Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Am That Bread of Life


"Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.  I am that bread of life.  Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."  John 6:46-51

   At the beginning of these passages, Jesus declares His deity to His Jewish audience.  No man can look directly on God and live.  God told Moses "...for no man shall see My face and live....", and because of that He had to hide Moses in the cleft of a rock and cover him with His hand while He passed by, thus revealing only His back parts.  Anytime Scripture declares that man saw God and lived, it is speaking of a masked version of revelation.  Man can only see God if God hides His full glory; otherwise, man would die.  God is too holy for sinful, mortal man to look directly upon Him.  In light of this, Christ declares His own deity and purity by saying that He has seen the Father.

   As the sinless substitute for sin, Christ declares that all who will put saving faith in Him will be delivered from eternal death.  He says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life."  Man, in his desire to make salvation dependant upon his own goodness, has complicated and perverted the gospel by mixing it with works.  Christ gives us here the simplest form of the gospel.  Anyone who is willing to acknowledge their sinful condition and turn to Him for forgiveness will be delivered.  Man cannot earn, work out, or buy his redemption.  The work of redemption is complete in Christ.

   "I am that bread of life."  As one would partake of physical food in order to live, so must he spiritually partake of Christ through saving faith.  To partake of Christ as the living bread is much more than mental ascent.  One can acknowledge that Christ is the Son of God and that He gives life, but for this knowledge to do a person good he must partake of Christ through repentance and faith.  To partake of the living bread is to acknowledge what God has declared to be true concerning mankind.  Those who partake of Christ have come before Him in humble acceptance that they are sinners and that He alone is holy and worthy of worship.

   However, the Jewish audience was not interested in hearing about their need to bow the knee to Christ as the Messiah.  They were holding onto their lineage and their religious rituals.  This is why Christ says, "Your fathers did manna in the wilderness and are dead."  They had originally tried to use this past event to challenge Jesus earlier in this chapter, therefore, Christ points out to them that the physical manna did not bring about any time of efficacious work for those who ate it.  Most of the people who were fed with manna in the wilderness died as unbelievers.  God fed them with manna in order to meet their physical needs for food and to declare His power and might, yet most of the Israelites were ungrateful and died in the desert during the forty years of wandering.  Jesus is pointing out here that a man is not spiritually profited through some physical act but rather he is profited only by his heart attitude toward God.  Many of the fathers that that these people held up so high were dead and in hell.  Consider Hebrews, "But with whom was He grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?  And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it."
The gospel was preached to the children of Israel, they partook of the manna, and yet many did not enter into the Holy Land because they refused to believe God.  The manna did not give spiritual life to any of them, nor did they impress God simply because they ate of it.  Those who believed God still died, and those who did not believe God died as well and went to a lost eternity.  The physical and the ritual can never work salvation.  Thus Catholicism and every other form of manmade religion which puts stock in the saving power of physical acts, relics and rituals is of the devil.  Christ, and Christ alone is the Bread of Life.  Jesus did not allow these people to believe for a minute that He was impressed with the fact that they were the children of men who ate bread from heaven.  Their fathers were rebellious and so were they.  They needed to cease from holding onto their lineage and begin exercising the fear of God in their lives.  People today do the same thing.  They think God is impressed with the fact that dad was a preacher or that mom taught Sunday School and saw God's blessing on her life, but none of these things will cover sin or make up for one's own rebellion and wickedness.

   "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."  He is living bread.  Everything about Christ bespeaks life.  Those who trust in Him will have eternal life and the Christian who lives their life in Him will have a life filled with the fruits of Spiritual Life.  Christ ends these verses by declaring His humanity.  God became man and gave His human body for the sins of a human.  No other substitute but a human substitute could ever be sufficient.  Thus it is; all who will be honest with themselves and acknowledge what they are before God can find forgiveness and life in the Living Bread.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Taught of God


"The Jews then murmured at Him, because He said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.  And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that He saith, I came down from heaven?  Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.  No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me."  John 6:41-45

   Demonstrating their unbelief in His Person and their unwillingness to bow the knee in repentance, the Jews mutter and complain to each other and say, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?...."  They call Him "Jesus" only and make no mention of His full title The Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is His earthly, human name, and here they use it in disbelief as though they might be speaking of an unpopular next door neighbor.  They link Him solely to a physical father and mother and pass over the miracle of His birth.  They probably, like many in that day, believed that Jesus was born of fornication (compare J. 8:41).  They become angry at Him because He said "I came down from heaven" thus declaring His deity.  Their dislike of this statement clearly demonstrates their heart.  Many people are pleased to have Jesus as a sidekick or friend, but they do not want Him as the Lord of their soul.  They do not want to acknowledge that He is God, and that He alone has the right to determine the destiny of an individual; but the truth is, unless one is willing to bow to the holy, mighty and omnipotent character of the Son of God, he cannot be redeemed.  Only those that come to a genuine fear of the Lord will be saved, "He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him." (Ps. 103:10-11)

   Christ answers the complainers and says, "Murmur not among yourselves.  No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."  God the Father works in the hearts of men to bring them to Himself.  The word for draw here means to drag.  God's working in a person's life is not a passive thing.  What hope would anyone have if the Holy Spirit did not work conviction and understanding in their heart?  A Christian can give the gospel faithfully, but only God the Father can do the work in the heart of the individual.  No program, building or book can replace genuine conviction brought about by the Spirit of the living God.  Christ knew that these unbelievers would not come to Him because they did not want to.  God the Father was not drawing them because they had no heart for it.

   Christ now quotes from Isaiah 54, thus linking God's work in His day to that work which shall be in the millennial kingdom.  He says, "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God."  In context, this verse is speaking of the state of all Israel in the latter days when Christ returns.  Israel will be redeemed in the latter days after the Great Tribulation and all her citizens will have a heart to know God, because they will be in a state of having been instructed by God Himself.  In those days, Israel and the world will be filled with changed people who have responded to the calling and teaching of the Father.  And so it is now, no one will be saved who fails to respond to the drawing of the Father, and unless the Father draws and brings conviction to the heart, the individual cannot see Christ for who He is.  But, to the one who has a desire to seek God and His righteousness, Jesus says, "Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me."  The man who opens his ears and listens to the prompting of God and responds to it will come to Christ.  No other conclusion is possible.  If a person is willing to listen to the call of God, God will lead him to His means of redemption, and that means is Christ.  However, most people choose to live in a state of deafness.  They do not want to listen to God's conviction on their hearts, and they have no desire to be taught of Him.  The world is full of people who call themselves children of God, but the truth is, they have never been taught of God and truly led to Christ.  They have not feared the name of God and sought Christ as Savior in humble faith.

   A heart of disbelief murmurs at Christ and refuses to acknowledge His deity for fear that it may have to bow to Him as King.  However, the one who responds to the call of God and is willing to be taught of the Father will find Christ at the end of the path with His arms open in forgiveness, and to such an one, Christ promises to raise him up "at the last day."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Father's Will


"For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.  And this is the Father's will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.  And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise 
Him up at the last day."  John 6:38-40

   Jesus continues and says, "For I came down from heaven...."  This is a tremendous declaration of His deity and a statement which the Jews would have understood to be Messianic in nature.  Jesus came down out from the splendors of heaven "not to do [His] own will, but the will of Him that sent [Him]."  Nothing but selfless subjection to God's will is ever seen in the life of Christ.  The one who claims to walk with Jesus cannot be in a state of resisting God's will; otherwise, they are not truly walking with God.  In our flesh "dwells no good thing" so we constantly want our own way, but the soul that is bowed to the desires of the Father is a soul that is being controlled by the Spirit.

   He goes on and tells us what the Father's will is for Him and mankind, "that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day."  The first part of this verse is not teaching Calvinism.  It is simply outlining the fact that God knows who will and will not accept Him.  God works in the hearts of people to draw them to Himself.  He works in the hearts of those whom He knows will trust Him.  Jacob and Esau are a prime example of this.  God said "Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated (love less)."  Jacob, though carnal for many years, had a heart that was somewhat tender to the things of God, and God worked in His life in such a way that drew Jacob to Himself.  Esau, on the other hand, was consistently carnal and constantly resisted the things of the one true God.  Throughout the Bible, his offspring are seen as corrupt and godless people.  Knowing this, God did not waste time drawing Esau, because Esau had no heart to know Him.

   The last half of this verse is amazing.  It is God's will that all who put simple faith in the Son of God shall never be damned.  Christ says, "that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day."  It is the unalterable will of the Father that the believer is forever safe in Christ.  God has decreed it to be so.  You cannot lose your salvation once you truly have it.  It cannot be forfeited through failure and wrong desire.  It cannot be misplaced by complacency or wrong motives.  The Spirit forever lives inside the believer (Eph. 1:13), and that same Spirit of Life will keep us until we are forever with God in heaven (Ro. 8).  The one who does not have the Spirit, does not have Christ.  To many people who were never saved to begin with are confused for people who have "lost their salvation."  Consistent wicked thinking and actions are indicative of the lost, not the saved (I J. 3).  Christ says at the end of this verse that He will "raise [us] up at the last day."  This is speaking of the hope of the resurrection.  The dead in Christ while rise at the moment of the rapture (I Th. 4:13-17), and the tribulation and Old Testament saints will be resurrected prior to entrance into the millennial kingdom at the end of the Great Tribulation (compare Is. 26:21, Rev. 20:1-6).  All that put their faith in Jesus will be fully resurrected.  God's salvation leaves nothing to chance.  In the end, death will be fully conquered and the body, which is overcome by death now, will be made victorious over death through Christ, empowered by God's will.

   "And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise Him up at the last day."  Though most will not believe in Christ (Matt. 7:13-14), the Father desires that all men come to know Him (II P 3:9).  What an amazing thought!  God draws those who will trust Him, but inwardly His desire is that all trust Him.  The Father's will is perfect and compassionate.  Though scorned and hated by the world, the Father's heart is toward the redemption of His creation.  As these many people stood there looking at the Son of God, Jesus says, "...every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise Him up at the last day."  The soul that is made aware of Christ has a responsibility to believe on Him.  Christ came into the world by the will of the Father.  He sought man's redemption because it is the will of the Father, and all who will believe in the name of the Son of God will be raised "incorruptible" by the will of the Father.

   God is a God of redemption.  He delights in setting the prisoners free (Ps.  146:7).  While time still allows, let all who will believe, turn from sin unto Christ, for this is the will of the Father.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Bread of Life


"Then said they unto Him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.  But I said unto you, That ye also have seen Me, and believe not.  All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."  John 6:34-37

   Still focused on some type of physical food or some physical act that would be efficacious for their salvation, they say, "Lord (could be translated Sir as well), evermore (always) give us this bread."  At this point, most of us would have been excited that these people were showing an interest.  In fact, most Christians would have welcomed them into the assembly; but God is not fooled by the outward expressions of some shallow interest, and we must be on guard against such things as well.

   Jesus Christ now begins to answer their request, but not in the way they expected or desired.  He will now begin a discourse which offers to them something much more precious than any religious trapping, but the carnal heart has no desire for such things as we shall soon see.  The Lord says, "I am the bread of life...."  This statement is emphatic.  Christ literally said, "I, I am the bread of life."  He goes on, "...He that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst."  The two phrases "shall never hunger" and "shall never thirst" are extremely powerful.  In the Greek text, a stronger way of saying it did not exist.  These phrases indicate an absolute impossibility.  The one who comes to Christ in humble belief shall by no means ever again hunger or thirst spiritually.  Though the believer faces great physical tribulation and powerful spiritual warfare, they have always the Spirit of God which gives life and peace (Ro. 8:5-6).  Regardless of what the Christian might face, they can never be removed from God's protective hand.  They will never be denied the strength of the true Bread.  Death and hell no longer threaten the true believer (I Co. 15:55), the flesh no longer has power to rule the believer's actions (Ro. 6:12).  Like Paul said, "...as dying, and, behold, we live...."  Though faced with many perils and troubles, the true believer has, in Christ, a future
reward and home.  As stated in I Corinthians 4:17, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."  Thus Christ is that Bread which truly satisfies.  How many Christians down through the years have faced death with peace and comfort?  A good conscience toward God is beyond price.

   However, this crowd had no heart for such words because they did not believe in Christ's person and He is not afraid to confront their true heart, thus He says, "...ye also have seen Me, and believe not.  All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."  Unless God works in the heart of a person, they will not come to Him.  God draws men by the convicting power of the Holy Ghost.  There is a time of visitation for people.  If the Spirit cannot draw them, neither can we.  However, the one who will respond to God's call is assured that under no circumstances will he ever be turned away.  Praise God for the Bread of Life whose arms are open to the repentant sinner.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Bread from Heaven


"Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might 
work the works of God?  Jesus answered and said unto them, 
This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.  They said therefore unto Him, What sign shewest Thou 
then, that we may see, and believe Thee? what dost Thou work?  Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.  Then Jesus said unto them, 
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread 
from heaven; but My Father giveth you the true bread from 
heaven.  For the bread of God is He which cometh down 
from heaven, and giveth life unto the world."  
John 6:28-33

   Were it not for upcoming passages that betray the unbelieving heart of this multitude, we might believe that this question were meant in all good faith, but we know that this is not the case.  The focus was on what they could do to please God.  They were not approaching Jesus through faith in His Person.  They believed that somehow they could attain to God's standard through some type of action.  Christ's answer directs them back to simple recognition of their unworthiness and acknowledgement of His perfection.  He says, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent."  Christ had just fed them in a miraculous fashion.  He had just crossed the sea in a miraculous fashion.  Both of these things combined with His many previous signs and wonders were intended to direct them to faith in His Person.  Their responsibility at this point was to simply believe in Him as Messiah and King and bow the knee in their hearts.  Man can perform only one "work" that truly pleases God, and that "work" is to simply exercise God-fearing faith in the One Who is King.  John says the same thing in I John 3:23, "And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment."  God's universal commandment to all mankind is to believe on the sinless Son.  The result of this will be conversion which will manifest itself in love for others.  Thus Christ explains to them that if they truly want to work the works of God they must cease from themselves and come to Him in humble faith, turning from sin unto God (I Th. 1:9).

   Their reply demonstrates their unbelief, "What sign shewest Thou then, that we may see, and believe Thee? what dost Thou work?  Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat."  What sign?!  How could such a question be asked?  Yet this is the way of the unbelieving heart, and many times it is the way we answer God.  Christ had just given them multiple signs, and yet they did not believe.  Their attention and thinking is immediately drawn to their lineage in Moses rather than to the God Who redeemed their lineage out of Egypt.  They focus on the physical work of the manna rather than seeing it as a picture of the spiritual food, the everlasting Bread that God gives to all those who seek Him in humble faith.  Completely bound in on ever side by ritual and tradition and pride, these people needed to have their focus lifted to the heavenly.  Christ says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world."  Moses, as great as He was, was no greater than what His God allowed him to be.  The true power behind Moses was Moses' God.  The true Provider.  These people were putting Christ on the same plain as Moses when He is so much better than Moses (He. 3:3).  The physical manna given in the days of the wilderness wanderings was a picture of what God would someday do for the world in sending Christ, the true Bread from heaven.  In declaring His descent from heaven, Christ is declaring His deity.  He, as God, is the only source of true sustenance.  Unbelief leads to hunger.  Unbelief is nothing but pride.  It says, "I know better.  I know more than my Creator."  These people would not be fed unless they were willing to sit down at the table in faith.  They needed to stop putting the Son on the same level as man.  He is not simply a Moses.  He is God.

   And so, it holds true for all ages.  Christ is the true Bread from heaven.  As a person is satisfied physically when they eat, so shall the one who eats of the eternal Bread be forever satisfied.  However, faith requires humility.  In order to be fed you must admit that you are hungry.  You must be willing to leave the slums of sin and come and be washed in the blood of the Lamb who feeds the repentant sinner with life-giving bread and fountains of living waters.