That Ye Might Believe
April 29th, 1973 @ 7:30 PM
THAT YOU MIGHT BELIEVE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-29-73 7:30 p.m.
On the radio of the city of Dallas you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church. And this is the pastor bringing the message from the last verses of the twentieth chapter of the Gospel of John. It is entitled That You Might Believe. Turn with me, all of us in this great auditorium, and all of you who listen on radio, turn with me to the Gospel of John, the Fourth Gospel—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Turn to John chapter 20, and we shall read verses 24 through 31. John chapter 20, beginning at verse 24 and reading to the end of the [chapter]. Now all of us with our Bibles, and you on the radio who are listening, let us read it out loud together, beginning at verse 24:
But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.
And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
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.
And the text, the last two verses: “And many other signs truly did Jesus, which are not written in this book” [John 20:30]. In the next chapter he says, “I suppose that if all that Jesus did were written, the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” [John 21:25]—“Many other signs truly did Jesus… that are not in this book: But these are selected, these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name” [John 20:30-31].
John wrote his Gospel for a definite end and a definite purpose. Every sign that he describes that Jesus did, every word that is in every verse, is for one tremendous, significant purpose: “These are written, and these signs are selected 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].
Now I’m going to do something tonight that we’ll just see if God blesses it. I’m going to take the whole Gospel of John, and we’re going to look at what the inspired apostle did in writing here in these chapters what it was in the words of Christ, and in the miracles of Christ, and in the deeds of our Lord, and in the response of the people to whom God sent Him that would persuade us that He is the Son of God, and that trusting Him, believing Him, we might have life through His name.
Now first we’re going to look at the twenty chapters that John has written for the purpose that we might believe in Christ and, believing in Him, have eternal life [John 20:31]. And I have selected one verse out of each chapter to show us how John presents our Lord, that we might trust Him and believe Him unto eternal salvation. First, in chapter 1, the [eleventh] verse: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” [John 1:11]. Then the twelfth verse: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name” [John 1:12].
Now we turn to chapter 2, and verses 19 to 21:
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
And the Jews said, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt Thou raise it up in three days?
But He spake of the temple of His body.
His resurrection from among the dead [Matthew 28:5-7], which is the greatest miracle of all time.
Now chapter 3: I have chosen the sixteenth verse, and we’re all going to repeat it together. What I’m doing is, is taking one verse out of each chapter, showing us how John wrote his Gospel that we might believe in Christ and, believing in Him, have eternal life [John 20:31]. Now all together let us quote John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Now in chapter 4, the verse is verse 14: “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” [John 4:14].
Now in chapter 5 the verse is 24; John 5:24, “Verily, verily, truly, truly”—the Hebrew and the Greek are alike, “Amen, amen,” that is translated “verily”—“Amen, amen, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed out of death into life” [John 5:24].
Now in chapter 6 the verse will be 35: “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” [John 6:35].
Now the verse in chapter 7 is verse 37: “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink” [John 7:37]. No wonder in verse 46 the officers in the temple answered, who were sent to arrest Jesus, came back without Him, saying, “Never a man spake like that Man” [John 7:46].
In chapter 8, the verse is number 12: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” [John 8:12].
In chapter 9, in chapter 9 the verse is 25: “That man whose eyes were opened answered and said, Whether Jesus be a sinner or no, I know not; but one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see” [John 9:25].
And the verse in chapter 10 is 14, and 27, and 28:
I am the good shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish.
[John 10:14, 27, 28]
The verse in chapter 11 is 25 and 26: “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die” [John 11:25-26].
The verse in chapter 12 is number 32: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” [John 12:32].
And the verse in chapter 13 is verse 13: “You call Me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am” [John 13:13].
And the verse in chapter 14: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God,” we do, “believe also in Me” [John 14:1], and we shall. And in verse 9, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” [John 14:9].
And the verse in chapter 15 is number 5: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” [John 15:5].
And the verse in chapter 16 is verse 13 and 14:
Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.
He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you.
The work of the Holy Spirit is to point us to Jesus our Savior.
The verse in chapter 17 is number 3: “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” [John 17:3].
And the verse in chapter 18 is number 37, “Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest I am a king”—the strongest affirmation in the Greek language, to repeat it—“Thou sayest I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” [John 18:37].
And in [chapter] 19, the verse in chapter 19, the verse is number 7: “The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God” [John 19:7]. He was crucified the King and the Son of God.
And the verse in chapter 20 is the one that we read in our passage: “Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God” [John 20:28]. The whole book, all of it—and I’ve taken just one verse out of each chapter—the whole book is written that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing, we might have life through His name [John 20:30-31].
Now those are the chapters: we look now at the signs. There are seven signs that the apostle John chose that we might see Jesus in His glory, and, believing Him, might have life eternal [John 20:31]. Now I want you to look at the words that he uses: “And many other signs did Jesus” [John 20:30]. The apostle John never uses the word “miracle.” Sometimes in the King James Version it’ll be translated “miracle.” but it is never used by John. There are three words, “signs,” “miracles,” and “wonders,” and those three words are so often times met in the New Testament. There is the word dunamin, which accurately translated means “an exhibition of the power of God.” That word is usually translated “miracle.” Then there is the word teras, teras; this is a miracle in the sense of it being a wonderful prodigy, an amazing thing in the sight of men. And then the third one is semeion, which is “sign”; that is, an authenticating sign from God. Now, the apostle John never uses the word “miracle”; but all through his book he uses the word “sign.” That is, what Jesus did was a sign, a spiritual sign of a great spiritual truth. So John says, that, “I choose some of them. I couldn’t speak of all of them, because the world would not contain the books that should be written. But these are chosen that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that believing ye might have life through His name” [John 20:30-31].
Now there are seven of those signs that John chose. And the first one is in the second chapter of the Book of John, and it is the sign—never used the word “miracle”—it is the sign of turning the water into wine. “And there was set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece” [John 2:6]. That is, each one of those waterpots contained about twenty or twenty-five gallons. “Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And then He saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it” [John 2:7-8]. And when it got into the hands of the governor of the feast, it had turned into wine [John 2:9].
Now I just happened the other night to be seated there in the parsonage, and looking at television—which I rarely do—and it was a program of the life of Christ. And one of the funny things, one of the funny things—and it’s always funny to me to look at this, or to hear a Sunday school teacher teach it—here’s what that show had: they took out of the water, and they filled those six waterpots. It says here that each one of them contained two or three firkins apiece [John 2:6]; so that means each one of those waterpots contained about twenty or twenty-five gallons, and there were six of them. And the Scriptures say they were not pots, they were big stone basins after the manner of the purifying of the Jews [John 2:6]. That is, the people that came to that party that they were having there, that wedding, they washed their feet in those big, stone water basins, in order that they might be purified and go into the feast. So the Sunday school teacher says that they drew out the water, and filled these big stone basins; and then they drew out of the basins and took to the master of ceremonies, to the head of the feast. Now I just wonder how those scrupulous Jews who went through all of those rites of purification would have felt drinking out of those big stone basins where they had just washed their feet? It’s just kind of funny to me to see it and to hear people talk about that.
There’s no such thing as that in the Book. And this is a sign, it is a sign: Jesus is doing something here that has in it a great spiritual truth. And the truth is very evident: there were there six of those big stone basins after the manner of the foot washing, the purification of the Jews [John 2:6]. There were six of them; not seven, for seven is the number of completion, of maturity and fruition, of consummation. There were six of them. Six is the number of man; it is the number of human dereliction and lack. There were six of them after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, and each one of them contained about twenty or twenty-five gallons [John 2:6]. And Jesus said to the servants, “Draw out of the well, and fill them up” [John 2:7]. And so they drew out of the well, and filled them up [John 2:7]. Then the Lord said, “Now draw out of the well, and bear what you draw out of the well to the feast” [John 2:8]. So they drew out of the well, and between drawing out of the well and the time it was placed into the hands of the governor, the emcee, it had turned from water into wine [John 2:9].
Now what is the sign, the sēmeion? It is very simple: our Lord came to fulfill the law that we could not obey. He came to do what we cannot do: to live obediently to the law. And He kept the law for us, to its every detail, to every jot and tittle [Matthew 5:18]. Then having fulfilled the law of God for us, He offers us His grace and life, doing for us what we could never do [Romans 8:3-4]. So the sēmeion here is Christ fulfilling the law, living the perfect and obedient life [Hebrews 4:15]; and then giving Himself in our stead [2 Corinthians 5:21], the new wine, the new grace, the new life, the new hope, the new salvation, the new testament, the new covenant, the new promise, the new glory in God [2 Corinthians 5:17]. The old is fulfilled, all of it to the last syllable has been kept by our Lord; and He has nailed these ordinances to the cross [Colossians 2:14], and He’s given us eternal freedom and eternal life in Christ Jesus [John 8:36; Colossians 1:12-14]. That is the sēmeion! [John 2:6-9].
You know our time is gone and there are six more of these. Let me just quickly; turn to the second one. The healing of the nobleman’s son is in chapter 4, and this is the faith of a man who believes the word of Christ when the Lord was not even in the presence of his son; but he just trusted Christ’s word. And without seeing it, without knowing it, he just believed it; and when he went home, his boy was healed [John 4:46-54]. This is trusting the unseen in the promise of Christ.
The third sign is in the fifth chapter of John: the healing of the lame man [John 5:1-15]. This is a sign of Christ undoing the works of the devil.
The fourth sign is in the sixth chapter: feeding the five thousand, Christ is the bread of life [John 6:1-14].
The fifth sign is in the same [sixth] chapter: the Lord walking on the water [John 6:15-21], and this is the Lord of creation and of all nature [John 1:3].
Now the sixth sign is in the ninth chapter, where the Lord heals the blind man [John 9:1-7], and Christ is presented as the Lord of light and life [John 1:4].
And the seventh sign is Christ raising Lazarus from the dead [John 11:43-44]; and this is the resurrection of the glorious, marvelous victory in Jesus that God hath given to us [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17].
And that’s the way that John’s Gospel is made: after each one of those signs there is a long discussion, a long discussion about His being the light of the world [John 8:12], a long discussion about His being the bread of life [John 6:35-51], a long discussion about His being the resurrection [John 11:25-44]. And that’s the way John wrote his Gospel. He picked out those seven signs, sēmeion, signs, and he presented them here that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that, believing, we might have life through His name [John 20:31].
Now briefly, one other thing: in all of his chapters he presents Jesus as the deity, as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. In all of the signs that he chose, seven of them, he presents Christ as the Savior of the world. Now last, and in the testimonies all through the book there they witness to the saving grace of Jesus our Lord. May I just summarize some of them?
There’s John the Baptist testifying, introducing the Lord, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. The testimony of Andrew to his brother Simon: “We have found the Christ” [John 1:41]. The testimony of Philip to Nathanael, “This is He; we found Him, of whom the law and the prophets, did speak, Jesus” [John 1:45]. The testimony of Nathanael: “Rabbi, Teacher, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel” [John 1:49]. The testimony of Nicodemus: “Truly Thou art a man come from God: for no man can do these sēmeion, these signs, except God be with him” [John 3:2]. The testimony of the Samaritan woman and the village of Samaria: “Truly Thou art the Savior that should come into the world” [John 4:42]. The testimony of the man whose eyes were opened: “Whether He is a sinner or no, I know not: but one thing I do know, whereas I was blind, now I see” [John 9:25]. And the testimony of Mary in Bethany, anointing the feet of our Lord unto His burying [John 11:2; Matthew 26:7-13]. The testimony, the climactic, the testimony of Thomas: “My Lord and my God” [John 20:28]. This is the great climax of the Gospel of John leading up to that great avowal that saves us from our sins and keeps us to God in heaven: “My Lord and my God” [John 20:28].
“These are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life in His name” [John 20:31].
I want to close with something that happened. Every once in a while—and there’s a man right now in our church whose family belongs here, he’s a very distinguished man, a learned man, an intellectual man; and sometimes a man like that has difficulty accepting Christ as a little child would accept Him. “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter in” [Matthew 18:3]. Sometimes it’s hard for a man to become a little child and to accept the Lord in all that He said He was, and to receive Him as his Savior. Well, anyway, this godly pastor was in an intellectual community in a university city. And as in our church now, there was a family that belonged to his church, and the husband and father in the home was a distinguished and intellectual professor in the university. So the pastor working with him and working with him had a great difficulty leading the man to a confession of faith in the Lord Jesus, because of his intellectual doubts and his intellectual doubts and his intellectual doubts. So upon a time the pastor said to him, he said, “Sir, would you come down the aisle at the invitation, and stand up before the people and confess to the people what you do believe about Jesus?”
“Oh,” said the professor, “I would not like to do that, because I don’t believe that He is the Son of God, and I don’t believe that He is the Savior of the world, and certainly I don’t believe that He is my Savior. I cannot do that.” But the pastor urged him, and said, “You believe something about Jesus. Whatever it is you believe about Him, say it. Just come down before the congregation and confess what you do believe about Jesus.” But the professor said, “It would be very little.” Well, the pastor said, “Whatever little it is, come, and just stand there and tell them what you do believe about the Lord.”
So at the urgency and pressing of the pastor, the professor agreed to do it. So church time came, and the sermon was preached, and the people stood up and sang the invitation; and true to his word, the professor came forward. And then the people were seated. And the pastor introduced him, and said, “He’s going to stand up here and make a confession of what he does believe about Jesus.” So the professor stood up and said, “My dear friends, I live in this community and my family belongs here. I’ve been coming to church here. And my dear friends,” he said, “I have agreed to do what the pastor has asked me to do; to stand here and to tell you what I believe about Jesus.” So he said, “My friends, I believe that He was a good man. I believe that He was a good man.” And he stopped. And the Holy Spirit began to work in his heart. And he said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. I believe more than that. I believe He was the best man that ever lived.” And he paused, and the Spirit worked in his heart. No man can come to the Father, except the Spirit draw him [John 6:44]. And the professor stopped, and said, “Wait a minute, I believe more than that. I believe He is the Son of God.” Then he paused, and he said, “Wait a minute. I believe more than that. I believe He is the Savior and the hope of the world.” And he paused. And he said, “I believe more than that. I believe that He is my Lord and my Savior and my God.”
Isn’t that a glorious thing? “These things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life in His name” [John 20:31]. I believe He is a good man, yes. I believe He is the best man, yes, but oh, so much more. I believe He is the Lord and Savior of the world [John 3:17]. “And this,” John says, “do I write, that ye might believe He is that; and believing Him, receiving Him, trusting Him, ye might have life, eternal life, everlasting life in His name” [John 20:31].
May the Spirit of God press that appeal to your heart. In a moment we stand to sing our song of invitation. And tonight, to believe in Jesus, to trust Him as your Savior [Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8], to answer His call with your life, would you come now? Would you make it now? A family you to come into the fellowship of the church, a couple you, or just one somebody you, while we sing this hymn of appeal, in the balcony round, down one of these steps, on this lower floor into the aisle and here to the front: “Here I am, pastor. Here I come. I accept the Lord as my Lord. I give Him my heart and my life,” or “I want to put my life in the church,” or “I want to answer God’s call. The Lord has spoken to me, and here I am; here I come.” Do it now, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.
I. The chapters – that we might believe (John 20:31, 21:25)
verse out of each chapter to show how John presents our Lord that we might
believe unto salvation (John 1:12, 2:19, 3:16, 4:14,
5:24, 6:35, 7:46, 8:12, 9:25, 10:14, 28, 11:25, 12:32, 13:13, 14:1, 9, 15:5,
16:14, 17:3, 18:36, 19:7, 20:28)
II. The signs – that we might believe
A. Turning water into
wine in Cana (John 2:1-11)
B. Jesus heals the
nobleman’s son (John 4:43-54)
D. Feeding the five
thousand (John 6:1-14)
E. Jesus walks on water
F. Jesus heals a man
blind from birth (John 9:1-7)
G. Jesus raises Lazarus
from the dead (John 11:25-26)
III. The testimony – that we might believe
A. John the Baptist (John 1:29)
B. Andrew, Philip,
Nathaniel (John 1:31, 45, )
C. Nicodemus (John 3:2)
D. The Samaritan woman,
village (John 4:42)
E. Man born blind (John 9:25)
F. Mary anointing His
feet (John 12:7)
G. Thomas (John 20:28)
H. Testimony of the