During the month of April we will finish Luke and begin reading through John in our goal to read through the New Testament this year. While many of the key verses in John point to how one may have eternal life through Christ (John 3:16, 5:24, 14:6), John is also deeply concerned with having Christ followers grow into a rich faith that is lived out.
Specifically, John desires for Christ followers to know Jesus is god (1:1-2), that he is the Messiah (4:25-26), and that God is sovereign in salvation (6:37-45). But John also wants this knowledge of who God is and what He has done to be lived out. Christians are people who are sent out to go and bear fruit as we abide in Christ (15:16), to love others in the way God has loved us (13:34), and are sent to make disciples just as Christ was sent to make disciples (20:21).
In summary, Christians are not just people who trust in Jesus for eternal life. Christians are not just people who are filled with knowledge about who God is according to the Bible. Christians are not just people who go out into the community and do good things for others. Christians are people who have placed their trust in Christ alone to forgive their sins, are seeking to grow in their love and knowledge of Him, and are actively seeking to make disciples of neighbors, friends, and co-workers. The good news of Jesus, or the gospel, not only saves us, but compels us to grow in Him and to go make disciples.
When I was in seminary, one of the things we had to write every semester was a learning contract. We chose an area that we needed to grow in (preaching, evangelism, generosity, marriage, etc.), and then made a plan for how we were going to grow in that area (read books, mediate on Scripture, date nights, etc.). The purpose was to teach us that we grow more when we intentionally pursue growth, as opposed to attempting to grow by merely sticking to our current habits.
Therefore, I want first to challenge you as you read John to think through what your plan is to grow in your love and knowledge of God? Specifically to think through some areas of your faith where you are weak. Is it prayer? Is it Bible knowledge? Is it forgiveness? Is it finances? Is it marriage or parenting? Where do you need to grow as a disciple of Christ? And then, as the Spirit leads you to that answer, to think through what your plan would be to grow in that area. Do you need to join a small group? Do you need to read through a book? Do you need to gather together with other Christians to learn from them?
Secondly, as you read through John, I want to challenge you to think through what your plan is to reach your neighbor, coworker, friend, etc., so they would know Jesus is the only way for eternal life. Is your plan to help them with a yard project? Is it to invite them over to your home for a meal? Is it to take them out to a game or movie? Is it to invite them to church or your small group? What is your plan to invest in your neighbor to open up opportunities for you to love them and share the gospel?
I know those are two big challenges, but as Christians we follow a God who promises to bear much fruit through those who abide in Christ (John 15:5). I look forward to seeing the fruit God will bear in all of us as we seek to live out the truths found in the gospel of John!