ESV Gospel of John, Reader’s Edition (a valuable evangelistic tool)
D.L. Moody once said, “The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.” Through the pages of the Bible, God speaks to us as he reveals the living Christ. As we read, the Spirit may very well change us from the inside out, conforming us to the image of Jesus himself. After all, “the living and abiding word of God” is “active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow” (1Pe 1:23; Heb 4:12).
We, Christians, can sometimes act as though we’re ashamed of the Bible. When speaking to the unconverted, we share our personal testimony, hand out gospel tracts, or merely invite them to church. If we’re not ashamed, perhaps we don’t trust God’s word to do what it claims, which is to be the means by which the Spirit brings sinners to life.
Peter reminds his readers:
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. (1 Peter 1:22-23)
James makes a similar statement:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:17-18)
Meditate on these passages. Then, purchase a small case of Bibles to carry with you. Give them to people you meet. Maybe you can handwrite a short note with your name and phone number to place within the cover. Trust God’s Spirit to work through the pages of Scripture.
Personally, I like to simplify things for people I meet. Rather than give someone a complete Bible, which can be intimidating, I pass out small, attractive copies of John’s Gospel. Why this book? First, John wants his readers to know Jesus. He wants them to know who Jesus is and why he matters. Second, John includes the following mission statement near the end:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)
I want people to have life in Christ’s name, and I believe God can accomplish it through John’s Gospel.
ESV Gospel of John, Reader’s Edition
My favorite edition is the ESV Gospel of John, Reader’s Edition (available from Westminster Bookstore and Amazon). I buy it by the case. Its dimensions, 4.25” x 6”, make it convenient to carry and keep in the glovebox of my car. Its cover is stunning for a paperback, and its pages are thick and cream-colored, making them easy on the eyes. The interior text is a 12-point type, single column, and doesn’t include chapter or verse numbers. Every feature is inviting.
I’ll give a copy to the barista at the local coffee house. I’ll offer one to the homeless man on the street corner. I’ll hand John’s Gospel with a personal note inside to anyone when an opportunity arises. Maybe I’ll plant a seed which God causes to grow.