Saving Faith | John 6:35-59
Brian Hedges | September 30, 2018
One of the most common designations of Christians in Scripture is “believer.” A Christian is someone who is a believer in Jesus Christ, one who believes the gospel, someone who has faith in Christ. So it’s important for us to understand just what saving faith is. What does it mean to believe in Christ? Why do some people believe while others do not, and why is it important for us to believe? What are the promises that God holds out to us in the gospel? What do we lose if we do not believe?
I want us to think about those questions this morning as we continue our study of John chapter 6. Last week we began a new segment in our series on the gospel of John; we’re just working sequentially through this book, and right now we’re in a 12-week series looking at chapters 6 through 10.
Last week we began looking at the signs that Jesus performed in John chapter 6, including the feeding of thousands in the wilderness, and then the interpretation that Jesus gives to that sign in his sermon when he calls himself the Bread of Life. This morning I want us to continue looking at this message from Jesus, this Bread of Life discourse, and I want to focus it on saving faith, asking the questions what does it mean to believe in Jesus? Why do some people while others don’t? And why should you believe?
Alright? So, those are the questions I want to ask, and I want to do that by unpacking John 6:35-39. So that’s the text we’re going to be looking at together, if you want to follow along in God’s word. You can also read along on the screen. John chapter 6, beginning in verse 35.
“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. 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. 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.’ 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”?’ 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. 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. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.’ Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.”
This is God’s word.
Okay, so three questions about believing: what does it mean to believe, why do some believe while others don’t, and why should you believe? Or, we might break it down this way, three aspects of saving faith: the nature of saving faith, the source of saving faith, and the promise to saving faith. Okay, so let’s work through each of these three things.
I. What does it mean to believe?
First of all, what does it mean to believe? What’s the nature of saving faith? I think it’s important as we read the text to just notice the parallelism between the word “believe” and the other words that Jesus uses to describe our response to him. As we do that, it begins to unpack for us what saving faith really is. What does it mean to believe? I want to give you four statements.
(1) First of all, it means to trust in or rely upon or depend on Jesus. To believe in Jesus is to trust in Jesus, it is to rely upon Jesus, or to depend on Jesus. I draw this just from the meaning of the word “believe,” the word pisteuo (πιστευω). It means to trust; it means to depend upon. It’s more than just giving mental assent to a set of facts. The verb that is used here implies personal reliance. It’s to depend on something or depend on someone, to trust in someone. That’s what the word means.
I think the Westminster Confession of Faith says it well, chapter 14, paragraph two; “The principle acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone.” That’s what it means to believe. It’s to receive him, to rest upon him, to rely upon him, to accept him, to trust him, to depend upon him. That’s what the verb means.
You have it expressed very well in that old hymn,
“My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever living One;
His wounds for me shall plead.
I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that he died for me.”
It’s to rely upon Jesus, to find our resting place in him. That’s first.
(2) But the rest of this chapter unpacks that for us with some very vivid metaphors. So, here’s the second thing: to believe in Jesus means to come to Jesus. It means to come to Jesus. Okay, look at verse 35, and just notice the parallel statements. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall never hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
Do you see the parallelism there? Believing and coming are equivalent responses to Jesus. Believing means to trust in him, but coming is a vivid word picture of what it means to believe in Jesus. To come to him means to move towards him; it is to incline our hearts towards him. It is to come from a place of distance into relationship with Jesus Christ.
Now, I told you last week you’re going to get a lot of Spurgeon, because I just recently got his complete sermons, and so let me give you a Spurgeon quote here. Spurgeon preached six sermons on just one of the verses here in John chapter 6, and on this word “come,” this is what Spurgeon said.
He said, “To come is to leave something and to go to something. There is motion. We leave all other grounds of trust, and we take Christ to be our solitary hope. We come to his blood to be washed, to his righteousness to be cleansed, to his wounds to be healed, to his life for life eternal, and to his death for the death of our sins. We come to Jesus for everything, and the promise is that any man who comes, whoever he may be, shall find that he is not cast out.”
Now, that’s a great description of what it means to come to Jesus. There’s motion involved, and it’s a motion of the heart, a movement of the heart, from darkness to light, from sin to righteousness, from ourselves to the Savior. There’s a movement towards him; we are to come to him. That’s what it means to believe.
(3) Then, even more vividly than that, to believe in Jesus is to feed on him. It’s to feed on Jesus. Look at verse 51. Jesus again says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
So here Jesus is unpacking this very important statement, “I am the bread of life. I am the living bread. I am the bread that came down from heaven.” This is the true significance of the sign given earlier in the chapter, when Jesus fed the thousands. As we saw last week, the background to this includes that miracle in the book of Exodus, when God rained down manna from heaven and fed his people in the wilderness. Jesus looks back to that and says, “I am the true bread from heaven.”
But what does it mean to take Jesus, who is the true bread from heaven? Jesus carries the metaphor as far as he can when he says, “If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever.” We are to eat the bread, we are to partake of Jesus, we are to feed on Jesus.
I think for us to understand that we have to understand this last sentence in verse 51, “And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” What did Jesus mean by that?
I think he means nothing less than the fact that he was to give his life as a substitute, a sacrificial substitute for the world. He gives himself for others. The bread that he gives is his flesh, and so Jesus here is pointing us to his sacrifice on the cross, and it’s through our dependence on that work, our dependence on Jesus’s cross work and the atonement that he secured for us there; it’s through that that we come to receive eternal life.
And then Jesus says, even more vividly, in verses 54 and 55, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”
Now, once again the language here is stark; it’s almost shocking. In fact, when people heard it, they didn’t like it. As we’ll see, many people rejected Jesus after hearing these words from him. They were scandalized by the fact that Jesus would say something like this. It sounds crass; it sounds almost like cannibalism. “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood.” You remember that to drink blood was forbidden in the Old Testament, and so of course this would raise the eyebrows of those who heard Jesus.
So, what is it that Jesus means when he says this? “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood…”
Of course, many people in the history of the church have believed that Jesus is referring here to the Lord’s table or to the communion meal, the Eucharist, or to what the Roman Catholic church would call the mass. So you have the whole doctrine of transubstantiation, where it is believed that the elements of the Lord’s table are transformed into the very blood and body of Jesus.
I don’t think that’s what Jesus means, and I want to give you a couple of reasons for it, and then say what I think Jesus does mean. One reason I don’t think that’s what Jesus means is because when Jesus spoke this, this was before the Lord’s table was instituted as a sacrament. He did that the night of his betrayal, when he instituted this new meal. He took the Passover meal, he reconfigured it around himself, and said, “This is the new covenant in my blood.”
But Jesus had not done that yet. This is in the middle of his ministry; that was at the end of his ministry. So it’s somewhat anachronistic to look back to this and say Jesus is talking about the sacrament.
I think, more importantly, it’s too literalistic a reading of the text, and especially when you look at all of the other “I am” statements that are found in the gospel of John. We don’t interpret those literally; we understand them as a metaphor. So, for example, when Jesus says, “I am the door,” no one supposes that Jesus is literally made of wood, or that the wood is somehow transformed into the body and blood of Jesus. When Jesus says, “I am the vine,” we don’t imagine that he is literally a vine and that we are literally growing on him like grapes or branches on a vine; we understand the metaphorical import of those words.
And so it is here. Jesus is speaking metaphorically, and yet he is speaking vividly of a spiritual reality, and it is the spiritual reality to which the Lord’s table points. I like the way New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce puts it. He says, “This discourse of Jesus fills the Lord’s supper with a deep wealth of meaning for the believer. Our Lord in this discourse is not, indeed, speaking directly of the Lord’s supper, but he expounds the truth which the Lord’s supper conveys.”
That’s exactly right. The Lord’s supper points us to the body and the blood of Jesus, shed for us, that we are to feed on by faith. It’s not the elements become the literal body and blood of Christ, but they point us to the true humanity of Christ and to his true death on the cross, and when we depend on that, when we exercise faith in it, when we trust in it, when we rely upon it for our salvation, that is the exercise of saving faith.
(4) So, to believe in Jesus is to trust in him, to believe in Jesus is to come to him, to believe in Jesus is to feed on him, and then, fourthly, to believe in Jesus is to abide in him. Look at verses 56 and 57. “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.”
So, here we have the language of union. The word is “abide” or “remain.” It’s a word that is used often in the gospel of John and in the writings of the apostle John. It’s language that points us to the faith union that we have with Christ. There is a mutual kind of indwelling, where we abide in him, we dwell in him. We remain in him, and he also dwells in us; he abides in us and remains in us. There’s a union between Christ and the believer.
Again, it anticipates John chapter 15, where Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
So, abiding in Jesus is another metaphor for believing in Jesus. To believe in Jesus is to live in him, it is to remain in him, it is to abide in him. That’s what it means to believe.
So perhaps right now the first question to ask ourselves is simply this, “Do I believe in Jesus?” Do you believe in Jesus? Do you trust in him? Do you depend upon him? Are you resting in him? Are you resting in his finished work, not in your works? Have you come to Jesus? Have you actually drawn near to him? Has there been a motion in your soul? Have you moved from darkness into light? Have you moved from yourself to the Savior? Are you feeding on Christ? Are you exercising faith on Christ, drawing nourishment from him, trusting in his incarnation and in his sacrificial death? And do you live in Christ? Are you united to him by faith? Do you dwell in him? Do you remain in him? Do you abide in him?
That means, do you currently believe in Jesus? I’m not asking whether you made a profession of faith five years ago or 50 years ago; I’m asking, right now, today, are you trusting in Jesus right now? That’s the first question.
II. Why do some believe while others don’t?
But then it raises a second, doesn’t it? Why do some believe while others don’t? The question I think is raised directly in verse 36. Jesus proclaims himself as the bread of life, he says that whoever comes will never hunger, whoever believes will never thirst, and then he says, verse 36, “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.”
So, get this, get the audience here; Jesus is speaking to a mixed multitude, many of which do not believe. And Jesus then goes on to explain what’s going on, and what he says is packed with doctrine and with the highest mystery.
Jesus, I think, answers this question, why do some believe while others don’t, and he answers the question in direct response to the fact that there are people who are listening to him right there who don’t believe, and what Jesus says in the verses that follow I think gives us an answer to the question why some believe while others do not. I want to show you in three ways, three things the text says, three things that Jesus says, that accounts for why some people do believe. Those who believe are described in three ways.
(1) Here’s the first, verse 37: they are given by the Father to the Son. Look at verse 37. Jesus says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” Now, we’ve already established that coming to Jesus is synonymous with believing in Jesus. So you could just almost switch the words. You could say, “All that the Father gives me believes in me.” That’s what it means. All who the Father has given to Christ will come to him, and Jesus said this right after he said to some people, “You don’t believe.”
So, Jesus is not here wringing his hands over the fact that they don’t believe; instead, he states with absolute certainty, “You don’t believe, but all that the Father gives to me will come to me.” Jesus is using language here that reaches back into the time before time, if we could speaking that way, eternity past, where the Father, in an eternal gift, a love gift to the Son, entrusted the Son with a people to be saved. The love gift of the Father! “Those that the Father gives to me.”
This is what has come to be known and understood as the doctrine of election, that the Father chose who would be saved, entrusted them to the care of the Son, gave them to the Son, so that when the Son comes, the Son effectually saves them.
(2) You see it again in verse 44, this time with different language, where Jesus says that those who are drawn by the Father to the Son believe. Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” The word “draw” carries the idea of wooing, drawing, effectually drawing someone, attracting someone to oneself. And Jesus says no one can come, they can’t even believe, unless they are drawn by the Father. Alright? That’s what Jesus says. This isn’t me; don’t get mad at me for saying this, Jesus is saying this.
(3) And then, Jesus explains it further in verse 45 with yet different language, this time drawing from Isaiah chapter 54. Jesus says, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’” So, those who are taught by the Father about the Son believe in him. “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.”
So, here you have it described as the teaching ministry of the Father, perhaps also an allusion to Jeremiah chapter 31 and the promise of the new covenant, that all those who are in the new covenant will know God. They come to know God.
Now, the point here — we look at all three of these texts and the varied language that is used, from giving and drawing to teaching — the point here is that the source of saving faith is the divine, sovereign grace of God. The only reason that you believe is because God has drawn you to himself. The only reason that you believe is because God gave you to the Son so that you would believe. The reason that you believe is because God has taught you, so that you have heard and you have learned from the Father, and so you believe.
Now, it’s no secret that this is a controversial point of doctrine, and it’s controversial between the two classic positions of Calvinists, following the teachings of John Calvin, and the Arminians, following the teachings of Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian in the second generation of the Reformation, and then, of course, of the Wesleys after him.
But what I just want to emphasize here is that everyone has to acknowledge that there’s sovereign grace behind believe, and I want to call to the witness stand my two favorite Arminians for quotations, and those are C.S. Lewis and Charles Wesley. I want to give you a quotation from each one of them.
C.S. Lewis was definitely an Arminian, he was not a Calvinist in his theology; and yet, when you read C.S. Lewis closely, it becomes pretty clear that Lewis recognized divine and sovereign grace behind his own conversion.
This comes from an interview that Lewis did with Decision magazine, published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. It was the last interview he did before he died, and a man named Sherwood Wirt was asking the questions. I’m just going to read these to you. They’re not on the screen for you to follow along, but just read and hear what Lewis says.
The question to Lewis was this: “In your book Surprised by Joy you remark that you were brought into faith ‘kicking and struggling and resentful, with eyes darting in every direction, looking for an escape.’ You suggest that you were compelled, as it were, to become a Christian. Do you feel that you made a decision at the time of your conversion?”
This is really interesting. Billy Graham’s magazine, Decision magazine, and the question is, to C.S. Lewis the Arminian, “Do you feel that you made a decision?”
Listen to what Lewis says. “I would not put it that way. What I wrote in Surprised by Joy was that before God closed in on me I was offered what now appears a moment of holy free choice, but I feel my decision was not so important. I was the object, rather than the subject, in the affair. I was decided upon. I was glad, afterwards, at the way it came out, but at the moment what I heard was God saying, ‘Put down your gun, and we’ll talk.’” He was compelled by a divine intervention as God broken into his life.
The interviewer then asked this question, “That sounds to me as if you came to a very definite point of decision.”
Lewis says, “Well, I would say that the most deeply compelled action is also the freest action. By that I mean no part of you is outside the action. It is a paradox. I expressed it in Surprised by Joy by saying that I chose, yet it really did not seem possible to do the opposite.”
In Calvinistic language, that’s irresistible grace. It’s grace that breaks in and takes the resistance out of us, so that we are effectually drawn to the Savior.
Charles Wesley also describes his conversion in this way, and you know these words well from his hymn “And Can It Be.”
“Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night.
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray;
I awoke, the dungeon flamed with light!
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”
Here’s someone who is passive in the moment of their quickening. He’s lying dead in the dungeon, and God imparts a quickening ray that brings him to life, and the chains fall off, just like Peter’s chains in Acts chapter 12, the doors fly open, and he walks forth, alive and free because of sovereign grace.
I think everyone, when they’re honest, when they look at their conversion, however they may parse the fine points of theology, when you look at your own experience and you came to a point where you chose him, you came to a point where you believed in him, you have to ask the question, “Why did I?”
It’s always going to be because of something that happened outside yourself. It’s because someone shared a message with you, it’s because something changed in your heart, it’s because something happened in your life in God’s providence; it’s because something changed in your mind and your eyes were opened and suddenly you saw your need and you saw the Savior, you saw Christ, and you wanted to believe! There was a time when you didn’t want to believe, and then you did, and the reason you did, according to Jesus, is because the Father gave you to him, because the Father drew you to him, because the Father taught you about him.
The source of saving faith is divine grace. Someone was about to say, “Praise be to God,” and yes, you should. Say, “Praise be to God!” It’s grace, and therefore we give him the glory for it.
III. Why should you believe?
The final question, then, is why should you believe? Why should you believe?
Now, maybe it’s the case this morning that you’re already a believer, and so I just want to give you reasons to keep on believing. But it may be that you’re not a believer, and it may be that you are somewhat mystified by everything I’ve just said and wonder how that applies to you, and by the way, it has been said before - I think it was George Whitefield, the great evangelist, who used to say people need to go through the “grammar school of faith and repentance before they go the graduate school of predestination and election.” And while there’s some truth in it, I just want you to note that Jesus talks about this to unbelievers. Jesus talks about this in a mixed audience. Jesus does not hold back doctrine, and neither should we. We should be honest and forthright with the text and what it says and in the context in which he says it.
But wherever you are this morning, the question now is, Why should you believe? Why should you believe? I want to give you some reasons, and these reasons are the promises that Jesus makes to saving faith.
(1) Here’s the first: Jesus promises life. He promises life. This happens many times in the passage; let me just point out a few texts. In verse 40 Jesus says, “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.”
Okay, so this is what’s at stake; eternal life is at stake. Will you live forever? Will you live beyond death? That’s what at stake, and Jesus says the way to eternal life is to believe in him. So that’s the promise.
You see it again in verses 47 through 49: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life,” it’s a present possession. So this alerts us to the fact that this eternal life is not just a quantity of life that endures forever, it’s also a quality of life; it’s a new kinds of life, and it begins right now. If you believe in Jesus, you now have eternal life. You have life within you already.
And then Jesus connects it to the metaphor, verse 48, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.” Everybody in the wilderness generation died. Do you remember that? There were only two people who ate bread in the wilderness that made it into the promised land, Joshua and Caleb. Everybody else died. But then Joshua and Caleb died. The manna was a miraculous provision from God, but it didn’t give eternal life. But here is bread that leads to eternal life. Jesus says, verse 50, “This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”
If you want to know the answer, the Christian answer to death, the answer is found in Jesus, who is the bread of life, who, if you eat him, you will not die. Then again, verse 58, “This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
So we’re talking about salvation, we’re talking about escape from death and the penalty of sin; we’re talking about eternal life in the presence of God in a new heavens and a new earth. That’s the first promise. Jesus promises life.
(2) But secondly, note this; he also promises acceptance. I want you to just note the second half of verse 37. I’ve already looked at the first half, “All that the Father gives me shall come to me.” That’s a strong statement that Calvinists love to preach about, but the second half of the verse says, “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out,” and Arminians like to preach about that.
I think we’re balanced when we can give full weight to both sides of the verse. Here is an absolute certainty: all that the Father gives will come! Here is a universal invitation: “Whoever comes I will never cast away.” He will receive you. He will accept you. If you come, he won’t turn you out. He won’t turn you aside.
You say, “I don’t know if I’m elect or not.” The only way you’re going to know is if you believe, and if you come, and if you come, you’re elect. If you come, you were chosen. Again, I’m not trying to put it all together perfectly logically this morning, I just want you to feel the force of both sides of the verse; the certainty that those who are given to the Father will come, and this universal invitation, this offer that if you come, he will accept you. He will not turn you away, he will not cast you out.
One more time, I want to give you a great quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Spurgeon was a Calvinist through and through, all five points, all the way down the line. He was, and he was probably the greatest evangelist of the 19th century. By the end of his ministry, he could say that there was not a sermon that he preached where someone didn’t get saved, and these were not merely professions of faith without examination; these were real converts. I’ve read what they did to check people out, how they discipled people, the kind of follow-up they did. They were real conversions. Five thousand people filling this church.
One of the reasons I think God used Spurgeon so powerfully is because he so regularly, forcefully, winsomely held out the offer of the gospel for anyone who would believe. Listen to what Spurgeon said about coming to Christ. I think you’ll find it encouraging.
He said, “Some come to Christ at once; the very first time they hear the gospel, they lay hold of it and are saved. They are not cast out. Some are months in coming; they go from strength to strength in this matter, and their faith is a thing of long growth. Well, they shall not be cast out. Some come running, some come walking, some come creeping on all fours, some have to get others to carry them as that man did who was born of four. But so long as they do but come, he doth not cast them out. Some feel as if their bones were broken and they can only writhe into his presence, as it were, wriggle themselves to the mercy seat, all full of aches and pains and woes and doubts and fears and whispers and distrust and bad habits and sins; but if they do but come, they shall not be cast out. One man comes with a long prayer, another comes with nothing but two words. One comes with many tears, another could not shed a tear if it would save his soul, but he groans. Another can scarce groan, but his heart feels as if it would burst. One has intense conviction, another has very little of it. One is shaken over hell’s mouth, another is attracted by the beauties of the Savior. One has to be thundered at, as from the top of Sinai; another is but beckoned, and his willing heart runs to Calvary. But however thou comest, sinner, he will not cast thee out, if thou comest to him. There is point.”
And again we could say, “Praise God!” And again the question, Have you come? Come to Jesus, and if you will come, he will save you.
(3) He promises acceptance, he promises life, and then number three, he promises security. Notice this, verse 37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
If you come to Jesus and you’re saved, you won’t lose your salvation. That’s what he’s saying. “I will never cast him out.” If they come, they will be saved. Again, verse 39, “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.”
“What can separate us from the love of Christ?” Do you remember that great question in Romans chapter 8? Paul lists everything he can think of that might possibly separate us from the love of Christ and says, “No! In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. If you’re in, you’re in, and you cannot be lost. He will keep you, he will preserve you, he will save you to the end. There is security in Jesus Christ.
(4) And then finally, number four, Jesus promises resurrection. He promises resurrection. This is part of the package of eternal life, but four times in this passage Jesus underscores it, and I want you to see this. In verses 38 and 39 he says, “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.”
The way this is worded, he says, “I will raise it up on the last day.” He’s speaking here about the unity of his people. He’s speaking about the whole corporate body, the whole corporate church, the gift of the church to Christ. “I will raise it up on the last day.” None will be lost.
But then notice what he says in verse 40. “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes on him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Here it’s individual, personal salvation. If you look on the Son, if you believe on him, he will raise you up.
That language of raising up refers to resurrection, resurrection on the last day. I could defend that from other places in the gospel of John, but I’ll just let it stand for the sake of time. Jesus here is speaking of the last day, the day of judgment, and he’s saying that “if you come, I will raise you up.”
You see it again in verse 44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day,” and again, verse 54, this time with the language of feeding: “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
So, why should you come to Jesus? Come to Jesus for life, come to Jesus because he will accept you, come to Jesus because there is security in him. If you come, he will not cast you out; indeed, he will raise you upon the last day. There is hope for an escape - not just hope, it’s certainty for the escape from the penalty of sin and death. Resurrection life, as Jesus, the crucified and resurrected Lord, gives it to us.
So we’ve looked this morning at saving faith, we’ve considered what it is, we’ve considered why it is that some people believe and some don’t, and I’ve given you some reasons why you should believe. I want to just end this morning with the invitation, and the invitation is really for everyone. If you’re a believer, it’s an encouragement, it’s an exhortation to keep believing, to keep feeding on Christ, to keep trusting in Christ, to keep depending on Christ.
You know, we need this. We need this, because even as believers, we have periods where we’re not doing so well. Do you ever have that? You have weeks where you don’t live well, you have weeks where you’re not trusting Jesus to the extent that you should, you have weeks where you’re lapsing backwards into bad habits or into sin patterns.
Listen: when that happens, what you need is the same thing I need. You need the gospel again. You need the gospel to assure you that if you’ll come to Christ for the one hundred thousandth time, he will receive you, he won’t cast you away. There’s eternal life for you in Jesus. Regardless of where you’ve been this past week, come to him. Keep on depending on him, keep trusting in him.
My friend, if you’re here this morning and you’ve never trusted in Jesus Christ to save your soul, you’ve never done it; you’ve heard the gospel, maybe you’ve heard it a hundred times, maybe this morning is the very first time. But if there’s anything stirring in your heart right now, there’s some tug towards God, I urge you, respond to his call, respond to his invitation, flee to Christ, go to Christ, come to him, trust in him, depend on him right now; ask him to save you, and he will never cast you out.
Gracious Father, we can only marvel at your grace. It really does astound us, it amazes us, when we consider who we are and what we are, what we have been, that you would love us, that you would choose us, that you would seek us, it’s a mystery. It’s a mystery to us that some believe and some do not, and when we ask ourselves the question, “What made me to differ? Why do I believe? What is this grace, that I should be one who comes to Christ?” it leaves us with nothing to boast in.
Instead, we recognize that it was all of grace, it was all by your hand, it was all a gift, it was all your goodness; that if you had not drawn us we never would have come, if you had not chosen us we never would have chosen you. If you had not taught us we never would have learned. So we say thank you for your grace.
Lord, we thank you for the gift of your Son, who gave his flesh for the life of the world. As we come to the table this morning, as we take these emblems, these elements of bread and juice, we take the elements as physical elements only, but we take them as symbols that point us to the true reality of Christ, who is the bread of life; of Christ, who shed his blood for us.
So even in these moments we pray that by your Spirit we would feed by faith on Jesus Christ, that we would look past the table to the host of the table, that we would look past the elements to the one who has shed his blood for us, who’s given himself for us, that we would look to Christ with genuine faith, and that we would cast all of our weight upon him, depending on him, trusting on him, and relying upon him. So Lord, meet with us in these moments. May we dwell in you and you dwell in us. We pray it in Jesus’s name, Amen.