That Ye Might Believe


That Ye Might Believe

July 30th, 1989 @ 8:15 AM

In the twentieth chapter, following the story of Thomas and his avowal, which is the height toward which John has written the Gospel: "Thomas answered before the Lord, My God, my God. Then Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" [John 20:28-29]. Then John concludes with an addendum: "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 Savior of the world, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name" [John 20-30-31].
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

John 20:30-31

7-30-89     8:15 a.m.



And a thousand times over again we welcome the multitudes of you who share this hour on radio.  You are now a part of our dear, wonderful First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled That Ye Might Believe.  It is a textual sermon from the climactic and concluding part of the Gospel of John.  In the twentieth chapter, following the story of Thomas and his avowal, which is the height toward which John has written the Gospel: "Thomas answered before the Lord, My God, my God.  Then Jesus said unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed:  blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" [John 20:28-29].  Then John concludes with an addendum:  "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 Savior of the world, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name" [John 20-30-31].

There is a great purpose that lies back of each one of the four Gospels; and it is very evident as you read the gospel.  Matthew over and over again will say of the Lord, "This He did, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by," by an Old Testament prophet.  He presents Jesus as the Messiah of the Jews; and the Gospel was written for the Jew, that he might believe.  Mark presents Jesus as a Man of movement, of action, of strategy.  And Mark wrote his message for the Romans.  Luke the beloved physician presents Jesus as the great humanitarian.  He’s the one who tells the parable of the Good Samaritan.  And he wrote it for the mass of humanity.  And John wrote his Gospel to present the deity of our Lord, "That we might believe Him to be the Son of God, and that believing we might have life through His name."

So in this addendum he says, "Many other," and the King James Version translates it correctly, "semeion, many other signs truly did Jesus, that are not written in this book."  Semeion, John does not use the word "miracle."  Semeion is translated "miracle" over and over again in the Gospel of John, but it’s not a good translation.  Semeion, "sign," John, I say, never uses the word "miracle," dunamin, "a power, a demonstration of the miraculous power of God," or tera, "a wonder of the Almighty"; he never uses the word "miracle."  He uses the word semeion, "sign."  And these signs that Jesus did confirm His deity in order that we might believe in Him.

So that’s our first avowal of John’s Gospel:  that we might believe that our Lord is the Son of God, the Lord Himself [John 20:31].  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" [John 1:1].  So, John picks out seven semeion – this is his Gospel – there are seven semeion, we [say] semeia, plural, that John picks out in the life of our Lord to present Him as God and our Savior.

The first one is the turning of the water into wine, the miracle at Cana in Galilee [John 2:1-11]; and it is a remarkable sign.  As they came to the wedding feast, there were six big tubs there; doubtless hewn out of solid rock, great big basins.  And each one of those basins held about thirty to thirty-five gallons of water in them.  And the guests, according to Jewish ablutions and washings and ceremonies, the guests washed their hands and their feet as they came into the feast.  Well, there are six of them there; that is very significant.  There are six of them.  And when they ran out of oinos – and that can be translated in a whole lot of ways, oinos, wine that’d make you drunk, or grape juice, the crushed fruit of the vine, or wine mixed with water, oinos – when they ran out, why, the mother of the Lord said to her Son, the Lord Jesus, "They have no wine."  And so our Lord performed this miracle.  He said to the servants there in the home in Cana of Galilee, "Now you draw out of the well and fill up those six big basins of water," thirty-five gallons each, "You fill them up.  Then now you draw out, and you take to the governor of the feast" [John 2:7-8].  And those servants, after they filled up those big basins, drew out, and on the way from the drawing out to the governor, the miracle happened:  the oinos, the water into wine, into the crushed fruit of the vine.  And when the governor tasted of it, he said, "I never drank anything like this in my life.  It is new."  Well, what happened was, he was drinking of the same kind of oinos, the fruit of the vine that we’re going to drink at the marriage supper of the Lamb.  What God hath wrought – and you’re not going to get drunk in heaven, I can tell you that; the oinos was not alcoholic – it was new.  The governor never had drunk anything like that.  It’s a miracle, and very plain in its meaning.  The Old Testament is filled up; those ceremonies and rituals and all of the other things of the law, they’re all filled up.  And now we have a new oinos; we have the love and grace of Jesus our Lord.  And that is a sign; it is a semeion, of the wonderful, glorious ministry of our Lord Jesus.

Now the second one here in the Gospel of John:  Jesus heals the nobleman’s son [John 4:43-54].  And it is a sign, a wonderful one:  the nobleman believed the Lord Jesus.  He lived in Capernaum, and Jesus is miles and miles away from Capernaum.  And the nobleman believed just the word of Jesus, and he went back home trusting the Lord for the healing of his son.  And when he arrived the lad was whole and well again – just believing in the word of the Lord Jesus.

The third sign is the story of the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda [John 5:1-9].  That’s a sign that Jesus is able to overcome the works of Satan.   The fourth sign: He feeds the five thousand [John 6:1-14]: Jesus is the bread of life [John 6:35].  The fifth sign:  Jesus walks on the water; He is the Lord God of all creation and of all nature [John 6:15-21].  And the sixth sign:  He heals a man who was blind from his birth [John 9:1-7].  Our Lord is the light of the world:  in Him is the hope of humanity [John 8:12].  And the seventh sign:  He raises Lazarus from the dead [John 11:38-43].  Our Lord is the King of glory and the Lord of life, the resurrection and our hope of the world that is yet to come.  That is John’s Gospel.

Along the way you have the wonderful testimonies to our living Lord.  John the Baptist introduces Him as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world [John 1:29].  Andrew and Philip and Nathaniel exclaim, "Lord, Thou art the Messiah, the King of Israel."  Nicodemus says, "No man can do these," and you have it translated "miracles," signs, semeia, "No man can do these signs except God is with him" [John 3:2]; the testimony of Nicodemus [John 3:2].  The testimony of the Samaritan woman and the Samaritans:  "Thou art truly the Savior that should come into the world" [John 4:42].   And the testimony of that blind man:  "Whatever you say about Him," and they were degrading Him, "whatever you say about Him, this one thing I know:  whereas I was blind, now I can see" [John 9:25].   Whatever any infidel or any unbeliever says, we who know the Lord, He has done something for us that no one else could ever do in this earth.

And of course, the testimony in the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of John:  "If a man die," if he dies physically, "yet shall he live:  and whoever lives in Me, believes in Me, shall never die" [John 11:25-26].  That’s the Gospel of John.

All right, a second avowal:  "These things," he says, "that I write, that you might believe": the second avowal; our Lord is the propitiation for our sins.  And John writes in order that we might believe that He takes our sins away.  You know, it’s an unusual thing as I pass it by:  John is the only one that writes about the spear thrust in the side of our Lord, and he does it in the most emphatic way:  "He that saw it bare record, and we know that his record is true":  and he writes "that you might believe."  The spear thrust in His side, and following out the steel withdrawn from His heart, "there flowed blood and water" [John 19:34-35].   And John follows through with that in 1 John, over and over again: "Jesus, the propitiation for our sins" [1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10].  And in the Revelation, how many times do you see our Lord, "the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world" in the fifth chapter.  "Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to Him be glory and honor forever and ever and ever [Revelation 1:5-6],And he saw as it were a Lamb that had been slain [Revelation 5:6],Worthy art Thou to receive honor, because You were slain for us, died for us, crucified for us [Revelation 5:9],These are they who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" [Revelation 7:14].  That’s John.

And in this tremendous letter, [1] John 4:10, "God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."  In [1] John 2:2, "He is the propitiation for our sins:  and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."  And in [1] John 1:7, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."  God send His Son to be the propitiation for our sins:  the pouring out of the crimson of His life was that we might be washed clean from our sins.

God did that.  The crucifixion of our Lord and the death of our Lord was not an accident, it was not an overwhelming providence, it is something that God did; God did it.  It began in the garden of Eden:  when our first parents sinned, it was the Lord, it was the Lord who slew an animal, shed its blood, and made coats of skin to cover the nakedness of our first parents [Genesis 3:21].  God did that.  When I read that, I often think, "Wonder what Adam and Eve felt when they looked upon that blood?"  First time they’d ever seen it, blood.  The ground drank it up.  God did that.  God shed the first blood.  God did it.

In the story of the Passover, God did it.  God did it.  That’s God.  "You are to offer a lamb, and sprinkle its blood in the form of a cross on the lintel and on either side on the doorposts " [Exodus 12:3-7].   God did it.  In the offering of Isaac on Mt Moriah, when Abraham faced the awful thing that had been commanded him of the Lord, he told his son, "God will provide a lamb.  God will do it" [Genesis 22:8].  And in the [ninth] chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the blood washes us from all our sins [Hebrews 9:22]. God does it.


What can wash away my sins?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.


O precious is the flow

That makes me white as snow;

No other fount I know,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

["Nothing but the Blood"; Robert Lowry]


It’s something God did.  And John writes it that ye might believe that He is your Savior.

And third and last:  that you might believe that He is the Lord of life, that He brings to us salvation [John 20:31].  Our Lord said, in the fourth chapter of John:


Whoever drinks of the water of this life shall thirst again:  but whoever drinks of the water that I give him shall never thirst; but the water that I give him shall be in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life

 [John 4:13-14]. 


Our Lord said, in the tenth chapter of the same gospel, "I give unto them eternal life: and they shall never ever perish" [John 10:28].  Our Lord said in the fourteenth chapter, "Peace I leave with you, peace I give unto you:  not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid" [John 14:27].  And he closes that remarkable passage in the sixteenth chapter, "In the world ye shall have tribulation:  but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" [John 16:33].  What a vast, indescribable difference between those who find hope and refuge and in Jesus, and those who live and die in the world!

Lord Byron, the tremendously gifted poet of England, Lord Byron wrote:


My days are in the yellow leaf;

The flower and fruits of love are gone;

The worm, the canker, and the grief

Are mine alone!


You remember the title of it?  "On Reaching My Thirty-sixth Birthday."  And he died.

Or do you remember Bobby Burns?


Pleasures are like poppies spread:

You seize the flower, the bloom is shed;

Or like the snow falls on the river,

A moment white – then gone forever;

Or like the Borealis rays

That flit ‘ere you can point their place;

Or like the rainbow’s lovely form

Vanishing amid the storm.

["Tam O’Shanter"; Robert Burns]


And he died dissolute at thirty-six, just like Lord Byron.

Dear God!  Dear God!  If my life is one of pleasure, if pleasure is my life, to be satiated, to be joyless is to be miserable.  If popularity is my life, to be ignored is to be miserable.  If success is my life, to fail is to be miserable.  If fame is my life, to be unknown is to be miserable.  If money and wealth are my life, to be poor is to be miserable.  If health is my life, to be sick and invalid is to be miserable.  If power is my life, to be weak is to be miserable.  Even if liberty is my life, to be in prison is to be miserable.  But if Jesus is my life; if Christ is my life, whether I am poor or sick or in prison I can be happy in Him.


I entered once a home of care;

And penury and want were there.

But joy and peace withal;

I asked the aged mother whence

Her helpless widowhood’s defense;

She answered, ‘Christ is all.’


I saw the martyr at the stake,

The flames could not his courage shake,

Nor fear his soul appall;

I asked him whence his strength was given;

He looked triumphantly to Heaven,

And answered, ‘Christ is all.’


I stood beside the dying bed

Where lay a child with aching head

Waiting Jesus’ call;

I saw him smile, ’twas sweet as May;

And as his spirit passed away,

He whispered, ‘Christ is all.’


I dreamed that hoary time had fled,

The earth and sea gave up their dead,

A fire dissolved this ball;

I saw the church’s ransomed throng,

I caught the burden of their song,

‘Twas this: that Christ is all in all.

["Christ is All"; W. A. Williams]


Whether you are poor, whether you are in prison, whether you are sick, doesn’t matter, not ultimately:  if you have Jesus, you have all in all.

And that’s our appeal to you.  To give your heart, and life, and hope, and belief to our precious Savior, a family you to come into the fellowship of our wonderful church, or anyone led by the Spirit of God to answer the call of the Lord in your heart and life, in this moment when we sing our hymn of appeal, on the first note of the first stanza, come, and welcome.  In the balcony round, down one of these stairways; in the throng on this lower floor, down one of these aisles; "Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and I’m on the way."  God bless you, angels attend you as you come, while we stand and while we sing.