When the gospel of John was written, the world was in turmoil. Jerusalem was collapsing, the empire was eroding, and the church was fighting for its life. The early believers needed a theology to strengthen their souls and steady their nerves--a theology found in this often enigmatic gospel. In our similar times of turbulence, we too need to know that the abundant life under the opened heaven John describes is not just conceivable--it's a promise.
John E. Johnson is determined to reveal the relevance of John's gospel to today's Christian. To do so, he explores various conversations found in its pages and applies them to our modern world. Jesus converses with family, answers the questions of religious leaders, and steps into dialogue with people whose names we never know but whose struggles we can relate to. They aren't always straightforward chats, Johnson readily admits. Yet that is what makes them so beautifully applicable to the messiness of life.
For readers tired of living confined lives, frustrated by failure, or starving in the midst of plenty, the conversations in John tell them life doesn't have to stay small. There is a whole new world made possible under God's open heaven.
“Christ’s freedom transcends any environment ungodly government might wish to consign godly people to.” (p. 145)
“People will be offered life under an open heaven of God’s making, but they will choose death in a confined prison of their own construction.” (p.148)
Reading this book has given me some huge insight into the lives of Jesus’ disciples. There were times I could almost feel like I had walked in their shoes. I understand now, why, even though they witnessed many miracles and witnessed Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection that the freedom Christ offered them didn’t quite sink in for a while. It makes me understand why I still tend to confine myself to my own prison instead of embracing all the freedom Christ offers.
The truth behind discovering this life transforming freedom? Abiding in God’s Word and allowing it to transform your heart and mind from the inside out. Sounds simple, right? Well, when you read about the lives of those recorded in John’s gospel, and you really listen to their questions and responses that take place between them and Jesus, you begin to get some inkling of the transformation that had to take place in their hearts and minds – STILL has to take place in hearts and minds today! This book is brilliant in its practical application of truths that have the transformational power we all seek.
The author ends each chapter with questions intended to enable those practical applications to begin this transformation process. ABIDE in His word. That is the bottom line. And the best news yet – and news Christians still struggle to believe and understand – is that Holy Spirit is within us and empowers us to live this life of freedom!!
I’m still plumbing the treasures of this book, but I can HIGHLY recommend it to EVERYONE that wants to dig deep into the gospel of John and emerge a believer with a stronger, more vibrant faith!
John E. Johnson is associate professor of pastoral theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregeon, and lead pastor of Village Baptist Church in Beaverton, Oregon. He has previously held posts at other churches, including Trinity International Church at The Hague, Netherlands. Johnson has published articles in Bibliotheca Sacra and Trinity Journal. To learn more, visit his blog at www.drjohnejohnson.com