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“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)
This is John’s inspired concluding statement to his Gospel narrative. This is the very last thing God the Holy Ghost inspired his servant to pen about the earthly history of our Lord Jesus Christ. What are these “other things” our Lord Jesus did while he walked on this earth, of which we are told nothing in the Book of God? Why are we not told about them? Why are we told about so many things, but not about these “other things?”
Certainly these “other things” do not refer to our Savior’s doctrine, which is fully revealed in Holy Scriptures, which are able to make chosen, redeemed sinners wise unto salvation. But there were many things done by our Savior which are not written in the Book of God. Much about his childhood, his family, and his manhood are simply and wisely unrevealed. And there were certainly many “other things” done by our Lord which God the Holy Ghost chose not to have the inspired writers record, things Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John omitted from the Four Gospels: sermons and prayers, conversations he had with his disciples and others on different occasions, and other signs and wonders, and miraculous operations which were done by him.
World Cannot Receive
Had all that our Savior did been written out on paper, with all the details relating to them explained, John says, “I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” That is quite a statement. — “I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”
Perhaps John is referring to the fact that the world cannot receive the things of God. God has wisely given us the record of our Redeemer’s incarnation, life, ministry, and doctrine in his Word, which may be read with ease and delight. Here we are given everything relevant to the whole of Christianity and all that is needful to be known for the salvation of our souls.
Š Christ’s Eternal Deity
Š Christ’s Incarnation
Š His Miracles
Š His Doctrine
Š His Righteous Obedience
Š His Vicarious Sufferings
Š His Substitutionary Death
Š His Triumphant Resurrection
Š His Ascension into Heaven
Š His Glorious Exaltation
Š His Sovereign Reign
Š His Heavenly Intercession
Š His Glorious Second Advent
These things cannot and will not be understood by the world. The natural man cannot receive them, and will not bear them. Rather, the world rejects and despises them. The Gospel of God is foolishness to the world.
John’s words in this passage are not a hyperbole. In addition to these wonders of mercy, love, and grace accomplished by God our Savior, John began his Gospel by telling us that “All things were made by him.” If one were to attempt to even summarize all God’s works of creation and providence, the world itself could not contain the resulting volumes!
But what about those “other things?” Let’s go back to John 20:30-31 and see what God the Holy Ghost would have us learn by the omission of so many, many “other things” from the Book of God. Why did he leave so many things out of this Book that might easily have been included in it? Why are so many, many “other things” omitted and only very specific, wondrous things revealed? John 20:30-31 tells us.
“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 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.”
The Word of God was written that we might believe that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,” and that “believing we might have life through his name.”
The Design of Holy Scripture
First, John tells us plainly that the purpose, the design, the intention of Holy Scripture is that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Holy Scripture is not the mother of doubt, but of faith. The Book of God was written to give us confidence toward God by revealing a sure, indisputable line of fact and truth regarding the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. — “Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ.” — Obviously, John is referring specifically to the person and work of our Savior as recorded by himself and the other Gospel writers. But that which John tells us here is equally true of the entire volume of Holy Scripture.
Read Luke 24:13-35. That which is here revealed is so precious, so sweet, so heavenly that it hardly needs explanation. Indeed, it cannot be explained to any who have not experienced it for themselves. As they walked together, our Lord Jesus opened the Scriptures to his two disciples. — “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Robert Hawker, commenting on those words, wrote, “Hence we are taught, as plain as words can make it, that the whole body of Scripture is concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Pearl of great price in this Field of his Divine Revelation. As he drew near these two disciples in the way, may he draw near to us every time we open the Book of God. As he opened to them the Scriptures, may he open the Scriptures to us by his Spirit. As his presence and his doctrine caused their hearts to burn within them, oh, may he cause our hearts to burn within us when we read and study the Sacred Volume.
The fact is we have read the Bible with no profit to our souls and no understanding of its message until we realize that the message of Holy Scripture is the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. The purpose of the Bible is the revelation of Christ.
I fully agree with Martin Luther, who wrote, “There is not a word in the Bible which can be understood without reference to the cross…As we go to the cradle only in order to find the baby, so we go to the Scriptures only to find Christ.”
Robert Murray M’Cheyne, who lived long before anyone dreamed of electric lights, said to his congregation at Christ’s Church in Dundee, Scotland, “When you are reading a book in a dark room, and find it difficult, you take it to a window to get more light. So take your Bible to Christ.”
Christ is the scope of Scripture, the sum and substance of Divine Revelation. Take Christ out of this Book and all that is left is processed wood, with gilded edges, wrapped in leather covers.
The Bible is a Book about the Lord Jesus Christ. How I wish I could get every man who claims to be a preacher to see this! With regard to the Book of God, Christ is “the key of knowledge.” Without the key, men can never unlock the Chest and discover its riches. — They just fumble. The Bible is not a book about science, but the Book about Christ. This is not a book about morality, but the Book about Christ. This is not a book about history, politics, philosophy, or law. It is not even a book about prophecy, church dogma, or theology. This is a HIM-BOOK. It is all about HIM, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not enough just to preach the Book, we are sent of God to preach the message of the Book, and the message of this Book is Jesus Christ and him crucified. There is not a page in this Book that does not speak of Christ, not a page!
The Son of God tells us plainly that he is the message and theme of Holy Scripture, that he is the living Word of whom the written Word speaks. He said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). — “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself…And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:27, 44-47).
The Apostle Paul shows us that the preaching of Christ is synonymous with preaching all the counsel of God, for Christ is all the counsel of God. In Acts 20:26-27 he said, to the Ephesian elders, “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” In 1 Corinthians 2:2 he wrote, to the Church at Corinth, “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” In both places, he is telling us the same thing. Christ and him crucified is all the counsel of God, for all that God almighty has purposed, decreed, revealed, and given to the sons of Adam is in Jesus Christ and him crucified. The Bible, the Word of God, is a Book with one message; and that one message is redemption, righteousness, and eternal life in Christ.
The Word of God is preached only when the Gospel of Christ is preached (1 Peter 1:23-25). All the Old Testament Scriptures speak of Christ, point us to Christ, and call us to faith in Christ (Genesis 3:15; 22:13-14; 49:10; Deuteronomy 18:15-18; Job 19; Psalms 2:7-8; 24; 45:6-7; 110:3; Proverbs 8:22-23; Song of Solomon; Isaiah 53; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 12:10; Malachi 3:1). In addition to the direct prophecies about the coming of Christ, God gave numerous types and pictures to foreshadow his coming (Typical People — Typical Events — Typical Things — Typical Places — Typical Laws, and Ceremonies, and Sabbath Days (Colossians 2:16-17). The doctrine and message of the entire New Testament is the Lord Jesus Christ. The ordinances of worship prescribed in the New Testament are designed to focus our hearts upon Christ. It is the preacher’s business to preach Christ. The American Puritan, Cotton Mather, instructed his students with these wise and needful words of counsel…
“Among all the subjects with which you feed the people of God, I beseech you, let not the true Bread of Life be forgotten; but exhibit as much as you can of the glorious Christ unto them; yea, let the motto upon your whole ministry be, ‘Christ is all!’”
What a blessing it would be if every man who claims to speak for God, who claims to be a Gospel preacher, would heed those words! How blessed the church of God would be if those who fill her pulpits were determined to preach and teach nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified!
That was Paul’s determination (1 Corinthians 2:2). It ought to be every preacher’s! Any man who is sent of God to preach is sent of God to preach Christ crucified, always, in all places, in all his fulness (1 Corinthians 1:17-25). Christ crucified is “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
He is the singular subject of Holy Scripture. He is the sum and essence of all true doctrine. He is the life of Gospel ordinances. He is the secret ingredient of all true worship. He is the mercy-seat in whom God meets with men. He is the motive of all godliness, obedience, service, and devotion. He is the reward of heavenly glory. Jesus Christ is our God! Jesus Christ is our Savior. And Jesus Christ is salvation. He is the Way to heaven; and he is Heaven. He is the Revealer of truth; and he is Truth. He is the Giver of Life; and he is Life.
The Word of God might be compared to that alabaster box that was brought into Simon’s house in Bethany (Mark 14:1-9) containing “ointment of spikenard very precious.” When the box was broken and the ointment poured out, the sweet fragrance filled the room. Gospel preachers are like the woman who brought the box and broke it open. They come to the house of God with the Word of God, break it open, and as they expound the Scriptures, the sweet fragrance of Christ crucified fills the house. In the Book of God “Christ is all!”
When we talk about divine sovereignty, we are declaring that Jesus Christ is Lord. When we proclaim God’s glorious work of predestination, we are showing how that sinners have been predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ. God’s election is his choice of some to everlasting salvation in Christ and for Christ’s sake. Total depravity, a thoroughly biblical doctrine, is God’s revelation of our need of Christ. Limited atonement is the biblical assurance of effectual redemption and grace by Christ, the declaration that all for whom Christ died shall be saved. Irresistible grace, or effectual calling, is the almighty, irresistible revelation of Christ in the soul by God the Holy Spirit, which causes the chosen to come to him. Regeneration is the implanting of Christ in us. Justification is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to all his redeemed. Faith is trusting Christ. Sanctification is Christ being formed in us, begun in regeneration and consummated in glorification. Perseverance is Christ holding our hearts by grace and keeping us in life and faith. Baptism is the believer’s public confession of faith in Christ. Being symbolically buried in the watery grave and raised with him, we confess our faith in his finished work of redemption as our Substitute. The Lord’s Supper is our blessed remembrance of Christ. Eternal life is knowing Christ. Heaven is being with Christ and like Christ, perfectly and forever. Preaching is telling people about Christ. Anything else is not preaching. Call it what you may; but it is not preaching!
Let Christ be preached, exalted in all his saving grace and glory, in the power of God the Holy Spirit, and God’s elect will leave the House of God saying, as the two disciples in Luke 24, — “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”
Beginning at Genesis and going right through the Book of Revelation, God the Holy Ghost tells us, — “These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” The Bible is a wonderful library of 66 books. Yet, there is such a unity about it that it is one Book, with one message. And this one Book has but one design. The whole Book of God, and every portion of it, was “written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.”
What a lesson this is for all who write or speak for God! Let us labor for this one thing, that we may lead immortal souls to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. — God give me grace to preach and write to bring you to Christ, not to promote a creed, not to build a denomination, not to maintain a history, not to promote myself, but “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” The Book of God was not written that we might know all about Christ, but that we might know Christ, that we might “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God!”
The Object of Saving Faith
I have deliberately used the bulk of this final study in John’s Gospel showing you that the purpose, the design, the intention of Holy Scripture is that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Now, in the second place, let me briefly show you the singular object of saving faith. — Faith is believing Christ. The singular object of saving faith is Christ. — What does that mean? Sadly, I fear that very few know the answer. But John gives us the answer. — To believe Christ is to believe that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (1 John 2:22; 5:1). Faith in Christ involves believing “that Jesus is the Christ,” to believe that the man, Jesus of Nazareth, actually, effectually accomplished all that the prophets of the Old Testament said Christ would accomplish (Isaiah 53; Daniel 9:24).
C .H. Spurgeon once passed by a known church building where the Gospel of Christ was denied and mocked, but never preached. This sign out front announced the title of the message for that week — “Crucifiction.”
Though “crucifixion” and “crucifiction” sound the same when pronounced, there is a vast difference between the two. The religious world of our day has not shifted much in its opinion about what really happened at Calvary. While some deny the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified at Calvary, nearly all in our day deny what he accomplished. The majority of the preaching that goes on today denies the effectual redemption and salvation accomplished by Christ’s blood sacrifice and righteousness obedience (Philippians 2:7-9; Hebrews 2:17; 9:12). When you preach that his blood was shed for all humanity without exception, but it never really secured and accomplished salvation for anyone, you are preaching “crucifiction.”
Thank God that the Scriptures do not teach “crucifiction.” The Scriptures plainly teach us the glorious and successful work our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished for his people on the cross (Matthew 1:21; Hebrews 9:12). His crucifixion means sin is atoned (1 John 4:10), justice is satisfied (Galatians 3:13), the law of God is honored (Isaiah 42:21), everlasting righteousness is established and brought in (Romans 5:19-21; Philippians 3:9), salvation accomplished (John 17:4; 19:30), God’s elect ransomed (Acts 20:28). That is why the apostle Paul was determined to know, rejoice in, and preach nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). This is also why he refused to glory except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 6:14).
Do you believe in “crucifixion” or “crucifiction?” The difference is eternal life in Christ Jesus, or the just condemnation in Adam (Romans 5:19). If Christ did not effectually put away sin (Hebrews 9:26) and accomplish salvation (John 17:4; 19:30), your hope of redemption is mere fiction and utterly false, not reality and truth (Galatians 2:20-21; 1 John 5:21).
The Connection of Life with Faith
Third, John shows us the connection of life with faith.
“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” (John 20:31).
May God the Holy Spirit be pleased to seal the message of this Book to your heart, causing you to “believe that Jesus is the Christ; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.” Faith in Christ does not give you eternal life. The gift of life eternal brings with it all the fulness of grace by God the Holy Spirit, who works faith in us, causing us to believe. And you will never have eternal life, if you do not trust Christ. But, if you trust the Lord Jesus Christ, eternal life is yours, you have eternal life. — “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).