According to this news article, a 95-year-old Christian man recently donated his life savings to fund the printing, mailing, and delivery of the Gospel of John to every household in Austin. Here in the church in Austin, we’re taking a cue from John 4:38 and “entering into their labor”. We’re going to use these gospels for the gospel.
The express written purpose of John is as follows:
These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, we may have life in His name (20:31).
John is a great gospel to mail to unbelievers because its simple presentation of Jesus as the Son of God qualifies it to reach all kinds of people, and its profound meaning will change everyone who will read it. Consider these points:
1. John is a book of signs (2:11, 20:30-31). John has Jesus changing water into wine at a wedding. That’s a sign; it has spiritual significance: Jesus changes death into life. These signs are imbued with meaning divine as they convey the good news: that Jesus is the Son of God in whose name we have life.
2. Only in John do we find the I AM statements: I am the bread of life. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the way and the truth and the life. I am the good shepherd. I am the door. I, who speak to you, am He. I AM.
3. In John the Trinity is incarnated and processed with clarity: The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and reality…The Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified…Receive the Holy Spirit.
4. John’s gospel uniquely shows how life meets the need of every man’s case: The rich need him, the poor need Him. The strong and the sick, the living and the dead all have their needs met by Jesus. So you have the pairing of John 3 and 4. After privately meeting a moral, high-class, educated Pharisee at night and presenting regeneration, Jesus then goes out of His way to meet an immoral, low-class, uneducated Samaritan woman at midday in public to give her a drink of living water. Who is like this Jesus?
How to “enter into their labor”
For the past three years I have been using the Gospel of John with Christian Students on Campus as a conversation starting point when I meet students on campus. Let me just say it’s been a powerful and accessible base for Bible study with complete strangers. We use the NIV pocket sized version. This mailing, which will be the KJV, will sound familiar to many people of all ages.
Believers and unbelievers alike will be enlightened by the gospel of John, but one thing regarding believers who want a deeper study of the Bible: the Recovery Version is a great Study Bible that presents the experience of Christ as our life and that has caused me to love the Lord more. I use it as my go-to Bible because it uniquely brings me to the heart of God in the person of Christ as the Spirit within. Here’s a footnote from the Recovery version on John, likening it to the tabernacle in the Old Testament:
The deep thought of the Gospel of John is that Christ, the incarnate God, came as the embodiment of God, as illustrated by the tabernacle (v. 14) and the temple (2:21), so that man could contact Him and enter into Him to enjoy the riches contained in God…Therefore, John points out first that Christ was the Lamb (who took away sin-v. 29) offered on the altar, which signifies the cross, in the outer court of the tabernacle, and then that He was like the bronze serpent (which caused man to have life) lifted up on the pole (3:14), which signifies the cross. This shows how Christ in His redemption was received by His believers that they might be delivered from sin and obtain life and might enter into Him as the embodiment of God, typified by the tabernacle, to enjoy all the riches that are in God. Continue reading…
Finally, here are a few practical points about using this gospel for the gospel:
-I plan to bring up John in my conversations with people I meet on campus to see if they got a copy. Who knows, it might start a Bible study?
-Perhaps there could be some sort of Gospel of John Meetup group formed?
-Because your neighbor is going to get the gospel too, this is a great conversation starting point for all Christians in this city to go meet their neighbors. Some people may even want to flyer their street to set up a “coffee and John” weekly study for the next month.
What do you plan to do with the gospel?