Message of Life MinistriesLetourneau Research

July 2021 Update

The Sermons Page has been updated. The latest sermons can be found at: Water of Life Sermons. The 2021 Bible Reading Plan can be found at: 2021 Bible Reading Plan.

December 2020 Update


We wish all of you a most prosperous year in the Lord.

Now that COVID vaccines are here, we are closer to the day that life and ministry will return to a more familiar pattern. Christians need to be vigilant—that our freedom to worship our Lord and to freely proclaim the message of life would be preserved. In this day of political correctness, we need to remember that eternal life matters! Jesus Christ left believers on planet earth so more people would receive eternal life from Him.

When we consider the opposition that the apostles faced, we must not cower in fear. Of course, we need to be wise about COVID, but surely the Lord does not want us to bury our talent in the ground. We have the message of life and need to share it.

2021 will be a year that Message of Life will dedicate great effort toward a commentary on the Fourth Gospel. It will help believers understand John’s Gospel better, so they can share the message of life from John.

We will keep you posted in regard to our move.

By His Grace, John and Diane

December 2020 Update

The website has been updated with the most recent sermons. The website will continue to see more updates and organization in the upcoming weeks. Earlier this month, a new edition of Lifeline was sent out. If you did not receive it, it can be found here. This has been a year of transitions for our ministry and 2021 promises to be more of same.

May 2020 Update


Many years ago, I read an account by a Jewish atheist of how he came to deny God's existence. He recalled his mother praying for Sandy Colfax to win his games for the Los Angeles Dodgers. She would tell her son, "God always answers my prayers." While at university, though, he questioned, "How could the God who supposedly answered Mom's prayers for Sandy Colfax have allowed six million Jews to die in the Holocaust?" He concluded that there is no God.

If I could speak with him, I would ask, "Is it a good thing that the Jewish people have a homeland, Israel?" He would undoubtedly agree. I would then ask, "If it were not for the horrors of the Holocaust, what would have led Britain to allow Israel to become a nation on land controlled by Britain?" It is hard to imagine anything short of the Holocaust persuading Britain to give up voluntarily that land. Without knowing it, the victims of the Holocaust were martyrs whose blood brought about (at the human level) statehood for Israel. Ezekiel predicted that a portion of the world's Jewish population would regather in the land of Israel in unbelief (see the Valley of Dry Bones) prior to God regathering the nation there in belief. Contrary to what the Jewish atheist asserted, God answered Israel's prayers for a homeland. Who knows? Maybe He even answered some prayers for Sandy Colfax.

All the many ramifications of COVID-19 are driving many to despair. We should be driven to our knees, instead. Our perspective is so finite, but God knows the end from the beginning. He works in history. Romans 8:28 has a concrete context. God promises, "And we know that all things work together for good [in context, the good equals God bringing about the Millennium] to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Accomplishment of His plan involves some things unpleasant to people, but (as believers) we certainly can affirm that we want Him to accomplish His short- and long-term goals for planet earth. We need to pray for His protection and for opportunity to minister. We have everlasting life. Circumstances cannot take that away. We have every reason not to let our heart be troubled-despite the chaos that surrounds us.

By His Grace, John

February 2020 Update

The website has been updated with the most recent sermons. John is starting a new series in Daniel with the Water of Life Class. When we have a few sermons recorded, it will receive its own page. A new Bible reading plan can be found at: 2020 Bible Reading Plan.

September Update

The website has been updated with the most recent sermons. The Colossians page has been updated to include the entire series.

Mid-April Update

The website has been updated with the most recent sermons. John continues to teach the Water of Life Classes, recently finishing up a series on Zane Hodge's Six Secrets of the Christian Life. John is working through the book of Colossians, and these sermons can be found on a new page: Colossians. He also continues to teach the Pastor and Professor class at Crosspoint Community Church.

Late January Update

It is a new year. We have updated the website with recent sermons. A new Bible reading plan can be found at: 2019 Bible Reading Plan. Recently, John and Diane have moved. This website has been updated at the bottom of each page to reflect their new address. Please pray for their endurance as they make their new house into a home.

Late August Update

Recent sermons can be found at the top of the Sermons page under "Latest Sermons."

Late February Update

Recent sermons can still be found at the top of the Sermons page under "Latest Sermons." The Joshua series, Judges series and Revelation series for the Water of Life Class can be found on the sermons page. A new reading plan for 2018 can be found at: 2018 Bible Reading Plan.

End of the Year Update

Recent sermons can be found on the Sermons page under "Latest Sermons." In the coming week, a Joshua page, Crosspoint Church Sermons page and Water of Life Sermons page will be added. This should help with the website's organization. Additionally, a reading plan can be accessed at: Fall 2017 Reading Plan. Also, our most recent newsletter can be accessed at: December 2017 Newsletter.

Water of Life Class and Crosspoint Church Sermons: Mid-August Update

We at Message of Life are trying to make accessing the 500 or so sermons more user-friendly. New Sermons will now be posted at the top of the Sermons Page under "Latest Sermons." This should allow easy access to the most recent sermons. Over the next few updates, we will be re-organizing and re-categorizing the sermons so they can be accessed in a more logical way.

Water of Life Class and Crosspoint Church Sermons: Mid-March Update

Crosspoint Community Church: Persuasion: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: He Who Began a Good Work: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: For Furthering the Gospel: Audio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church: Repentance: A Remedy for What is Wrong Part 1: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Salvation in Philippi: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Let This Mind Be in You: Audio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church: Repentance: A Remedy for What is Wrong Part 2: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Work Out Your Own Salvation: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Kindred Spirit Going for Broke: Audio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church: Repentance Just for Time: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: That We May Know Him: Audio and Notes

December Newsletter And 2017 Reading Schedule

Message of Life e-mailed its annual newsletter. An online copy can be found here: December 2016 Newsletter Also, a new reading schedule has been posted for the Water of Life Class: 1st Half of 2017 Reading Schedule.

Water of Life Class and Crosspoint Church Sermons

Crosspoint Community Church: Troubling Bethesda's Still Waters: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: We Know We Know and We Know: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: How to Love as God Intends: Audio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church: Your Son Lives...Lives...Lives: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Seeing the God of Love Pt2: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Gilgal: A Ring of Stones and Rolling Away Reproach: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Jericho the Battle is the Lord's: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Defeat at Ai: Audio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church: Manna from Heaven: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Victory at Ai: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: The Northern Campaign: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Dividing the Land: Audio and Notes

A Surprise in the Olivet Discourse: Audio

Crosspoint Community Church: Twas Blind and Now I See: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Dividing the Land Pt 2: Audio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church: Martha Complaint or Compliant: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Hezekiah: God's Man in the Gap: Audio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church: Dying to Live the Cross of Jesus: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Last but not Least: Audio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church: Jesus Resurrection and the Eleven: Audio and Notes

Water of Life: Jesus: The Davidic King: Audio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church: Simply Believing: Audio and Notes

Newsletters And Reading Schedule

Message of Life has started releasing short monthly newsletters. The first issue was e-mailed out in February and can be found here: February 2016 Newletter. The second issue can be found here: March 2016 Newsletter. Also, a new reading schedule has been posted for the Water of Life Class: 2nd Half of 2016 Reading Schedule.

Water of Life Class: 1st John Continued

Manifestation of the Children of God Part 2: Audio and Notes

Manifestation of the Children of God Part 3: Audio and Notes

The Regenerate Seed in the NT: Audio and Notes

Manifestation of the Children of God Part 5: Audio and Notes

Love Manifesting God's Children: Audio and Notes

Love Manifesting God's Children Part 2: Audio and Notes

Q&A Mark and John: Audio

Q&A Luke: Audio

Seeing the God of Love Part 2: Audio and Notes

How to Love as God Intends: Audio and Notes

We Know We Know and We Know: Audio and Notes

The Spies and the Harlot: Audio and Notes

Crossing the Jordan: Audio and Notes

Sermons on the Road

Jansen Bible Church - The Greater Than Moses Prophet Like Moses: Audio and Notes

Jansen Bible Church - Do Unbelievers Live Forever and Understanding John the Baptist's Insights: Audio and Notes

Jansen Bible Church - The Prediction of Peter's Death as Encouragement to Him: Audio and Notes

Jansen Bible Church - A New Look at the Woman Caught in Adultery: Audio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church- Got Life? Signs, Certainty, Salvation: Audio and Notes

GES Conference: Is John Believable When He Affirms that People Believed Audio and Notes and Notes

GES Conference: How Long is a Present ParticipleAudio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church - Got Life? Signs, Certainty, Salvation: Audio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church - Your Son Lives Lives Lives: Audio and Notes

Crosspoint Community Church - Israel Trip Information: Audio

Crosspoint Community Church- Got Life? Signs, Certainty, Salvation: Audio and Notes

Water of Life Class 2016 Reading Schedule

The Water of Life Class' 2016 Reading Schedule can be found at this link: 2016 Bible Reading Schedule.

Water of Life Class: 1st John

Concerning the Message of Life: Audio and Notes

If We Confess Our Sins: Audio and Notes

He is the Propitiation: Audio and Notes

Knowing the God of Light: Audio and Notes

Knowing the God of Light Part 2: Audio and Notes

Knowing the God of Light Part 3: Audio and Notes

Do Not Love the World: Audio and Notes

Abiding in Christ: Audio and Notes

Whence Came the John 4:1 Crowds: Audio and Notes

Understanding the Lord's Prayer: Audio and Notes

The Virgin Shall Conceive and Bear a Son: Audio and Notes

Out of Egypt I Called My Son: Audio and Notes and Genealogy

Coniah the Cursed and the Virgin Birth: Audio and Notes

Do Not Love the World Review: Audio and Notes

Manifestation of the Children of God: Audio and Notes and Roman Emperors

Water of Life Class Continued

The Water of Life Class' Annual Reading Plan can be found at this link: 2015 Bible Reading Plan.

Water of Life Class Continued

2nd John: Lois and Eunice: Audio and Notes

3rd John 1-8: Becoming a Fellow Worker: Audio and Notes

Romans 9: Questions and Answers: Audio

3rd John 9-14: Diotrephes and Demetrius: Audio and Notes

Romans 8:22ff: Predestined and Glorified: Audio and Notes

Was the Message of Life Lost Until the Reformation?: Audio and Notes

Behold I Stand at the Door: Audio and Notes

A Revolutionary View of Revelation 3: Audio and Notes

GES Conference Sessions and Sermons on the Road

Can a Dead Man See or Believe?: Audio and Notes

A Revolutionary Look at Revelation 3:9-10: Audio and Notes

Predestined and Glorified: Rescuing Romans 8:30-32: Audio and Notes

Persuasion and Irresistible Grace: Audio

Grace Chapel: Grace Chapel The Bread of Life: Audio

Six Secrets of the Christian Life Continued

1st study (How Not to Live the Christian Life): Audio and Notes

2nd study (God's Marvelous Mirror): Audio and Notes

3rd study (Seeing What We Are): Audio

4th study (God's Marvelous Mirror): Audio and Notes

5th study (Initial Assurance or Reassurance?): Audio and Notes

6th study (Conclusion): Audio

GES Conference Paper

John is teaching today at the GES Conference in Dallas, TX. His paper is entitled: So You May Come (or Continue?) to Believe. It can be downloaded at this link


Study in Philemon

The Water of Life class is taking an excursis from 6 Secrets of the Christian Life and doing a study in the book of Philemon.

1st study (Enhanced Participation in the Faith): Audio and Notes and Notes

2nd study (A Grace Appeal): Audio and Notes

Excursis (Mothers' Day: Lois and Eunice): Audio and Notes

Excursis (Dead Man's Faith Results in Eternal Life): Audio and Notes and Diagram

Water of Life Class Update

The Ephesians series thus far has been updated on the Ephesians series page. To view the entire Water of Life Ephesians series, view this page. Also, the previous series in the book of James has been organized and can be viewed on this page. We started a series on Zane Hodges' Six Secrets of the Christian Life.

1st study (How Not to Live the Christian Life): Audio and Notes

2nd study (God's Marvelous Mirror): Audio and Notes

3rd study (Seeing What We Are): Audio

4th study (God's Marvelous Mirror): Audio and Notes

Continued Study in Ephesians

10th study (Christ is Our Peace Part 3): Audio and Notes

11th study (Paul's Mystery Part 1): Audio and Notes and 1st Kings Diagram

12th study (Paul's Mystery Part 2): Audio and Notes

13th study (I Bow My Knees): Audio and Notes and The Flow of Ephesians Notes

14th study (Walk Worthy of Your Calling): Audio and Notes

15th study (Giving Gifted Believers): Audio and Notes

Excursis (Like a Tree Transplanted by Irrigation Waters): Audio and Notes

16th study (Equipping the Saints to Minister Part 1): Audio and Notes

17th study (Equipping the Saints to Minister Part 2): Audio and Notes

Excursis (The Significance of Ioudaioi as Judeans in John's Gospel): Audio and Notes

Excursis (The Content of Faith According to John's Gospel): Audio and Notes

18th study (A Fruit Inspection Special): Audio and Notes

19th study (The Corporate New Man): Audio and Notes

20th study (Grieving the Spirit): Audio and Notes

GES Conference 2014 Presentations

Golden Chain of Christ's Co-heirs: Audio and Notes

Peace with God: Audio and Notes, Rom 5:1-4 Diagram, and Rom 5:1 Apparatus

Study in Ephesians

1st study (Introduction to Ephesians): Audio and Notes

2nd study (Blessing the Father for our Trinity-Wrought Inheritance): Audio and Notes

3rd study (Blessing the Father for our Trinity-Wrought Inheritance Part 2): Audio and Notes

4th study (Blessing the Father for our Trinity-Wrought Inheritance Part 3): Audio and Notes

5th study (Blessing the Father for the Son Procuring and the Spirit Protecting the Inheritance): Audio and Notes

6th study (Praying that Enlightened Ones Would Comprehend the Revealed Word): Audio and Notes

Excursus (Both Being God and Being With God): Audio and Notes

7th study (Saved by Grace Through Faith): Audio and Notes

8th study (Christ Is Our Peace Pt 1): Audio and Notes

9th study (Christ Is Our Peace Pt 2): Audio and Notes

GES Conference 2014

John will be presenting a main session paper as well as a workshop paper at the GES Conference. We are providing the papers online for those who wish to view them.

Main Session Paper: Golden Chain of Christ's Co-heirs

Workshop Paper: Peace with God, Rom 5:1-4 diagram, and Rom 5:1 apparatus for GES

December 2013 Newsletter

This past month, we sent out a new newsletter. We hope you all had a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year. Please take a look at our latest newsletter. December 2013 Newsletter

Sermons on the Road

While on vacation with family, John taught twice at Church of Hope in California. Both sermons are accessible on the Sermons on the Road page.

Study in James Continued

The Water of Life class met for the first time in 2014. This year, we will be reading through large sections of the Bible to give a historical context for our studies. The plan for our readings is: 2014 Bible Reading Plan.

Excursus (The Prophesied Messianic Line): Audio and Notes

14th study (James Review): Audio and Notes

15th study (Slow to Speak Part 1): Audio and Notes

16th study (Slow to Speak Part 2): Audio and Notes

17th study (Genesis Study and the Church): Audio

18th study (Levirate Marriage in Genesis and Let Every Man Be Slow to Wrath Part 1): Audio and Notes

19th study (Let Every Man Be Slow to Wrath Part 2): Audio and Notes

20th study (Epilogue to James): Audio and Notes

21st study (Walk Thru To Exodus): Audio and Notes

Mid-Year Newsletter

We completed our mid-year newsletter. Click this link to view it. God's grace has been apparent throughout 2013. The Message of Life has gone out!

Study in James Continued

After a brief hiatus, the Water of Life Bible Study is returning to the study in the book of James.

1st study (Introduction to James): Audio and Notes

2nd study (James: Count It All Joy): Audio and Notes

3rd study (Free at Last and James: Count It All Joy): Audio and Free at Last Notes and Count It All Joy Notes

4th study (Be Doers of the Word): Audio and Notes

5th study (Be Doers of the Word Review): Audio and Notes

Excursis (Imam Karim Abu Zaid Objections to Christianity): Audio and Notes. The video John responds to.

6th study (No Discrimination over the Trivial): Audio and Notes

7th study (The Meaning of Faith Without Works Part 1): Audio and Notes

8th study (The Meaning of Faith Without Works Part 2): Audio and Notes

9th study (The Meaning of Faith Without Works Part 3): Audio and Notes

10th study (The Meaning of Faith Without Works Part 4): Audio and Notes

11th study (The Meaning of Faith Without Works Part 5): Audio and Notes and Script

12th study (The Meaning of Faith Without Works Part 6): Audio and Notes

13th study (The Meaning of Faith Without Works Part 7): Audio and Notes

Water of Life Bible Study Continued

John is teaching a series on Reformed Theology:

Reformed Theology's Proof-Texts Pt 1: Audio and Notes.

Reformed Theology's Proof-Texts Pt 2: Audio and Notes.

Order of Some Key Resurrections and Judgments: Audio and Notes.

Consequence (Warning) Passages in Hebrews Part 1: Audio and Notes.

Consequence (Warning) Passages in Hebrews Part 2: Audio and Notes.

Consequence (Warning) Passages in Hebrews Part 3: Audio and Notes.

Consequence Passages Part 4: Sacrifice No Longer Remains: Audio.

Consequence (Warning) Passages in Hebrews Part 5: Audio and Notes.

Consequence (Warning) Passages in Hebrews Part 6: Audio and Notes.

The Two Stage Healing: Audio and Notes.

He Who Believes and Is Baptized: Audio and Notes.

Sermons on the Road

Recently, John went on a trip to the Northwest. He taught 9 times on many different topics. You may want to check out these sermons which are under Sermons on the Road. Not all sermons are posted yet. As we finish editting sermon audios, we will post more. Notes will be posted soon. Among these is a new approach to John 21, completely revised from the previous John series: When You Grow Old You Will Stretch Out Your Hands.

Water of Life Bible Study

John started a new Bible study which we will be posting online. Until we develop a new webpage for the study, you can access the studies here on the front page:

1st study (Persuasion): Audio and Notes.

2nd study (Bible Walkthrough #1): Audio and Notes

3rd study (Bible Walkthrough #2): Audio and Notes

4th study (The Rapture): Audio and Notes

5th study (Cornelius and the Mystery): Audio and Notes

6th study (Propitiation): Audio and Notes

7th study (Those Who Have Done Good): Audio and Notes

8th study (Introduction to James): Audio and Notes

9th study (James: Count It All Joy): Audio and Notes

10th study (Free at Last and James: Count It All Joy): Audio and Free at Last Notes and Count It All Joy Notes

11th study (Be Doers of the Word): Audio and Notes

Audios for Conference and Sermons Updated

John and Diane recently traveled to Texas for the 2013 GES Conference. You can now listen to the two papers he presented at the conference. You can also listen to a sermon he presented which is a completely new take on John 21. These can be listened to in Sermons on the Road.

2013 GES Conference Plenary Session Paper

Welcome to Message of Life Ministry's website. Here is the paper for today's plenary session: Free at Last! Liberty in Jesus' Footsteps. The paper will be updated to include an appendix regarding a question that came up regarding John 10:4. We will announce an updated version when that appendix is added.

Further Explanation on "Does Jesus Really Want Believers to Be Born Again

One article in our latest Lifeline, has created some discussion, "Does Jesus Really Want Believers to Be Born Again?"

Several have asked, "If people are born from above after being born physically, is it not true that they are then born again?"

Absolutely! We can accurately say both that believers are born from above and are born again. However, the question is not whether both are true. The question is whether Jesus wanted Nicodemus to understand: (1) born from above, (2) born again, or (3) both born from above and born again.

I understand Jesus in John's Gospel to present the idea that unbelievers are dead (that is, they lack life). For example, see John 5:25 in parallel with 5:24 (Amen, amen, I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes the One who sent Me has eternal life, and will not come into judgment, but has [already] passed from death to life. Amen, amen, I tell you, a time is coming, and is now here, when the dead [unbelievers] will hear the voice of the Son of Man, and those who hear will live.). The dead status of unbelievers is the basis for John 3:18 saying that they are judged already. John 3:16 expresses the idea that only believers possess life; unbelievers are in a perishing spiral that (unless they believe prior to the grave) will continue for all eternity in a conscious state of perishing. Revelation 20:10 and 14 refer to the everlasting (conscious) torment in the lake of fire as the second death.

Jesus calls unbelievers dead. I do not see John 3:3 and 7 using physical birth and physical life as a basis for announcing the need to be born again. Instead, He said that a birth from above would give life.

Although both ideas (born from above and born again) are true, I believe that Jesus aimed at one idea: born from above. The next section offers further clarification.

A few asked, "Why Is This Important?"

If both 3:3 and 3:7 aim at born from above, then 3:5 becomes simple to explain. I agree with Zane Hodges that both "born of water" and "born of pneuma" (Spirit/spirit/wind) refer to being born by the Spirit. Both water and pneuma refer to things above. In that case, there is smooth continuity between 3:3, 5, and 7:

3:3 born from above = born from above

3:5a born of water = born from above

3:5b born of wind = born from above

3:7 born from above = born from above

The continuity in these verses makes the exposition of this passage simple. Those struggling with whether 3:5 refers to water baptism may take a second look. Water is the term in 3:5 that is a little difficult, unless one thinks of water and wind as things from above. If we understand 3:3 and 7 as referring to birth from above, the passage flows nicely.

A few asked, "Does Acts 26:5 Support the Idea of Again?"

No. Acts 26:5 speaks of people that knew Paul from the first, not those knowing him again. Though it has a temporal sense, it does not mean again.

A few asked, "Does Galatians 4:9 Weaken the Case?"

No. Galatians 4:9 is normally translated as again. That is certainly conceivable, but the heavy lifting on the idea of again comes from palin (earlier in the verse). If anothen actually is seen as again, it merely reinforces palin. I could imagine it restating palin (again), but that is not my first choice.

However, that is not my view of what actually does. I understand anothen in Galatians 4:9 as "from the top [to the bottom]." In other words, it suggests "completely." The verse would mean: "How do you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire to be completely [from the top] in bondage?"

December 2012 Newsletter

Have a Blessed Christmas! The Lord is good. His grace has been evident throughout 2012. Lifeline, the Message of Life newsletter, contains updates and expositions of Scripture. May Christ's message of life (John 3:16) spread abroad in the coming year.

December 2012 Lifeline

Ryan Korver Radio Interview

We have known Ryan Korver for a several years. He has always searched for ways to give out Living Waters in mass quantity. This interview he gave is uplifting. We wish to encourage everyone to share Living Waters with both unbelievers and believers and find ways to pass them out in quantity. Ryan Korver Living Water Radio Interview

ETS Conference

John Niemela recently presented a paper at the Evangelical Theological Conference on Early Publishing Technology. We wanted to provide the link to the paper for all those who wish to read through it. Early Publishing Technology: Scrolls vs. Codices

I am the Vine: Interpretation versus Implication

We all know how perseverance distorts John 15, suggesting that unproductive "believers" are really not believers, so the Father cuts them off and sends them to the lake of fire. Incredibly, much of evangelical Christendom would say "Amen" to that approach to John 15! Fortunately, many grace people know that verse 2a negates that view. The verse should be rendered: Every branch in Me which does not produce fruit He props up (not cuts off). A document by Pliny the Elder (first century A.D.) speaks of vineyardists placing stones under unfruitful branches to hold them above the ground, so they can become productive. Unproductive here means pre-productive. Depending upon locale, vineyardists use wires, trellises, or even rocks to enable pre-productive branches to produce seed-bearing fruit (grapes). This is well-documented, so it is not the thrust of this article. Another issue requires attention.

Despite handling 15:2 correctly, many grace people are two-handed Christians, as one of my professors called them. He said that some accept a truth "on the one hand," but immediately compromise it "on the other hand." Precision on 15:2a is like two steps forward, but imprecision on verse 3 is a backwards step.

The referent of you in verse 3 is also important. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. No eyebrows raise when preachers say: "What Jesus told the disciples is that all Christians are clean because of Christ's word they have heard [and believed]." Is this the interpretive point of the verse? Or is it an implication from the interpretation"? This is crucial.

Those present were His disciples. The eleven were clean because of what He had spoken to them. No one alive today was present as a hearer during Jesus' earthly ministry.

By way of interpretation, Jesus said, You [the eleven] are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you [the eleven]. By way of implication, the eleven are not the only ones cleansed by Christ's word. However, interpretively, Christ declared His immediate hearers clean.

What is the point? The eleven were the interpretive focus of Jesus' assertion: Every branch in Me which does not produce fruit He props up. The definition of fruit is important. Later in this same context (15:16) Jesus said, You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go out and produce much fruit and that your fruit should endure. His purpose for choosing the eleven was to spread the message of life after He ascended to the Father. Jesus elsewhere (e.g., the Parable of the Soils) equated seed with the word. Is not fruit (other than Thompson seedless grapes) seed-bearing.

How much seed (the message of life) did the disciples sow during the fifty-two days between John 15 and Pentecost? Probably very little, as they awaited the Holy Spirit empowering them as Christ's witnesses (cf. Acts 1:8). This is when the Father propped up the eleven (John 15:2), so they would (later) bear much fruit. Indeed, Acts speaks of the apostles spreading much seed-bearing fruit. That is, they sowed the message of life throughout the world.

Perseverance people rightly object when grace people announce that the big idea of this passage is that the Father sustains worldly Christians who are entangled in sin. Under such a model, immediately after speaking about Himself and the Father (verse 1) the first topic Jesus raises (verse 2) is the unproductive carnal believer. Eventually, He gets around to talking about productive believers. Years ago, a Reformed person responded to me, "You have got to be kidding." Though not wanting to admit it to him, he was right (on this one issue). Eventually, the answer became clear.

Jesus was addressing the eleven with something quite germane to them. During the fifty-two days before Pentecost, the Father would support them. Soon, all of them, even Thomas saw the resurrected Christ. Truth replaced their doubts and they regained fellowship with the Lord. However, it was not until Pentecost that they became fruitful branches (ministering the seed-bearing fruit) to a lost and dying world. Christ instructed them to await the Spirit enabling them. Within that context, John 15:2a is a great encouragement: although the eleven were unfruitful (pre-productive) the Father would sustain them. Many other passages speak of God sustaining them as they fearlessly proclaimed Him, even under the threat of death.

By implication, we can still draw encouragement from this passage. Yes, the Father supports all believers, even if immaturity or carnality hinders them from ministering seed-bearing fruit. However, the thrust of verse 2a is that the Father sustained these pre-productive apostles even during great despair, the time between the cross and His resurrection appearances to them. Let us not forget that the Good Shepherd ministered to His own in their darkest hour.

More Transitions

For the first seven months of this year I was interim pastor at Harvey Park Baptist Church. We emphasized sharing the message of life through John's Gospel and saw believers start to emphasize sharing the message of life. We were greatly encouraged.

The pastoral search committee compiled a candidate list. Church bylaws declare interim pastors ineligible, so I stepped down effective July 31 as part of applying for the permanent position. The committee wanted a level playing field, so they requested for us not to attend until a candidate was selected.

The search committee deadlocked on October 1. It dismissed the four finalists and began advertising for new candidates. We decided against reapplying and are praying for the church as the search continues. We are pursuing a closer working relationship with the Denver Rescue Mission (DRM).

Actually, even during my part-time pastorate, Harvey Park's Evangelism Committee partnered with DRM to create a twelve-week Gospel-of-John-based basics class. We met for months designing the course. Harvey Park is presently hosting the first offering of this course. About two-dozen men, mainly from the DRM, have almost completed it. The consistency of attendance and the men's enthusiasm are encouraging. God's word never returns to Him void.


We are working closely with the DRM in seeking ways to minister to believers and unbelievers alike. They share our conviction of the centrality of John's Gospel. We anticipate the Lord working.

We are busy writing and editing. GES has returned portions of my first draft for the introduction and technical notes for Zane Hodges' forthcoming Romans commentary. We are resubmitting sections for further editing.

The big project is a simplified form of my dissertation for publication. My dissertation applied elementary statistics to an old argument (discovered in the 1770s). Unfortunately, a low percentage of those interested in the synoptic problem understand statistics. Gradually, we are learning how to put the cookies on lower shelves. We look forward to publishing this and related projects.

We have done some travel. I spoke on John and Ephesians at Minneola (KS) Community Church, pastored by Shawn Leach on September 2. I also had seven sessions on James at Yampa Valley Baptist Church, Craig, CO (September 14-18). This was a return trip; Steve Lewis and I spoke there last September. Diane particularly enjoyed catching five trout at Lake Avery. Pastor Dale is a part-time hunting and fishing guide, so he knows where to fish and lots of tricks of the trade. Diane regards having a fish on the line as almost millennial.

Upcoming Travel

On November 14, I will present a paper at the ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) national conference at Milwaukee, WI. The topic is "Early Publishing Technology: Scrolls versus Codices. (An earlier version of the paper is on our website as a sermon and sermon notes: Audio and Sermon Notes). On the way to ETS, I speak on November 11 at Community Bible Church of Washington, IL, pastored by Chuck Replogle. After ETS, we will have a Bible study in George, IA, on November 16. In the morning of November 18, I speak at Grace Bible Church in Omaha, NE, pastored by Dan Hauge. That evening I speak at Jansen (NE) Bible Church, pastored by Paul Carpenter. We will start out with a full load of Living Waters and return home with only a handful.

Prayer Requests

Health and strength to minister as the Lord gives open doors

Safety in travel

Wisdom in choosing between opportunities in the Denver area

Continuing partnership with the Denver Rescue Mission in reaching believers and unbelievers

Bringing current writing projects to successful conclusion

Financial provision from the Lord

Children's Illustrated Gospel of John

For those who have been interested in this book, Amazon carries an illustrated Gospel of John. The publisher is also providing this same book in an online format free (as well as videos that can be downloaded and burned to DVD).

GES Conference

John presented two papers today at the GES Conference in Ft Worth, Tx. The notes for these papers are: That I May Attain to Whose Resurrection? and Those That Have Done Good.

Series on the Book of Ruth

John has started a new series on the Book of Ruth. The old series is still accessible and is archived on a different page.

An Open Door

As 2011 neared its end, some long-term projects were almost complete. We looked forward to what the Lord would set before us in 2012.  He opened a door that was totally unexpected.

In November Harvey Park Baptist Church (in Denver) approached me about an interim pastorate. My name arose through our emphasis on John’s Gospel. For several years Message of Life and Denver Rescue Mission have worked together in promoting the Gospel of John as an evangelistic tool. Several Rescue Mission ministry staffers attend Harvey Park.

In December the board reached a decision. Effective January 1, I became a part-time interim pastor. Fortunately, we had not yet scheduled much speaking for the new year. That is good, because our focus will be closer to home.

This newsletter seeks to inform you of the impact of this for both Harvey Park and for Message of Life. We see this as a win-win opportunity.

For Harvey Park

The church started in Denver’s Harvey Park neigborhood in 1955. Over time, it went from being a neighborhood church populated with young families to an older congregation with few children of Sunday School ages. As people bought newer homes, their commuting distances to church increased. Deaths within the congregation caused the budget to shrink, requiring (for the first time ever) that the pastor would receive (in 2012) a part time salary.

If, under these circumstances, the church were to go into a defensive mode, the long-term prognosis would not be good. This, instead, is a time to equip the saints for ministry—evangelism, in particular. Some in the congregation, including those associated with Denver Rescue Mission, are ready and able both to share John’s Gospel with unbelievers and to assist believers in learning to do so.

How do we encourage more and more people within a congregation to become Christ’s messengers of life? John’s Gospel is the starting place. We just started a series on John. Also, one of the adult Sunday School classes will soon focus on practical ways to share Jesus’ message of life from John.

Though we are new to Harvey Park, our whole family is already active within the church.  We see the Lord’s hand in all of this and expect great things for this ministry from Him.

For Message of Life

Clearly, speaking in churches around the country will be less frequent. For years, my personal slogan was: “Have John; Will Travel.” We will miss the time on the road, personally bringing boxes of the Living Water to churches and individuals. When we travel, we will make deliveries. We continue to serve as a supply depot for Living Waters and to mail them out.

However, in no way should anyone view this as a diminishment of Message of Life. We see the door that the Lord opened as a real opportunity for Message of Life.

First, we are posting videos of our new and improved series on John on our website. Video messages adds a new dimension to the messages. For the first time, my slide presentations are part of our web posting. Generally, our website will have one new video sermon each week.

Second, since our 2010 move to Colorado, we aimed to devote more time to writing. During 2011, we did much writing—some of which has been published, some will soon go to press, and some is for long-term projects. A reduced travel schedule will help. Also, since several ongoing projects concern John’s Gospel, pulpit ministry is a great assistance.

Third, with Harvey Park’s assistance, Message of Life has funding for writing projects previously relegated to the back-burner. These include a fresh translation of John’s Gospel which will accompany a forthcoming commentary. In other words, we see the Lord enabling Message of Life to accomplish more than ever before.

For Seminary and Conferences

Our ministry at Rocky Mountain Seminary continues. We train expositors and exegetes in New Testament Greek.

We will present papers at Grace Evangelical Society’s national conference in April. We are proposing papers for both ETS (the Evangelical Theological Society) and for SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) in November.


We look forward to what the Lord does both at Harvey Park and with Message of Life. The two ministries complement each other. We have always sought to balance ministry: to unbelievers, to believers in our local church and elsewhere, and in the seminary classroom. This remains the same.

What Is Fruit?

Passages like the Parable of the Soils (Mt 13:1-9 // Mk 4:1-9 // Lk 8:4-8) and the Interpretation of the Parable of the Soils (Mt 13:18-23 // Mk 4:14-20 // Lk 8:11-15) have been twisted into justifications of fruit inspection. That is, many view Luke 8:14-15 as excusing their speculation whether John Doe has enough fruit, or if he is heading toward the lake of fire. They often muse: “No fruit; no root.”

Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

As a preliminary question: What is fruit here? That is, if Jesus really intended fruit inspection here, one would need to know what qualifies as fruit. Actually, the passage gives the answer: The seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11b).

Someone may object that v 11 defines seed, not fruit. Not so fast. The sower sows seed (presumably wheat or barley). The seed germinates and the plants grow. Eventually, the farmer harvests the crop. What is the fruit? It is grain (i.e., seed). In other words, the farmer sows seed and harvests seed. Fruit equals seed equals word.

Luke 8:12 says that Satan seeks to take away the word (the seed) so that first-soil people will not “believe and be saved.” Therefore, seed (fruit) refers particularly to portions of the word containing the life-giving message for unbelievers.

In light of this, when Jesus speaks about fruit here, He refers to believers ripening to the point of transmitting the seed, the message of life, to unbelievers. In other words, fruitful believers are ones who, in turn, plant the seed in unbelievers. People preoccupied with trying to inspect fruit are generally, themselves, unfruitful at best.

One other thing must be said, though. Fruit inspectors are self-appointed, because God did not appoint them. These people view soils 1-3 as unbelievers, whereas, in reality, soils 2-4 are believers. Only soil 1 fails to believe (v 12). Soils 2-3 are no more productive than self-appointed fruit inspectors, but soils 2, 3, and 4 germinated (came to life through belief in Christ). From the farmer’s perspective, only soil 4 is productive, but from the standpoint of the field, soils 2-4 have life. Soils 2-3 will suffer loss at the Bema Seat, but they are believers. Those who inspect fruit should cease and desist. What Jesus wants is for believers to share the life-giving seed, the message of life.

Video Sermons in the Gospel of John

John recently started a new series in the Gospel of John at Harvey Park Baptist Church. We are recording these sermons and are posting them in the Sermons and Teaching section (Gospel of John Sermons). The old series in the Gospel of John are still accessible, but are archived on a separate page (Gospel of John Archive). While designing a new video webpage, we are posting the videos on youtube as a stopgap measure. Along with video, audio and notes are posted as usual.

Message of Life Ministries' New Newsletter

We sent out a newsletter in December with articles and reporting Message of Life's doings from the past year. If you would like to subscribe to our newsletter, contact John at Here is the online version: December 2011 Newsletter.

Presenting John 1:1 at ETS

John is presenting a paper on John 1:1 at the ETS Conference later today. You can read the paper here: ETS John 1:1 Paper.

I Will Come in to Him (Revelation 3:20)

Many incorrectly view Rev 3:20 as a message for unbelievers, but Revelation 2–3 addresses churches of believers. Even the Laodicean church (Rev 3:14-22) consisted of believers. Note v 19: As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten (paideuō). Therefore be zealous and repent. Chasten refers to a parent disciplining a child (paidion). This is familial discipline. These are believers, children of God, our heavenly Father.

Those who fail to see that Rev 3:20 is for believers, often unwisely challenge unbelievers to ask Jesus into their heart. Though they are misguided, do not pointedly say, “That’s wrong, as the Greek of Rev 3:20 shows.”

A kinder way to approach this exists. Ask the person to spell: into. He may say: I-N-T-O. Then ask how Rev 3:20 spells it. Most Bibles say: come in to him. (A few alternates exist, but no recognized translation renders it as one word: into). Then ask, “Why is it two words here? What does that imply?” At this point most people are all ears.

If John wanted to say, “I will enter him),” he would use a future of eiserchomai eis auton, e.g., (eiseleusomai = “I will enter;” eis = “into;” auton = “him”). Greek would repeat eis (meaning into). Similarly, my rendering has enter and into (enter and into are related words).

However, Rev 3:20 does not repeat eis. Instead, it says eiseleusomai = “I will enter;” pros = “toward;” auton = “him.” The nuance is significantly different. Compare:

eiseleusomai = “I will enter;” eis = “into;”
auton = “him.”
eiseleusomai = “I will enter;” pros = “toward;” auton = “him.”

In Mark 15:43 Joseph went in to Pilate (eisēlthen pros); he did not enter into the Roman. The vocabulary forms are eiserchomai and pros, as in Rev 3:20. He entered (eisēlthen) the Praetorium, the procurator’s headquarters, coming toward (pros) Pilate’s presence. Coming in to (eiseleusomai pros) is not synonymous with coming into (eiseleusomai eis).

Similarly, Revelation 3:20 pictures assembled Laodicean Christians. If one of those gathered opens (figuratively) the meeting room’s door, Jesus will join him at a table for fellowship. The verse says: I will come in [the room] unto him and will sup with him and he [will sup] with Me. This is table fellowship. Jesus does not here enter an unbeliever’s heart. Rather, Jesus enters the meeting room to fellowship with any believer who accepts His invitation.

Noting that the English says in to (not into) is friendlier and more persuasive than saying, “The Greek shows . . .”

Denver Supply-Depots

Recently, Colorado Springs friends (planning a Central American missions trip) stopped by to pick up Living Waters a week before flying. Our stockpiles at Bennett, CO, and at Englewood (CO) Bible Church (in English, Spanish, French, and Russian) help us meet such requests. Please make prior arrangements (, so our schedules coincide.

Independence Day in Spokane, WA

Message of Life will be an associate sponsor of the Fourth of July Festival at Spokane, WA. A number of people will man a booth in which we will distribute Living Waters. We will incur costs for the booth ($750.00), buying bottled water for free distribution, and fuel for getting to Spokane. A large quantity of English Living Water booklets are already in Spokane, but we will bring Spanish

Gospels of John to Spokane. We will distribute Living Water booklets in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Some costs are already covered, but we will incur travel expenses. The Lord wants us to offer Living Waters to those He brings across our path and to train believers to share the message of life. Funds designated for Spokane Fourth of July is an investment in this opportunity.

The Promotion of Diane’s Mother

Diane and I rushed to Oregon in May, because her mother (Connie) was not doing well. She recognized the many family members and friends who came. She entered the Lord’s presence in her sleep on May 24. Marriage sixty-two years ago brought Connie to Silver Lake, OR. Diane’s parents have been pillars there ever since. Medical facilities were eighty miles from town, so Mom (a R.N.) provided emergency medical services for years. She taught Sunday School and gave Diane a love for the Scriptures. We will miss her, but she is with the Lord she loves. My graveside message was on John 11: Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He guarantees resurrection and everlasting life to all believers. Please pray for Diane, her father (Earl), and her brother (Hugh).

Upcoming Travel and Speaking

Besides the following speaking engagements, we will stop along the way to make Living Water deliveries along the road on each trip.

June 26: Redmond (OR) Community Church: Morning message
June 30: Great Falls, MT: two messages at Steps to Life on John’s Gospel and eternal security
July 1: Fairfield, MT: Bible class
July 3: Morning message at Alberton (MT) Community Church
July 4: Spokane, WA, Living Water distribution at Spokane’s annual Fourth of July Festival
July 10: Midvalley Bible Church, Bluffdale, UT: Sunday School and a.m. worship service
July 17: Jansen (NE) Bible Church: Sunday school, morning and evening services
August 6: Coast Bible Church, San Juan Capistrano, CA: Teaching sessions
August 7: Grace Chapel, Orange, CA: morning service
August 7: Church of Hope, Laguna Hills, CA: afternoon services
August 7: Grace Fellowship, Huntington Beach, CA: evening service (contact us for more information)
August 14: Living Word Bible Church, El Cajon, CA: morning worship service
Sept. 10-13: Yampa Valley Baptist Church: Craig, CO: Bible conference
Nov. 16-18: San Francisco, CA: Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) conf.: presenting paper(s)

Current Projects

The introduction for Zane Hodge’s commentary on Romans is complete. We continue working on remaining technical notes for it. One note has become a major study, not because the reading is particularly controversial, but because it allows clarifying finer points of Majority Text theory.

Our Gospel of John commentary and Hebrew vocabulary projects continue to progress.

John is advising a Th.M. student writing a significant thesis on John’s Gospel. Details to follow.

Prayer Requests

Pray for opportunities to distribute Gospels of John.

Pray for Diane, Earl (her father), and Hugh (her brother) after homegoing of her mother (Connie)

Pray for current writing projects.

Pray for the Lord to continue to provide for Message of Life.

Pray for continued safety while traveling and good health to carry on ministry.

Pray for opportunity to present a second paper at ETS (one was accepted; another is on standby)

Let This Cup Pass from Me

Jesus repeatedly predicted His crucifixion and resurrection, starting with John 2:19. Note Matt 12:39-40 as well as the following trio of predictions common to each synoptic:

First synoptic passion prediction: Matt 16:21 // Mark 8:31 // Luke 9:22

Second synoptic passion prediction: Matt 17:22–23a // Mark 9:20–31 // Luke 9:43b–44

Third synoptic passion prediction: Matt 20:17–19 // Mark 10:32–34 // Luke 18:31–34

Furthermore, Matthew 20:22-23 // Mark 10:38-39 use the imagery of drinking the cup to refer to Jesus’ crucifixion. This language anticipates the prayers at Gethsemane.

In light of this, one would not expect Him in the Garden of Gethsemane to request not to face the cross. Yet, that is exactly how most interpreters approach the Gethsemane prayers. In Gethsemane Jesus prayed three times that the Father would remove the cup from Him. Italicized references say that He prayed the same thing as before without recording His words.

First prayer: Matt 26:39 // Mark 14:36 // Luke 22:42

Second prayer: Matt 26:42 // Mark 14:39 // Luke 22:44

Third prayer: Matt 26:44

(Placing // between two passages designates them as parallels.)

Let us consider the Jesus’ first prayer as recorded in all three Synoptics:

Matt 26:39 O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.

Mark 14:36 Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.

Luke 22:42 Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.

The wording in Matthew and Luke use conditional statements (if it is possible; if it is Your will), but both are first class conditions. Thus, in Matt 26:39, it is assumed as possible for the cup to pass from Christ. Luke 22:42 assumes that it is the Father’s will to take the cup from Him. Mark 14:36 explicitly says that all things (including taking away the cup) are possible for the Father. Indeed, Jesus’ first prayer asserts the expectation that it is not only possible to take away the cup, but that it is the Father’s will to take it away.

Unfortunately, our finitude causes us at times to prematurely reject the right solution, because we imagine a difficulty that is really not there. Our imagined difficulty is as follows:

If it were possible to take the cup from Jesus, would not the cross become optional?

No, that is an imaginary conundrum. All we need is a little patience to consider Jesus’ second petition, that clarifies how and when the cup would be taken away.

Matt 26:42 O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.

Matthew 26:42 clarifies that Jesus expects the cup to be taken away after He drinks of it, not beforehand. While Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was as if He were holding the cup, without yet drinking of it. When He went to the cross, He drank of it, as Matt 20:22-23 // Mark 10:38-39 use the imagery of drinking the cup for His crucifixion. Yes, it was the Father’s will to take away the cup, after He went to the cross. In essence, we can understand the prayers in Gethsemane to say:

Father, please expedite the cross, so that cup can be quickly taken from Me, but do all things on Your timetable, not mine.

This interpretation lines up nicely with John 12:27-28a. Less than a week before His crucifixion (cf. John 12:1) Jesus indicates that He would not ask to be spared from the hour.

Now My soul is distressed, and what shall I say—“Father, save Me from this hour”? But for this reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!

The common understanding of Jesus’ Gethsemane prayers disagrees with what He says in John 12:27-28a. We should, instead, understand Jesus to request that He be allowed to drink the cup as soon as possible. The sooner He would face the cross the sooner it would be over. As Hebrews 12:2 says: for the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Independence Day in Spokane, WA

Message of Life plans to be an associate sponsor of the Fourth of July Festival at Spokane, WA. A number of friends plan to come to man a booth in which we will distribute Living Waters.

Recent Travel and Ministry

The season of icy roads is past, so we started traveling beyond Colorado. While at the Grace Evangelical Society conference in Fort Worth we gave away 20,000 English Living Waters and 2,500 in Spanish. Each year the interest grows, so we plan more for next time. Some who tentatively took a few last year confidently took a larger quantity this year.

We heard some touching stories. South American missionaries told of an acquaintance who had learned how to sound out Spanish words, but never became a proficient reader. Many years later, he sounded out the whole text of the Agua Viva (Spanish Living Water), to learn to read. On his third time through he believed in Christ. Subsequently, he became quite involved with the mission.

We also spent some time with George Bryson at the conference. He and his wife distribute Russian Living Waters extensively in the former Soviet Union. We always enjoy meeting long-time friends and making new ones at the conference.

Mar 1: Denver Rescue Mission: all day seminar in John’s Gospel for the ministry staff

Apr 10: Victor Street Bible Chapel (Dallas, TX): morning and Lord’s Table services

Apr 11-14: GES national conference, Fort Worth, TX: Plenary message and two workshops

Apr 13: Free Grace Bible Church, Sachse, TX: Wednesday evening service

Apr 17: Vista Ridge Bible Fellowship, Lewisville, TX: morning message

Apr 17: Countryside Bible Church, Stillwater, OK: evening message

Until May 4: Englewood (CO) Bible Church (Wed evenings): Gospel of John

Upcoming Travel and Speaking

Summer is around the corner; the semester has ended. Our stock of Living Waters is sufficient. Our slogan is: Have John; will travel.

This Fourth of July will be a wonderful opportunity to think outside the box. Message of Life will be a sponsor for

May 7: Rocky Mountain Bible College and Seminary, Englewood, CO: Commencement

June 26: Redmond (OR) Community Church: Morning message

June 30-July 1: Fairfield and Great Falls, MT: Conference and rescue mission

July 4: Spokane, WA, Living Water distribution at a Fourth of July celebration

July 10: Midvalley Bible Church, Bluffdale, UT: Sunday School and a.m. worship service

July 17: Jansen (NE) Bible Church: Sunday school, morning and evening services

August 6: Coast Bible Church, San Juan Capistrano, CA: Teaching sessions

August 7: Grace Chapel: morning service; Church of Hope, Laguna Hills, CA: afternoon services

August 14: Living Word Bible Church, El Cajon, CA: morning worship service

Relay Distribution

Occasionally, distribution of Living Waters resembles a relay race. A man in Washington State acquainted a pastor-friend near Chicago, IL, with the Living Water. He, in turn, wanted 3,000 more by summer. We delivered those boxes (and many more) to Iowa. Then, people traveling between Iowa and Illinois carried them the rest of the way. We will drop off boxes in Grand Junction, CO (destined the four-corners region) as we head west in June.

Current Projects

The introduction for Zane Hodge’s commentary on Romans are complete. We continue working on remaining technical notes for it.

Our Gospel of John commentary and Hebrew vocabulary projects continue to progress.

Prayer Requests

Pray for opportunities to distribute Gospels of John.

Pray for current writing projects.

Pray for the Lord to continue to provide for Message of Life.

Pray for continued safety while traveling and good health to carry on ministry.

Sermons On The Road Updated

The Sermons on the Road page has been updated with sermons John has recently taught (including a series on Canonicity and a class on the Gospel of John held at Englewood Bible Church), including the first video sermon on this website (courtesy of Tabernacle Baptist Church in George, Iowa).

The Legacy of Scripture Distribution

Christianity has always devoted much effort to the distribution of Scripture. The following will overview a few crucial developments in publishing technology: The transition to codices and the invention of the printing press.

The codex. Prior to the first century A.D., all books were scrolls. The codex, the modern leaf-style book with a central binding seems to have originated late in the first century A.D. The codex offers several advantages over scrolls. One benefit was reducing the cost for books. The following explains how the codex lowered expenses.

Until the fourth century A.D., scribes wrote in their laps, not on writing desks. The scribe needed to position one arm to hold the two rolled-up ends to prevent unraveling, while writing with the other. Such a writing posture made writing on the reverse-side of a scroll difficult. Thus, the scroll written on both sides (an opisthograph) in Rev 5:1 was highly unusual.

On the other hand, the codex allows use of both sides of the page. The codex would double the utilization of writing space, except that binding requires some space.

Ancient documents say that a commercial scroll (capable of holding half of Mark) cost a day’s wage at a laborer’s minimum wage (twelve hours at our current minimum wage is about ninety dollars. The writing material for a scroll of Mark would cost $180, but for a codex would be about $100. Binding and scribal work would be additional.

Despite the high costs, about 5000 Greek and about 8000 Latin manuscripts (from before the printing press) of the NT have been found. Many others survive, but have not been discovered. Countless others have not survived.

Something else is interesting when we consider early texts. All but a handful of Christian manuscripts of the first four centuries are in codex form, but hardly any secular ones are in codex form. Christians were motivated to distribute countless copies of Scripture. The tremendous expense of widespread distribution of Scripture motivated them to adopt cost-cutting measures, like the codex.

(Much of the foregoing appears with documentation in my Ph.D. dissertation).

The printing press. The first book Gutenburg printed on his press was a Bible. Printing drastically reduced the cost of producing copies of Scripture. The best-selling book of all time is the Bible. We salute those, such as The Gideons, who seek to distribute the Bible to those in need.

Gospels of John. Many people in our country have at least one Bible. We all have heard of someone who picked up a Bible in a motel and began reading. Occasionally, people in such circumstances find their way to passages presenting Jesus Christ and His promise of everlasting life to believers. Unfortunately, one can only imagine how many others did not discover this simple truth.

Giving someone a Gospel of John amounts to saying, “Start here.” John is the book that God designed for the unbeliever. It is wonderful to give away whole Bibles, but we like to give away John’s Gospel as a gentle way of suggesting, “Start here.”

A couple of years ago, a friend passed along a Living Water to a man who promptly put it in his glove compartment. Several months later, his car broke down in the desert. While awaiting the tow truck, he found the Living Water and began reading. By the time the tow truck came, he was captivated by John’s Gospel. He believed in Jesus Christ for the gift of everlasting life. Then, one evening at a restaurant, he saw my friend who had given him a Gospel of John and told him his story. Now, this man is giving away Living Water booklets.

Why not join in this legacy? Christianity has always been motivated to distribute Scripture to Christians in need of Bibles. Let us put Gospels of John into the hands of unbelievers and into the hands of believers who will share them with unbelievers.

Recent Travel and Ministry

The Lord blessed us with good roads for our 4000 mile December–January trip. Despite going across mountain ranges and high desert throughout the western states, we drove between storms. We only had 200 miles of icy roads the whole trip. We saw family and friends, spoke at several churches, taught a seminary module, and delivered 10,000 Living Waters, so they could reach the Philippines before the arrival of a missions team to distribute them.

Dec 5: Colorado Springs, CO: North East Bible Chapel: evening message

Dec 12: Colorado Springs, CO: North East Bible Chapel: evening message

Dec 29: Federal Way, WA: Lakeland Bible Church: evening message

Jan 2: Bremerton, WA: Grace Covenant Church: morning message

Jan 6: Costa Mesa, CA: emergency 10,000 Living Water delivery (bound for the Philippines)

Jan 6–15: Orange County, CA: Short course for Rocky Mountain Seminary: “NT Introduction”

Jan 9: Orange, CA: Grace Chapel: morning message

Jan 9: Laguna Woods, CA: Church of Hope: afternoon messages

Jan 19–May 4: Englewood (CO) Bible Church (Wed evenings): Gospel of John

Feb 20: Colorado Springs, CO: North East Bible Chapel: morning and evening messages

Upcoming Travel and Speaking

Mar 1: Denver Rescue Mission: all day seminar in John’s Gospel for the ministry staff

Apr 10: TBA

Apr 11-14: Fort Worth, TX: speaking and giving Gospels of John at GES national conference

Apr 17: Countryside Bible Church, Stillwater, OK: evening message

Until May 4: Englewood (CO) Bible Church (Wed evenings): Gospel of John

May 7: Englewood, CO: Commencement, Rocky Mountain Bible College and Seminary

Current Projects

Now that winter has arrived, we are staying closer to home, but are awaiting Living Water shipments. We anticipate a busy spring.

The introduction and many of the endnotes for Zane Hodge’s commentary on Romans are complete. We continue working on the remainder of the notes.

Our Gospel of John commentary and Hebrew vocabulary projects continue to progress.

Prayer Requests

Pray for opportunities to distribute Gospels of John and for workers in the harvest, who will share Jesus’ message of life from John.

Pray for current writing projects.

Pray for the Lord to continue to provide for Message of Life.

Sermons on the Road

John is teaching on the road now. We created a new section on the Sermons page called "Sermons on the Road" which will feature sermons he preaches at churches around the nation. Since, John has a lot of upcoming speaking engagements, this page will fill up rapidly.

John 6:47 in Context

To whom did Jesus address John 6:47 (Whoever believes in Me has everlasting life)? Many view everyone at a Capernaum synagogue as the intended audience. If so, few of those to whom He aimed it had seen Him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee feed 5000 a day earlier (John 6:1–14). The common view is that most of the prior context happened on the seashore (not in the synagogue), so Jesus would essentially drop a bombshell verse on a largely unprepared audience. Instead, they were well prepared. The verse is near the end of a lengthy dialogue.

Determining the intended audience for John 6:47 is crucial. Another way to see this is to ask: Where did John 6:25 (They found Him on the other side of the sea) occur. (Having John’s Gospel open may help). John 6:22–25 shows that those who sought Jesus had been fed by Him the previous day. They went by boat to find Him. Most people assume that they found Him on the seashore and that Jesus later made His way to the synagogue. John’s Gospel paints a different picture. The searchers found Jesus in the synagogue, not the seashore. John presents those searching for Jesus as the intended audience for John 6:47, as the following will show.

John 6:47 occurs within 6:43–51, a short speech by Jesus with no intervening speakers. The introduction to this speech is in verse 43: Therefore Jesus answered them. Who are the people that He answered? Verse 41 says they were Judeans who grumbled at Him saying, I am the Bread that came down from Heaven. Verse 42 quotes their grumbling. Thus, verses 43–51 is Jesus’ response to their grumbling, so He addresses verse 47 to the grumblers.

John further identifies these grumbling Judeans. They grumbled over His claim to be the Bread from Heaven (a reference to 6:35), “I am the Bread of Life,” Jesus told them. In other words, the grumblers addressed by 6:47 were present for verse 35. Note that 6:35–40 answers what they said in verse 34, “Sir, give us this bread always!” In turn, verse 34 responds to what Jesus said to them in 32–33. Similarly, verses 30–31 led Jesus to utter verses 32–33. Introductory words in verse 30 show it as a reply to verse 29. In turn, verse 29 answers verse 28. Verse 28 was their retort to 26–27, which was His answer to verse 25, Rabbi, when did you get here?

Thus, John 6:59 (He said these things while teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum) means that all of John 6:25–58 occurred in the synagogue. Those who searched for Jesus found Him in the Capernaum synagogue, not at the seashore. Those searchers (not the worshippers in general) were the addressees of 6:47. They had crossed the sea, because He slipped away after feeding the crowd. The searchers may well include ones who sought to make Him king (John 6:15). One who could feed an army would certainly seem capable of defeating the Romans.

Why is it important to know that John 6:47 concludes 6:25ff? Consider John 6:47–51,

Amen, amen, I tell you, whoever believes in Me has eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your forefathers ate manna in the desert, and they died. This is the Bread that came down from Heaven so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living Bread which came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread he will live forever. And the Bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Jesus articulates that (as the Bread of Life) He gives everlasting life to believers. They are to believe in Him as the lifegiving Bread of Life. Time and time again John’s Gospel shows Jesus presenting His promise of everlasting life as the reason one should believe in Him.

Moving and Travel

Soon after Zane Hodges’ death, Diane and I concluded the time for returning to the seminary classroom and writing was drawing near. Meanwhile, in December 2006 I had become Grace Chapel’s primary Teaching Elder. The transition needed to be smooth. Ultimately, the elders decided on an eighteen month timetable. Gradually, my role diminished and Ricardo Campos’ role increased. On May 1, Grace Chapel gave us a wonderful going-away party. July 14 was my last Grace Chapel message in an official capacity. We have many friends in Southern California, not to mention our younger son, Joseph, and his new bride, Missy. It is hard to move, when we have family (church and by blood) in Orange County, but we shall return—for visits.

On Fathers’ Day our home in California sold. A few days after our anniversary, we drove to Colorado. This was the first trip for our trailer after adding graphics. The trailer not only can hold thousands of Living Waters, but it is a moving billboard for them.

House hunting has occupied much time, but we found one. We are scheduled to close on it in mid-September. Praise the Lord! Before arriving, we hesitated to schedule speaking engagements, but are starting to do so. Travel will focus on a 500 mile radius of Denver this fall.

I spoke on John’s Gospel at Church of Hope, Laguna Hills, CA, on July 11, and at Fort Rock Community Church in Fort Rock, OR, on August 8.

The trip to Oregon was memorable in several ways. We visited Diane’s parents in Silver Lake, OR, at the same time that Joseph and Missy came up from California. Early in the visit, the two young folk hiked to the top of Hager Mountain (7178’), just south of town. Joseph proposed and Missy accepted. A week later, after a long courtship and a short engagement, they married. The whole family is pleased and wishes them the best.

Another memorable feature of this trip is how some diesel was paid. We transported a LeTourneau D-4 Tournapull and Q carryall scraper from Oregon to Colorado for a friend. Forty years ago, I hauled backhoes for my father, but this was my first LeTourneau load. Going through weigh stations, we tipped the scale at 19,500 pounds. Yank Tank was up to the task. The Tournapull attracted attention and even gave opportunity for distributing some Living Waters.

September marks my return to the seminary classroom on a part time basis. My focus will be upon New Testament Greek exegesis. Of course, we will give attention to clarifying the

message of life in the classroom, in writing, at conferences, and at local churches. We seek to change to the ministry of Message of Life as little as possible. Let’s see how the Lord works.

Please pray for us as we transition to Colorado (including timely closing on the home). Please pray for our finances. Over the long haul, a Colorado location will reduce expenses for MoL, but the move has temporarily tightened finances somewhat. (To clarify a financial issue, teaching at Rocky Mountain Seminary will not affect my income. Honoraria from the school will go to Message of Life. Message of Life remains the avenue through which my income derives.) Pray for growing opportunities for Message of Life to clarify the Word.

A Cosmic Guessing-Game?

      At age 19, I read Hal Lindsay, The Late Great Planet Earth. The fact that the Bible accurately predicts future history convinced me of its divine inspiration. This same Bible says that unbelievers will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. No longer did I doubt this.

      Church was a regular part of my life since childhood. I had long believed in the Trinity, the deity of Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, that He died for the sins of the world, that He rose on the third day, that He ascended into heaven, and so forth.

      Despite believing these truths, it was not clear to me whether I had ever believed “the right thing in the right way,” so an eternity in the Lake of Fire was a real concern to me. I started attending a Bible believing church and talked with pastors, staff of various campus ministries, and fellow students. My main question boiled down to: “How will I know when I have believed the right thing in the right way?” Invariably, they would query me about issues relating to being saved from hell. Before long, they would seek to guide me through a tract. At the end, they would want me to pray a prayer, invite Jesus into my heart, or something like that. I would respond, “You haven’t answered my question. How will I know when I have believed the right thing in the right way?”

      A number of people gave me an answer like this: “Pray this prayer and see how you are doing twenty years from now.” After hearing that several times, I came up with a standard reply: “That doesn’t sound like the God of the Bible. The Bible showed me that I needed a Savior. Shouldn’t it also show me when I have a Savior?” 

      During October 1972, my quest ended. In a movie, a black college student said something like this: “I always thought it was hard to become a Christian, but then found out how easy it was. Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins and He promised that I would be with Him forever, if I believed in Him. I believe in Him, so I know that He will do what He promised.”

      What he said met my expectation: That the Bible would show me when I have a Savior. Prior to that point, I had believed many wonderful truths about Jesus, but had never believed that He would give me everlasting life. Jesus gives an assuring promise: Amen, amen, I tell you, whoever believes in Me has eternal life (John 6:47). When one believes Him for His promise of everlasting life, that individual passes from death into life (John 5:24). 1 John 2:25 says, And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

      Jesus does not play a cosmic guessing-game. One need not wonder whether he has believed the right thing in the right way. A person receives everlasting life the moment he believes in Jesus Christ for His irrevocable promise of everlasting life. On the basis of who He is and what He has done—He promises everlasting life to believers. He who promised is faithful. Believing an assuring promise was a satisfying solution to my dilemma. There is no cosmic guessing game when we focus on the promise of everlasting life given by the Messiah, the Son of God.

Travels and Distribution of Living Waters

      Much of our travel relates to our upcoming move to Denver. We have made three trips to Denver already this year. One final load will finish the process. Our home is for sale.

      Since our timetable is unpredictable, most of our travel is related to our move. In February, John held a one-day workshop with the chaplains at Denver Rescue Mission. He also delivered a main session and two workshops at the GES conference in Fort Worth. We gave away 10,000 Living Waters at the conference. We also sent 21,600 to Perth, Western Australia. We arranged a shipment of English and Spanish Living Waters to Denver Rescue Mission. This will meet their needs as well as giving us an initial stockpile for our arrival in Denver.

Prayer Requests

Pray for the sale of our home, our move to Denver, and for preparing to teach at Rocky Mountain Seminary.

Pray for our writing projects for Message of Life.

Pray for our son, George, who has already moved to Denver and is looking for work.

Pray for our son, Joseph, who is completing his education in Southern California.

The Yank Tank and our recently acquired trailer are taking things to Denver in preparation for the move next summer.  We used a public scale to determine that the total weight and the weight on each axle is within safe limits. The truck has been serviced. Weather reports are good. John used to haul heavy equipment. Both John and Steve are used to driving in snowy Minnesota.

We leave California on Thursday, February 4. John will minister at Denver Rescue Mission on Monday, February 8. The return trip starts on Tuesday, February 9.

Part of the payload includes several thousand Living Waters, bound for distribution in Denver. By the way, after our move, this trailer will allow us to handle even larger volumes of Living Waters.

Please pray for John and Steve Mahoney for safety as they travel.

Travel Update

On 5 July, Diane and I started our summer trip. So far this summer, we have given away 17,000 Living Water booklets. I spoke at the following locations that were announced previously.
    Grace Christian Church, Kendallville, IN
    Bible class, Faith Bible Church, Sterling, VA
    Tabernacle Baptist Church, George, IA
    Believers’ Bible Church, Omaha, NE (GES conference & Sunday message)
    Northeast Bible Chapel, Colorado Springs, CO

In addition, I spoke twice on Minnesota’s Iron Range, a few miles from where my parents were born at the church led by Joshua Madison, one of my students.

Truth and Liberty Fellowship, Evelyth, MN

Diane and I left our truck in Denver and flew home, to speak at Grace Chapel while my fellow elders traveled (Ricardo Campos was in Australia; Frank Tyler was in the northwest). I returned to Denver to teach a module at Rocky Mountain Bible College and Seminary: “Seminar in John’s Gospel.” Diane will fly out to join me before we take in the sights on a leisurely drive home.

Before leaving Denver, I will teach for Dr. Stephen Lewis in his Sunday school class at Foothills Bible Church in Littleton, CO, on 24 August. On 25 August, I will participate in a seminar on John’s Gospel for the chaplains at Denver Rescue Mission.

Our upcoming travel plans presently include the following:

    11 October: Lakeland Bible Church, Auburn, WA
    12–14 October: Spokane Bible Church fall conference, Spokane, WA
    18 October: Bremerton Evangelical Covenant Church, Bremerton, WA
    15 November: Coast Bible Church, San Juan Capistrano, CA

Be sure to check for updates. We will have further reports about the trip and pictures.

The Homegoing of Bob Thieme

Last Sunday, Robert B. Thieme, Jr., went into the presence of Jesus Christ. He lived from 1 April 1918 to 16 August 2009 and pastored Berachah Church in Houston, TX, for over fifty years. While I attended University of Minnesota in the early 1970s, he was one of two pastors who had a formative impact upon me in my early years as a believer. George Meisinger (who was my pastor then) was the other. Their combined teaching prevented me from straying into strong Calvinism. Even more importantly, they both solidified my commitment to a grace gospel.

They also led me to change my educational focus. One of my goals in college was, initially, improving my Finnish language skills to become a missionary in the nation of my ancestry. Thieme and Meisinger helped me to see that Greek and Hebrew were even more foundational than Finnish to my intended ministry. In the course of time, my focus shifted from learning Finnish to preparing to teach Greek and Hebrew. Eventually, that led me to seminary and to teaching the languages.

I have always appreciated the positive impact that Thieme had in my early days. It helped me remain committed to the grace gospel and to the importance of the original languages. In turn, my position on those two issues led Dr. George Meisinger in 1995 to invite me to chair the Hebrew and Greek departments at Chafer Theological Seminary. I was on faculty there for eleven years and represented the school across the United States and overseas. The school attracted students whose contact with Thieme meant that they were already sold on the languages and worked hard to learn them. It was a privilege to teach such students who could see the importance of the languages and recognized the freeness of God’s grace.

I lacked personal ties with Colonel Thieme and did not keep up with his ministry after beginning seminary studies. It is sad to hear of the passing of a champion of the grace gospel. Not only did he have a formative impact upon me, but helped many others to understand faith alone in Jesus Christ alone for everlasting life and the importance of the original languages. He is now with the Lord.

John 3:16

For God loved the world thus: That He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (Author’s translation)

This beloved verse has been used by the Lord to bring many from death into life everlasting. Many years ago a believer challenged a friend of mine to read the verse. Then he was asked, “Do you believe it?” Upon answering, “Yes,” he received a follow-up question, “So, what do you have?” This process was repeated several times before realization hit him. Then his answer to “So, what do you have?” was, “Jesus Christ has given me everlasting life.” At that moment my friend was not ready to give a defense of the deity of Christ. Neither was he prepared to explain all that God accomplished for him in Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Even so, at that moment he was born again and was guaranteed everlasting life. Gratitude to his Savior led him to seminary and to a lifetime of proclaiming Jesus’ promise of everlasting life to believers.

Though well known, we should take a little closer look at the verse. Note that the translation says For God loved the world thus, not For God so loved the world. When we see the word so, we think so much. However, the Greek word is houtō (pronounced like the English words who toe). It is an adverb of manner. It raises the question: How did God love the world? He loved the world thus: by giving His Son, so believers would live forever, rather than continually perishing forever. In other words, the way that God loved the world was by giving His Son, who gives everlasting life to believers. John would have spoken truth, if he had said, “God loved the world so much,” but that was not his point in John 3:16.

Another clarification is important. Many evangelicals shy away from saying that a person receives everlasting life at the point of belief. They prefer terms like saved. Some who resist John’s favored terminology do so, because they encounter a theological problem and do not know how to solve it. Specifically, many evangelicals would affirm that unbelievers will live forever in the Lake of Fire. From such an affirmation, they conclude that unbelievers have everlasting life. If someone says that unbelievers have everlasting life, it is not hard to see why they balk at statements in John that Jesus gives everlasting life to believers.

Actually, John 3:16 (all by itself) gives the answer: the one who believes in Him does not perish (forever), but lives forever. Unbelievers will exist in a constant state of perishing forever. It is misguided to say that unbelievers live forever in the Lake of Fire. Rather, they will be in a constant (conscious) state of perishing forever. Neither Jesus nor John would speak of unbelievers possessing everlasting life. John wrote Revelation 20:14, which uses phrase the second death to describe the plight of unbelievers in the Lake of Fire. Life everlasting is Christ’s gift to every believer.

An Article in Grace in Focus

The November–December 2008 issue of Grace in Focus contains my article: “Who Is Able to Guarantee Everlasting Life?” ( Controversy has arisen over the degree to which a person must believingly understand about the deity of Jesus Christ in order to receive everlasting life. This article shows that we really do not need to become complicated. The unfortunate result of unnecessary complication is that it moves us further away from John. 

On the Road

This is our present travel itinerary.

July 12: Grace Christian Church, Kendallville, IN
July 16: Thursday evening home Bible class, Faith Bible Church, Sterling, VA
July 23: Thursday evening, Tabernacle Baptist Church, George, IA
July 24–25: GES regional conference, Omaha, NE
July 26: Believers’ Bible Church, Omaha, NE
August 10–21: Rocky Mountain Bible College and Seminary
Module: Critical Issues in John’s Gospel
August 16: Northeast Bible Chapel, Colorado Springs, CO (morning & evening)
August 24: Denver Rescue Mission (with the staff)
October 11: Lakeland Bible Church, Auburn, WA
October 12–14: Spokane Bible Church fall conference, Spokane, WA
October 18: Bremerton Evangelical Covenant Church, Bremerton, WA
November 15: Coast Bible Church, San Juan Capistrano, CA

Our Newsletter

The July 2009 Newsletter has been mailed out and e-mailed. If you wish to be added to our mailing list for future newsletters please e-mail us at

Dr. Hoehner

It was only last November that my mentor, Zane Hodges, went to be at home with the Lord. On February 12, 2009, Harold Hoehner, my Doktorvater also went to be with the Lord. (Doktorvater literally in German means, the doctor’s father. It is the term for one’s doctoral dissertation advisor). Besides being my advisor, he was the one who convinced me that Mark was the last synoptic Gospel to be written (Matthew, Luke, then Mark). Last year, I told him that rewriting my dissertation for publication is one of my current projects. I had hoped that he would see it.

Dr. Hoehner contributed so much to me personally in terms of exegetical methodology, biblical chronology, and New Testament Introduction. It is my goal to carry on his legacy.

It was through his recommendation that I was able to contribute chapters to Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels, ed. Robert L. Thomas (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2002). He also invited me to join a committee overseeing a Ph.D. dissertation on the Synoptic Problem. It was a privilege to serve as the third reader a committee with Dr. Hoehner and Dr. Lowery of Dallas Theological Seminary.

I will miss him, but he is with the Lord. He is in a better place.

Springtime Travels

An opportunity came up for LeTourneau research in my hometown (Stockton, CA) and at the first university I attended (University of California, Davis) during the last week of January. (LeTourneau started his company in Stockton).

On February 2, I presented a paper: “Is John’s Gospel Anti-Semitic?” to the Honor’s Forum at San Diego Christian College at the invitation of Dr. Brian Moulton (a classmate of mine at DTS in master’s and doctoral studies in New Testament).

On April 17, I will present a modified form of the same paper at the same school for the regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS).

On March 26–27 will be a time for research on LeTourneau’s early equipment at LeTourneau University in Longview, TX.

On March 29, I will speak at Victor Street Bible Chapel (Dallas, TX), both services. The Grace Evangelical Society national conference will be at the Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. I will present a main paper and a workshop.

Then, on April 4, in Silver Lake, OR. Diane’s parents will celebrate their sixtieth anniversary. I will lead them in saying their vows again.

Longer-Range Plans

From 1995–2006, my main ministry was as a seminary New Testament professor. Circumstances at Grace Chapel late in 2006, required a change in direction. I accepted the role of primary teaching elder. Now, another elder, Ricardo Campos, one of my former seminary students, has shown readiness for increased teaching responsibilities. His teaching role will gradually increase and mine will decrease. By the summer of 2011 the transition will be complete. We plan to move to Denver, so that my teaching role at Rocky Mountain Bible College and Seminary will increase from teaching two-week modules to teaching during regular semesters. From Denver, it will be easier for us to travel further east as we spread the message of life through John’s Gospel.

In Loving Memory:

Zane C. Hodges

1932 - 2008

A Tribute to Zane Hodges 

My mentor has gone home to be with His Savior. Zane Hodges lived on this earth from June 15, 1932, until sometime over the weekend of November 22–23, 2008. Now he is with the Lord. He is also reunited with his parents and his only brother, David. He never married.

The Lord used him powerfully in his twenty-seven years of teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary. It was wonderful to attend his courses. The last lecture he gave at DTS was also my last course of the last day of my Th.M. program. Years later, we brought Zane out to teach a module in Majority Text Theory. It was moving to return to the seminary classroom with my professor.

The Lord also used his writings to clarify grace. He defended grace graciously. As time passes, my appreciation has grown for his graciousness under fire. Many who aim at truth express it harshly; many who aim at grace allow truth to slip. The Lord taught Zane much about expressing truth with grace.

The Lord also used him pastorally. Three generations of my family worshipped the Lord together at Victor Street Bible Chapel. It was there, under Zane’s tutelage, that my appreciation for the message of life in John’s Gospel started to take shape.

For more than twenty-six years Zane has been a friend and mentor. He has never been more than a phone call away. I will miss him. He is with the Lord. What a comfort it is to know that Jesus Christ guarantees everlasting life to all believers.


30,000 Living Waters came to us on July 30. We sent 20,232 to Australia and took 11,600 to the Midwest with our Dodge Dually Diesel (Yank Tank in Australian). We delivered them all around the countryside and proclaimed the Lord’s message of life at:

GES Regional Conference Omaha, NE: Aug 1–2,

Believers’ Bible Church: Omaha, NE: Aug 3,

Cresco (IA) Community Chapel: Aug 7 (visited Pastor Mike Simiele briefly),

Bible class at Tabernacle Baptist Church, George, IA, Aug 8,

Believers’ Bible Church: Omaha, NE: Aug 10,

Jansen (NE) Bible Church: Aug 10,

Rocky Mountain Bible College & Seminary (NTI course) : Aug 11–22,

Northeast Bible Chapel in Colorado Springs: Aug 17,

Brown Bag lunch with chaplains of the Denver Rescue Mission.

We returned with only a handful of Living Waters. Believers everywhere we went welcomed John’s Gospel as a God-given book for sharing the message of life. It is an encouragement to see the booklets going out into the world and to hear reports of God’s faithfulness. His Word does not return void without accomplishing what He sent it to do.

It is great to be back at Grace Chapel! Some puzzle-pieces in John’s Gospel have come together in John 9 and 10. George, our son, has posted those messages on this website. A friend in Perth would say, “Have a listen.”

We will soon travel to the Pacific Northwest for ministry and to visit family. This is a tentative itinerary. A few more speaking opportunities are still being worked out.

Emmanuel Baptist Church, Olympia, WA:

Lakeland Bible Church, Auburn, WA: Oct 12 - A.M.,

Spokane (WA) Bible Church fall conference: Oct 13–15,

Endicott, WA Bible class: Oct. 16 – P.M.,

Alberton (Montana) Community Church: Oct 19 - A.M.,

(possible evening service further west on Oct. 19: details to follow)

(possible evening service in central Oregon: Oct. 22: details to follow).

Two short trips will precede Christmas-time with family in Oregon. They are:

1. Retreat with chaplains of Denver (CO) Rescue Mission: Nov. 5–6.

2a. Victor Street Bible Chapel, Dallas, TX: Dec. 7 – A.M.,

2b. Pre-trib Conference, Dallas, TX: Dec. 8–10.

We proclaim the message of life wherever we go. Our lost and dying world needs to know that Jesus died and rose to guarantee life to believers. We should emphasize what Jesus says in John more than our own (uninspired) words. To that end, we make an abundance of Living Waters available as we travel In keeping with the Living Water imagery, what we do is to prime the pump. For staying supplied with Living Waters, we encourage staying supplied via Absolutely Free, Inc., in Glide, OR.


August 7th - Over this past year, Grace Chapel has partnered with

Fountain Ministries to distribute Gospels of John in Australia. Grace Chapel has just shipped over 20,000 Gospels of John. Below are pictures of both crates that have been shipped. The first was shipped in January, and the second is the most recent shipment.

John is currently on his trip throughout the midwest. The schedule is listed below.

July 5th - The ministry of Message of Life is a team effort with many unsung heroes.

Our two sons, George and Joseph, as well as Clay Harrill and Jack Billelo monitor digital audio recording of teaching at Grace Chapel.

Once the digital master has been produced, my wife, Diane, patiently edits out pauses, extraneous noises, etc. At this point, George (also the webmaster) does further editing and posts it on the website (usually within three days after the class occurs).

Both Steve Mahoney and John work on John’s PowerPoints. Even those not attending Grace Chapel often see the slide (with their ears). In his messages, John seeks to create a verbal image of visual aids.

After church, people sometimes seek clarification or may raise questions. This can and does assist John in presenting the text in subsequent sermons.

It does cost money to make messages available on the Message of Life website. It is not underwritten by Grace Chapel. MoL receives freewill financial support. The main thrust of Message of Life is to give out the life-giving Word of God, so we offer teaching without charge. The same God whose Word does not return void without accomplishing what He pleases (Isaiah 55:11) is the God who sends rain and snow to earth that it may bring forth to give seed to the sower and bread to the eater (Isaiah 55:10). We do thank those that support this ministry financially and all who pray for us. Yes, the Lord has brought together quite a team. Some are quite visible; others are in the background, but each contributes to the team. For that, we are thankful.

July 4th - Getting John’s Gospel into people’s hands is a high priority for our ministry. John is the one book of the Bible dedicated to presenting the message of life to unbelievers. A Godsend for our ministry has been the fact that Absolutely Free, Inc., Glide, OR, publishes the Living Water: The Gospel of John, a booklet that we recommend highly.

Our work in Australia since last November may illustrate our passion for reaching out with John’s Gospel. Diane and I brought about 1400 Living Water booklets to Perth in November. While there, plans were hatched for returning in six months. Meanwhile, our shipment of 9000 LWs arrived in March, just as they were running out. In May, Steve Mahoney (of Grace Chapel) and I brought 1200 more LWs. The focus of the more recent trip was to present the Gospel of John evangelistically at three conferences and to offer practical tips on using the Living Water for evangelism. A highlight was the conference at Looma, an Aboriginal community in the northern part of Western Australia. We showed the Gospel of John film and accompanied by teaching sessions. The context of an entire book unfolds the message of life. The power was not in what a couple of white blokes from America might say, but in what God says in John’s Gospel: Jesus Christ guarantees everlasting life to those who believe His promise of life.. Both ordinary folks and ministers from various churches became clear on this issue.

The exciting thing now is to see how our Aussie friends at Fountain Ministries ( are distributing Gospels of John down under. Of the more than 11,000 Living Water booklets that they received from us since November 2007, they have about 3,000 left. We are in the process of shipping almost 16,000 more.

Our ministry resembles that of the woman at the well (John 4). She invited people of her village to see whether Jesus is the Christ (John 4:28–29). They came and gave Him a hearing. Many believed. Some thanked the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said [when you met us in town], since we’ve heard Him ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world, the Christ” (John 4:42). Like the woman, we invite people to come and meet the Savior—by investigating John’s Gospel.

We acquaint believers and unbelievers alike with the Living Water. Unbelievers can learn that the cross took away sin’s death sentence and that Jesus guarantees everlasting life to believers. Believers can learn to share John’s Gospel with unbelievers.

Thus, Diane and I will carry at least 10,000 Living Water booklets on our August trip to the Midwest. Arrangements for speaking are as follows:

GES Regional Conference Omaha, Aug 1–2

Believers’ Bible Church: Omaha, NE, Aug 3 - A.M.

Bible classes Roger Lamfers’ home, George, IA, Aug 3–4

To be finalized, Aug 10 - A.M.

Jansen (Nebraska) Bible Church, Aug 10 - P.M.

Rocky Mountain Bible College & Seminary  (NTI course), Aug 11–22

Northeast Bible Chapel in Colorado Springs, Aug 17 - A.M. + P.M.

We might travel to the Pacific northwest in September, but have scheduled a trip there in October. Again, we will have a stock of Living Waters for distribution.

Lakeland Bible Church, Auburn, WA, Oct 12 - A.M.

Spokane (WA) Bible Church fall conference, Oct 13–15

Alberton (Montana) Community Church, Oct 19 - A.M. (Please check back to see any additions to the schedule)

March 5th - The Genesis & John Series pages have been updated. We apologize for the delay in an update but our "staff" has been on the road. The Genesis Series (Chapers 1-11) is concluded for the time being. John will continue to teach through the Gospel of John. Our Wednesday services at Grace Chapel will be lead by Tim Nichols. He will be teaching a series which you can listen to through the Grace Chapel website.

John is currently in Dallas at the Grace Evangelical Society's National Conference. We will post his papers under Publications when he gets back.

January 30th - The past thirteen months have afforded many opportunities for serving both Grace Chapel and the universal church. Grace Chapel is willing for me to travel on behalf of Message of Life Ministries, so we seek to strike a balance between time here and time on the road. As Paul requested in Ephesians 6:18–20, pray that, in regard to the mystery of the gospel, we may speak boldly as we ought to speak.

As Teaching Elder at Grace Chapel, it has been possible to make progress in teaching several books from the pulpit. The books of Ruth, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Philemon, James, and 3 John are complete. Currently, we are teaching a series on Genesis 1–11 and another on John. We usually post new messages only a few days after teaching them from the pulpit.

Message of Life has focused much attention on clarifying the message of life in John. To that end, we have passed along many boxes of the Living Water booklets to churches around the United States and Australia and have spoken on Johns Gospel (John’s Testimony) in many places. Since March 2007, I have spoken at churches in Australia (Rockingham Bible Church and Perth: Cross-Roads Church); California (Church of Hope, Laguna Hills); Montana (Alberton Community Church); Nebraska (Jansen Bible Church and Omaha: Believers’ Bible Church); Oregon (Fort Rock Community Church and Manning Bible Church); Texas (Victor Street Bible Chapel); Washington (Bremerton Evangelical Covenant Church; Endicott Bible Church; Bothell: Evergreen Baptist Church; and Auburn: Lakeland Bible Church); and Wyoming (Sheridan: Big Horn Church). I presented main sessions for Grace Evangelical Society conferences (Colorado Springs, Dallas, Omaha, San Juan Capistrano, and Seattle); for the Pre-Trib Research Society; and for the Spokane (WA) Bible Church fall conference. Together with Tim Nichols, I co-taught a course in exegetical methods at Rocky Mountain Bible College and Seminary.

In the coming months, I will speak at Free Grace Bible Church, Garland, TX (March); the Grace Evangelical Society conference in Fort Worth (March); Perth, Australia (May); Looma, Australia (May). I will also teach New Testament Introduction at Rocky Mountain Bible College and Seminary (August). We will be scheduling several trips this year.

In addition, we are working on some publication projects. These include projects on the Gospel of John, the synoptic problem, and Hebrew vocabulary. The Lord has been good.

Let me thank each of you for praying for this ministry, for telling others about it, for extending opportunities to speak, and for financial support. We look forward to walking through the doors that the Lord is opening.

By His Grace, John

January 7th - We've caught up the audio sermons page up to today. John has started a new series on the Testimony of John (AKA The Gospel of John). He will continue the Series through the Book of Genesis on Wednesday nights. In addition, John taught a sermon on Revelation 5 this past Wednesday. You can find that sermon on the Sermons page as well.

Message of Life has a new sister website. It features sermons from all of the elders at Grace Chapel as well as guest speakers.

Visit the new Grace Chapel website

December 20th - The trip to Australia was very busy and very successful. John taught multiple times nearly every day he was there.

We have a sister website now. Grace Chapel of Orange (where John is a teaching elder) features a more complete selection of sermons. Please check out the website.

October 24th - John just returned from presenting papers at the GES Regional Conference (in Seattle) and the Spokane Bible Church Conference. Additionally, he delivered 8 messages to churches in the Northwest. Most importantly, he handed out 60 boxes of Living Water to pastors and conference attendees.

We have added a new page to the website, the Missions Page. Afterall, our mission is to present the Message of Life and to promote the understanding that the Gospel of John is a perfect evangelistic tool. The purpose of this new page is to prove that we're actually accomplishing this mission and not just enjoying the scenery (LeTourneau or otherwise). We encourage all of you to peruse it. This afternoon, it will feature pictures from John's latest trip.

John is continuing his series in Genesis for the next couple weeks. He will then be headed to Australia for a month to teach Greek as well as to participate in Peter Beringer's ordination.

September 4th - We've posted most of the papers John has done this year for the GES Conferences in the Publications page. Either use the menu that falls from the "Please Select a Publication" button or click to enter a table-based page. All of these papers are available in MP3 form and DVD (for the National Conference) through GES' bookstore. We're trying to get all of John's publications up this week, so expect many more additions very soon.

September 3rd - Hope everyone's having a great Labor Day. Today, we've made a couple additions of interest to the website. First, the Sermons & Teaching page is much more compact and will be easier to load. This is part an anticipation of how many books John plans on going through in the future. In addition, Sunday's sermon is up and thus starts a new series on the Book of Genesis. And finally, some of the evangelism sermons given by John as well as Frank Tyler are up now.

August 31st - John is back from a very successful and productive trip. Spending nearly 8,000 miles on the road, he taught 5 services, a 2-week long Greek class and presented 3 conference papers at the GES Omaha Regional Conference. These papers will be available this upcoming week under the Publications page.

John also presented 3 conference papers at the GES Southern California Regional Conference this past weekend. The papers by all the speakers were fantastic. We had a great time of learning and fellowship.

John finished the Book of Ruth; all of these sermons are available under the Speaking & Teachings page. He will be starting a new series on Genesis 1-11 this coming Sunday.

Some new exciting updates are coming to this website. Included among these will be series DVDs. While these audio sermons are already provided on this website, these will provide a much more presentable format. As of now, the DVDs available will be "The Ruth Series", The Galatians & Philippians Series" and "The Ephesians Series".

John has a number of upcoming speaking engagements. His tentative itinerary is:

Sept 28th & 29th - GES Seattle Conference
Sept 30th - TBA
Oct 7th - TBA
Oct 14th - Alberton Community Church - Alberton, Montana
Oct 14th - Endicott Bible Church - Endicott, Washington
Oct 15th & 16th - Fall Spokane Bible Church Conference

If you have any questions regarding John's itinerary, Contact John (or e-mail him at

June 20th - It's been a while since the last update. The Sermons & Teachings page features all the series John has done and is up-to-date as of today. John is currently teaching through the Book of Ruth and James. As new messages are delivered, we will put them on the website.

John recently attended a conference in Salem, Oregon where Frank Tyler delivered a mission's presentation on the Gospel of John as a basis for confidence in evangelism.

Until the calendar is up, this is the most logical place for announcing upcoming engagements. Over this upcoming month, John will be teaching at a number of different locales around the nation.

July 15 - Preaching at Dayton, WY
July 16-27 - Co-teaching a Greek Course with Tim Nichols at the Rocky Mountain Bible Seminary - Denver, CO
July 22 - TBA
July 27-28 - GES Regional Conference - Omaha, NE
July 29 - Preaching at Believers' Bible Church - Omaha, NE
July 29-30 - Preaching an Evening Service and a Men's Group at Tabernacle Baptist Church - George, IA
August 5 - TBA

If you have any questions regarding John's itinerary, Contact John.

May 26th - The James Series is up now. As a series, it is still in progress, so it will be updated every week until its completion. Soon to come: Philippians and better quality Ephesians mp3s. Again, if you encounter any difficulties, please Contact Webmaster, with details of the problem, your browser information and operating system (Windows XP/2000/Vista, Mac OS X, etc.).
May 21st - Some of you have experienced difficulties with the navigation menus on the new Sermons and Publications pages. The cause of these problems is less than full support for CSS in slightly older browsers. We're primarily concerned with the robustness of our content, so until a more elegant solution is written up, we've included the old-style pages in addition to the menus. Simply click on either the "Please Select an Audio Sermon" button or "Please Select a Set of Notes" button to enter one of these pages. In addition, on supported browsers, the menus will still activate if you hover over either of these buttons.
If you're interested in upgrading your browser to experience our improved navigation, any of the newer browsers support full CSS. In particular, Internet Explorer users (for both PC and Mac) must upgrade. A few of the compatible browsers are: Internet Explorer 7.0, Firefox, Safari (build 60+), Opera 7+, Netscape 7+ and Konqueror 3.2+ all have full standard support for CSS). Thank you for your patience while we fix this.

May 19th - The Message of Life Ministries Website has been up for just over a month now. Thank you for your continued support of this very young website. We've thoroughly enjoyed the positive feedback thusfar and do appreciate your willingness to test new content as it comes out.
Over the past few weeks, our website has seen many exciting changes. Besides the aesthetic improvements, we have added a number of new pages: the Contact Page, the Contributions Page, the Publications Page and an all-together-new Sermons Page.
Additionally, you'll find two new audio series you can listen to: Galatians and Philemon. Over this coming week, we will also post the series that John is currently teaching: Philippians (on Sunday mornings) and James (on Wednesday evenings).

May 2nd - GES Regional Conference: Colorado Springs (belated announcement) We had a great time of fellowship at Fellowship Bible Church. John presented three papers at the GES Regional. He taught a main session ("Is the Resurrection for Those Who Have Done Good?") and two workshops ("Dead Man's Faith" and "A New Look at Old Saint Nic' (Nicodemus)"). All of these papers will be available on the "Publications" page in a couple days.
We hope you like the website's new look. Most of the changes are functional rather than aesthetic. Among these changes is: page zoom functions properly in Internet Explorer 7.0 and Mozilla 5.0. For best results, use page zoom instead of text zoom in Internet Explorer.

April 15th - Message of Life Ministries has a webpage at last. As with any webpage, it is a work in progress. Much more is soon to come. While many of the links aren't active yet, please take a look at the sermons already posted under the "Sermons & Speaking" tab. If you are interested in receiving e-mails regarding upcoming events and website updates, please sign-up for our newsletter.

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