By Rev Dr Clive Chin
10 “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (Jn 1:10-13).
As evangelical, Bible-believing Christians, we believe that the Word of God is not only inspired but speaks relevantly to our day. However, a cursory reading of the initial verses in John gives the impression that John’s prologue is quite obscured and other-worldly. A closer reading reveals that this entire gospel is full of allusions to the OT. This is because John was writing to a Jewish audience, who he expected to be familiar with the OT and hence understand what he was talking about.
How does the Gospel of John speak to our secular and postmodern age? The Gospel of John is openly and unashamedly super-naturalistic. In this gospel, John is revealing fundamental, yet deep, spiritual truths about Jesus and his relation to the world. Yet in this secular and postmodern age, there are many people who treat history in such a way that prevents God from intervening in our world. That is, they reject in a priori fashion any possibility of super-naturalistic occurrences. As a result, there is no place for the theophany of the burning bush, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, at least in public discourse. To understand John’s gospel fully, we need to come to grips with the world that John presents.
John’s gospel is certainly not a psychological manual or a feel-good book. Jesus himself taught that the worst form of slavery is our slavery to sin. If we come to see that truth, then the gospel changes everything in not only how we understand God and ourselves, but how we understand life, purpose, and goals. The Christian faith, in that sense, is grounded heavily on historical truth in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Our faith is a God-given gift (Eph 2:8-9) that enables us to receive and grasp that truth. The truth of the gospel is bound up with historical events—Jesus dying and rising in space and time. We must cast our lives in genuine repentance and trust in Jesus in order to receive eternal life.