By Donald P. Ames
In John 20:30-31, John says, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these 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.” In these two verses, he affirms some things that deserve our attention.
First, he notes “these are written.” He did not want people to rely on memory or rumors, which might fade (or grow) with the passing of time. He was an eyewitness (see also 1 John 1:1), and wanted to be sure the report was accurately preserved for others. This he could do with the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16). So this valuable record has been preserved, accurately, and in detail for all to be able to read!
It was written to convince. That means it was adequate to do the job!
That was John’s purpose to produce a record adequate to convince us of the great truth that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God! He didn’t have to record everything that Jesus did, but he did record an ad-equate record of the important facts we need. Nicodemus recognized the evidence was there and adequate (John 3:2), as did the man who was born blind (John 9:32). Jesus appealed to his works as proof of his deity (John 5:36; 10:25, 36-37), and also to his character as well (John 8:46). John’s record will stand! So will the test! He mentions such details as the folded face cloth (John 20:7 who would bother to do this if they were stealing the body before the soldiers caught them?), the de-lay Jesus intended before raising Lazarus (John 11:39), and the convincing appearance to Thomas (John 20:2428). These were the same proofs (along with fulfilled prophecy) that Paul used to convince the Jews (Acts 9:22; 17:3). Yes, we have all we need to do the task God has given us!
Not only can it demonstrate these truths, but John in-tended for us to believe! That means he wrote these truthsso we could understand them, become convinced of the validity of his arguments, and form some convictions as a result. Indeed, if the “common people” could understand Jesus’ message (Mark 12:37), we are without excuse if we “neglect so great a salvation” (Heb. 2:3).
Sometimes people reason, “But you have to have the Holy Spirit before you can understand God’s truths.” Did the “common people”? (Mark 12:37). Those of Samaria heard, believed, and obeyed (Acts 8:12-13) before they ever got the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:16)! Those of Berea “searched the Scriptures daily” and as a result, “many of them believed.” It doesn’t say the Holy Spirit had already saved them, then guided their understanding to a fuller comprehension. John wrote so we might examine, reason over the evidence, and become convinced from the written record! Paul affirmed, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16) and that “faith comes by hearing . . . the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). John had this very motive in mind when he wrote his gospel record.
Lastly, as a result of believing, “you may have life in his name.” Not all believers, however, went on to enjoy eternal life. Some preferred the praises of men (John 12:42-43; cf. Matt. 10:32-33). Judas fell away and became the “son of perdition” (John 17:12). But those who believed were granted the right “to become” children of God (John 1:12; cf. Gal. 3:26-27 to get “the rest of the story”). John didn’t write just to shut the mouths of the opposition, but to convince and to save. This is the same purpose we are to have (see 2 Tim. 2:24-26; 1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Tim. 3:16). Sometimes it becomes necessary to shut the mouths of the opposition, knowing they have no intentions of ever obeying the truth (cf. Acts 13:6-12), but let us always strive to have the same goal John had in our preaching and not just to “skin the sects.”
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 21, p. 13
November 7, 1996