Whole Counsel Theology

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sermon Review Part the Seventh: John 6:51

I'm continuing the posts for my review of the last sermon I heard my former pastor preach. You can find the first post in the series here, which contains a link to the message itself. In it, he cited a lot of proof-texts, wanting to use them to support his position against a few tenants of Reformed Theology. However, he didn't provide context for hardly any of them, and didn't exegete them either. That being the case, however altruistic his intentions, the texts really didn't do much for what he was trying to say, especially since words like "all" and "world" really do need context in order to determine what they mean (much like any word) or what they are referring to. I've addressed the word "all" in a previous post, and I'll address the word "world" in my next one. For now though, let's look at John 6:51:
John 6:51 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.

My former pastor mentioned that it contains the word "anyone" and suggested then, if I remember him correctly, that any person can come to Jesus. The Greek pronoun is the word tis and can just as easily mean "someone" as "anyone"; Strong's definitions allow for both, though Thayer's don't even contain the word "any" in his definitions. Interesting.

In any case, the point of the text here is not that everyone has the ability to come, but rather that if anyone DOES come to Christ (ie, "eats of this bread") then that person will "live forever." This isn't saying that every person on earth has some innate ability to come to Jesus; rather, it is an assurance Jesus is giving for those who do come. If they really do come, then they will live forever.

The question remains though -- who will come? John tells us elsewhere that evildoers, lovers of darkness (that would be everyone) do NOT come into the light; in fact, they hate it, and therefore do not come to Christ. John then says in the next verse that if people do come to the light, then it may be clearly seen that "his deeds have been carried out in God." God gets the credit if anyone comes into the light, period. Why? He is the one who empowers someone to come into the light; it is His work.

Further, the rest of John 6 parallels verse 51 in many places. The ones who "eat of this bread" are the same ones who believe, the same who are drawn by God, the same who look on the Son, the same ones who are those of whom Jesus shall "lose nothing", and the same ones the Father gives to the Son, the ones He will never cast out. How do we know they are the same people, the same group?

The reason is this: repeated phrases and ideas; that is, these people are the ones Jesus will "raise up" on the last day, the ones He will give eternal life. All of these characteristics apply to the same group of people. Furthermore, the whole point of verses 35-65 is explaining to those people why many of them (indeed, most of them) would NOT believe in Him. The reason Jesus gives for them not believing in Him is this: they were not of those given Him by His Father, the Father didn't draw them to Jesus, and the Father didn't grant for them to come to Jesus. The text is inescapable, and the flow of chapter six cannot be ignored.

...but what about the word "world" in verse 51? Isn't Jesus saying that any single person in the world then can come to him? The answer to that question is a resounding NO. The reason is that Jesus has spent the whole of chapter six explaining who the "world" is that He is referring to. This is a case of a clearly LIMITED use of the Greek term kosmos, and it is not an isolated case. Indeed, John uses the word more than a dozen different ways in his writings.

What are those ways, and can I justify what I just said about the term world (kosmos)? I certainly can, and I'll do so in my nest post, by the grace of God!




  • "My former pastor mentioned that it contains the word "anyone" and suggested then, if I remember him correctly, that any person can come to Jesus."

    Kind of odd when Jesus says several times, including in that particular place, that man does not have the "ability" to come to God.

    It is a shame that pastors who supposedly love truth refuse to be corrected by it. I guess it truly comes down to Grace. If we too will be consistent, we must grant that God must do a work in many of these pastors.

    God Bless

    By Blogger Howard Fisher, at Wednesday, November 29, 2006 10:21:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home