CHAPTER 33 // THE GOSPEL OF JOHN ≠ THE REST OF THE BIBLE

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The Rest of the Bible

I love the Gospel of John. I love it so much that I had the first six chapters memorized at one time. I could recite them straight through and did publicly once for a church in my area. The gospel of John is so well thought out. It’s simple but powerful. It’s precise and consistent. The language is controlled so well that a word used at the beginning of the book will still mean the same thing at the end of the book. John limited his vocabulary to about 600 Greek words. Elementary students of biblical Greek first study John because of all of this.

It’s not just the style but the content that is amazing. It’s not a random smattering of Jesus’ actions and sayings. It’s a curated collection with a singular purpose. John is so precise in his purpose that he even included a purpose statement in John 20:30-31.

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.[1]

With these powerful words, John tells us what his gospel if for. It’s designed to lead people to salvation. Its specific purpose is that a person can become convinced that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. By believing that they can have eternal life. That is the salvation message. Although there are themes of discipleship in the Gospel of John, that is not the primary purpose, Salvation is.

the Bible is like a tool box in some ways. If someone wants wisdom, they ought to read the works of Solomon. If someone wants to get inspired by the immensity of God, he ought to go through Job’s conversations with the almighty, or David’s psalms of praise. If someone wants to know about future events, they ought to read Daniel or Revelation. However, if someone wants to know how to be Saved, John’s gospel is the single most important place to go. If you are comfortable sending someone to proverbs for wisdom, then you ought not balk at the idea of sending them to John for salvation. You wouldn’t use a screw driver to drive a nail if you had a hammer available. So, we ought to use the tool that John made available to us when we are doing evangelism.

I have often proposed this idea and it has been met with debate. The one who opposes may say, “I prefer to consider the whole counsel of scripture.” I usually think, but don’t say, “Matthew 27:5 says, Judas hanged himself… and Jesus said go and do likewise in Luke 10:37.” However, we don’t go hang ourselves because we understand that that is a misuse of the Bible. We acknowledge that the Bible is meant to be used a certain way. We understand that certain books are used for certain purposes. John tells us what his purpose is.

Trying to lead someone to gain salvation with some other book than John’s Gospel is like using that screwdriver to drive a nail. It might could be done, but it’s not the best way. John intends his gospel to be a stand alone work that someone who knows nothing about Jesus can read and get salvation. A person can go from zero, to immortal by reading and believing what’s in the Gospel of John. In that sense, it stands above all of the rest of scripture for the purpose of evangelism.

This brings up a valuable question. What is the purpose of the rest of the Bible? We already said that other biblical books have specific purposes but is there an overall category that the rest of the Bible can fit into? Yes, there is. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us what it is.

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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.[2]

This could be called the purpose statement for the whole Bible. Do you notice any important words that might indicate what category the rest of the Bible falls into? The statement ends with, “that the man of God may be… equipped for every good work.” Good works are always connected to discipleship.

Therefore, the entire Bible has the purpose of equipping people for discipleship. In fact, even the Gospel of John fits this category. The gospel of John can strengthen and encourage the disciple, even though it’s primary purpose is evangelism.

Yet, The whole Bible is designed for discipleship, while only John is designed specifically for evangelism. In other words, the purpose statement of the whole Bible applies to John, but the purpose statement of John does not apply to the Whole Bible. Deuteronomy is not a good place to go to explain the free gift of eternal life. Even Matthew, Mark, and Luke are not focused on evangelism, but instead discipleship. That’s because most of Jesus’ ministry was focused on discipleship, and teaching his disciples to be disciple makers. That’s why it was required for John to hand pick instances where Jesus explained salvation specifically. Without John’s gospel, we would have a very hard time understanding what salvation is. However, we would have a good idea of what discipleship is since the whole Bible is devoted to it.

This means that unbelievers should first read John. If they become believers, then they should continue to read John and begin to read the rest of the Bible. Until someone has believed, John should be the focus. That’s why, in my apologetics ministry, I always focus on verses from John primarily. That is the first stop on the journey to belief and thus salvation.

As we’ve seen, not only in this chapter but this whole book as well, Salvation and Discipleship have a clear distinction between them. Until my attention was drawn to the distinction I did not understand the Bible in its fullness. It’s the awareness of this distinction that brought the Bible alive for me. This just didn’t make sense until I saw the difference between salvation and discipleship.

I can’t thank you enough for reading this book. I hope and pray that the information here will lead to a better understanding of what the Bible has to say, both about gaining salvation and living in discipleship. If you haven’t yet believed in Jesus for eternal life, I hope that you will soon. If you are a believer, I hope you will accept the mission of committed discipleship. There is a great reward for those who do, both in this life and the life to come.

[1] John 20:30–31.

[2] 2 Timothy 3:16–17.

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About Lucas

Lucas is a staff writer with simply belief, and sci-fi/fantasy novelist. He has a B.S. in Bible, Psychology, and History/Political Science. He lives and writes from his home office in East Texas with his wife, daughter, and cat.