TO LIFE STUDIES IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
This tract will present the concepts and the themes that enable students of the Bible to understand John’s vital message and give the hope of life [in the age to come] to a lifeless religious orthodoxy and to a world dead in trespasses and sins.
In spite of the fact that John clearly
states his purpose for writing this gospel, many regenerate believers fail to
grasp it; and their presentation of the book is unfocused and misdirected. In John 20: 31
we find the statement of John’s purpose: “But these are
written, that ye might believe that Jesus is
the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through His name”. Here John has turned from his narrative and
faced his audience, telling them that his purpose in writing was to stimulate faith within them, in Christ. It is very important to maintain consistency
by acknowledging that both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant truths were addressed explicitly to God’s redeemed
people, to lead them to maturity.
This is succinctly stated in 2 Timothy
3:16-17: “All scripture is given by inspiration
of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness: that the
man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”. Failure to observe this simple principle
results in the error of presenting John as a series of tracts designed to
proselytize the pagan. Instead, John’s
magnificent treatise is intended to be like manna for God’s redeemed people,
providing nourishment and growth on our way to lay hold of life as “an inheritance from
the Lord as a REWARD” (Colossians 3: 24).
That is, Life as an inheritance - (which the regenerate believer can,
theough disobedience and neglect, lose) - in the promised
[* Keep in Mind: Eternal Salvation is received by resting in the finished work of Christ, not by wrestling: the Prize is won by wrestling, not resting. God’s tremendous earnestness - the wrestling Angel - must be matched by an earnestness as tremendous by all the regenerate who would be God-like and God-crowned. Our eternal heirship of God is un-forfeitable; co-heirship with Christ in His millennial kingdom is the birthright which, while open to all who are regenerate, depends upon our successful midnight wrestle: “Heirs indeed of God; but joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him” (Romans 8: 17). The sacrifice of the Age to Come for the “pleasures of sin for a short time” (Hebrews 11: 25) during this Evil Age are ratified at the Bema.]
John is also very clear concerning what exactly is to be the focus of our trust. His gospel is intended to inspire belief that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. Too often we tend to read right over Jesus’ title the Christ, as though it were simply His last name. The Jewish reader would understand the deep significance of this special title. Christ comes from the Greek verb chrio, meaning “to anoint”, and means the anointed one. This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew title Messiah as is pointed out in John 1: 41. Since the days of Saul, the first king of Israel, the anointed one was understood to refer to the king of Israel whose ordination was indicated by the anointing of oil (1 Samuel 12: 3, 12; 2 Samuel 19: 21; 22: 51). Passages like Psalm 22 and Daniel 25: 26 anticipated one who would come as God’s Messiah and reign as King over all the earth. So it is John’s intention that we should believe that the man Jesus was the One whom God had anointed to be His King to rule this earth.
Likewise the title the Son of God is very significant. This particular Greek word for son is hulos and it emphasizes the son as heir of his father which is reflected in such passages as Matthew 21:37-38; Galations 4: 7; Hebrews 1: 1-2. In a Jewish family, a son was formally and publicly declared to be an heir, having been trained and proven fit at the age of thirteen, by a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. Jesus was publicly declared to be the Father’s son at His resurrection according to Romans 1: 4, Hebrews 11: 1-5. In Colossians 1: 3 and Revelation 1: 5 this is recognized by calling Him “the first born from the dead”. As the Father’s first-born and begotten Son, Jesus was given the nations as His inheritance (Psalm 2: 8) and “appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1: 2). John declares that Jesus was king as the anointed son of David and as the appointed Heir of God.
It is crucial to state here that, in
order to properly interpret the Gospels, a very common misconception concerning
the import and thrust of Christ’s ministry must be noted and discarded. It is a widely held view that Jesus’ public
ministry was a call to unredeemed men to trust Him as the Saviour who would die
for their sins. This belief is in error
in several aspects. The Lord’s ministry
was not to the unsaved pagan world, but to the “lost
In the final purpose clause of this verse, John declares his intention with regard to the duration and intended result of the [regenerate] believer’s faith. In his initial purpose clause John desires “that you might believe”, expressing this purpose with the aorist tense of the verb believe. This simply speaks of the moment of time when one acknowledges and places his trust in Jesus and his King, the Lord of his life. In the second clause, “believing” is the present active participle form of the same verb, expressing God’s intention that the believer’s faith be durable, presently active trust in Jesus the Christ. One of the saddest, most dangerous teachings of modern orthodoxy is the doctrine that God’s people can believe in Him once and secure for themselves God’s favour in all of its wonderful aspects. Perhaps a modern commentary on this Gospel could be titled “Modern Orthodoxy Meets the Present Active Participle in John” because John’s repeated use of the participle, particularly with the verb believe, contradicts this notion in the strongest terms. He plainly tells us here that only through a continuing active faith can a believer lay hold of life. Before we gasp in horror and, ripping our favourite shirt in indignation, shout the query, “is he saying that God’s regenerate child can loose his eternal salvation?” perhaps we should begin to understand what the Bible means when it speaks of life. We will find that the gaining of life in the Age to Come, is not a question as to whether or not the regenerate can ‘loose eternal salvation’. It is rather a question as to whether or not the regenerate believer - as God’s first born son through faith in Christ - will with Him lay hold of the fullness of his rich inheritance. Until then, our desire is one with John’s; that the tiny bud of our faith in Christ, our King, would open and blossom into full flower so that we might bask fully in the brilliance of His Millennial Glory.