love for the world, but it has been used as a line in the sand between “believers” and “nonbelievers”—doubters, seekers, those who profess other faiths. How do we, like Nicodemus, come to a deeper, better understanding? Let’s discover together.

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