Meditations on Various Scriptures 6

John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” 30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.'” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

Jesus, after blessing a small amount of food and then feeding thousands with that small amount of food, taught the Jews about manna and that they should seek Him for eternal life rather than seek for earthly food. He told the people that they were seeking Him for mercenary reasons and not for spiritual or eternal things. He was very clear and to the point with these Jews. He plainly told them that they sought Him because they wanted food rather than because they saw the signs which pointed to Him as an authentic Prophet and the Messiah. These men were driven by selfish hearts that were expressed in their appetite.

Jesus told these people that they were to work for the food which endures to eternal life. These are chilling words that if there were no context one would come to the immediate conclusion that they were to work for eternal life. However, Jesus did not tell them to work for the reward of eternal life. In fact, He told them to work for eternal life with the “Son of Man will give to you.” But we must be careful and not leap to conclusions. Jesus is clearly saying that they were to work for that which would be given to them by the Son of Man. How can you work for that which will be given to you?

The word “work” is not a word for works and it also does not tell us to work for that which you can earn or merit in any way. Instead, He told the Jews and His disciples that they were to give their efforts, do, or work for that which will be given to them. This should be a tremendous passage for evangelism if we could flush our minds of modern ways of evangelism. What a person does is not to do works in order to be saved, but instead his or her efforts should be toward a salvation that would be given to them if it was go be given to them. This is precisely what the Puritans (most) and men like Jonathan Edwards taught that men were to do. They were to give themselves to strive for that which Christ alone could give them.

Our striving and our efforts must not be thought of as a way to earn a thing from God as that is not possible. God saves sinners by grace alone, which is to say that He saves by grace alone apart from any merit or good works done by sinners. They are to do what they do in their exertions and doing to seek that which will be given to those who receive eternal life. It should be obvious that the exertions of sinners are not efforts to get God to change His mind, but instead it is to seek Him to humble their hearts and grant them true repentance and faith. Sinners should seek the Lord and ask Him to show them their sin and for Him to work a true repentance and humility in them.

Underneath this passage is a firm foundation of sound theology. God saves sinners by free-grace alone. There are not works and there is no exertion that a sinner can do to earn, merit, or even obtain that which He alone can give to them. The Gospel is all about the glory of God manifested in and through Christ in saving sinners by free-grace alone. While there is nothing that a sinner can do to earn or merit the slightest bit of good from God, this is not contradictory to sinners exerting themselves in studying to know their own hearts and God. If it is true (and it is) that God saves sinners as they listen to the Scriptures being preached and taught, then it is true that sinners should give themselves to hearing the Scriptures taught. If it is true that God gives grace to the humble, then it is true that sinners should exert themselves in seeking the Lord for humility. If it is true that the heart of men must be turned and become like a child or they will not be saved, then men should make exertions toward that knowing that if it is to happen to them it will be by grace alone. The only way to seek Christ is to seek Him in the way of free-grace because this alone is consistent with giving ourselves to exertions knowing that this salvation comes to sinner by free-grace and that alone.

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