The Gospel of John: It is Written!

It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.” (John 6:45-46)

Jesus held a high view of the Old Testament Scriptures. He did not reject the Old Testament but rather viewed it as foundational truth to all that He said and would accomplish.  This would prove to also be the perspective of the apostles as God used them to write the New Testament Scriptures.

Jesus’s provocative statement in John 6:37-44 was not based just upon His own authority, but rather also upon the authority of the Old Testament. In today’s text, Jesus refers not only to the crowd, but also readers today, to Isaiah 54:13. It says, “All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.”

Jesus used this Old Testament text to not only illustrate, but also to biblically support, the doctrine of God’s drawing sinners to Christ by His sovereign calling. Those who come to Christ are those who the Father has taught and therefore who come to Christ for their salvation. It is cause and effect. As one pastor comments, “The “drawing” and “learning” are just different aspects of God’s sovereign direction in the person’s life. Those taught by God to grasp the truth are also drawn by God the Father to embrace the Son.

John Calvin comments: “As to the kind of drawing, it is not violent, so as to compel men by external force; but still it is a powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit, which makes men willing who formerly were unwilling and reluctant. It is a false and profane assertion, therefore, that none are drawn but those who are willing to be drawn, as if man made himself obedient to God by his own efforts; for the willingness with which men follow God is what they already have from himself, who has formed their hearts to obey him.”

Let us be clear by making two observations based upon yesterday’s blog and today’s. First, God’s drawing sinners to faith in Christ is not based upon the sinner’s willingness to be drawn. All sinners, prior to their conversion, are dead in the trespasses and sins and do not desire Christ or want to come to Him (Romans 3:9-20; Ephesians 2:1-3). Second, God does not force sinners to do something they do not want to do when He draws them to Christ. It is not true that God saves sinners kicking and screaming against their will. Rather, God changes the sinner’s will and the disposition of their heart from a heart of stone to one of flesh (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

I really like what Dr. R. C. Sproul has to say about these verses. “It is important to note that God makes us willing to believe. Although faith is His gift to His elect and must be granted to us if we are to believe, we still must believe. There is no fatalism in biblical Christianity that says it does not matter what we do if God has chosen us for salvation. We must exercise faith, and the only people who exercise faith are those whom God has chosen. This necessity of our believing in Christ is stressed throughout John 6, particularly in today’s passage. Verse 47 tells us that whoever believes has eternal life, with the necessary implication that whoever does not believe does not have eternal life. Further, to be taught and led by the Father who grants eternal life is to believe in the Son (vv. 45–46). Those who do not believe in the Son as He has revealed Himself are not taught or led by God.”

Thank God today for drawing you and giving you as a gift to the Son. If you are not a believer in Christ, or know someone who is not, begin praying that God will begin to draw them to Christ for their salvation and for His glory.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Gospel of John: No One Can Come to Me, Unless.

Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:43-44)

As we continue our examination of Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse from John 6, we notice in vs. 43-44 another provocative statement by the Savior. In 6:37 we witnessed a universal positive logical statement when Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.In today’s text, we witness a universal negative logical statement.

Jesus addressed the grumbling group of people who did not like what He was teaching. He told them to stop their grumbling. In fact, the text accurately says that Jesus commanded them to stop their complaining about who He was and He had said about being the bread of life. He then followed this command with a statement which will surely solicit even more complaints from the people.

The statement is “No one can come to me.” This is a universal negative. No one who belongs to a particular class of people can come to Jesus. Who are these people? They are sinners like you and me. Notice, Jesus said “No one ‘can’ come, or place their faith, in me.” The word “can” refers to ability. Jesus did not say no one “may” come to me, but rather “no one can come to me.” No sinner possesses the inherent ability to come to faith in Christ. Left alone, this initial statement by Jesus leaves sinners with no hope for salvation.

However, Jesus is not done. He then says, “…unless the Father who sent me draws him.” The word “unless” is an adverb which modifies the preceding verb “come.” By using this word, Jesus introduces a necessary condition by which sinners may receive justification and redemption from God by coming to faith in Christ.

What is the necessary condition by which sinners can come to Christ?  The Father must first draw them. The word draw (ἑλκύω; helkyo) means literally to pull in or to drag as well as to lead by force. This is sovereign and irresistible authority from God the Father by which He changes the disposition of man’s soul enabling them to come to Christ by God given faith. This is what Jesus meant in saying to Nicodemas that you must be born again (John 3:1-8). These who the Father draws Jesus will resurrect on the last day.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Jesus went on to stress again that the reason they remained blind was because God had not opened their spiritual eyes to see Him for who He truly was. He intensified His early claim that all those the Father gives to Him for salvation will be saved by asserting that no one, in fact, can be saved unless the Father draws him to Christ. And this drawing is not a weak exhortation to believe but a powerful act of God, for all of those whom God calls will finally give up their resistance to Christ, and they will be certainly raised up at the last day (John 6:43–44). In our natural state, we are completely unwilling and morally incapable of coming to Christ. If the Father wants us to come to Christ, He must effectually draw us to His beloved Son.”

Commenting on today’s passage, John Calvin writes, “The Gospel, though it is preached to all without exception, cannot be embraced by all . . . a new understanding and a new perception are requisite; . . . faith does not depend on the will of men, but that it is God who gives it.” See John 1:12-13.

Dr. John MacArthur explains, “The combination of v. 37a and v. 44 indicate that the divine drawing activity that Jesus referred to cannot be reduced to what theologians call “prevenient grace,” i.e., that somehow the power to come to Christ is allegedly dispensed to all of mankind, thus enabling everyone to accept or reject the gospel according to their own will alone. Scripture indicates that no “free will” exists in man’s nature, for man is enslaved to sin (total depravity) and unable to believe apart from God’s empowerment (Rom. 3:1–19Eph. 2:1–32 Cor. 4:42 Tim. 1:9). While “whosoever will” may come to the Father, only those whom the Father gives the ability to will toward him will actually come to him. The drawing here is selective and efficacious (producing the desired effect) upon those whom God has sovereignly chosen for salvation, i.e., those whom God has chosen will believe because God has sovereignly determined that result from eternity past (Eph. 1:9–11).”

Dear friend, if you have come to faith in Christ, on what basis are you placing your hope in salvation? Is it based upon a decision you made at some time in the past, or an aisle you walked forward on during a church worship service, or even a card you signed? Ultimately, your coming to Christ was initially based upon God the Father drawing you and calling you to faith in God the Son, Jesus Christ, by the power and authority of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel. This biblical truth, from the lips of the Savior Himself, results in God receiving all the glory for our salvation which He purposed in eternity past.

Soli deo Gloria!

Soli deo Gloria!  

The Gospel of John: Grumbling.

“So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (John 6:41-42)

So the Jews grumbled. The word grumbled comes from the Greek word γογγύζω; gongyzo and means to murmur and complain. It sometimes refers to a whispering, grumbling talk done in private. However, in today’s text the grumbling seems to be quite vocal and noticeable.

Notice it was the Jews who grumbled. The Jews were those whose hearts were hardened towards the gospel and therefore hostile to Christ. In the context, this would be the very people who sought for Jesus the day after He fed 5,000 plus people with just two fish and five barely loaves of bread. It wasn’t one person who complained, but many.

Dr. John MacArthur shares that, “The reaction of the synagogue crowds to Jesus’ statements was the same as the Jews in the wilderness who grumbled against God both before and after the manna was given to them (Ex. 16:2, 8–9Num. 11:4–6).”

Why? It was because Jesus said that He was the bread or nourishment that came down from heaven. The people didn’t like this statement. They didn’t like that Jesus said He was the bread of life or the source of spiritual nourishment. They also didn’t like that He said He had come down from heaven.

Rather, they dismissed Him because they knew His family. To them Jesus was like everyone they had ever known. He wasn’t special, in spite of many evidences to the contrary. Jesus’ own words in John 4:44 bear witness to this reality: “a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.”

Dr. MacArthur also explains, “On the human level, they knew Jesus as a fellow Galilean. Their hostility sprang from the root of unbelief. Jesus’ death was impending because hostility had resulted everywhere he went.”

The people were offended regarding what Jesus said. Another commentator writes, “They knew His mother, Mary, and His earthly father, Joseph, and they certainly were not special by the world’s standards (v. 42; see Luke 1:48, 52). Of course, there is a great deal of irony here because the crowd clearly did not know the whole story about Jesus’ parents. If they had really known the entire situation, they would have known that Joseph was Jesus’ adoptive father and that His eternal Father was God Himself. They would have seen that there were no problems with Jesus’ claims of divine origin (Luke 1:26–38; John 1:1–18).”

This reaction by the crowd is reminiscent to what we discover in Mark 6:1-3 which says, He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?  Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.” See also Matthew 13:54-58).

Things have not changed all that much in nearly 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth. People still disagree as to Jesus’ identity and mission. While some acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior, others relegate Him to a prophet’s status or believe Him to only be a good, moral teacher. To claim that salvation is solely through the person and work of Jesus Christ is widely rejected by the 21st century culture. It is too offensive. It is too restrictive. It is too authoritative!

Yes, not much has changed in 2,000 years. Sinners are still in need of salvation and they still reject the only One who can truly provide such a salvation: Jesus Christ. How truly tragic.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Until next time, Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: I have come to do the Father’s Will.

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:38-40)

One pastor writes, “On several occasions in John’s Gospel divine election is described in terms of God the Father giving certain persons to God the Son (6:37, 39; 10:29; 17:1-2, 6, 9, 24). In each of these cases the giving of men to Christ precedes and is the cause of their receiving eternal life. Those who are given to the Son include not only the present company of disciples who believe in Jesus but also the elect of future ages who will come to faith through the gospel. Jesus looks upon them as already his (John 17:20-21; see also John 10:16Acts 18:10), even though they have not yet believed in his name. They are his because they were given to him by the Father in eternity past.”

Jesus came down from heaven to do the Father’s will. In today’s text, He gives us a glimpse as to what the Father’s will entailed. It should be noted that there is no disagreement between the Father and the Son. Jesus’ submission to the Father evidences this harmony.

First, the Father’s will is that Jesus should not lose one soul of all the Father would give Him. All who belong to the particular class known as the elect, would not be lost but rather resurrected on the last day.

Additionally, Jesus also says, in a rather synonymous way, that the Father’s will is also that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ will not only have eternal life but also be raised on the last day.

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Our Savior had harsh words for the crowd who came calling for Him after He had multiplied five loaves and two fishes to feed them. Jesus told them that they were not searching after Him for the right reasons, that they came to see more works of wonder to confirm Him as an earthly liberator. They did not recognize the true import of our Lord’s signs, which was to reveal Him as the source of eternal life, the bread from heaven who satisfies our spiritual hunger forever. The crowd was laboring for what does not endure and was not working for the life that endures; they were not doing the work of God by trusting in Christ alone for salvation (John 6:1–35).”

The responsibility and credit for our salvation belongs to God. We can claim no glory for ourselves; though many try.

Thank God today for giving you as a gift to the Son. What an amazing, and gracious thing for God to do.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: All that the Father Gives Me.

“But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:36-37).

I may have used this illustration previously, but I believe it helps us understand what is transpiring in today’s text.

Imagine this scene. A non-Christian you have known for some time approaches you. Perhaps because of your Christian testimony, they begin asking you questions regarding why you believe in the existence of God. You do your best to answer each question thoughtfully, graciously and accurately to the biblical text.

The individual in question may be a co-worker, a friend or even a member of your immediate or extended family. Over the course of several meetings and conversations your relationship with the individual continues to be cordial and friendly. You are encouraged and increasingly hopeful that this person will soon come to repent of their sins and trust Christ as their Savior and Lord.

However, after answering every question posed to you, your friend, co-worker or relative does not respond to your request for them to repent of their sin and receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. They become increasingly resistant to even the slightest suggestion that they need Jesus.

You are perplexed. You are confused. You have answered every one of their questions. You have addressed each of their objections. You were encouraged by their initial response to your sincere explanation of the basics of biblical Christianity and the evidence for God’s existence. They even let you pray with them. Now, they want little or nothing to do with you or with your God. It is as if someone threw a switch to completely change the person you have come to know. What happened?

The question I have posed also apply to the many who witnessed Jesus’ miracles in general, and the feeding of the 5,000 in particular (John 6:1-14), who did not believe in Him. They witnessed what He did, but they neither trusted, committed, depended nor came to worship Him as Savior and Lord.

What all too often happens when we share the gospel, and a defense of the same, is that we mistakenly believe that reason and biblical revelation alone are sufficient to convince a person of their need for Christ. Not so! There is a necessary third component to a true, biblical understanding of God and sin resulting in conversion to Christ. That indispensable component is monergistic regeneration which as we explained when we studied John. The individual in question needs to be born again by the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8). This new birth is a sovereign work of the Spirit.

However, underneath and undergirding the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit is the sovereign grace of God the Father. This is what Jesus begins to explain in John 6:37 when He says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” We have two cause and effect statements in this compound sentence. Let us examine this sentence today.

“All that the Father gives me will come to me.” Before the sinner comes to Christ, by a regenerating work by the Spirit, there is a prior work accomplished by the Father. He gives the particular sinner to the Son. This leads us to biblically conclude that all three members of the Godhead are involved in our salvation. This giving the sinner to the Son as a gift is upon the basis of God’s sovereign grace alone (Ephesians 1:3-6).

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “God leads to faith all who He plans to redeem. The redemption of the elect is certain since it is secured by the sovereign purpose and invincible power of God Himself to draw them to the Son and secure them in “His” hand (John 10:27-30).”

 Please notice the word “all.” This is a universal positive statement. Jesus is saying that “all” who belong to a particular class of people will come to Him for salvation. Those who comprise the “all” of John 6:37 are those the Father gives to the Son.

 Another Bible teacher states, “This verse (vs. 37) emphasizes the sovereign will of God in the selection of those who come to him for salvation (cf. vv. 44, 65; 17:6, 12, 24). The Father has predestined those who would be saved (see notes on Rom. 8:29–30Eph. 1:3–61 Pet. 1:2). The absolute sovereignty of God is the basis of Jesus’ confidence in the success of his mission (see note on John 6:40; cf. Phil. 1:6). The security of salvation rests in the sovereignty of God, for God is the guarantee that “all” he has chosen will come to him for salvation. The idea of “gives me” is that every person chosen by God and drawn by God (John 6:44) must be seen as a gift of the Father’s love to the Son. The Son receives each “love gift” (v. 37), holds on to each (v. 39), and will raise each to eternal glory (vv. 39–40). No one chosen will be lost (see notes on Rom. 8:31–39). This saving purpose is the Father’s will, which the Son will not fail to do perfectly (John 6:38; cf. 4:34; 10:28–29; 17:6, 12, 24).”

Please notice the latter portion of the phase, or the effect portion which says, “will come to me.” This is a promise from God the Son. With absolute assurance we can know that if the Father truly gives us to the Son, we will come to the Son in repentance and faith alone in Jesus’ person and work alone.

John Calvin explains, “that God works in His elect by such an efficacy of the Holy Spirit, that not one of them falls away; for the word “give” has the same meaning as if Christ had said, ‘Those whom the Father hath chosen He regenerates , and gives to me, that they may obey the Gospel’.”

An additional promise is given in the second portion of the sentence and verse. “and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” The ones who come to the Son, who God the Father has given to the Son, will never be cast out of the presence of the Son. To “never cast out” means that Jesus will never expel or drive away a soul who the Father has given to Him unto salvation. What a wonderful promise of assurance and eternal security.

Regarding this second statement, John Calvin also comments that, “This is added for the consolation of the godly, that they may be fully persuaded that they have free access to Christ  by faith, and that, as soon as they have placed themselves under His protection and safeguard, they will be graciously received by Him.”

I love Jesus’ words in this text. I love that all three members of the Trinity are involved in my salvation. I trust that you love this truth as well.

Soli deo Gloria!  

The Gospel of John: I Am the Bread of Life, Part 4.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

What is your favorite food? It could be a main course or even a dessert. I don’t have one but several meals that I refer to as my favorites. One of which is my wife’s homemade spaghetti and meat balls. When I walk into the house as she is cooking, the aroma of the spaghetti sauce (my grandad’s recipe) takes my back to my childhood. What wonderful memories, then and now.

However, as enjoyable as that meal is, and many others, it is not a principle food for life and living. If you want to know what food is absolutely essential in order to sustain life, the answer most probably given would be “bread and water.” Therefore, it should not surprise us that Jesus refers to Himself as not only the “living water” (John 4:7-15; Jeremiah 2:15), but also as the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

Jesus said “I am the bread of life.” The phrase “I Am” is from the Greek ego eimi. This particular phrase is found 23  times in the Gospel of John (John 4:26; 6:20, 35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 24, 28, 58; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:5, 6, 8). It refers the reader back to Exodus 3:14 and is an explicit statement by Jesus that He is God. It is also here in John 6 that Jesus begins to join His “I Am” statement with a metaphor, or a comparison, which expresses His redeeming relationship to the fallen world.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” The word “bread” comes from the Greek word ἄρτος; artos. It usually refers to baked bread, but could describe food in general (Matthew 4:4; 6:11; Luke 11:1-3). It is very likely that when the New Testament writers used the word “artos” they were thinking in Old Testament terms (Deuteronomy 8:1-3; Proverbs 30:8-9).   Jesus used the phrase in this immediate context, following His feeding of the 5,000, to illustrate His ability alone to provide sinners with sustenance and new life.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” The phrase “of life” (ζωή; zoe) means that Jesus is the originator, and only source of physical and, most importantly, spiritual and eternal life.

How may sinners partake of this “bread of life?” Jesus said that “whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Jesus defines the way of taking this “bread of life” and “living water.” We receive both, that is to say Jesus, by faith. We are to come personally to Jesus Christ in order to receive this nourishment for our souls. The words “coming” and “believing” are synonymous.

The words “not” and “never” are also synonymous. They refer to the absolute assurance that the sinner who comes to Christ shall not hunger, and they shall never thirst again. Their souls will be eternally satisfied in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

John Calvin writes, “For it is of no avail to unbelievers that Christ is the bread of life, because they remain always empty; but then does Christ become our bread, when we come to Him as hungry persons, that He may fill us. To come to Christ and to believe mean, in this passage, the same thing; but the former word is intended to express the effect of faith, namely, that it is in consequence of being driven by the feeling of our hunger that we fly to Christ to seek life.”

Dr. R. C. Sproul concludes, We can find eternal life only in Jesus. He alone can feed our souls with the bread of life. This means that no matter how much someone might appear to be dedicated to the Scriptures, they are not saved if they do not believe in Christ. We must pray for those who are not saved and yet may express affection for the Scriptures—Jews, members of Christian cults, Muslims, and so on—that they would have a true love for God’s Word and so turn to Christ.”

But how may a sinner come to Christ and receive the “bread of life?” The answer to this question is forthcoming in our next installment.

Until then, Soli deo Gloria.

 

 

 

 

The Gospel of John: I Am the Bread of Life, Part 3.

“So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” (John 6:30-34).

I’m sure you have often heard the expression, “What have you done for me lately?” It expresses an ongoing entitlement mentality that is always looking to receive one more thing, or in the case of Jesus and His identity as God, one more miracle to prove what already has been proven, but not believed.

Or what about the saying “Seeing is believing.” The reasoning is that you must prove to me what you’re saying is true by showing me something. Let me see something that proves what you say is real and I will believe.

Well, you know what happens. The individuals in question want to have one more thing done, or what has been already shown to them is not sufficient for them to believe. Such was the case in John 6:30-34. The people who the previous day had witnessed an astounding miracle in the feeding of the 5,000 testifying to the identity of Jesus Christ as God now want to witness another miracle.

They request another sign. In fact, the grammar indicates that they were not looking for just one sign at one particular time but rather an ongoing series of signs. The sentence could read, “what signs will you continue to perform that we may see and believe you?” Or, “what work will you continually perform?” We want to see another miracle, and another, and another, etc. There weren’t satisfied with what Jesus had already revealed about Himself, they wanted more.

They even give Jesus an example of the type of miracle they require. They cite the manna God provided to the Israelites during the Exodus. They even cite Scripture by saying, “‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ (Exodus 16:15; Numbers 11:7; Psalm 78:24).

Dr. John MacArthur explains the Jews perspective. “The crowd’s logic appeared to be that Jesus’ miraculous feeding (John 6:1-14) was a small miracle compared to what Moses did. In order for them to believe in him, they would need to see him feed the nation of Israel on the same scale that God did when he sent manna and fed the entire nation of Israel during their wilderness wanderings for 40 years (Ex. 16:11–36). They were demanding that Jesus outdo Moses if they were to believe in him. They quoted from Ps. 78:24.”

Jesus’ response was that it was not Moses who gave Israel the bread for 40 years but rather it was God. However, that bread was temporary. Jesus’ statement was not unlike His reference to the water in Jacob’s well from John 4. The Father, in reference to God, gives you true bread from heaven. True bread is reminiscent of “living water.” Notice the tenses of the words “gave” and “gives.” God gave Israel physical bread during their wanderings through the wilderness. He now “gives” spiritual bread or nourishment through faith in Jesus Christ.

Dr. MacArthur adds, “The manna God gave was temporary and perished and was only a meager shadow of what God offered them in the true bread, Jesus Christ, who gives spiritual and eternal life to mankind (“world” vv. 33, 51).

The Jews response was again not unlike the response by the woman at the well in John 4:15.  “They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always’.” They were thinking solely in physical terms and failed to understand the spiritual and eternal implications of what Jesus was saying.

It was in response to their demand of Jesus that He give them an ongoing supply of physical nourishment that Jesus plainly said, “I am the bread of life.”

Has Jesus nourished your soul not only as the living water but also as the bread of life? Receive the spiritual nourishment that only Jesus can give by repenting of your sin and receiving Jesus Christ by trusting, committing, depending and worshiping Him as Lord and Savior.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Gospel of John: I Am the Bread of Life, Part 2.

“When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:25-29)

John 6:22-24 revealed that the people who witnessed Jesus’ healings and his feeding of the multitude were still at the original site of these miracles (east of the Sea of Galilee) and, out of their heightened curiosity, purposed to find Jesus once again. Other boats loaded with people from Tiberias (on the northwest shore of the lake) also heard of the miracles and they too searched for Him.

They eventually found Him in the synagogue at Capernaum (John 6:59). They inquired, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” (John 6:25). Jesus’ response to their question frames and fills the rest of John 6.

In understanding the historical context, Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “Today’s passage tells us that they soon found Jesus in Capernaum and entered into dialogue with Him. This dialogue, which consists of extended monologues on the part of Jesus and responses from the people, took place in Capernaum’s synagogue, as John 6:59 tells us. This kind of interaction between teacher and hearers was a common Jewish way of teaching in the synagogue during the first century.”

Jesus responds to their question by saying, ““Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” Rather than cater to their superficial interest in Him, Jesus exposed the crowd’s latent self-interest and ignorance of who He was and what He displayed before them the previous day. He indicated to them they were only interested in receiving a “free lunch” or a Messiah who would meet their physical needs rather than acknowledge that He was God. In other words, they were looking to be entertained and to have their physical wants and needs satisfied. They were not looking to be saved from their sin.

One commentator writes, “This phrase (because you ate) emphasizes Jesus’ point that the crowds that followed him were motivated by superficial desire for food rather than any understanding of the true spiritual significance of Jesus’ person and mission (John 8:14–21Mark 6:52).”

Jesus then said, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Let us be clear that Jesus was not teaching a works based salvation on the part of sinners. Rather, He was rebuking the people for their purely materialistic ideas of the Messianic Kingdom and they should labor for the nourishment that is eternal, which Jesus would give them. What is this labor of which Jesus speaks?

Again, Dr. R. C. Sproul provides valuable insight when he states, “We must instead labor for the food that leads to eternal life (v. 27). And when Jesus was asked what the God-ordained labor is that leads to eternal life, He said that such labor consists in believing in Him (vv. 28–29). Jesus called this a work inasmuch as belief is something that we do, but of course He did not mean that belief earns life eternal or that it is something we can work up on our own. It is a gift of grace, not a meritorious deed (Eph. 2:8–10).”

This is an issue which always confused me. I always heard that sinners can do nothing to earn their salvation. However, at the same I heard that the one thing they must do is believe. Believing is an active work or effort on the sinner’s part. How then can faith and belief in Christ not be a human work in which the sinner can therefore glorify himself? The corresponding conclusion is then if I am ultimately the one who is responsible to believe independent of God, can I then un-believe and therefore lose my salvation?

The answer found in Scripture is that faith and belief is a God-given ability (Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; Acts 13:48; 2 Peter 1:1-2) which the Holy Spirit alone gives to those who He sovereignly regenerates, or who are born again (John 3:1-8). To believe unto justification is to trust, commit, depend and worship Jesus Christ alone as Savior and Lord.

Therefore, even though the sinner exercises faith in the truth of the person and work of Jesus Christ, the ability to believe is in itself a gift of God by grace alone. The doctrine of faith alone, in Christ alone is undergirded by the truth of God’s sovereign grace alone to give the gift of saving faith to those who He has sovereignly chosen to justify and redeem: the elect (Ephesians 1:3-14). Therefore, those who have received the gift of faith are also kept by God (Philippians 1:6).

Finally, notice Jesus’ last statement in John 6:29: ““This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” Believing in Jesus Christ for salvation is solely a work of God, as indicated by the grammatical phrase, “this is the work of God.” Faith in Christ is a work or effort which originates solely from God the Father. He alone choses to give saving faith to those He has chosen to save.

This biblical doctrine offends people today. It offended people in Jesus’ day. In fact, it makes some people down right angry. Not only are they angry at this biblical doctrine, but they also express their anger towards any pastor or Bible teacher who would dare preach and believe this doctrine. I have encountered such people and such anger. However, I am to preach, teach and to believe what the Bible says is true and not preach, teach and believe what I want the Bible to say is true. Do you see the difference?

Many of the people who Jesus spoke with did not like what He was preaching and teaching. More to come from John 6.

Thank God today for not only saving you, but choosing to give you the faith in Jesus Christ in order to be justified by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Gospel of John: I Am the Bread of Life, Part 1.

“On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” (John 6:22-25)

For the next several days were are going to focus our attention on the balance of John 6 which consists of Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse. There is a lot to unpack from the text so I want us to take our time and not just blow through this like a gust of wind on the Sea of Galilee. Today, I want us to pay attention to the geographic setting for the dialogue Jesus would have with those who sought and found Him.

Following the Feeding of the Five Thousand (John 6:1-14), on the very next day, many of the crowd remained on the northeast coast of the Sea of Galilee. The text implies that the crowd was searching for Jesus. They came to the shore, found only one boat, and concluded that Jesus’ disciples had gone away alone.

At the same time, other boats containing people from the west coast Galilean town of Tiberius came near the place where they had eaten the bread Jesus multiplied. They too were looking for Jesus. When they could not find Him, they somehow concluded to travel back across the Sea of Galilee and travel to the northwest town of Capernaum. We do not know why they thought to look there but the text specifically tells us they were seeking Jesus.

Dr. John MacArthur explains, “These verses indicate that the crowds who witnessed Jesus’ healings and his feeding of the multitudes were still at the original site of these miracles (east of the lake) and, out of heightened curiosity, desired to find Jesus once again. Other boats loaded with people from Tiberias (on the northwest shore of the lake) also heard of the miracles and sought him out.”

They eventually found Him in the synagogue at Capernaum (John 6:59). They inquired, ““Rabbi, when did you come here?” (John 6:25). Jesus’ response to their question will frame and fill the rest of the chapter. Dr. Don Carson comments that, “The people were baffled how Jesus had reached the other side of the lake (John 6:25), and their question shows the purely human level on which they were thinking.” Jesus’ answer to their question will go much deeper than they could have ever imagined. More to follow.

Do you believe Jesus to be just a miracle worker? Have you recognized that He alone is the One who can deliver you from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin? If so, rejoice that He is your Lord and Savior. If not, repent of your sin and receive Jesus and His righteousness as your own.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Gospel of John: Jesus Walks on the Water.

“Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.” (John 6:15-21).

What is your initial attitude towards Jesus? Is it casualness? Familiarity? Reverence? In today’s text we witness two different attitudes by two different people groups. The first is from the crowd Jesus miraculously fed (John 6:1-14) and the others are His twelve disciples.

Following the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:1-14), Jesus withdrew from the crowd. He did not do this because He did not care for them or that He lacked compassion for them, but rather because He knew that they were about to forcibly and physically try and make Him their king. As we will see later in the text of John 6, the type of king the crowd wanted was an earthly king who would eliminate their earthly problems, like hunger, rather than a heavenly king who would ultimately eliminate their sin by dying on a cross.

The crowd did not reverence Jesus as God as much as they reverenced their own ideas and attitudes of what Messiah should be like and what He should do on their behalf. I wonder if much of this erroneous attitude toward Jesus remains in our own day and age. I believe it does. Many want Jesus on their terms and not as He is. This will certainly be the case later on in John 6.

The second people group are the disciples. When evening arrived, they got into a boat and began making a trip across the Sea of Galilee from the northeast coast to the City of Capernaum, which is located on the western shore. Typically on this body of water, a strong wind arose and the sea became rough.

As one commentator explains, “Initially, the disciples set out to cross the sea independently of Jesus. Our Lord had withdrawn to the mountain, and the disciples set out by boat for Capernaum before Jesus returned to them (vv. 15–17). Geographically, the Sea of Galilee sits about six hundred feet below sea level, and the movement of air over the sea commonly results in violent and terrifying storms. Apparently, this is what happened when the disciples were rowing across the body of water, for a strong storm made the sea rough (v. 18). We should not quickly pass over this detail, for even the most seasoned seafarer could run into trouble when a storm broke out over the sea.”

No matter how frightening rowing their boat during a storm was, the disciple’s greater fear was when they saw Jesus walking on the rough water toward them. Matthew’s account of this event includes Peter’s desire to join the Lord by also walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33).

Jesus said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Dr. R.C. Sproul comments that, “Our Lord told them not to fear. “It is I,” Jesus said, which translates the phrase ego eimi , the Greek version of God’s covenantal name I am. As we will see, this phrase appears frequently on the lips of Jesus in John’s gospel, and it is a particularly strong hint at our Lord’s deity. Jesus did things that only God can do and made claims that only God can make. This has applications for how we understand the true identity of Jesus.”

When Jesus told His disciples to not be afraid, He was not saying do not worship or reverence Me. In fact, Matthew’s account of this event concludes with the disciple’s reverential worship of Jesus (Matthew 14:33).

It should also be noted that instantly after Jesus got into the boat, that He and the disciples were immediately at Capernaum. Jesus is Lord over time, space and the law of gravity. However, Jesus’ greater ministry was soon set to begin.

In John 15:14-15, Jesus calls His disciples His friends. That is a good thing. However, as Dr. Sproul concludes, “We dare not forget that Jesus is no ordinary friend. He is the sovereign Lord and Creator of the universe, and although He loves us intimately and walks with us, we must nevertheless remember that we must also bow to Him as Lord.”

Soli deo Gloria!