Advent Booklet Excerpt
Sermon Series | John: That You May Believe
By Pastor Steve Berkenpas
We are beginning a series in John that will start in Advent and run past Easter. During Advent and Lent we will have different focuses in the gospel of John but throughout each season we will be using the series title as a link.
To understand the series title, it is helpful to ask the question, “Why did John write his gospel?” The answer can be found in John 20:30-31. We don’t have to guess; John just goes out and tells us as he nears the end. He says that the things recorded in this book are written “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.” As we go through the gospel of John, we are going to read it with a special attentiveness to where its going, to what its purpose is: that you may believe.
Notice how personal this purpose is. Notice John’s awareness that we might be part of his audience. He doesn’t write this to the church of Rome or Galatia, it is written to anybody who reads it or hears it. It is written to you. John is writing an account of Jesus and his life to aid you in your belief. We live in a world where doubt can take hold, where there are different options held out before us with what we believe. John invites us to anchor ourselves in the hope of Jesus as the one who saves us – the true Son of God – the one who gives us life.
There are three applications that the series title draws us towards:
- Because of the personal nature of this call, we are encouraged to look to our own faith journey, to remember the moment where we turned to belief.
- John is known as ‘John the Evangelist’ as his gospel-telling of Jesus is written to persuade others to belief. As our small groups just finished a series called ‘Witness’ we are also invited to consider what it means to tell the story and invite other to believe with us. We not only tell our stories of coming to belief, but we speak and continue to witness to who Jesus is that others may come to believe.
- “That you may believe” could also be translated as “that you may be believers.” There is a subtle but important distinction in the wording. The first is meant to focus on this once-in-a-lifetime decision of coming to belief. The second is meant to have us think to the ‘ongoingness’ of our belief. John is interested in people being sustained in their faith journey not just with a moment you came to belief. During our series we will also be asking: How do these stories help sustain you as a believer?
“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
— John 20:30-31
Series Visual Explanation
Throughout each season the visuals of our banners will change. We begin with a downward arrow – directing us to consider God coming to be with us in the incarnation. We transition to a sideways arrow signifying Jesus’ ministry years. For Lent we turn the arrow the other direction in recognition of the intentional movement towards the cross. We will finish with an upward arrow that draws us to consider the resurrection and ascension.