I grew up in the church. Each week my parents took me to Sunday School where I worshiped in the same building where my grandmother first took my mother to church. But I didn’t know Jesus. Bible study wasn’t the focus of our church, and I needed reasons to believe. God inserted into my personality when He made me a ruthless need to be intellectually honest. So I refused to believe anything that wasn’t rooted in reality.
My dad, on the other hand, was raised Roman Catholic with a terrible fear of hell which he tried to ease by insisting that a loving God couldn’t send anybody to hell. But I didn’t buy it. I’d read my Bible and knew that Jesus was the most loving Person who ever lived and had issued warning after warning about hell. So who do I believe? My dad or Jesus?
I knew John 3:16 where God the Father promises eternal life and forgiveness to anyone who believes in His Son. But that was my problem. I didn’t believe! So week after week I sat in that sanctuary praying for faith without any apparent answer to my prayers.
Fast forward 10 years to 1972 and my second year of college. By now, with major life decisions ahead of me, I was desperate for God’s direction. So I became a religion major. But that didn’t help. Now I knew what different cultures and peoples believe. But I was still faithless without any definitive answer from God Himself.
So finally I made a commitment. I promised God I would read all the accounts of Jesus’ life—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—and keep reading them until I determined if they were fact or fiction. John’s Gospel had the greatest impact on me because he insisted that in Christ, God Himself had become a Man. Sure enough, by my third time through the Gospels, I had made up my mind. Looking back I realize now that it was the Spirit of God using His Word to give me faith to believe. I also remember sitting in a religion class one afternoon praying, “OK, God, I’m now ready to believe whatever You say about Your Son Jesus.”
Not coincidentally, that afternoon a fellow student began to witness to me, explained the Gospel to me more fully, and invited me to his Bible study. I went and from that day on, I’ve been a fully-convinced follower of Jesus who in a matter of a few minutes went from not believing in the Bible, the devil, the Resurrection, and other miracles of the Bible to accepting whatever God says in His Word. I figured if Satan could blind my mind to the truth about Jesus, I’d better not trust my own reasoning powers about anything else in the Bible. God would eventually help me understand all those things too.
I’ve also made it my practice since then to encourage anyone who is searching for the truth to read the Gospel of John because it more than any other book in the Bible makes it clear who Jesus is and how to follow Him with all your heart. The Greek scholar, A. T. Robertson, said of John’s Gospel, “It is the most wonderful of all books in the world!” I couldn’t agree more, for this is the means by which I was born again!” It’s also the book I want to introduce to you in our next several studies, for I know it will be a faith-builder for you too. Over the next few days we’ll look at the first five verses together. By the way, I hope you’ll have your Bible in front of you as we study. Because what’s important is not what I say, but what God says about His Son in His Word. Together we will: 1) Meet its authors; 2) Appreciate its uniqueness; and 3) Clarify its message.
So join us tomorrow when we meet the two authors of John’s Gospel.