In our modern, technology filled society we are quite familiar with user’s manuals. They offer important (supposedly) safety warnings, not because we’re stupid but because we’re litigious. If the manufacturer does not clearly state that we are not to shove our hand into a whirling cutter, some will file suit against the manufacturer for doing so and claim they were injured because they were not informed of the danger. The manual offers detailed instructions for the operation of the device, including helpful sections on maintenance, troubleshooting, and contact information for the manufacturer when you need service.
However, manufacturers know that in our rush to begin using a new device, we often refuse to sit down and read through the manual first. They, therefore, include a Quick Start card that tells us the most essential information to get us going. We will refer back to the manual as we have need of the other information.
The Bible is the operator’s manual for humanity. It gives us information of the product’s origin and development, detailed information for proper operation, tremendous trouble-shooting information, details on how to contact and communicate with the manufacturer and a peek at upcoming product improvements. And, like any comprehensive manual, it includes a Quick Start Guide: the book of John.
Each of the four gospels, which appear at the beginning of the New Testament, were addressed to a different audience – segments of the population at that time. Matthew was written to the Jewish community and emphasizes Jewish heritage. It opens with the lineage of Jesus and goes on to show how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophesy. Mark was written to the Gentiles and shows how the Members Only club of God’s children was opened up to all through the Jewish rejection of Jesus. Luke was written to Romans, who respected power and authority, so Luke emphasizes the miracles of Jesus. John, was written to the church: to the followers of Jesus. It was written to tell believers how to find eternal life (John 20:31).
For new believers (or those who are leaning that way), there is no better place to start in studying your operators manual than the book of John: God’s Quick Start card to His creation.
The book of John opens with, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (NKJV). Here John references Genesis and the fact that the Word is part of our triune Godhead. The Word was God and was with God when everything was created, through the Word everything was made. Later, the Word became a human infant who grew into a man living a sinless life. This man taught others about God’s kingdom for three years, then gave himself as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of mankind. This ushered in a New Covenant with God. This covenant fulfills The Law of the Old Testament and frees us from its complicated system of rules and sacrifices. Under the new covenant, we have only to accept Jesus as Lord to obtain the promise of God: life in the eternal Kingdom of God.
Whether you are a long-time believer who has not done much Bible reading because it seems unfathomable, a new believer who doesn’t know where to begin, or a not-yet-believer who wants to know more so you can make a decision, the book of John is a great place to start.
Get a good study Bible in a translation you like. I prefer the New King James Version because it’s written in plain English (old English frustrates me) yet is still close enough to the King James that I can use my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance to do research. A study Bible offers cross-references to related passages. As you read, some passages will pique your curiosity. Follow that curiosity by reading those related passages as well. These will bring added insight and clarity to your reading. Allow God to speak to you through the Bible. Our manufacturer does not ask for your e-mail address so He can send you updates and announcements. He communicates with us through His Holy Word, the Bible. John is the Quick Start card, this will get you going and point you to other information on maintenance, troubleshooting, upgrades and warranty as you need it.