The Purpose of John's Gospel
by Diane Boring
I have had the privilege to sit under very good Bible teaching. I have learned the importance of being a Berean (Acts 17:11). I heard one speaker at a GES Conference tell of his intense discussions and debates with Zane Hodges over the meaning of certain passages. He said that in those discussions Zane would say to him, "Have you ever noticed this?" and again, "Have you ever noticed this?"
This speaker acknowledged that "No, I had never noticed that, but now I notice it."
Another time Zane Hodges asked him, "Why wouldn't you be glad to find out that you were wrong on a passage?" Shouldn't we all be glad when we come to see that we are wrong if it means being enlightened by the Holy Spirit to exactly what God means on a certain passage of scripture? When we are open to allowing God to teach us, and we search for the true meaning of what God is saying in His Word, we become Bereans. That is what I always want to be, and I encourage the ladies in my discipleship class to be Bereans. I want them to check out carefully what I say before accepting anything that I teach as correct. It's God who we want to hear from, not man.
One very big teaching that got my attention was that the Gospel of John is primarily an evangelistic book. Could this be true? I had never heard that before. It was time again to be a Berean and search the Scriptures.
I was privileged to be given wonderful Bible study material on the Book of John by Bob Bryant. His study and the other teachings that I was receiving from Zane Hodges and others came together for me as I checked everything out, and I am now convinced that the Gospel of John truly is the only book in the Bible with the stated purpose of telling us how to have eternal life.
I was going through my files and came across something that I had written on the Book of John back in 2008. Here is a portion from that paper.
Controversy Led to Insight
Today was another glorious day as God did it again for me. I was alone doing my Bible Study, preparing for my discipleship class tomorrow in the Gospel of John. Where do I start to share this excitement with you? I don't know if I can, but I'll try.
I thank God for this debate (dispute) over the specific truth that must be believed to be eternally saved. God has orchestrated things in my life to sharpen my understanding of John's Gospel. It's not that I saw any of this on my own. I probably never would have even thought about it apart from the debate. But like God always does for me, He takes what happens and turns it into blessing. He opens my eyes over and over again. Here's what I'm seeing in John that keeps opening up to me, and I praise Him for what He is showing me.
This is the short version! The full version is a 54 page Bible Study.
I'm not going to prove it here. It's a full book study. But I'm going to just try to lay out the concept. For those who really want to see it, I hope they will be Bereans and check it out.
John's Purpose is Evangelistic
"…these signs are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:31). And what does believing that mean? To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that He is the giver of eternal life (John 11:25-27).
There are eight signs recorded under inspiration of the Holy Spirit to prove that Jesus is the Christ (the giver of eternal life).
ALL the discourses and narratives are built around these signs and serves the purpose of either preparing for or illuminating the meaning of the eight signs around which the book is structured. I checked this out. That's exactly what God is opening my eyes to see so clearly. Even the reactions by the believing and unbelieving Jews show this to be true. Exciting!
- 1. Water to wine
- 2. The royal officer's son healed
- 3. The man at the pool of Bethesda healed
- 4. Feeding the multitude
- 5. Walking on water through the storm
- 6. Healing the man born blind
- 7. The raising of Lazarus from the dead
- 8. Jesus death and resurrection
Each one of the discourses or narratives that follow or precede the signs explain the signs. Sometimes there is an overlap in the discussion illuminating the meaning of more than one sign.
The book of John was given to show us how to have eternal life. And once we believe, there is great material in John to grow by…(the abundance of eternal life for the disciple). But first we must receive the gift freely by grace through faith in Jesus, and then we can enjoy eternal life experientially as we grow in Christ. This book is telling us how to receive it. Once we have life we're told how we can enjoy it. All the other books in the Bible are primarily discipleship books. They do contain the saving message, but the purpose of those books are not evangelistic. Paul and John are in total agreement, and that's important to recognize. All the authors of the Bible are in total agreement. It's just that their purpose is different.
Thank you Heavenly Father for filling my plate with a wonderful meal that satisfies my soul, which You promised to all who want to be filled. You are not the concealer. You are the revealer! I love you for that. I love you because you first loved me.
A Closing Challenge
I would like to challenge everyone reading this to be a Berean. You may be like the speaker at that GES Conference that I mentioned above who said… "I never noticed that before." Be a Berean and check this all out. Understanding the purpose for the Book of John will open up the entire Bible in a way that you might surprise you. But like Zane Hodges said…. "Why wouldn't we want to recognize that we were wrong if it leads to an understanding from God that we never saw before." Being a Berean is truly the greatest path in life to be on. I hope you take that path.